Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Accidental Buddhist: Mindfulness, Enlightenment, and Sitting Still, American Style by DInty W. Moore

Dharma Punx whetted my appetite for exploring Buddhism. While reading it, I found The Accidental Buddhist in the Half Price Books clearance section (coincidentally, there was also a copy of Dharma Punx in the clearance section that day; I bought mine during the Borders bankruptcy).

In this book, Moore explores several flavors of American Buddhism. He participates in Buddhist communities in monasteries and private homes. He sees the Dalai Lama in Indiana and even asks him a question at a press conference (and gets a surprising answer).

Having read them back to back, I couldn't help comparing The Accidental Buddhist and Dharma Punx. I enjoyed this book more, probably because it doesn't have all the punk and addiction recovery stuff clouding up the story (this book is focused on the topic, whereas Dharma Punx is more of an autobiography). Moore was around my age when he wrote this and he grew up Catholic (not bearing a grudge against the Church like so many do), so I could identify with him.*

It speaks to the breadth of Buddhism in America that even though Moore and Levine explore a variety of paths, pretty much the only intersection of their experiences is the Dalai Lama. Even then, Levine sees him in India, not Indiana.

* This observation is somewhat revealing to me. Levine is about my age while Moore is 13 years older, but Moore was closer to my age when he wrote this whereas Levine was around 30. So I find myself identifying with someone writing at my current age more than someone in my generation writing at a different age. I didn't expect that.

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