Dzogchen Ponlop uses REBEL BUDDHA to discuss the origins, practices, and misconceptions of Buddhism within the context of current society. He is quick to point out that it is not a theistic "religion" but a mindset, a way of life. Even then, there are many aspects of this book that can teach and encourage everyone, regardless of religious backgrounds. For instance, Buddhism advocates that kindness is the greatest gift that anyone can give because it's free and plentiful. In addition, people should never give up on others no matter how many times they get let down because they never know when their efforts will pay off. At the same time, however, it's important to note that individuals must take the time to replenish themselves so that they are able to give to others - kind of like a banking system. Therefore, selfishness is acceptable when performed in the context of "emptiness," the ultimate form of dharma.
This book doesn't address anything new or profound, but I really enjoyed approaching concepts and lessons that I already believed presented from a different perspective. Whether people are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or
Buddhist, we can all read this book and relate to the importance of equality, responsibility, kindness, and identity. While we are all products of our environments, and hold certain biases because of social mores perpetuated by them, we have the authority and power to move past them in an effort to seek a greater understanding or path. This gives me hope. We have the power to evoke positive change, but it must start within.