I AM NOT A BUDDHIST by Charity Seraphina Fields


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In her debut, a student of Buddhism gives her impressions of the religious, philosophical and cultural implications of the Buddha’s teachings.

According to Fields, there are no Buddhists—only individuals practicing Buddhism. This idea drives her ambitious book and gives it its name. It’s a fitting supposition, as the book feels like one written by both a Buddhist and by an outsider. Fields doesn’t present an introduction or explanation of the ancient Eastern religion; instead she seeks to explain motivations—of the Buddha, his followers, and those in other philosophical, scientific and religious fields which sometimes overlap with Buddha’s teachings. She also weaves in a mini-memoir of her own experiences with Buddhism. While this blend of analysis and biography can be fascinating, it often lacks the structure needed to keep it moving forward. Large chunks of text are devoted to intriguing but boggling asides—such as an analysis of suffering that devolves into a hypothesis about aliens. Another section presents an analogy using linguistics, causality and quantum physics that carries on far too long. This isn’t to say that these asides are irrelevant, however; they provide a multifaceted frame around Buddhism, illustrating its lasting relevance and its relationship to modern life. Supportive quotes and references to contemporary minds and works do the same (Steve Jobs, Georg Cantor, Richard Dawkins and even the Harry Potter series), as do the author’s comparisons of Buddhism to Christianity, Hinduism and other belief systems. In the end, however, this wandering, opinionated book never fully reconciles its simple Buddhist themes with its complex examples, metaphors and digressions.

An often charming glance at Buddhism that unfortunately gets lost in its details.

Pub Date: July 4th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1475085662
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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