The Gods Drink Whiskey

The Gods Drink Whiskey : Stumbling Toward Enlightenment in the Land of the Tattered Buddha

3.83 (302 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

A sometimes funny, always thoughtful, action-packed spiritual travelogue through Southeast Asia where the oldest form of Buddhism is slowly emerging from its post-Khmer Rouge oppression.

The Gods Drink Whiskey is about a relatively unexplored part of Buddhism--the Theravada Buddhist tradition (considered the oldest and purest form of Buddhism, which focuses on the historical Buddha) as it is manifested in Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, etc.). An accomplished teacher, Asma tells wonderful, exciting stories about his time in Southeast Asia teaching Buddhist philosophy in Phnom Penh years after that area (and its religion) was decimated in the early 70s by the Communist Khmer Rouge and the invasion by US and Vietnamese troops. Through his first-hand experiences (of drinking with holy men and poets, encounters with overzealous Christian evangelical missionaries, witnessing a political assassination, climbing mountains to visit ancient animistic temples, observing the clash of Western pop culture and Southeast Asian culture, etc.), Asma successfully teaches the reader a great deal about Buddhism.

In addition to observations on Western/Eastern culture clash which these books provide, the edge Asma has going for him is his academic credentials and interests which focus his book more on explaining the tenets and history of Buddhism within the context of a lively travelogue.

o For armchair travellers and those interested in Buddhism and Eastern Philosophy.

o Asma has a wonderful narrative style that draws the reader in and keeps them reading-he's a born storyteller, and this book is all about the stories-both his and the unusual people and places he meets.

o There has been relatively little written about the Theravada Buddhist tradition (the oldest branch, which focuses on the historical Buddha); Asma explores and immerses himself in Theravada Buddhism as it's practiced in Southeast Asia, and finds it much different than he expected.

o Asma has taught Buddhism for several years, and in his travels, experienced Buddhism in its many forms.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 144 x 210 x 26mm | 358.34g
  • HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Reinforced binding Reinforced binding Reinforced binding
  • 0060723955
  • 9780060723958

Review quote

"Gods is a raw, heartbreaking confluence of religion and adventure rarely encountered in works of nonfiction these days."--Shambhala Sun "Intense and revelatory . . . an electrifying and frank mix of hair-rising anecdotes and expert analysis."--Booklist "A must-read for anyone with spiritual stirrings who finds organized religion wanting and Buddhism, American-style, deeply flawed."--Seattle Times "This may be an account of the ultimate intellectual hippie road trip."--Dallas Morning News "Candid, funny, and insightful . . . an enjoyable read for both the practicing Buddhist and the casual seeker."--Beliefnet.com
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About Stephen T. Asma

Stephen T. Asma is a professor of Buddhism at Columbia College in Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of the illustrated, bestselling Buddha for Beginners and the highly acclaimed Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads: The Culture and Evolution of Natural History Museums.
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Rating details

302 ratings
3.83 out of 5 stars
5 23% (70)
4 45% (135)
3 25% (77)
2 6% (18)
1 1% (2)
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