Ramblings of a Mad Outlaw
by Batch G. Brennan

"There is the social/human world, but there is that underlying, limitless world of the creator, the artist, the Buddha."

This nonfiction first-person text is a longish foray into the inscrutable and difficult highways of what human consciousness and its values entail. Coming from a Western psychotherapeutic and scientific tradition of measurement and repetition of results, the writer attempts to expand, or perhaps integrate more holistically, the hierarchy of Maslow's needs, which he refers to as the social self, with a greater appreciation or "enlightenment" based on the Eastern model of sunyata or the non-verbal experience of the sublime.

There is a logical progression of the structure of the work, with interesting asides and guided meditations that the author uses to attempt to give a feel for what he is trying to communicate. His elliptical and meandering progression, while incorporating modern science's views on ego states, also explores their analogical correspondence to non-local and other "spooky” activities of the quantum world. These he relates to a Zen or perhaps even tantric understanding of so-called reality.

One isn’t hammered over the head with Buddhist sutras or presented with a more elaborate thangka than a "laughing Buddha” by the author. Brennan is more likely to embroil the reader in some kind of extended Socratic dialogue that pauses momentarily for a guided reflection that sweeps away possible misconceptions the reader might be harboring. The first long section of the book deals more with psychology, with some interesting discussion of strong and weak ego states that the author compares to strong and weak nuclear forces. A more generally Buddhist approach to psychological questions is explored in the second part. The last part is more purely Buddhist, with the eightfold path and visualization methods described in clear language. More an instruction book rather than an argument for this or that school of thought, this book is quite Zen in feel and flavor.

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