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Breakfast With Buddha Paperback – 2007
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When his sister tricks him into taking her guru on a trip to their childhood home, Otto Ringling, a confirmed skeptic, is not amused. Six days on the road with an enigmatic holy man who answers every question with a riddle is not what he'd planned. But in an effort to westernize his passenger—and amuse himself—he decides to show the monk some "American fun" along the way. From a chocolate factory in Hershey to a bowling alley in South Bend, from a Cubs game at Wrigley field to his family farm near Bismarck, Otto is given the remarkable opportunity to see his world—and more important, his life—through someone else's eyes. Gradually, skepticism yields to amazement as he realizes that his companion might just be the real thing. In Roland Merullo's masterful hands, Otto tells his story with all the wonder, bemusement, and wry humor of a man who unwittingly finds what he's missing in the most unexpected place.
Top customer reviews
In essence, the son of recently deceased parents is called upon to journey back to his North Dakota plains, farming roots to settle the estate for those who remain in his family. His intended sidekick will be his sister, a 60's hippie chick. Thus the narrator sets out, away from his middle class, New York life, complete with loving wife and two "normal" teenaged children, to collect his airy-fairy, touchy-feely kid sister. For a week or so, the brother and sister will drive cross-country, in the quest to sell off the family farm and their history, where they grew up, under the taciturn and rigid eye of their no-nonsense parents. Two siblings couldn't be any more different, yet the same.
When the main character arrives at this sister's decrepit home in Paterson, New Jersey, the anti-thesis of his life in the Big Apple's suburbs, he is confronted with the realization that his sister will not accompany him westward. Rather a large, Russian monk, clad in maroon robes, is destined to ride in the shotgun seat, during the trip back west and back in time.
As the odd couple heads out, the brother gives in to his sister's request and accepts that his traveling companion will be part of his life for the coming week. In accepting the presence of the lama, the narrator and becomes upbeat and intent on showing off the "real America" that is so close to his heart, yet so confusing with its modern ironies and conflicts. The monk is similarly compelled to show the driver a parallel world that some describe as "the way".
As the miles, sights and days roll by, the pair begin to teach one another, through a series of chance encounters and places, that life and times in America can be seen as good, bad or indifferent to those who experience them.
Not to give the plot away, one could say that in the end, many truths are made clear to all those involved in the storyline. Acceptance is revealed. And hope for a darkening world is lightened by the existence of a higher being. Who that is remains unclear. But "the way" is described as never clear, except to those of find it, in their own way.
This is a very entertaining and provocative read. Having the narrator discover basic truths about himself and about unknown, farflung worlds is a clever format through which to meander for as long as one is engrossed in this novel. For those who are interested in world religions and diverse cultural beliefs and mores, this tale is for you. Who knows what is possible in this ever-confusing and ever-conflicted world?!
Rinpoche, and the everyday selections and events as they traversed America.
The characters were well developed in their individual roles. Very entertaining and thought provoking.
in the end I likes Cecilia's proposal for division of land and her future there on old farm with Rinpoche. I did no like Otto's bowing to Rinpoche because his own wisdom and philosophical mind, in my thinking g made him an intellectual equal to Rinpoche. I could see him believing in some of Rinpoche's ideas but not bow on worship to another human being. Some of Rinpoche's answers to life's deep questions seemed confusing, unrealistic, and simplistic. overall, I really liked the book.
I was intrigued right away when I read the blurb. I bought the Kindle and Audible (Whispersync) package and dived right in.
I started my meditation practice about 9 month before I learned of this book. When I read about it I recognized patterns that played out similarly in my life as in the book.
For example I was very sceptical of meditation having all kind of mental barriers. Let's call it by its name: ignorance.
I underwent a similar journey as Otto in the book in getting to know meditation. Not in the sense that I was on a road trip with a guru. But in the sense that I just tried it out at one point after after knowing for many years that "this was not for me".
So I was just curious how Otto's story would play out and if I could see any parallels to my life. I wanted to see how Roland Merullo introduced the concept to a wide audience.
I'm very impressed how the author managed to tell a story that relates the ideas of mindfulness so well and in an enjoyable and at many times funny way.
If you heard about meditation or mindfulness and are curious I heartily recommend Breakfast with Buddha.