Noted American Buddhist teacher Levine (Against the Stream: A Buddhist Manual for Spiritual Revolutionaries, 2007, etc.) takes a no-nonsense approach to the basics of the Buddha’s teachings in this practical volume geared toward an audience of unfamiliar seekers.
The author encourages the reader to become one of the “1%ers,” who seek to live and encounter life in a very different way—both for their own good and for the good of others. A key basis to this lifestyle is to embrace compassion, which the author defines as “the experience of caring about pain and suffering—ours and others’.” Levine writes of the difficulties he faced in learning compassion after a youth filled with violence, drug abuse and crime left him struggling with anger. But through the Buddha's teachings of forgiveness and kindness, the author gained inner peace and was able to transform his life. “There is hope for external transformation only if the internal revolution is firmly grounded in loving-kindness,” he writes. Levine touches on specific teachings such as karma and tonglen, and provides a step-by-step guide to meditation as further help to the reader. Despite his didactic approach, the author has a tendency to reinforce the stereotype of American Buddhism as a spinoff of hippie culture. Levine's narrative is earthy and gritty, but too often seems to devalue the Buddhist religion and its teachings.
Hard-boiled, sometimes irreverent look at the Buddha.