I’ve been a follower of Buddhist philosophy for over twenty-five years. Not the religious aspect of it. I can do without that. But the philosophy behind it, the way to look at life, at the people around me, my perception of my world, that all appeals to me. And although I’m far from perfect, I try to adhere to the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path as best I can.I’ve read quite a few books about Buddhism, as well. Of course, they’ve all been written from a religious angle. So when I’ve worked on educating myself, I’ve had to focus on the rational points and read the spiritual more like mythology. What I’ve been looking for is a book that doesn’t denigrate the religion, but would allow me to better understand the real teachings, the words the Buddha taught without filter and interpretation.
Luckily, I stumbled upon Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor. Here I found what I’d been looking for, a simple deconstruction of Buddhism with a focus on the philosophy.
At a simple 115 pages (plus a few more covering sources), Batchelor argues that the Buddha never set out to create a religion. Instead, he simply wanted to help people better themselves and the world around them through a handful of basic tenets. No gods or goddesses, no spirituality, just a focus on understanding how we can improve ourselves mentally and better adapt to the world around us.
I posted earlier this week about a line from the book that resonated with me, and that was only one of dozens that stuck with me.
Batchelor, a practicing Buddhist, trained in monasteries and has been teaching for decades. I found his insight to be extraordinary. He gently, and without denigration, breaks down the how’s and why’s of Buddhist teachings, stripping away the religious aspects to reveal a simple and easily understood path to understanding ourselves.
Even if you aren’t religious, or are a following of a specific dogma, Buddhism Without Beliefs can still have something for you. Outside of meditation and practice, there is a lot of practical points that can help you to calm your inner turmoil, help you understand your actions and reactions, and maybe even bring you some peace of mind.
I highly recommend this book. Like I mentioned above, it’s a quick read, but even so, there’s a lot to unpack. Give it a try and see what speaks to you. You have nothing to lose, but so much to gain.
“So what are we but the story we keep repeating, editing, consoling, and embellishing in our heads?” – Stephen Batchelor