Alone with Others: An Existential Approach to Buddhism
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Alone with Others: An Existential Approach to Buddhism

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  177 ratings  ·  20 reviews
This uniquely contemporary guide to understanding the timeless message of Buddhism, and in particular its relevance in actual human relations, was inspired by Shantideva's 'Guide To The Bodhisattva's Way Of Life', which the author translated into English, the oral instructions of living Buddhist masters, Heidegger's classic 'Being and Time', and the writings of the Christi...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published February 8th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1983)
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Steve Woods
I have been tired lately and not so well. I have opened myself to others and they have done what seems to pass for normal these days and I have been disappointed and hurt. As is my wont in any of those circumstances I experience a strong urge to withdraw behind my walls both physical and psychological and curse the human race in general and the offending parties in particular. At best I want nothing to do with people and at worst I want to rip off arms and legs and if I really give it a run the...more
I originally started this book for a project for school I stopped reading it because I got bored, in fact
I am bored. Very very bored, so bored in fact that thinking about this book makes me bored. Does Batchelor understand Buddhism? Really it is tough to say since he seems to be trying so hard to make sure buddhism sounds non-religious and modern that he has forgotten to say much about it at all. And his refusal to pick a buddhism inherently undermines him simply because if you don't pick one...more
This was a good book for me as a young Zen student, filled with doubts about religion, ritual, and hierarchy. I felt quite comfortable with Batchelor's secular/existentialist (b)uddhism. It probably influenced me to go to a Zen monastery to train. For this, I am grateful. Over the years I have had to drop my ideas about practice in order to practice. Mr. Batchelor's more recent books don't show a similar shift. While this puzzles me a bit, I am encouraged by his ability to bring unsuspecting peo...more
I don't find his writing technique particularly engaging but that's not really the point - as words are just earthly concepts of mind-blundering instruments.

I love the irony of the title as well: Because, once you complete your spiritual growth and embrace an objective judgement, it becomes a burden to see/hear/put up with/ other "earthly creations" because you are already ahead of them, on an entirely different level. You basically feel alone with others - even if you intentionally slow yourse...more
I do not identify myself as a Buddhist, however I do find that I align myself with many of the Buddhist concepts about one’s perception of reality and I do lean towards existential philosophy when framing my worldview concept, so this book did present a unique perspective that I found likable and readable. Batchelor does a great job of being concise to express the concepts he aims to communicate, and for that, this was an easily digestible read. The central argument is that each human being is e...more
Joe Dwyer
I'll put this book alone with the other insipidly banal mistakes i've read. Though the fact that Mr. Batchelor not only quotes but attempts to link the philosophies of Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Jaspers and Sartre (the most notable) to the prolific cut-and-pasting of fundamentally different branches of continental philosophy to establish what he claims to be Mahayana Buddhism (I.e a middle way between nihilism and eternalism) within 130 pages. He does however triumph in distorting each ra...more
Germaine Hypher
Quite a convoluted style of writing that I found took a lot of concentration to keep on top of but this made me really focus on the text, often re-reading passages a few times until I felt I'd fully grasped them, so that I ended up absorbing the book more deeply than if it had been an easier read. Thankfully, the book was short enough for me to read it this carefully without giving up on it as I really appreciated it's teachings.
Apr 18, 2012 Steve rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: modern Buddhists
I thought--what do I want to read? and I wanted to read this book. It's a book that tries to update Buddhism with existentialism, among other things.

I've read it before, after I read what I think is his best seller, Buddhism Without Belief. I wanted to see if it stood up the way I remembered it.

Batchelor is skeptic, doesn't want to just follow the herd, and is an original independent deep thinker. I've met him in person and he's a swell guy. I think my only criticism of him is that he hasn't bu...more
Sirpa Grierson
Years ago I read some of the work of Soren Kierkegaard, an existential Christian writer, whose work fascinated me. Stephen Batchelor also tries in this book to answer some of the big questions of existence, but through a Buddhist lens. At times, this book is profound, at others I felt it was a bit less finished, but on the whole, this is a very insightful look at what it means to truly be present with yourself as well as with others. The idea of becoming enlightened is really fascinating as it i...more
Oct 02, 2013 Sasha rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone seeking insight on the relationships with self and others
I originally picked this up on-sale at a bookstore for the name alone. Not particularly interested in Buddhism, I started it more so for the existentialism aspect and insight into human relations. Many of the concepts, I found, were articulated clearly and communicated in such a way, one doesn't need to be thoroughly familiar with the Buddhist religion to make the connections to every day life. The text prompted so many "Mmhm" and "A-ha" moments, I travelled with a pen specifically to underline...more
I've read two others of his books and really like them - Buddhism Without Beliefs and Verses at the Center. Both make understanding buddhism (and life) easier. The latter book inspired many visual metaphors for me and then a series of collages. The current book I'm reading seems like it may have been a PhD disseration. Batchelor is a Buddhist scholar and translator - but he is able to explain this difficult subjects thoroughly and bit by bit. I'll report more as I finish.
Raechelle Thomas
An interesting look at buddhism as it was developed compared to how it fits in with modern society. Very philosophical; definitely need a firm knowledge of Buddhism and have to pay very close attention when reading; some of it was over my pea brain-but much of it was very interesting.
This is a very easy to read yet paradigm shifting read. No useless un-understandable jargon. Can be understood and implemented by anyone-even if you aren't buddhist (hey...I'm not..but it helped me in life!)
Yasmina Elhayane
Though it was a bit dry for my taste (philosophy often can be), it's a great read for all who desire to seek life in being as opposed to having, both the non-religious and religious alike. 4/5 stars.
Steve Thorp
Martin Heidegger meets the Dalai Lama at the I'm OK/You're OK Corral. Not an easy read, but some remarkable insights on what it means to be alive in the world.
James M. Madsen, M.D.
Another interesting perspective, this time an existential one, from Stephen Batchelor, the author of Buddhism Without Beliefs (q.v.).
A primer for folks with little knowledge of Buddhist philosophies. A little heady at times but enjoyable nevertheless.
One of the better books out there about Buddhism from a Western point of view. Recommended.
Pretty dense. And I like philosophical stuff.
Bruce Lindsay
This book sucked
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“Patience is the specific antidote to anger and hatred. It is an attitude of accepting both the harm caused by others and the pains and discomforts found in life instead of angrily retaliating against them. Only in the calm afforded by patient acceptance is one able to clearly discern the nature of the situation and proceed to deal with it realistically. Once the mind becomes distorted and disturbed with anger, any possibility of objectivity is lost. One consequently embarks upon a course of action grounded in misconception that inevitably leads to a heightening of the initial conflict rather than its resolution.” 2 likes
“Ignorance is not merely a deficiency of knowledge but, in addition, it positively apprehends reality in a distinctive way. And being a distorted mode of conception, it creates a view of the world that is in opposition to, and in conflict with, the actual way the world is.” 2 likes
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