Buddha


The Buddha by Deepak ChopraGuest Reviewer: Nizanth Navaratnarajah

Full Title: Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment
Author: Deepak Chopra
Publisher: HarperOne (2007)
Number of Pages: 288
How long it took me to read: 4 days
Where I bought this book: Indigo Books & Music Inc.
ISBN: 978-0-06-087880-1

Like a Moth to a Flame

Since I was young, I had always heard stories of a young prince who lived long ago and who gave up everything and everyone to become the enlightened one, the Buddha. On a trip to my local bookstore, I came across this novel, simply entitled “Buddha,” and it reminded me of these stories from my youth. I was attracted by the calming nature of taking a few moments out of my life to venture into the wandering mind of the young prince, whose thoughts on mediation, suffering, and ultimately happiness would become an enduring legacy to the power of the human mind.

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Favorite Five

I propose that the top 5 quotes from this book are:

5. “We walk through [the forest] every day and believe it to be the same forest. But not a single leaf is the same as yesterday. Every particle of soil, plant and animal, is constantly changing.” (p.243)

4. “But he was awake when the voice in his head said, ‘Can you be still, without thinking? Don’t talk to yourself. Just breathe gently.’ ” (p.61)

3. “The fire of passion burns out eventually. Then you dig through the ashes and discover a gem.” (p.264)

2. “Face the wall like a statue and give them nothing.” (p.209)

…and my pick for the No.1 quote is…

1. “The dust holds its shape for a fleeting moment when I throw it into the air, as the body holds its shape for this brief lifetime.” (p.242)

Conversation with the Reader

While I read, I write, and as I write, I read. Here’s some of what I wrote while I read this book:

“The book itself is not purely fact nor fiction but rather a fully fleshed out tapestry of the life of Siddhartha and his passage into Buddha-hood. In essence, the life described in this book is an allegory for the journey we must all take in our lives to find our meaning and our place in the grand scheme of things.”

“As I read the first few chapters, the ideas that flow from the pages and into my mind are of the human condition. As young Siddhartha struggles to grasp a sense of satisfaction in his life, so do we intuitively strive to put purpose into ours. As I progress through the story, I reflect on the curiosity of the protagonist, who questions everything around him. To me, curiosity seems to be the driving force behind his ultimate transformation. His child-like curiosity toward both the inner and outer world, is in sharp contrast to the way we tend to perceive things in our modern society. It makes me appreciate the naïve wonderment and take notice of the simplicities of life around me.”

“The words paint vivid thoughts of calmness and serenity as I relive a journey through the narrow forest pathways of India. I write and read through the shadows of the forest canopy, slowly following the path this man took to open his eyes and mind to the nature of life. His discovery of the human condition, the slow steps he took from what was to what would be, to the eternal truth of what is. In this idea lies the fallacy of the human mind, the fleeting images of scattered thoughts we desperately cling to and through which we perceive the continuity of the world.

“In contrast, the realization of impermanence is truly on display as I watch the changing of the seasons. The natural cycle of winter to summer and everything in between is a gentle reminder that all things melt away like winter’s snow. It is a harsh truth that all things fade, and what I truly have in life is this moment in time. Life does pass in moments as once described, and it is these moments interconnected in our minds that gives us our dreams, memories and reflections.”

“As the pages close on my journey through this book, I can truly appreciate the beauty of its message by finding similar connections to my own life. This link is well orchestrated when the author writes phrases like, ‘there is a Buddha in all of us.’ It is a comforting thought, knowing we all have the capacity to achieve the extraordinary through ordinary means. Through a simple action of being committed to the present, we can in turn help clarify the nature of our own existence. This ideal has come into my life for the better, allowing me to step back and watch my own thoughts and actions.

“I remember one occasion when this principle directly affecting my life. It was during a camping trip with my friends. We went to Algonquin Park, which is a few hours north of where I live. We were running late and still had to trek a couple of kilometers through the forest to our campsite. As we hiked through the pristine wilderness, the beauty all around us was awe-inspiring and all-encompassing, yet we hardly noticed it.

“Since we were in a hurry, we didn’t stop much to glimpse at the scenery before us; we were focused on reaching our destination. On rare occasions when we did admire the view, more time was spent on trying to capture the appropriate description of what we were looking at and where we were. Truly being there and living in the moment was an afterthought.

“We persevered, finally arriving just as dusk turned into night and darkness crept in. That night, exhaustion got the better of us and not much was said or done. As my friends and I sat outside our tent, we gazed up slowly at the night sky, realizing that we’d never seen it so dark before. A few minutes passed without a word spoken, and the silence grew. In that moment, looking up at the countless stars painted across this massive dark canvass, it became evident that the universe does open up as you gently watch your breath.”

3 Comments

  1. David says:

    Well reviewed Nizzy. Makes me happy to know you are around, maybe someday we will be friends again.

  2. Henry says:

    Great review. Thanks.

  3. Mariateresa Bombardieri says:

    I’m considering “every day we walk through the forest and believe it’s the same forest, but ….”
    Every day of my life is not the same if I have eyes to see the difference in “each leaf”

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