November 29, 2010

Book review: Rebel Buddha: On the Road to Freedom (Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche)

Let’s face it, rebels are a pain in the ass even though we love them in movies and the like because they don’t take things at face value, and when it comes to our spiritual journeys neither should we.

In Rebel Buddha, Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche follows in the footsteps of the original teachings of the Buddha by encouraging the reader to eschew that which doesn’t make sense, even that which exists within a cultural context, and he does it without devaluing his or other cultures. Pointing out that the historical Buddha was himself a cultural and spiritual rebel, the book connects past to the present by comparing the Buddha to more contemporary cultural and spiritual rebels like Martin Luther King, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Nelson Mandela to name a few.

Rebel Buddha presents Buddhist philosophy and thought in contemporary terms and language, making it more palatable for a Western audience, especially for the digital generation, by taking Buddhism out of the trappings of culture and placing it into 21st century Western context, with a specific section addressing Buddhism in the States.

Written in a playful yet direct style, Rebel Buddha is one of the more important Buddhist teaching books to come out in a while, and will definitely be on my “best of” list for this year. From Shambhala Publications and available from your local, independent bookseller. (Shop local, shop independent, and tell ‘em you saw it on Elephant Journal!)

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