Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World

Yale Univ. Feb. 2017. 296p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780300223231. pap. $27.50. REL
OrangeReviewStarBatchelor (Buddhism Without Beliefs) has long advocated that Buddhism would flourish best in Western societies as a secular practice without such religious doctrines as karma or the cycle of rebirth. This anthology spans the 1990s to the present, showing the development of the author's ideas and how the principles he proposes are lived. Although none of the articles in this volume go into the critical depth needed to evaluate his overall project of reimagining Buddhism, it's clear from the literary methods he used to approach Buddhist texts (particularly the Pali canon) that the author is not intending to refashion Buddhism simply to meet his secular tastes. Even some of his most controversial contentions, such as a radical reevaluation of the Four Noble Truths, depend on an attempt to recover the texts rather than recasting a religion as a pragmatic philosophy.
VERDICT Aimed at a broad audience, this work should appeal to anyone interested in exploring Buddhism within a rigorous framework that is both conversant with and challenging to a Western intellectual heritage.

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