Former Tibetan and Zen monk Batchelor approaches Buddhism idiosyncratically. He sketches the historical Buddha to clear up numerous misconceptions, discover who the man Siddhattha Gotama was, and learn what is distinctive and original in his teachings, especially the Pali Canon attributed to him. But Batchelor also offers his own story: his decision to become a monk when he was still a teenaged London hippie during the countercultural 1960s, and his return to the secular world a decade later. Although the historical background is important and crucial to the book, the personal story really shines out, entraining the reader in Batchelor’s often complicated life as a seeker who never stops searching, as he discusses his long fascination with Buddhism and his struggle to accept, or at least come to terms with, some doctrines, such as reincarnation, that were alien to his former belief system. He concludes with his reflections as a 56-year-old secular, nondenominational, lay Buddhist now living in rural France.