The Art of Solitude


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Stephen Batchelor

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In a time of social distancing and isolation, a meditation on the beauty of solitude from renowned Buddhist writer Stephen Batchelor
A Los Angeles Review of Books “Best of the Year” selection
“Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it. A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Elegant and formally ingenious.”—Geoff Wisner, Wall Street Journal
When world renowned Buddhist writer Stephen Batchelor turned sixty, he took a sabbatical from his teaching and turned his attention to solitude, a practice integral to the meditative traditions he has long studied and taught. He aimed to venture more deeply into solitude, discovering its full extent and depth.
This beautiful literary collage documents his multifaceted explorations. Spending time in remote places, appreciating and making art, practicing meditation and participating in retreats, drinking peyote and ayahuasca, and training himself to keep an open, questioning mind have all contributed to Batchelor’s ability to be simultaneously alone and at ease. Mixed in with his personal narrative are inspiring stories from solitude’s devoted practitioners, from the Buddha to Montaigne, from Vermeer to Agnes Martin.
In a hyperconnected world that is at the same time plagued by social isolation, this book shows how to enjoy the inescapable solitude that is at the heart of human life.

Stephen Batchelor is a teacher and scholar of Buddhism. He is the author of numerous works, including Buddhism Without Beliefs, Living with the Devil, Confession of a Buddhist Atheist, Secular Buddhism, and After Buddhism.

The Art of Solitude is a marvel. Carefully constructed and entirely original, it sings with a haunting melody of wistful contemplation. Reading it is a true joy.”—Mark Epstein, author of Thoughts without a Thinker

“Forty years in the making, The Art of Solitude could not have come at a better time or from anyone else. Beautifully written, Batchelor’s wisdom shines through on every page, leading the reader on an engaging and illuminating journey into the very needed solitude about which he writes.”—Judson Brewer, author of The Craving Mind

“With his long experience of Buddhism, meditation, and teaching it is hard to think of anyone better equipped to write about the art of solitude than Stephen Batchelor.”—Tim Parks

“In this exquisite contemplation on solitude that is intimate, brave, and wise, Batchelor brings us to the vast center of his life and realization.”—Roshi Joan Halifax, Abbot, Upaya Zen Center

“Batchelor's graceful writing guides us to the innermost recesses of solitude, illuminating it as a practice, way of life, and inescapable dimension of being human.”—Evan Thompson, author of Why I Am Not a Buddhist and Waking, Dreaming, Being

“This is a deeply insightful, clear, and extremely enjoyable exploration on the nature of solitude.  By drawing upon our spiritual traditions and sharing his own personal contemplative and psychedelic experiences, Stephen Batchelor brilliantly underscores the importance of cultivating the ineffable wisdom found in solitude.”—Anthony P. Bossis, New York University School of Medicine

“Stephen Batchelor’s essays on solitude share the deep wisdom of a remarkable philosopher-contemplative who has devoted his life to study, meditation, and reflection on the deepest questions of life.”—Roger Walsh, University of California

“Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it. A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.”—Kirkus Reviews

"A wide-ranging work with many poignant assertions that will appeal to those wishing to learn more about the spiritual aspects of practicing mindfulness."—Brian Renvall, Library Journal

“Elegant and formally ingenious.”—Geoff Wisner, Wall Street Journal

“Batchelor considers solitude not as a state of mind, but ‘as a practice, a way of life — as understood by the Buddha and Montaigne alike.’ It is not isolation or alienation, though these are its shadow side. Rather, it is a way of caring for one’s soul, of sheltering it from noise and agitation, of directing it toward its authentic purpose. Batchelor is less interested in defining an ideal form of solitude than in meditating on the ways it can be practiced and exercised, lost and regained.” —Irina Dumitrescu, Los Angeles Review of Books

“Stephen Batchelor draws on his life from monasticism to marriage, with teachers from Montaigne to the Buddha to Rilke, to remind us why solitude has always been and will always be an element of well-being and even the richness of our relationships with others. And how to turn that into graceful practice. . . . I interviewed him once before about his practice of secular Buddhism and reached out again after he wrote a wonderful new book, The Art of Solitude.”—Krista Tippett, On Being

Stephen Batchelor’s The Art of Solitude is a timely arrival during these dark times of worldwide pandemic.”—Asqa Ijaz, Dawn

A Los Angeles Review of Books “Best of the Year” selection
ISBN: 9780300261523
Publication Date: January 11, 2022
200 pages, 5 x 7 3/4
1 b/w illus.
After Buddhism

Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age

Stephen Batchelor

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Secular Buddhism

Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World

Stephen Batchelor

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