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The Unofficial Buddhist

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What is an unofficial Buddhist? Someone whose monastery is their living room! This book explores Buddhist-inspired teaching and practice for today’s secular world – but outside the monastic traditions of Buddhism.

The Unofficial Buddhist seeks to find a middle way between ancient and modern worldviews, religious and secular approaches, and Asian and western cultural attitudes. Drawing on traditional Theravada and modern Zen sources, it suggests practical ways of engaging with the Buddha’s ancient path of morality and meditation, leading towards the wisdom of awakening.

Western Buddhists often practise with friends or alone. Perhaps they have no local Buddhist centre, or haven’t found those nearby appealing – or they’re wary of organized religion in general. These ‘unofficial Buddhists’ have been called Buddhism’s ‘new pioneers’, exploring the inner territory of how to practise the Buddha’s teaching in the modern world. In both Europe and North America, they’re probably more numerous than any of the traditional groups.

So if you have been practising Buddhism without finding a local centre where you feel comfortable – or if you are outside Buddhism, but looking in with interest – you are probably an unofficial Buddhist yourself. If so, this book is for you.

Published: May 1, 2025

Book Contributors

Section Chapter Authors
Introduction Robert Bluck
Part One: Drawing the Map
1. Four Truths – or Four Tasks? Robert Bluck
2. Looking for the Middle Way Robert Bluck
3. Finding a Local Path Robert Bluck
4. Towards a Zen Path? Robert Bluck
Part Two: Walking the Path
5. Taking the First Steps Robert Bluck
6. Cultivating Compassionate Behaviour Robert Bluck
7. The Power of Speech Robert Bluck
8. And What do You do for a Living? Robert Bluck
9. Focusing on the Present Robert Bluck
10. Skilful Meditation Robert Bluck
11. A Path towards Wisdom? Robert Bluck
12. All Together Now Robert Bluck
Verses for Meditation and Reflection Robert Bluck


Explains how to practice as a Buddhist in a western society in a way that is both authentically Buddhist and authentically western…. charts a much-needed middle way between imported Buddhist traditions that can be culturally alien and a vague Buddhism diluted by western consumerism…. essential reading for all those drawn to the Buddha’s teachings but not aligned to a particular Buddhist tradition…. describes a practice that draws on all the main Buddhist traditions, and is democratic, egalitarian, and expressed in everyday English…. makes the essential elements of Buddhist practice relevant to the western practitioner, with clear and succinct explanations…. Almost made me want to become a Buddhist again!
Revd Dr Nicholas Buxton, Director of St Antony’s Priory, Durham, and founder of Just Meditation