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What makes you not a Buddhist?

What makes you not a Buddhist is a very provocative question especially to us people who claim ourselves to be Buddhist. A book by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, What makes you not a Buddhist is very lucid with simple language and interestingly a very influential guide for common people like me. But frankly speaking, even after reading it for second time, I have had very little insight of it and I can hardly make myself clear if I am really a Buddhist. May be that is because of the 'Jinlaab' the book and the Dharma at large have and my merits being unable to grasp. But all the more I enjoyed reading and I would love to read it again.

"You may not not have been born in Buddhist country or to a Buddhist family, you may not wear robes or shave your head, you may eat meat and idolize Eminem and Paris Hilton. That doesn't mean you can't be a Buddhist." is very inspiring and stimulating lines in the introduction of the book by Rinpoche.

Rinpoche illustrates with the life of Buddha and the modern practical approach towards relating the concepts like emptiness,Enlightenment, heaven and hell. With unusual force and originality,  Rinpoche explains and expresses the essence of Buddhism in four main parts, the four truths, which if we accept makes us Buddhists: Rinpoche challenges us with the following four main questions:

  • Can you accept that all things are impermanent and that there is no essential substance or concept that is permanent?
  • Can you accept that all emotions bring pain and suffering and there is no emotion that is purely pleasurable?
  • Can you accept that all phenomena are illusory and empty?
  • Can you accept that enlightenment is beyond concepts; that it's not a perfect blissful heaven, but instead a release from delusion?

Only if we are able to answer the above questions with unequivocal "yes" can we be truly consider our self a Buddhist according to Rinpoche. That was when I asked myself, if I was really a Buddhist? I feel everyone should read the book and see our self we are really Buddhist.

PS: I would like to Thank a friend of mine, Mr. Phuntsho Tashi, a monk at Mindrolling College, Dehradun, India for lending me this Book.

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