Monday, September 6, 2010

Journey through Buddhist tradition

Stephen Batchelor's new book on Buddhism provokes and challenges even as it stirs up an old debate.

What Stephen Batchelor says about what the Buddha actually taught — whether you end up embracing it or not — is undeniably startling, beautiful and visionary: Gotama, he tells us, spoke of the middle way as “an ancient path travelled upon by people in the past…On following it he came upon the ruins of a city with parks, ponds, groves, ramparts, a delightful place. He tells the king to renovate the city so it would become successful, prosperous and filled with people once again…Gotama did not say the path led to nirvana but to the restoration of a city — his teaching, the Dhamma — as a template for a civilization.”

Radical shift
Buddhism, Batchelor affirms, is “not a creedal religion but a broad culture of awakening.” His new book, Confession of a Buddhist Atheist, has stirred up an old debate, dividing Buddhist circles: That the true heart of the Buddha's teaching is non-theistic, non-religious; a secular, not mystical practice. This emphasis — that the Buddha did not found a religion — is not new, but Batchelor is one of contemporary Buddhism's most respected and widely read writers and his reading that the Buddha's enlightenment “involved a radical shift of perspective than the gaining of privileged knowledge into some higher truth” has provoked, challenged (and delighted) practising Buddhists in a way that other agnostic writings on Buddhism has not.

Full report here Hindu

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