Buddhism Without Beliefs
Patti Whaley, of the UK SoFN Steering Committee, reviewed Stephen Batchelor's Buddhism Without Beliefs in the May issue of the UK SoFN publication which was recently renamed "SoF".
"It's useful ... to see the furor raised among Buddhist circles by Stephen Batchelor's book. Batchelor's aim is to set aside the aspects of Buddhism that have turned it into a religion - the development of a complex body of metaphysical ideas, the elite priesthood of monks and gurus, the insistence on rebirth, the political conservatism - and extract the core characteristics of Dharma practice: compassion, awareness, emptiness, freedom."
"Central to Batchelor's approach is a proper understanding of agnosticism ... [which] ... keeps us on our spiritual toes; the absence of any final answers acts, not as a discouragement, but as an opportunity to continually reimagine and recreate the parameters of our existence."
"[His] vision of Buddhism is secular, agnostic, decentralised, and democratic; small wonder that some Buddhists regard Batchelor with the same sort of alarm that some Anglicans [and not just Anglicans! - ed] express towards Don Cupitt." [Buddhism Without Beliefs, Stephen Batchelor, Bloomsbury 1997/1998, paperback, $27.95 in NZ]
"Instead of presenting himself as a saviour, the Buddha saw himself as a healer. He presented his truths in the form of a medical diagnosis, prognosis and treatment."