Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Breakfast with Buddha

Book #1 for my 2013 Book Project is "Breakfast with Buddha" by Roland Merullo

It's interesting how books come into our lives. I think we think that we choose what to read, but in reality it is the book that finds its way to us at a particular time in our life. Something like that happened when I "chose" my first book this year. While I wasn't a big fan of the writing itself and the book tended to drag slightly, I did enjoy the various thoughts followed in the book. Let me explain a bit further.

The main character has lost his parents and has to go down to their farm with his sister in the Dakotas and wrap things up. His sister sends a "rinpoche" (spiritual leader) with him instead. The entire book is about this road trip and the food stops they make (the main character is a food book editor) and the "philosophy" they discuss. I use the term "philosophy" very loosely here because their discussions are mainly buddhist principles and that is a way of life more than a philosophy. I didn't enjoy the story line much and found myself annoyed at the main character's personality, but there was an idea that was brought up in the book that stuck with me and is perhaps the reason this book came to me.

This idea is about our future being up to us. There is a question posed about good and evil and how people become one or the other or if they are destined to be. The answer is something about controlling our own destinies by the choices we make. Everyone at all times has to make conscious decisions. This or that, A or B, 1 or 2 - and it is these choices that lead us to good or bad. It is how much we can control our urges towards bad and make the good decision that leads us further into our path and guides our destiny.

I'm at a crossroads right now too. I'm in a new city, a new marriage, and a new life, and in between all of that is a job search I have been carrying out for a few weeks. I had fallen of my path however, and this book brought me a way to clearly see what I wanted. There is another idea from the book that stuck with me. There is a particular scene where the Rinpoche is explaining to Otto (the main character) how to see clearly. He takes a glass of water and adds a lot of dirt to it. He then proceeds to mix the water vigorously so the dirt clouds the glass. He asks Otto if he can see through it and obviously he cannot. After some time of leaving the glass, the dirt settles and now you can see clearly through the glass. He compares this to our mind. If we shake things up and have scattered thoughts it is very unlikely that we can see a situation clearly. But if you calm yourself and let the dust/dirt settle, there is more clarity in your life. I kept letting my mind be full of this dirt floating around - I kept questioning and doubting my choices in career and wanting to change things. And after a lot of frustration and unhappiness, I read this idea in this book and I decided to give it a whir. I worked on some meditation to calm my mind and I took a few days to let the dirt settle and gave a peek inside my mind. And it was clear as day. I knew the path I had chosen was for a reason, and when I clearly remembered my reasons I realized I was on the correct path and just needed to get back on it with a positive attitude and a desire to do my best. I saw clearly my past when I had been really good at everything I had done. I thought back to days where I excelled because I worked hard. I wondered for a brief moment what had happened to that person I used to be and realized what a crappy statement that is! I am still me - so what if years have gone by and situations have changed? Yes I am sure I have changed too, but that doesn't mean that the excelling hard-working part of me doesn't exist, its there, for sure its there - its simply dormant inside of me!

And so I decided to get back on my path - wake my dormant motivated self and made a conscious decision. And everything started falling back together after that. Moods improved, attitude improved, my confidence returned, and I knew I couldn't have done it without this advice on clarity from the Rinpoche in Merullo's story. Like I mentioned I am now at a crossroads. I have come to a point in my career path where because of my confidence I now have options for the first time. Several job offers - many positives and several negatives to each. A lot of nervousness on my part to make the right decision. A lot of nervousness on my part to find the right fit. And like that first idea that stuck - whichever I choose will determine my destiny. I have the power to take my life in whatever direction I want, and I have the options to pick between that can take my life in many different directions. I would have never thought of these decisions like this before - I would have just picked whatever offered more or seemed nicer - but now its about the future. It's about the choice that will lead me correctly.

It amazes me how books find us in the most opportune time!


  1. A book that brought a turnaround :) how cool!

  2. Divya, this is a wonderful essay because it is as much about you as it is the book. Good writing, I believe, is much like the glass of water that has settled.

    I look forward to your future pieces.

  3. Thank you Mr. Daborn! I will be sure to write about each book I read this year - the good, the bad, and everything in between!

    And I hope to discuss with you soon your thoughts on this book! :)

  4. Hi! I've nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award. Check it out here by copying and pasting this link into your browser:

    Thanks, good luck and have fun!