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Book Review: Rebel Buddha

November 22, 2010

“Rebel Buddha”
By Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche
Published By Shambhala Publications

This has got to be the most clear and concise take on Buddhism for the Western audience. Without all the buzzwords and mysticism, DPR breaks down the facade many folks in the West have of Buddhism and other Eastern religions/ philosophies.

“Rebel Buddha” briefly tells the story of DPR’s upbringing. From the revolutionary 60’s to the current status of the West, his insights and instruction are distinct. I love his comparison to the age of the US to that of a young child, still asking questions and still trying to find our identity and direction in the world, “Who am I?”

Many of us, when we find some sort of path or direction we choose to follow, we want to immerse ourselves in it. I can’t say at first I didn’t get caught up in that. I still have my mala beads but they mean more now than when I first got them and they were some sort of “badge”, or something to trigger folks to ask me what they are and I can talk about how cool I am because I’m Buddhist. I was always going into this Tibetan Shop, looking for stuff on Ebay, etc. That wore off though once I started to understand what is really happening, it’s an inner change, not an outer one.

DPR explains it WAY better than I can, “We’re not practicing Indian culture to become Indian, or practicing Japanese or Tibetan culture to become Japanese or Tibetan. Our purpose is to discover who we truly are, to connect with our own wisdom.”

DPR succinctly explains the reasons we are all doing this thing, why we are trying to break free from the cycle of samsara, why we are trying to overcome suffering. It’s not some wippy dippy “we all need to happy” path of awakening, it’s something much larger than that. We all have the capacity within us to experience this genuine happiness, a happiness that involves being open to everything, while ridding ourselves of the negative doo-doo. Only with the true wisdom of the “Rebel Buddha” can we buck the trends and begin to think for ourselves.

While DPR has garnered quite the number of followers both online and in the real world, he remains humble. It’s quite refreshing to hear and read someone explain the Dharma in a way that is not watered down, but is also not so intellectual one just gets a headache trying to understand all the mumbo jumbo.

At the end of the book, as is the same with the rest, there are very clear instruction on meditation and how to bring it into one’s daily life.

“Rebel Buddha” could very well become one of the most important books in breaking down the mythos of Buddhism. There may be some out there that say it’s not intellectual enough, but I don’t believe that was the intent here.

DPR and “Rebel Buddha” have come at the right time I think, Buddhism seems to be exploding lately and for those that are new to the path and looking for a practical explanation, this will be the first book I recommend.

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