I came across a terrific scholar and speaker during an extended foray on the internet, Jay Michelson. I’m quite surprised I’ve not come across him before. He fits quite neatly into the “next generation” category of mindfulness practitioners — smart, pragmatic, aware of tradition but unfettered by it. I was quite impressed with his talk evolving dharma, so I sprung for the book.
While I’m waiting for it to show up, I might reread Stephen Batchelor’s Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist. Batchelor and Michaelson share a pragmatic, critical approach. Here’s an excerpt from a brief review of Batchelor’s book I wrote a while back:
One aspect of his writing that I find so refreshing is that he does not fetishize Asian practices or culture. He examines and evaluates based on what he finds useful. His struggle to reconcile his own beliefs with his practice of Tibetan Buddhism (which in the end fails) are well worth the read. In the end, he decides that the belief in karma is not far from the belief in god — in that, from his perspective, both reflect a denial of death. From that snippet alone, you see that many questions are raised. To Batchelor’s credit, he investigates quite thoroughly and writes convincingly of his experience with these issues. He explores European existential writers in order to answer some of the questions his Buddhist practice seems to leave unanswered. That constitutes the first section of the book, his life as a monk.