Blue Jean Buddha : Voices of Young Buddhists Paperback – June 15, 2001
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From Library Journal
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
- Item Weight : 12.3 ounces
- Paperback : 233 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0861711777
- ISBN-13 : 978-0861711772
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Publisher : Wisdom Publications; Softcover Ed edition (June 15, 2001)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,623,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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You know, even the best of spiritual books have to me that breezy tone of "you too can have the perfect life in only five minutes a day..." And, if the author recounts some of their past troubles, somehow they seem to have been effortlessly overcome with no residual effects.
This book is different. It is a collection of essays by young Buddhists, primarily in their late 20's and early 30's.
Many of the essays are excellent. "The Perfect Buddhist Boyfriend" depicts the disintegration of a relationship in which both partners have adopted all the accountremonts of being with-it young Buddhists. Similarly, there's the rude awakening of a young American Buddhist at a Tibetan retreat who, after several days, realizes that the wonderful authentic soup he his being served may be authentic, but it's Ramen that he could purchase at any supermarket. And why were they all isolated here meditating hours on end amongst themselves instead of going out and helping people. (The essay's conclusion is less satisfactory to me.)
My favorite essays are by those who have grown up in Buddhistm. "Growing Up with the Dharma Bums" is a riot, as the author in 1970's Rochester has to explain to his friend's mom why he cannot eat meat, straightforwardly, but reluctantly, informimg her that his parents are Buddhists and believe that killing animals is wrong. And at school he and his best friend are quick to remonstrate when they spy other kids burning up ants under the magnifying glass!
I myself gave copies of this book to each of my teenage sons. I showed them the introduction which begings with the following quotes:
"I did a lot of drugs before I was I Buddhist"
"Well, I did a lot of drugs because I was a Buddhist"
"Was asking my girlfriend to get an abortion un-Buddhist?"
What self-respecting teen wouldn't be hooked on these, at least to open the book. One of mine actually read some of the essays. You've got to sow the seeds and hope that some may take, if not now later.
And why did I want them to read the much less exciting essays?
Because the honesty of the voice, the struggles, the insecurities, the humility, the uncertainty admidst the seeking and moments of joy and revelation constitute (for me)descriptions of those on a real spiritual path, which I would being doing well to emulate in my own life.
This book is decidedly Western, although the author makes a point of including several Asian Buddhists. All the major branches of Buddhism are covered, both Theravada and Mahayana, and within the latter Zen, Tibetan, Nichiren, and other Buddhist schools are all represented. Some of the contributors were raised Buddhist, while others turned to Buddhism in their teens or early 20s. This book does not attempt to compare, contrast, or judge any of these traditions, nor does it attempt to teach them - you won't find an introduction to Buddhism here. Instead, this is many different people's views on the role Buddhism plays in their life, and how it integrates into a modern setting and lifestyle. In that sense, it will probably be of most value to those who are already practicing or at the very least exploring Buddhism.
That being said, I originally picked up this book because I was looking for something to recommend to teens interested in Buddhism. Although this would not be my first choice for that, I do think it would be a great book for older teens that have already begun to explore Buddhism through other means. Overall, a fascinating look at young and evolving Buddhism.
In his Foreword, Jack Kornfield poses the question: "What if Buddha were born in North America, in our times?"
Sumi Loundon, born into the North American Buddhist culture & coming into her third decade of life, is also asking: "What is being a Buddhist in today's Western world?" As she finds her answers, she also finds she is not alone & so evolved this collection of enchanting, first-person essays from young Buddhists all over this globe.
Like pebbles on a beach, each story is fascinating as the writers tell of their strife & boredom, yearning & bliss, hectic lives & momentary glimpses of spiritual stillness.
For a look at the world through another window where our senses & our monkey minds are engaged as never before, pick up a copy of BLUE JEAN BUDDHA & if you don't get it on the first read - keep it! Then take it down during a particularly hyper-active period in your life & see how others have walked through their chaos into the Buddhic balance & life-affirming consciousness.
Well worth the read! Gave me much about which to think & write!