July 18, 2010

Book Review: Buddha at the Apocalypse: Awakening from a Culture of Destruction (Kurt Spellmeyer)

It seems that every so often, the end of the world is just around the corner: Y2K, 6/6/06, 12/21/2012. Armageddon isn’t the problem, according to Spellmeyer: time is… or rather, the Western view of time is the problem.

Buddha at the Apocalypse is an analysis of how the linear view of time versus the cyclical view has corrupted our way of thinking into a method that takes us out of the moment in anticipation for some reward that is waiting for us “just over the horizon.”

The book at first appears to be something of an indictment of Christianity, whose linear worldview has so affected the Western viewpoint, but upon closer reading, it is more an observation than criticism. Yet one cannot help but wince slightly when Spellmeyer’s observation that violence is the most common response to deviation from “The Plan,” a linear mode of simple system thinking, represented by Western thought in comparison to complex system thinking, represented by Eastern, in this case specifically Zen, thought, particularly when noted that the violent reaction to unexpected change is rooted in Biblical events.

Yet destruction doesn’t have to be viewed as annihilation, it is simply change, as Spellmeyer advocates, and as such, should be viewed from a less fearful point of view. Regardless of method of thought, the message of Buddha at the Apocalypse remains the same: stop and see things in the here and now; stop waiting, fearing, hoping for the End.

From Wisdom Publications and available at your local, independent bookstore. (Shop local, shop independent, and tell ‘em you saw it on Elephant Journal.com!)

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