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The Monk and the Philosopher: A Father and Son Discuss the Meaning of Life (1998)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0805211039, Paperback)The Monk and the Philosopher is a collection of father-son dialogues between Jean-François Revel, a French philosopher and journalist famous for his leadership in protests of both Christianity and Communism, and Matthieu Ricard, his son, who gave up a promising career as a scientist to become a Buddhist monk in the Himalayas. The conversations recorded in this book took place during 10 days at an inn in Katmandu. The range of their subjects is immense: What is Buddhism? Why does it have such appeal to many in the West? Why do Buddhists believe in reincarnation? What are the differences between Buddhist and Christian monastic life? How do science and individualism make authentic Buddhist practice difficult for Westerners to achieve? Despite the simplicity of many of these questions, Revel and Ricard never give simplistic answers. Their discussions are rich without being dense, and, even more notably, they take every question very personally. The result is a book perfectly suited as an introduction to the elements of Buddhist religion (with a good bit of Tibetan history thrown in) that is also an excellent description of what it has been like for one man (Ricard) to practice Buddhist faith. However, as Ricard wisely notes at the end of this book, "No dialogue, however enlightening it might be, could ever be a substitute for the silence of personal experience, so indispensable for an understanding of how things really are." The greatest strength of The Monk and the Philosopher may be its power to return readers to careful attention to the way we pass our days. --Michael Joseph Gross
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:00:50 -0400)
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