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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What Makes You not a Buddhist


Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse

Shambala (2007)

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse was born in Bhutan in 1961. He is the head of the Dzongsar monastery and college, through which he is responsible for 1600 monks living in six monasteries. Why then, one may ask, would he write a book about not being a Buddhist?

Not a Buddhist is enjoyable, thought provoking, and not difficult reading. Encased in one of the best dust jackets seen on books released last year, DJK uses Siddhartha’s life to explain certain aspects of practicing Buddhism. By following Siddhartha’s path, the reader explores the concepts of impermanence, pain and suffering, illusion, and release from delusion. Five packed chapters trace these ideas and enable us to incorporate techniques into our own awareness and understanding. Each individual chapter stands alone as an excellent section on reading, learning, and awareness.

Over 35 years ago, I recall reading Hesse’s Siddhartha, and being intoxicated with its magic, I devoured most of Hesse’s work. Having just finished Not a Buddhist this past week, I look back and reflect on those eye-opening times .

Through this wonderful short book, DJK explains Buddhism clearly and simply, as well as helping the reader grasp what is, in fact, not practicing Buddhism.