Breakfast with Buddha

Why so angry?

I wish I had the guts to say that to my next door neighbour.  Or, better still, I wish I could turn into the Hulk and leap up to the window from which she periodically leans to screech ‘Shut up!!!”, and jump up and down on her until she was nothing more than an unpleasant stain on the carpet.  Why so angry?  You really WANNA KNOW why so angry??? I’ll TELL you why so ANGRY!!!!!!

Only, Volya Rinpoche wouldn’t approve of that kind of thing.  In case you don’t know, Volya Rinpoche is the suspect sage in Breakfast with Buddha, by Roland Merullo.  I bought this book on King Midget’s recommendation and it was a damn well spent $6.

Along with Otto Ringling, the gluttonous, slightly priggish hero, the book prods you to ask yourself some of the more interesting of life’s questions.  Like…

Why do you bother being good? (good-ish, decent, not positively evil)

Why do you bother doing anything at all? I mean, you can’t take it with you. You’re just going to die, right?

Why (do people get) so angry?

Why?

Breakfast with Buddha is about a guy who goes on a road trip with an annoyingly ineffable guru his long haired loopy sister foists on him, and ends up being converted.  Apart from being a lesson on the risks of hanging around with those bald guys in orange dresses, reading this book had me thinking more deeply about life as I walked the dogs.  Or really, just about the actual part of life that I was walking through – black sky, cool air on my face, gums with their bark peeling off like snake-skin, skitterings in bushes, dead branches against the stars.

Like the hero, I don’t like chanting Omm.  I once went to a pregnancy yoga class, and flatly refused to sing to my unformed baby as he sat stolidly in my womb.  Probably that’s why he’s recently joined a conservative political party’s youth wing.

Like the hero, I don’t believe in reincarnation, or love as the animating force of the universe.  Unlike the hero, I’ve yet to meet a guru who’s going to convince me of all this.  Still…

I used to think that faith is what you have when you want to believe in something – say, life after death – but can’t find any facts to back it up.  I used to think that people should only believe in the rational – that anything else was a betrayal of truth.

Now, I see that the things I really, really believe – that good and evil are real forces, or perhaps directions, which we humans need to consciously move towards or oppose – that these things are not really based on anything but an unsupported hunch.  If we really get down to why, there is no why.  I just feel it.  I don’t feel anything about the existence of god, or gods.  I’m sceptical about reincarnation.  I’m not sure I even have a soul.  But I feel that the fight between good and evil, for those of us who know what it is – us human animals – is a real one, with real consequences, somewhere.

It’s as loopy as knocking on wood, or as the book’s ‘Spanakopita Cecelia’.  Still, that’s faith!

Do you have groundless faith in anything? Is there a place for faith, if you’re not religious? Why?

And now for something completely different – a CREEPY PASTA! And I’m not talking mouldy spaghetti (google it).

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27 comments

  1. Love this. I really don’t know what I believe in specifically. But, I think I’ll read BWB.

    I watched “Life of Pi” twice this weekend. He claimed to be Christian, Muslim, Hindu and said he could be persuaded to be Jewish.

    Well, I think most of us have the notion that being good, doing good keeps us “safe”???

    At least out of jail.

    • I wonder if most people are secretly a bit afraid of some kind of come uppance. I read Life of Pi. It has a heap of plot holes – but it’s interesting. Don’t dare watch the movie in case my animal-cruelty nerve gets fired off. xoxo

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      • I wanted to re-watch ‘Life of Pi’, since the movie (and book, I suppose) was supposed to MAKE me believe in God. As far as the animal cruelty: I heard the book is much more vicious. The movie has a few shots that are uncomfortable, but none because of human cruelty towards animals. AND the one scene I can think of that was “cruel” was TOTALLY animated, and it was obvious to me. It was also something “natural”. The movie convinced me that the main character hasn’t got a clue what he believes in. OR, he believes in everything, which means nothing?

      • I don’t think I liked the book. It really didn’t make any sense. And of course the nasty stuff in it is kinda natural. The main character – is just in love with believing in stuff, I think. Totally not me – I”m in love with NOT believing in stuff, mostly.

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  2. Sounds like a classic case of “is the unexamined life worth living?”.
    I’d say it’s worth the effort to do and accomplish and get the stuff that makes life more fun, because that’s all tehre is.

    • I’d say the same thing – but deeply examined, it does tend to start looking a bit pointless. Like saying a word over and over again until it seems like gobblegook.

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  3. Glad you liked it. I enjoyed it, but there was something dissatisfying about the end. The biggest thing I got from the Rinpoche was the lessons about anger. It’s something I’m already working on … trying not to respond out of anger. Trying to toss the anger to the side and be more peaceful. I’m a work in progress.

    • Yeah, I thought the same – something about the end didn’t gel. Maybe we feel a rinpoche, whatever that is, is too spiritually exalted to be settling down in the midwest with a hippy girlfriend. Anger – I don’t have it much, but then in relation to some things, it’s bubbling away down there. My neighbour, for instance – I’d cheerfully nuke her.

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      • For me, it was an ending that was a little bit too much happiness for all. Still liked it and will go over some of my underlined sections and ponder, but …

      • As usual, I also thought, why do all the fully realised women have to be beautiful? I like novels where the main female characters don’t have to be gorgeous to make the required statement. Grump grump.

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  4. Faith can be tricky when one is as ridiculously pragmatic as I am. But I still believe in right and wrong, good and bad, and I have faith that doing the former in both cases will leave the world a better place. I’ll have to check out that book. I’ve heard about it a couple times now.

    • It was a good book. I’m like you – very pragmatic. I used to absolutely hate the idea of faith – what dumb people trot out when they can’t think of anything to support the argument! But I think groundless belief does have some role in life, sadly.

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  5. If you’d ask if I had groundless belief in anything, I would have to say no. I do ask a lot of questions and I read quite a few books 😉 And I really liked to read this post.

    • thanks! But if you take your assumptions down to the lowest possible level – I think perhaps everyone has groundless faith, because it becomes impossible to sustain all belief with reason.

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  6. Interesting book review with questions to which I believe no-one truly has the answers. I am a Christian and yes, it requires believing in something which we cannot see. However, we are not required to attain certain goals in order to become better/perfect. Belief in Jesus is the primary requirement. On all the rest, we will fall short, for no person is perfect. You have certainly asked difficult questions here. I am entirely unqualified to answer

    • Never mind – I’m unqualified too, I think we all are. I’m an atheist, and so am not required to attain any goals either, or even to believe in anything – still, if I do believe in anything, it’s my feelings. If I feel something’s bad, it is – if not, not, even if society thinks so. For instance, I don’t have any big problem cheating parking meters.

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  7. Sounds like a good read, Rose….!
    As for belief: I can’t believe in ‘nothing’, else who are they who speak to me…!?!
    My man says I may be schizophrenic…! Could be, could be…!

    I can’t believe in a God with a long white beard, or a heaven full of angels. I can’t believe in fairy tales or harsh Gods, or religious fanaticism, or returning as a worm if I don’t do good in this body. So, what’s a girl to do when spirit talk to her and tells her we all have particular experiences to experience. Yours to be an atheist; mine to be a medium; his to be a banker; hers to be a wife and mother…. I have to believe in my experience… Yours is to believe in your experience… One thing I know for sure, Rose: I like it when I’m doin’ good…. Makes me feel it’s all worthwhile. 😉

    • You hear voices? How interesting that must be – as long as it’s not frightening. What kind of voices and what do they say? Nice things?

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      • Haha Rose… I’ve been clairaudient since about 1986 (I think). I used to be a medium associated with the Spiritualist Church giving evidence of ‘life after death’ by ‘speaking’ with those who had passed, handing on messages for their loved ones, etc. That’s not the case these days; I don’t do that anymore…. These days I am still in communication with spirit however, it’s more for the work that I do counseling (life coach sort of), and for my reflections; that sort of thing.

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