Dzongsar Khyentse is one of the most creative and innovative young Tibetan Buddhist lamas teaching today. The director of two feature films with Buddhist themes (the international sensation The Cup and Travelers and Magicians), this provocative teacher, artist, and poet is widely known and admired by Western Buddhists.
Moving away from conventional presentations of Buddhist teachings, Khyentse challenges readers to make sure they know what they're talking about before they claim to be Buddhist. With wit and irony, Khyentse urges readers to move beyond the superficial trappings of Buddhism beyond a romance with beads, incense, and exotic people in robes straight to the heart of what the Buddha taught.
In essence, this book explains what a Buddhist really is, namely, someone who deeply understands the truth of impermanence and how our emotions can trap us in cycles of suffering. Khyentse presents the fundamental tenets of Buddhism in simple language, using examples we can all relate to.
Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche was born in Bhutan in 1961 and was recognised as the incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro (1894-1959). From early childhood, he has studied with some of the greatest contemporary masters, particularly his father, H.H. Thinley Norbu Rinpoche and H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
From a young age he has been active in preserving the Buddhist teachings, establishing centres of learning and practice, supporting practitioners, publishing books, and teaching all over the world. Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche supervises his traditional seat of Dzongsar Monastery and its retreat centres in Eastern Tibet, as well as his new colleges in India and Bhutan. He has also has established centres in Australia, North America, and the Far East. These are gathered under Siddhartha's Intent.
In addition to Siddhartha's Intent, in 2001, the Khyentse Foundation was founded by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. It is a non-profit organization with the stated goal "to act as a system of patronage for institutions and individuals engaged in the practice and study of Buddha's wisdom and compassion."
His two major films are The Cup (1999) and Travellers and Magicians (2003).
If Khyentse read this he would tell me that I'm not a Buddhist, which would be a fair remark, for I am not yet. This book did not help me on the journey towards it either, as a teacher Khyentse is not one whose words I’d listen too.
The author debunks many of the popular misconceptions associated with the belief system, and he delves deep into one of the main truths that drive it. The recognition of impermanence is the key. Nothing is lasting. Our own expectations can only lead to misery if they are not met, so expect nothing and life will be much easier. Let go of ideas of attachment.
Khyentse points out many complications within modern thought, but does not really go beyond criticism. He offers the solution of recognising impermanence, a vital thing for a Buddhist, but, again, he overlooks the importance of human happiness. He suggests that because emotions are ever changing, once can never be truly happy. On a day to day basis, a moment by moment, this assumption has merit, but across a life time it is rather reductionist. One may not expect happiness, but they can strive towards it. They can use the Buddhist philosophy as a primer for reducing suffering within themselves, and by extension others.
As the Buddha said:
His thoughts on vegetarianism are also incredibly limited. He drastically underplays its significance in the ethos. Sure, one can be a Buddhist and eat meat, but Khyentse doesn’t consider that abstinence of it could make one a better Buddhist. Avoidance of all suffering, and not causing suffering in others, are two key ideas that are in the eightfold path. Surely, this can only be fully realised on an inter-species level. From a purely logical standpoint (and not my own vegan bias) one cannot consider themselves free from all cruelty if they take part in a meat based diet: it’s a simple fact.
So this book is good at pointing out the misconceptions of a western readership. That’s great. How about instead of doing such a thing you actually try to teach people about Buddhism. You tell us what it is not, but barely touch on what it is. The tone of the book is bitter and almost sarcastic at times. It has none of the love and healing powers I myself have found in the practice. Simply put, this is a bad book on Buddhism.
Over the last year, I’ve read so many books on Buddhism. Many more than I have actually added on here. There is so much wisdom manifested in them, true wisdom. This does not have the same power. I have more reviews to come on Buddhist books- I shall show you the knowledge they impart- these books include: The Tibetan Book of living and Dying, What The Buddha Taught, How to Practice- The Way to a Meaningful Life, Zen Mind- Beginners Mind (currently reading) and Meaningful to Behold (currently reading).
These- along with How to be Compassionate (already reviewed) by the Dalai Lama are eons better at explaining Buddhism than this work.
Tricky book to read and to review... I remember reading it about ten years ago, disliking it and giving my copy away. After a conversation with my friend Amanda, to whom this book was recommended by a fairly reliable source, I wanted to check it out again. Maybe I had read it wrong the first time?
I understand that Khyentse wanted to take some erroneous Western misconceptions about Buddhism and Buddhists and debunk them, and I find that both interesting and important. There are a lot of really weird ideas kicking around about what Buddhism is and what it isn't, which I suppose was bound to happen when a philosophy becomes mainstreamed. For example, the word nirvana is used incorrectly so often it makes my ears burn: sorry folks, but there's no Heaven or Hell in Buddhism. Nirvana is a state of being. And vegetarianism, while strongly recommended, is also not a mandatory life-choice when practicing Buddhism. Sure, it's better if you are, but the core idea is that you must do the very best with the circumstances in which you find yourself. For instance, if you know anything about Tibet, you'll know there isn't much arable land there, and growing vegetables is super difficult. So Tibetans, including the Buddhist ones, eat meat. Because they have to; there's nothing else! If you are in a situation where you have the option not to eat meat, the choice is between you and your conscience, and that's that (His Holiness the Dalai-Lama changed his diet to vegetarianism when he arrived in India, but when he lived in Tibet, he ate meat too - just sayin').
It's important to note that many famous Buddhist teachers have often done weird things that might seem very un-Buddhist by some standards (check out Chogyam Trungpa's biography when you get a minute, it's fascinating), so I think it can be really tricky to draw some lines about what Buddhists do and don't do (to stick with the example of the aforementioned Chogyam Trungpa, many people don't seem to think drinking and sleeping around invalidated his teachings). And one must also remember that the rules for living are very different for someone who has taken monastic vows and someone who is simply a lay practitioner. Not all Buddhists are monks and being a Buddhist does not mean you need to start acting like a monk!
So now that my rant is over, what does Khyentse have to say about all this? To him, a Buddhist is someone who acknowledges the Four Seals as truth. He describes the Four Seals as follows:
All compounded things are impermanent All emotions are pain All things have no inherent existence Nirvana is beyond concept
He then goes on to elaborate what the four seals mean with detailed examples - both from historical and current events, with a bit of pop culture thrown in there for good measure. I have to say, his explanations are really clear and straight-forward, and for those who wonder, there is no actual check list of things Buddhists do and things they don't do up until the conclusion. And even then, it's more an explanation as to why the Four Seals ultimately lead practitioners to acts of generosity, non-violence and vegetarianism.
I ended up enjoying the book and finding it much more interesting than on my first, long ago, read; I wonder if that might be because then my practice was less mature back then? Hard to say, but I appreciate a lot of Khyentse's insights and explanations. It's challenging book, with a lot of very pragmatic explanations - which is something I really like. He demystifies the more supernatural sounding Buddhism stories and fables and explains the metaphor behind them, the skillful teachings hidden under the magical-sounding stories.
That being said, the tone is also occasionally weird and judgmental; even at his most irreverent, Brad Warner never comes across as a judgy douche. I also felt it sets a really odd tone when the author describes himself as a Buddhist fanatic on the very first page; the choice of word here is problematic for many reasons, one of which is that it makes the reader feel like Khyentse draws a pretty hard line in the sand and only he gets to decide who stands on which side...
But the real snag for me in this book was the downplaying of the importance of meditation. Dude, really? That's what the entire practice of Buddhism hinges on!! If you believe in the Four Seals but don't meditate, I wonder what you are up to... But Khyentse clearly feels that anything you do that's motivated by a true understanding of the Four Seals is following the path of the Buddha; he mentions meditation as the easiest and safest practice, but doesn't elaborate on the topic any further.
Keep in mind that this book is not trying to be a how-to manual on Buddhism, so if that's what you want, maybe skip it entirely - I would definitely not recommend it for beginners. But on the other hand, more experienced practitioners would already know most of the stuff in here, so who is this book for? People who want to be able to tell the difference between pop-Buddhism and the genuine article, I guess. In any case, it is very thought-provoking and I might have to read it again eventually.
Did I come out of this reading experience with a clearer idea of what makes you not a Buddhist? I don't know. But I do feel like an understanding of the Four Seals that is not strictly intellectual can only be achieved through meditation practice, so maybe get on your cushions, y'all?
When I started this book, I thought, "Oh, cool, a great book for those new to and curious about Buddhism. He's dispelling a lot of common misunderstandings about Buddhism that I don't have but that I know a lot of other people have -- like that we all have to be vegetarians, etc. And he's so charming and knowing and wry. Great book to read then recommend to family."
But as I kept reading, I became more unsettled. DKR discusses the four truths that essentially define Buddhism, and throughout the book he condenses these four truths into the single truth that all compounded phenomena are without inherent nature, are interdependent and impermanent. And as we look at example after example, whether it be from ancient or contemporary times, whether "inside" or "outside" one's self, this is evidently true. In fact it seems quite obvious -- too obvious! Don't I already believe this? And yet a genuine understanding of this is said to result in peace, compassion, and even bliss, three states of being I rarely catch even brief glimpses of. So what gives?
Either the most fundamental Buddhist teaching is wrong, or I don't really believe/understand it (though I think I do) so am not experiencing its fruits. When I finished the book, I couldn't help but take some peeks at my mind in the following few hours. Sure enough, there was plenty of "I hope that this will happen" and "I hope this won't happen," all thoughts that assume an independent, lasting, separate self. In fact, this evening I didn't happen to catch a single thought that didn't assume the independent, inherently existing, permanent existence of something-or-other (usually me).
So somehow I can believe this fundamental truth, assent to it heartily, proclaim it and even demonstrate it -- but in fact not a single spontaneous thought or action seems to actually arise from this belief. Thus DKR called me to practice.
There are other provocations embedded throughout this book, too. For all its brevity and charm, it's a challenging book, one that won't necessarily leave you with a comfortable feeling about your spiritual path, Buddhist or not.
Đọc lại lần 02 và thấy thêm nhiều điều thú vị nên cho thêm 0.25 điểm. Kèm theo khẳng định mới là cuốn này hổng hợp với người mới bắt đầu đọc sách phật giáo, tâm linh nhen các bạn. Nghe cách mọi người trong buổi booktalk chia sẻ mới nhận ra là nó không hề dễ chút nào.
Cuốn sách tốt nhất dành cho những bạn muốn tìm hiểu về đạo Phật.
3 trụ cột là vô ngã, vô thường và khổ được tác giả trình bày rất hay, hiện đại, đời thường. Với kinh nghiệm làm phim của mình thì những biểu tượng trong phim ảnh cũng thường xuyên được nhắc tới.
Trong số nhiều cuốn sách để hiểu về Đạo Phật cho người mới bắt đầu, mình nghĩ đây là cuốn tốt nhất mình từng đọc. Vừa đủ những trụ cột, vừa đủ hấp dẫn và vừa đủ thỏa mãn với những góc nhìn sâu sắc từ tác giả. Đọc cuốn này xong có nhiều động lực hơn để đọc 2 cuốn tiếp theo của tác giả mình ngâm dấm từ lâu nay.
This is a challenging book. I love the author's direct, irreverent and humorous approach, and it is mostly rational, not steeped in mystical double talk if you think about it. I read parts of this twice - I was bothered by it, for sure, and still am. Of the 4 seals, 1, 2 and 4 seem like no brainers - 1, everything changes and is impermanent, 2, no emotions are purely pleasurable (“all emotions are pain”) - if we're wanting pleasure, then we're wanting the absence of the opposite, which is impossible and sets us up for suffering; #4, Nirvana is beyond concept, it's not really possible to consider.
Ok, check check check. #3, though, is that all is illusion, things have "no inherent existence", by which he means that things have no reality without our subjective or communal co-creation, visually, mentally, etc. Ok, I now even see the truth of that - proven by neuroscientists, psychologists and the like. So, there is no ultimate reality to anything - all is dependent on our filters. But still, the real challenge is to not be attached to anything, no person, especially the self, no ideas, no objects, no nothing. (Sounds like the combination of 2 and 3 to me.) If we can do this, then the inevitable results are the highest levels of generosity, compassion, lack of violence, and the highest level of personal freedom. The Stoics, too, preached non-attachment - it’s got a lot going for it.
The author also says that Buddhism is just a tool, a placebo, to get us to the full belief in these four authentic seals. (Do other books, or religions, dare say this?) Once we journey across the river, we can ditch the boat. There are no rules to follow on the journey, it’s not mandatory to not eat meat or to meditate, etc, but certain practices may help us in our path toward realization. (For those, read other books.)
And here’s something that would make sense in our pragmatic world if we weren’t so attached to materialism and the self - “Buddhists venerate wisdom above all else. Wisdom surpasses morality, love, common sense, tolerance, and vegetarianism.” Why? Because if you first truly believe the four seals to your core, the rest will follow. We’re here a short time, we’re all in the same boat, acting selfishly actually increases suffering, so be compassionate and generous. And I like that he counters Sartre’s ego-centric line about “hell is other people” with this: “there is no hell realm apart from (your) own aggression and ignorance.” In other words, hell isn’t other people, hell is you (and all of us) on the drug of ego-attachment. There are plenty of good quotes, but it’s better to just read the book...
"Sei sicuro di non essere buddhista" è un libro divulgativo, capitatomi casualmente tra le mani, che vuole fare capire al lettore occidentale le basi su cui si fonda il buddhismo; devo dire che, a grandi linee, il libro offre quello che promette e che la sua lettura mi ha interessato e fatto riflettere.
Il buddhismo, come credo sia noto, non è una religione, bensì una filosofia. Buddha non è un dio e il buddhismo non prevede divinità. Facile, fin qui.
La felicità non è altro che la mancanza di sofferenza. Perché si soffre, nel mondo? Si soffre perché si desiderano cose che non si riescono poi ad avere. Il cardine su cui si basa il buddhismo è che per essere felici semplicemente... bisogna smettere di desiderare (illuminazione). Semplice no?
Chiaramente ci vorrà del tempo per imparare a soffocare il desiderio e ovviamente nel frattempo faremo tanti errori. Ma niente paura: se moriamo, risorgeremo sotto altro aspetto fino a quando non avremo raggiunto l'illuminazione pure noi.
Cosa deve fare un buon buddhista? Seguire i quattro principi (o sigilli) fondamentali:
1. Tutte le cose composte sono impermanenti, ossia transitorie (tutto passa e si trasforma, nessuna cosa è eterna); 2. Tutte le emozioni sono dolore (anche l'amore in fondo porta il dolore delle aspettative, delle attese, degli abbandoni...); 3. Tutte le cose non hanno intrinseca esistenza (il significato di ogni cosa lo assegna ciascuno di noi. Non sono i libri che contengono concetti importanti, ma siamo noi con la nostra comprensione ad assegnare ai libri il loro valore); 4. Il Nirvana (l'illuminazione) è trascendente.
Per essere buddhisti non è necessario vestirsi in modo strano o meditare incrociando le gambe o rompere i maroni alla gente per cercare proseliti: basta accettare e praticare le quattro verità soprastanti.
Il messaggio buddhista è portatore di pace proprio perché i buddhisti non hanno la missione di convertire il mondo e nessun buddhista è autorizzato a commettere violenza in nome del buddhismo.
Alcuni pensieri sono molto interessanti:
"In un rapporto, i momenti di separazione sono spesso i più profondi. Ogni relazione è destinata a finire, non fosse che a causa della morte. Senza l'illusione del 'per sempre', la situazione è straordinariamente liberatoria; affetto e sollecitudine sono prodigati senza riserva e la gioia si prova nel presente. Se il nostro partner ha i giorni contati, dare amore e sostegno non costa sforzi e offre serenità.
Tuttavia, dimentichiamo che i nostri giorni sono sempre contati. Anche se intellettualmente sappiamo che ogni cosa nata deve morire, a livello emotivo finiamo per convincerci della permanenza. Questa abitudine incoraggia ogni sorta di stato negativo: paranoia, solitudine, senso di colpa.
Noi abbiamo le nostre rispettabili carriere, le nostre innumerevoli responsabilità. Gli elettrodomestici si rompono, i vicini litigano, il tetto lascia filtrare la pioggia. I nostri cari muoiono; oppure sembrano solo morti, la mattina prima di svegliarsi. Forse emanano un odore stantio di sigaretta o di salsa all'aglio della sera prima. Se ne abbiamo abbastanza tronchiamo una relazione, per riallacciarne immediatamente una nuova con un'altra persona.
Non ci stanchiamo mai di questo ciclo, perché continuiamo a sperare che là fuori ci sia l'anima gemella o il paradiso terrestre. Di fronte alle seccature quotidiane, il nostro primo riflesso è di pensare che tutto si aggiusterà, che grazie alle lezioni che la vita ci ha impartito, raggiungeremo la maturità perfetta e vivremo felici e contenti.
E' come se quanto abbiamo fatto finora fosse solo una prova generale. Convinti che debba ancora avere inizio lo spettacolo vero e proprio e che sarà grandioso, non viviamo mai nel presente."
Un commento sorge spontaneo, al termine della lettura dell'interessante libro.
Il buddhismo si basa sull'accettazione delle difficoltà del mondo. Se la nostra compagna ci cornifica, se ci casca una tegola in testa, se la casa si sfascia, se nostro figlio si prostituisce al mercato, dobbiamo rallegrarci, perché nella prossima vita certamente ci andrà meglio (che culo!). Questo per me significa che il buddhismo non stimola l'intraprendenza delle persone, che invece tendono a subire passivamente le avversità della vita.
Io credo che se i 7 miliardi di abitanti della terra fossero tutti buddhisti, presto la terra terminerebbe di esistere... (immagino sia chiara la mia risposta alla domanda del titolo del libro...)
I love the way this guy cuts right to the point - he's not caught up in teaching a religion. Instead, he talks about the basic observations about existence that the Buddha noted, and the practical implications of those. IMHO, "Buddhism" is a set of instructions for dealing with the situation in the most beneficial way that Siddhartha could come up with at the time - and so I don't know if I exactly agree with the idea that accepting the 4 marks of existence as an accurate depiction of reality makes you a Buddhist. But, this book is helpful in understanding them and therefore supporting a choice about whether you agree or disagree.
As a book, I would have liked to see it polished up a little more. It rambles at times. But, the lack of polish does allow the author's personality to shine through - one gets a clear sense of his unassuming warmth and incisive direct mind. Overall, its an acceptable trade off. I recommend the book for anyone interested in taking the next step past a superficial intellectual understanding of Buddhist thought.
I really didn't like this book for a number of reasons. First, the Buddha that Khyentse presents is not the Buddha that I have come to admire and respect from reading other books. Khyentse's Buddha flies and does other supernatural things. For me, the appeal of buddhism is its practical nature. The Buddha is an inspiring figure precisely because he was an ordinary human. His teachings appeal to me (as I have encountered them) because it doesn't incorporate a whole bunch of hocus-pocus like religious faiths. Enlightenment is impressive enough. I don't need a deity or a superhero. I guess Buddhism is different depending upon what sect you're in. And perhaps I have only encountered Buddhism through non-supernatural sects. Either way, I found this book much less compelling because of that.
Also, Khyentse starts the book by saying you can eat meat and smoke and listen to Eminem and still be a Buddhist. I didn't understand it when he said that, because it seems like the whole point of Buddhism is to practice Buddhist principles in your actions. It would seem that meat eating and smoking would be off limits. It would also seem that Buddhists would simply know better than to listen to Eminem. And if their Buddhist sensibilities didn't stop them from listening, having even a modicum of taste certainly would.
But by the end of the book, Khyentse changes his mind and says that a practicing Buddhist wouldn't do those things. So why start off saying that one can be both a meat eater and a Buddhist? It just didn't make sense to me.
I read a few chapters but had to stop when my eyes got sore from too much rolling. Too bad you can't choose zero stars. Gratuitous pop culture references, needless trashing of world religions. I know it's not Buddhist to judge-- so hey, I guess he's right!
Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse's What Makes You Not a Buddhist is perhaps the most perfectly worded book on Buddhism that I have ever read. Here are no endless systems of classification reaching to infinity. Instead, Khyentse discusses at length what he calls the four seals of Buddhism:
(1) All compounded things are impermanent (2) All emotions are pain (3) All things have no inherent existence (4) Nirvana is beyond concepts
There are no sesquipedalian Sanskrit terms, just a discussion of each of the four seals. No religious observances, no priests' robes, no begging bowls, no obeisances.
The author is a Tibetan/Bhutanese lama also known as Khyentse Norbu. I will try to seek out some of his other books, as I thought this one is a winner.
ספר עיון מעניין על ההשקפה הבודהיסטית וארבעת העקרונות: כל הדברים המורכבים הם ארעיים; כל הרגשות הם כאב; כל הדברים נעדרים קיום עצמאי; הנירוונה מצויה מעבר למושגי. הספר מסביר את העקרונות בצורה ברורה ועמוסת דוגמאות אבל לא פשטנית ולעיתים שוקע בדיון פילוסופי משהו. למי שמתעניין זה ספר מבוא מוצלח שברור שבא לקרב ולהסביר על בודהיזים במן הפוך על הפוך. אני מצאתי הרבה טעם בגישה שמסבירה את העקרונות של הבודהיזים על דרך השלילה של המציאות שאנחנו מכירים ובכל זאת הכותרת השלילית וכמה הערות סיום שהרגישו לי בכל זאת מעט יותר מדי מתנשאות, טיפה הפחיתו לי מהרושם.
- believes in mystical nonsense like "nirvana is beyond concepts" and reincarnation and that Buddha was capable of flying. - believes in profound-sounding mumbo-jumbo like "all composite things are impermanent". - believes that "One of the main effects of science and technology has been to destroy the world more quickly." (Never mind all the suffering that vaccines, penicillin, and anaesthetics have prevented, or that the world has never been so peaceful and prosperous.) - believes that "Because of greed, jealousy, and pride, the economy will never become strong enough to ensure that every person has access to the basic necessities of life" and that if "every nation and individual truly lived Mao Tse-tung's pragmatic communist philosophy ... we would be perfectly happy." (Never mind that 30 million people starved to death under Mao's Great Leap Forward.) - believes that it's ok to live off other people's charity, without producing anything.
So, Buddhism is a philosophy of mystical, fatalistic Maoists. Fair enough: happily not a Buddhist then.
Venerable Dzongsar Khyentse sounds a little bit angry and anti-Western. In fact, he is very anti-democratic and a homophobe for sure. Not the best book on Buddhism, but it gets the job done for analyzing the main tenets of the notion of impermanence.
я убежденный антиклерикал, и из мировых религий только буддизм не вызывает у меня негатива - что логично, потому что буддизм не религия, а скорее анти-религия. чтобы быть буддистом, надо много думать. собственно, про это и книга - попытка объяснить, что быть буддистом означает колоссальную внутреннюю работу, тренировку сознания и развитие эмоционального интеллекта.
ставлю среднее количество звездочек, потому что настоящему буддисту завсегда везде никак
If you've never been interested in the concept of Buddhism, then I'd ask you to give this book a miss. It will feel like a series of disjointed sentences taking about an abstract concept, not only impractical but also not from this era.
This book is a must read if you fall into any of these categories - 1. You are a wannabe Buddhist (am saying this without judgement). You've visited a bunch of Buddhist monasteries and have quite some Buddha statues collected from all over. You don't think it's fancy to be a Buddhist, coz you are not aware you are thinking so, but you consider yourself a Buddhist. 2. You've been interested in this concept. You think it's not for you, considering how extreme it all sounds. 3. You are familiar with a few meditation techniques, and so think you know a bit about being a Buddhist.
If you are #2 or #3, then I'll also recommend you go for one 10 day session of Vipasana meditation (www.dhamma.org). If you are still interested in what Buddhism is all about after you read this book, Vipasana will help close the deal - one way or the other. If you are #1 , then I'll say - there's nothing wrong in wanting to be a Buddhist, do whatever suits you. Reading this book might help you see where you are in the spectrum.
The book is well paced and well written to explain the four tenets of Buddhism, including examples which make sense in this era. I took longer than expected to finish this book, coz it wasn't about finishing the book, it was about trying to internalize what's in this book. And no, reading this book doesn't make you a Buddhist. Being a Buddhist isn't an end goal, it's a never ending journey into self...
Being born into a Buddhist family in a Buddhist country automatically made me a Buddhist from birth- and before there is confusion on that due to what I write next I would like to declare that I am a Buddhist. But I have always believed that religion should not be inherited, rather, with the realization gained through contemplation and practice it should be adopted by individuals based on their awareness informed by experiences.
I do wonder at times if the Buddhism I practice is adequate because I have always been confused with the religious part and the culture/traditional aspects of Buddhism. Are you a bad Buddhist if you practice compassion but not the rituals? Are you not a good Buddhist if you try to follow the middle path but dont recite any scriptures/prayers everyday?
But this book really helped answer my queries. "Ultimately, no one can judge other peoples actions without fully understanding their view." - which translated as thus for me- to each is own, what path an individual chooses to awakening/ enlightenment (whether its Buddhism or any other religion) we cannot and shouldn't judge.
Really loved this book. Rinpoches simple and effective way of explaining Buddhas teachings in a clear, yet informal way using examples and references from other texts was really educational as well as enjoyable. I would recommend this book to everyone.
Buddhismus jako takový mě zajímá už delší dobu a tak jsem si tuto knihu s velkou chutí přečetla. A byla jsem moc příjemně překvapená. Četla se dobře, autor zde čtyři základní pravdy vysvětluje tak, že je chápe i člověk, který se do té doby o buddhismus nějak blíže nezajímal a hlavně, kolikrát je ukazuje na příkladech z běžného života, tak, aby byly pochopitelné pro každého z nás. Moc sympatická knížka pro každého, kdo se chce o buddhismu něco blíže dozvědět. Spousty vět, někdy dokonce i celých odstavců, jsem si podtrhávala a pak skenovala, abych si je posléze mohla nalepit na viditelná místa a den co den si je číst. Moudrá slova, která mi spoustu věcí vysvětlila. Za mě tedy rozhodě pět hvězdiček z pěti!
This is my first book-length reading on Buddhism (at least the first one I've completed), obviously I already have some preconceptions, because I've been arguing with the text the whole way.
It's also obvious that I'm not very humble about this, as much as I'm learning new information, I can't help but to suspect the way this particular "explainer" is written is rather problematic. It did claim that Buddha contradicts himself in order to condescend to "idiots" so as not to scare them away, and once they've been sufficiently enlightened they can then kick away the ladders. But I suspect the contradictions here involve more than my idioticness. There is no Buddha, but Buddha is, and what is more, Buddha is superior, because he discovered relative space-time ahead of modern science. Time "is" relative, but modern people are rigidly defined by their time as a category compared to the ancient, and that we are guilty of being worse. With all that said, everything is impermanence, and identities are illusion, so that having attachments about or valuing one thing over another is itself the cause of sufferings, which is a problem. So are "we moderns" worse, are Buddhists superiors to other religions or even modern sciences, or are these all illusory? I suspect these categories -- and time epoch -- are not illusory for this author, because the admonishing of the fallen way of modern living is fairly consistent throughout the book.
Which seems to contradict the whole non-identity, impermanence, emptiness ... idea? Doctrine? Habit of mind?
There's nothing wrong with self-help or advisory books on how one should live or see or understand, but I was hoping this would be a book about what it means to be a buddhist, or what is buddhism, which it also attempts to do, but that got drowned out by the admonishing and superlatives.
A title only a Buddhist could truly understand naturally intrigues me...this is on my list to read. I love the way the title points up the concept that, in our finiteness, we can only really define things by defining what they are not. That our minds lack the capacity to conceptualize what we truly are, (when we only think of ourselves as our solid and important selves), formless and void, nothing, merely a transitory and conditional movement of energy, that amounts to something as vague as information, something outside the space-time continuum of our experience. A relative existence, as lingering and meaningful as an automatic e-mail floating through the universe. "Angela is not in the office"
Ironically, what makes you not a Buddhist, is actually the only thing that can make you a Buddhist...that's so amusing.
The four seals (or "truths") of Buddhism in a nutshell: 1. All compounded things are impermanent. 2. All emotions are pain. 3. All things have no inherent existence. 4. Nirvana is beyond concepts.
Sounds like good time waiting to happen if you ask me...
This is one of the more accessible books on Buddhism I have read. The author does a good job of explaining the fundamental tenets and beliefs of Buddhism, and I would recommend for that reason.
Where the author loses me is in claiming that Buddhism is not a religion. Yet the origin story of the Buddha is a mythic epic, where Siddhartha faces demons and gods. As is often the case with believers of any faith, his own faith seems so true that it cannot possibly be compared with another religion, and therefore is above the label of "religion."
He writes, "Probably the biggest discovery in human history was Siddhartha’s realization that the self does not exist independently, that it is a mere label, and therefore that clinging to it is ignorance." This statement relies on faith. There is actually no evidence to back up this statement, but no doubt it seems inarguably true to those who believe it already.
This was expected when I started reading, so I still recommend this book highly for its clear explanations of Buddhism, especially the Four Seals. And I suppose also for the insight as to What Makes Me Not a Buddhist.
The phrase that sticks out in my mind from this book is "naked babies missing their sex organs" (he's talking about cherubs in Christian art).
So: hilarious! This is a fresh, witty book that challenges (and even gently mocks) the certain, um, less aware forms of western Buddhism that have developed. Where by "less aware", I mean "Orientalist" and maybe even "ignorant" - but Rinpoche is much too kind to say something so mean. Nonetheless, he DOES provide a very readable, informative guide to help a questioning western Buddhist decide whether Buddhism IS, indeed, for them. Or whether they just like the sounds of prayer bowls (who doesn't?!) and how cool the Tibetan script looks.
Despite Rinpoche's Tantric lineage (a school of Buddhism that I've always found more obfuscating than clarifying), he does a great, almost ribald-Zen-teacher-esque job of boiling Buddhism down to its essentials. Very fun.
I read this book with the intention of better understanding Buddhist thought. There are many seeming contradictions that exist in Buddhism, and being trained in Western philosophy I find some of them dubious, but I read it with as open of a mind as I could given my philosophic and religious state. What I found interesting is that anyone who has ever told me that they are interested in Buddhism have never mentioned the four–or three depending on the school–seals and their importance in grounding and determining the essence of Buddhism. Many in the West, in my experience–weary of the Abrahamic traditions–easily jump into bed with Buddhism for what they believe it is, but I wonder? Are these individuals prepared for the road that they must travel to fully and completely embrace the essence of this philosophy, that everything is impermanence?