Interview with author, Stephen Asma

I recently had the opportunity to speak, briefly by e-mail, with author of “Why I Am A Buddhist…” and “Buddha, A Beginners Guide”.

PM: Hi Stephen, thanks for taking some time to talk with me. I just got done
reading your book, “Why I Am A Buddhist…”, and I’m glad you wrote it.
You mention at the beginning, people may not know you, so why pick the book up? Here’s a small opportunity to let people know just who you are. What’s your background? Do you follow any particular tradition/ lineage? Why Buddhism?

Stephen Asma: I’m a professor of philosophy at Columbia College in Chicago, and Buddhist philosophy is one of my areas of interest. I lived in Cambodia for a while and also China, studying and teaching Buddhism. I’ve studied Buddhism in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Hong Kong. I’ve written three books on Buddhism, and I tend to stress the Theravada traditions of Southeast Asia.

I learned about Buddhism originally when I was in high school, because I really liked Zen art forms, but then I started studying its philosophy formally in college. After I got my PhD I travelled throughout Asia and studied Buddhism “on the ground” so to speak. I think Buddhism has wonderful psychological techniques for disciplining the mind and bringing greater tranquility into one’s life –no matter what culture you were raised in.

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Book Review: Why I Am A Buddhist

“Why I Am A  Buddhist: No-Nonsense Buddhism with Red Meat and Whiskey”
Written by Stephen Asma PhD
Published by Hampton Roads

Stephen T. Asma has a PhD in Philosophy and is currently teaching Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Humanities at Columbia College Chicago. He currently holds the “title” of Distinguished Scholar at Columbia as well.

I saw the PhD at the end of Stephen’s name, and based on my own assumptions and aversion to reading “technical” Buddhist books, I was pleasantly surprised that this book was not a textbook or some overly confusing book written a language most of us don’t speak. I am by no stretch saying it is a simple book either, what I am saying it is understandable and enjoyable. Continue reading →