August 14, 2006

“Buddha or Bust”

In Search of Truth, Meaning,
Happiness, and the Man
Who Found Them All
by Perry Garfinkel


Publisher Comments:
Why does an idea that's 2,500 years old seem more relevant today than ever before? How can the Buddha's teachings help us solve many of the world's problems? Journalist Perry Garfinkel circumnavigated the globe to discover the heart of Buddhism and the reasons for its growing popularity — and ended up discovering himself in the process.

The assignment from National Geographic couldn't have come at a better time for Garfinkel. Burned out, laid up with back problems, disillusioned by relationships and religion itself, he was still hoping for that big journalistic break — and the answers to life's biggest riddles as well. So he set out on a geographic, historical and personal expedition that would lead him around the world in search of those answers, and then some.

First, to better understand the man who was born Prince Siddhartha Gautama, he followed the time-honored pilgrimage "in the footsteps of the Buddha" in India. From there, he tracked the historical course of Buddhism: to Sri Lanka, Thailand, China, Tibet, Japan and on to San Francisco and Europe. He found that the Buddha's teachings have spawned a worldwide movement of "engaged Buddhism," the application of Buddhist principles to resolve social, environmental, health, political and other contemporary problems. From East to West and back to the East again, this movement has caused a Buddhism Boom.

Along the way he met a diverse array of Buddhist practitioners — Thai artists, Indian nuns, Sri Lankan school children, Zen archers in Japan, kung fu monks in China and the world's first Buddhist comic (only in America). Among dozens of Buddhist scholars and leaders, Garfinkel interviewed His Holiness the Dalai Lama, an experience that left him speechless — almost. As just reward for his efforts, toward the end of his journey Garfinkel fell in love in the south of France at the retreat center of a leader of the engaged movement, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh — a romance that taught him as much about Buddhism as all the masters combined.

In this original, entertaining book, Garfinkel separates Buddhist fact from fiction, sharing his humorous insights and keen perceptions about everything from spiritual tourism to Asian traffic jams to the endless road to enlightenment.

Memorable Quotes:
“Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” the Buddha

“You know quite well, deep within you, that there is only a single magic, a single power, a single salvation... and that is called loving. Well, then love your suffering. Do not resist it, do not flee it. It is your aversion that hurts, nothing else.” Hermann Hess

“You cannot travel on the path until you become the path itself.”
Buddha

In the void of knowledge, we create our worst nightmares.

“The hope of all men, in the last analysis, is simply for peace of mind.” H.H. Dalai Lama

“Do you want to move from existing to living?” Jon Kabat-Zinn

“You should not loose your self-sufficient state of mind. This does not mean a closed mind, but actually an empty mind and a ready mind. If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything. It is open to everything. In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the experts mind there are few.” Suzuki

“My life is one continuous mistake.” Dogen Zenji

Buddha or Bust available at Powells and Amazon