Book Review: The Challenge of the Mind (Ryuho Okawa)

I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads Link

Ragdoll Rating: NO!

Recommended For: NO!

About the Book…

“The Challenge of the Mind is an excellent guide to exploring the infinite potential of our mind from Buddha’s perspective. In this book, author Ryuho Okawa shows how we can apply the essential teachings of Buddha to our lives and cultivate deep wisdom and promote a happy, peaceful everyday life.”

This is the first section of the description of this book provided on Netgalley. Please be aware that I cannot speak for the entirety of this book, as I stopped reading after the first section (6 chapters). However, from what I did manage to get through, was most definitely not an excellent guide to anything, let alone Buddhism as I understand it.

I read for a while, getting increasingly confused and irritated, and found myself thinking “This sounds like a cult handbook” and then I looked up the author and the Happy Science movement, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s a cult handbook…allegedly.

What I thought…

The first thing that set me off in this book was the authors constant need to differentiate between Buddhism and I suppose every other religion, although it specifically mentions Christianity, and boy does it keep going on about it. It starts off by saying that there are 2 types of religion, one type treats god and man as separate things. Man cannot become god no matter what they do. The other type doesn’t, apparently.

Now I have to point out, I know there are some esoteric forms of Buddhism out there and I don’t for a minute pretend I understand them all but then the book starts saying things like this.

“Buddhism teaches the integration of human beings with God.”

‘A “buddha” is someone who has experienced a human life on Earth and returned to the other world to live there as a high spirit with divine powers.’

“Just as diamonds are graded, people settle in different dimensions in the other world depending on how polished their souls are.’

‘A person who has attained a seventh-dimension level of enlightenment in this world will return to the world in the seventh-dimension…’

‘…some souls have evolved while others have not.’

“Buddha let this universe unfold under a single law.’

‘…human beings are surrounded by two worlds, this three-dimensional world and the other world. This latter world is the original home of human beings and so is also called “the real world.”

“Who is the one who can save herself? She is a god.”

‘By learning and mastering the laws, we can save ourselves; in other words, we can become divine spirits.”

And my personal favourite:

“Today, there are numerous sects that call themselves Buddhist, but their teachings are a long way from the true teachings of the Buddha.”

All this is mixed together with words like ’cause and effect’, ‘reincarnation’, ‘causality’ and ‘spirituality’ to give it an air of respectability. The chapters are short and repetitive, repeating the same basic theme, which for part 1 was cause and effect and blends it with weird vaguely spiritual buzzwords and feel-good “you could be a magic Buddha wizard if you buy my book” kind of vibes. Oh, and the author continues to constantly point out how ‘different’ Buddhism (or whatever this is) is from other religions, especially the Abrahamic ones.

The preface to the book also includes some particularly unsettling red flags:

“This book will serve as an excellent guide for those who are long for the mystical world of religion…”

“…reading this book is proof that you are…a real intellectual.”

“True religion teaches…”

“…reached a higher perspective…”

To be honest, I should have stopped reading as soon as I finished that page, but I thought I’d give it a chance. I think pretty much everyone will understand why these statements and others like them set off alarm bells in my head.

Final Thoughts…

Usually I would give book a rating from 1/2 a button to 5 buttons depending on how much I liked it (or not).

I have never give a ‘NO!‘ before. It’s not for me to tell you to not buy a book, you buy what you want – usually – but this book just set off alarm bells in my head, and considering it’s supposed to be a factual, religious book (if you feel the need to debate my use of the word factual in relation to religion, do it somewhere else please) and quite frankly that is a problem. I would hate somebody to go away with this book and think this is what Buddhism is. I’m not saying none of it is, but it most certainly isn’t like any Buddhism I’ve ever come across.

Frankly, all this book needed was a mention of Orgones (Youtube: Peep Show – Jez Joins a Cult) for me to set my kindle on fire to remove the taint.

Ultimately, you read it if you like. Call it research, or maybe it just appeals to you, it’s not my place to judge. But personally it sets my teeth on edge.

Please Note: I received a copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

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