Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


Living With The Devil: book event

Living With The Devil

Former buddhist monk Stephen Batchelor will speak on the theme of his latest book, Living With The Devil: a Meditation on Good and Evil, a work on humankind's greatest struggle -- to become good -- at the National Library Auditorium, cnr Aitken & Molesworth Streets, Wellington, on Thursday 2 December at 7:30pm.

This talk will take place during Batchelor's visit to New Zealand to lead a 4-day residential retreat for Wellington's insight meditation community at Riverslea Lodge, Otaki. He will be leading the retreat alongside his wife Martine Batchelor, a former buddhist nun who is also a buddhist teacher and writer. The focus of the retreat is 'Deep Agnosticism'.

In this talk and in his book, Batchelor traces the trajectory -- from the words of Buddha and Christ, through the writings of Shantideva, Milton and Pascal, to the poetry of Baudelaire and the fiction of Kafka -- of those obstacles that keep us from doing what's in our own and others' best interest. He shows us the myriad forms those obstacles take: a wandering farmer, a caring friend, a devout religious believer, a powerful king, even a frustrated old man who doodles in the sand when he cannot snare the Buddha.

The devil need not appear with horns and a forked tail; it stands for everything that paralyses one's innate wisdom, freedom and empathy, thereby blocking one's path in life. In a world of black and white, Stephen Batchelor paints in shades of grey, showing what it means to live in an ambiguous and precarious environment that constantly tempts us away from what we hold to be good.

Drawing on classic religious texts from east and west as well as the findings of modern physics and evolutionary biology, he asks us to examine who we really are, and to rest in the uncertainty that we may never know. For the alternative to this creative unknowing is to freeze ourselves inside rigid definitions of self -- the very work of Mara, the demonic figure that appeared to Buddha -- and blindly follow the feeling that we are "self-begot" (Milton), independent and permanent. To be free from such diabolic constriction entails creating a path that imbues one's life with purpose, freedom and compassion.

This is a hopeful book about living with life's contradictions. Stephen Batchelor argues that freedom from the demonic is not achieved by suppressing it or projecting it onto others, but by calmly and clearly recognising and understanding those inhibiting and destructive powers as they well up from within us and assail us from without. Such an approach not only releases the grip in which the devil holds us, it opens up the world as an astonishing play of endless flux and contingency. This leads to a perspective of vigilant care from which we can respond to the cries of the world rather than reacting to them out of habitual self-interest and fear.

Living With The Devil: a Meditation on Good and Evil was published by Riverhead Books (a Penguin Group USA imprint) in July 2004.


Stephen Batchelor was a buddhist monk for ten years, first in the Tibetan gelugpa tradition and then in the Korean zen tradition. He disrobed in 1985 and returned to England where he became co-ordinator of the Sharpham Trust and then co-founder of the Sharpham College for Buddhist Studies and Contemporary Enquiry in 1996. He also worked as a buddhist chaplain at a nearby prison. From 1990 he has been a guiding teacher at Gaia House meditation centre in Devon and since 1992 a contributing editor of Tricycle: the buddhist review. He works as a writer and photographer and travels worldwide to lead meditation retreats and teach buddhism.

He is the translator and author of numerous books and articles on buddhism including The Faith to Doubt, Alone with Others and the bestselling Buddhism Without Beliefs. He has recently published sixty colour and black and white photographs in Martine Batchelor's Meditation for Life. Living With the Devil: a Meditation on Good and Evil is Stephen's latest book. He lives in southwest France with his wife Martine.


To find out more about Stephen Batchelor visit

To find out more about Wellington's insight meditation community, visit

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Scoop Review Of Books: Almost Getting Away With Murder

The Black Widow by Lee-Anne Cartier: Lee-Anne Cartier is the sister of the Christchurch man found to have been murdered by his wife, Helen Milner, after an initial assumption by police that his death, in 2009, was suicide. More>>

Howard Davis: Triple Echo - The Malevich/Reinhardt/Hotere Nexus

Howard Davis: The current juxtaposition of works by Ralph Hotere and Ad Reinhardt at Te Papa perfectly exemplifies Jean Michel Massing's preoccupation with the transmigration of imagery in a remarkable triple echo effect... More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: Nō Tāu Manawa

Vaughan Rapatahana responds to Fale Aitu | Spirit House by Tusiata Avi.

9 Golds - 21 Medals: NZ Team Celebrates As Rio 2016 Paralympic Games Close

The entire New Zealand Paralympic Team, led by kiwi sprinter and double gold medallist Liam Malone as flag bearer, are on the bus to the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro for the Closing Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. There, they will celebrate the fantastic successes of the past 10 days. More>>


New Zealand Improv Festival: The Festival Of Moments To Return To The Capital

The eighth incarnation of the New Zealand Improv Festival comes to BATS Theatre this 4-8 October , with a stellar line-up of spontaneous theatre and instant comedy performed and directed by top improvisors from around New Zealand and the world. More>>


CDF Tim Keating: NZ Somme Centenary

"Our generals also knew what to expect, and they built that knowledge into their planning. Each of the four set-piece attacks was fought with a single brigade, with the expectation that the brigade would be used up. A fresh brigade would then be brought up to conduct the next set-piece..." More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news