“Why I Am a Buddhist: No-Nonsense Buddhism with Red Meat and Whiskey” by Stephen T. Asma is an entertaining and interesting look at the author’s journey into the practice of Buddhism that sheds light on much of what the practice can offer. It’s definitely not like most Buddhism books you’ll find on the shelf. At times, those more familiar with traditional texts will scratch their heads and ponder, “Did he really just say that?” And that’s one of the things I really liked about this book. It offers a realistic approach, because it is the approach taken by Asma. It’s worked for him, and you may just find that it is okay to practice as you seem fit, not as others tell you, and it can work for you.
The book actually contains many traditional lessons and is well researched in that aspect. For the reader who knows nothing about Buddhism, there is a lot of information here to assist with knowing the differences between types of Buddhism practices and the basic teachings that are taught in these schools. However, the real meat of the text, which I like that the author says you can practice Buddhism and still eat meat, is the author’s personal journey and his reflections on how a person can live as a Buddhist in today’s society.
For anyone who has wondered about Buddhism as a spiritual practice to discover oneself, or if you just want to know more about Buddhism and don’t want to read a classical text full of creeds and dogma, this book is an “enlightening” look at the Buddhist path toward enlightenment. It’s not so much religion, but a practice that has helped the author, and just might help you too.