This book is a critique of Buddhism by a philosopher with about 20 years' experience of practising Buddhism. It attempts to judge Buddhism by the standards of its own key insight of the Middle Way. This book argues that Buddhism has often abandoned the Middle Way and allowed dogmatic metaphysical assumptions to take its place. The Buddha criticised appeals to metaphysics, yet many of the trappings of traditional Buddhism are built on it - whether these are karma and rebirth, the revelations of the enlightened and their scriptures, dependent origination, the interpretation of the Four Noble "Truths", alienated idealisations of love, or rituals that celebrate metaphysics rather than insight. This is not a purely negative book, but an attempt at a balanced appraisal of Buddhism with praise as well as criticism. In the West we have an opportunity to evaluate Buddhism anew and reform it so that it best applies its own insights.
Robert M Ellis is the founder of the Middle Way Society, which is devoted to developing the theory and practice of the Middle Way beyond the limitations of the Buddhist tradition. He has a PhD in Philosophy which formed the starting point of his work in developing Middle Way thought as an innovative practical philosophy drawing on various aspects of modern thought. His approach is described by Iain McGilchrist as “a departure at right angles to typical thinking in the modern Western world”.
Just getting started on it but it is a very interesting take on the question of the role of metaphysics and dogma in Buddhism, among other issues. The author is a practicing Buddhist. The title may put some Buddhists off but he raises some great points. Many of them have been raised in the back of my own mind while I attempt travel the path.