I just picked up Stephen Batchelor's new book at the library. I'm only about 60 pages in but it's quite interesting. Here is the excerpt from the jacket:
Written with the same brilliance and boldness that made Buddhism
Without Beliefs a classic in its field, Confession of a Buddhist
Atheist is Stephen Batchelor’s account of his journey through
Buddhism, which culminates in a groundbreaking new portrait of the
Stephen Batchelor grew up outside London and
came of age in the 1960s. Like other seekers of his time, instead of
going to college he set off to explore the world. Settling in India, he
eventually became a Buddhist monk in Dharamsala, the Tibetan
capital-in-exile, and entered the inner circle of monks around the Dalai
Lama. He later moved to a monastery in South Korea to pursue intensive
training in Zen Buddhism. Yet the more Batchelor read about the Buddha,
the more he came to believe that the way Buddhism was being taught and
practiced was at odds with the actual teachings of the Buddha himself.
his journey from hippie to monk to lay practitioner, teacher, and
interpreter of Buddhist thought, Batchelor reconstructs the historical
Buddha’s life, locating him within the social and political context of
his world. In examining the ancient texts of the Pali Canon, the
earliest record of the Buddha’s life and teachings, Batchelor argues
that the Buddha was a man who looked at human life in a radically new
way for his time, more interested in the question of how human beings
should live in this world than in notions of karma and the afterlife.
According to Batchelor, the outlook of the Buddha was far removed from
the piety and religiosity that has come to define much of Buddhism as we
know it today.
Both controversial and deeply personal, Confession
of a Buddhist Atheist is a fascinating exploration of a religion
that continues to engage the West. Batchelor’s insightful, deeply
knowledgeable, and persuasive account will be an essential book for
anyone interested in Buddhism.