This book argues that we have got it wrong in the West in our pursuit of what we consider to be ‘self’: an autonomous, self-driven, entrepreneurial entity, always on, always positive and always improving. This is a neoliberal self, stripped of the social. In what is a radical critique, this book argues that this view is deeply harmful and the source of much of our suffering. More, through what is called the ‘therapy culture’, life hacks and self-improvement programmes, we have learned to endlessly dig deeper into this view to try and ‘fix’ ourselves, resulting in increased suffering.
* brings together sets of ideas that have not been brought into dialogue before (critiques of neo-liberalism and Buddhist thought).
* unpacks often complex ideas to make them available for the general reader.
* The author is a long-standing practitioner of zen-buddhist, a social scientist and a trained psychotherapist who draws on direct and often personal insights, and scholarly expertise, from all three worlds.
The book suggests that we need a conceptual jail-break from this view and that Zen Buddhism, in its clear- sighted and penetrating critique and very different account of a self, holds out the possibility of both our liberation and of a kinder world. The book thus speaks directly to our current obsessions with well being, happiness and mental health but does so from a view that ‘self’ and ‘other’ are not separate and understanding this is key to human flourishing.
The author, a social scientist, trained psychotherapist and Zen practitioner, draws into this book many divergent sets of ideas to offer this critique, from the social sciences and psychology, from psychotherapy, the history of Buddhism and from Zen.
Written for the general reader, the book assumes no prior knowledge of either neoliberalism or of Buddhist thought. All it requires is a willingness to let go of some preconceived ideas and a curiosity about a different way of being.