Amy Rutten's Reviews > Breakfast with Buddha

Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo
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's review
Jul 20, 12

really liked it
Read in March, 2012

Buddhism is hard to explain. Sometimes I think it is best explained by talking about something else, as the Zen masters are fond of doing. Roland Merullo succeeds in that approach in Breakfast with Buddha. Otto Ringling is proud of himself. He is content with his nice job as a senior editor at a publishing house, with his nice kids, nice wife, and nice life. Except he’s not content, really, and he doesn’t know why. After the sudden death of his aging parents he begins wondering about “…the purpose, the plan, the deeper meaning.” Enter his ‘flakey’ sister, who sneakily arranges for him to drive her friend, Volya Rinpoche (a Buddhist holy man), from New Jersey to North Dakota to turn over her portion of their newly inherited farm to him for use as a spiritual retreat. As he and the Rinpoche travel together, Otto’s cherished image of himself starts to wear thin in spots, and, despite his best efforts, the Rinpoche’s kind (but brief) words, strange eating habits, odd silences, and unfailing patience begin to break down Otto’s firm hold on his own version of religious skepticism. There’s no attempt to turn anyone into a Buddhist here, just exposure to some simple Buddhist ideas in bite-sized pieces, as seen through the eyes of a newly perceptive Everyman. If Otto were a little more likable at his worst, this book would be nearly perfect, but I still highly recommend it to anyone who leans slightly to the left and still has a “window left open” in the back corners of their mind as far as their own spirituality goes. Oh, and to anyone who wants to laugh so hard they embarrass themselves in airport waiting areas. It really is that funny.
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