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In this simple but important volume, Stephen Batchelor reminds us that the Buddha was not a mystic who claimed privileged, esoteric knowledge of the universe, but a man who challenged us to understand the nature of anguish, let go of its origins, and bring into being a way of life that is available to us all. The concepts and practices of Buddhism, says Batchelor, are not something to believe in but something to do—and as he explains clearly and compellingly, it is a practice that we can engage in, regardless of our background or beliefs, as we live every day on the path to spiritual enlightenment.
<p>Charting his journey from hippie to monk to lay practitioner, teacher, and interpreter of Buddhist thought, Batchelor reconstructs the historical Buddha's life, locating him within the social and political context of his world. In examining the ancient texts of the Pali Canon, the earliest record of the Buddha's life and teachings, Batchelor argues that the Buddha was a man who looked at human life in a radically new way for his time, more interested in the question of how human beings should live in this world than in notions of karma and the afterlife. According to Batchelor, the outlook of the Buddha was far removed from the piety and religiosity that has come to define much of Buddhism as we know it today.</p>
<p>Whether we are religious or not, the Devil--evil incarnate--is a concept that can still strike fear in our hearts. What if he does exist? What if he is causing all our problems in his determination to keep us from reaching our full potential? Buddhist philosopher Stephen Batchelor takes the concept of the Devil out of literature and history and brings him to life in his many forms and guises: the flatterer, the playmate, the caring friend, the stranger who offers rest and solace, the person who knows you best and shows you your greatness in the world. And, most of all, as the great obstructer that blocks all paths to goodness and true humility. For the first time, Batchelor fuses Western literature--Milton, Keats, Baudelaire--with Buddhism and the Judeo-Christian traditions in a poetic exploration of the struggle with the concept and reality of evil.--From publisher description.</p>