The Accidental Buddhist: Mindfulness, Enlightenment and Sitting Still

The Accidental Buddhist: Mindfulness, Enlightenment and Sitting Still

by Dinty W. Moore
     
 

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I am an accidental Buddhist. I never intended to find a new religion, I was just passing curious. I started to notice Buddhism everywhere. BUSINESS WEEK was writing long articles about meditation sessions in major corporations and on Wall Street. Schoolchildren and cops on the beat were being encouraged to breathe as a way to fight stress. Buddhist monasteries

Overview


I am an accidental Buddhist. I never intended to find a new religion, I was just passing curious. I started to notice Buddhism everywhere. BUSINESS WEEK was writing long articles about meditation sessions in major corporations and on Wall Street. Schoolchildren and cops on the beat were being encouraged to breathe as a way to fight stress. Buddhist monasteries and retreat centers were flourishing in out-of-the-way places, and NEWSWEEK declared that America may be on the verge of Buddhadharma" I wanted to know what was going on, so I went on retreats myself and interviewed the key players. Before long, I, too, was hooked. I hadn't counted on actually liking it." -- Dinty W. Moore

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Moore (The Emperor's Virtual Clothes: The Naked Truth About Internet Culture) offers a lighthearted account of how, in 1995, he set out to find out why Buddhism seemed to be taking America by storm. Along the way, he becomes a practicing Buddhist. With good humor and a penchant for not taking life too seriously, Moore travels to a variety of locations in the U.S. where Buddhism has thrived and become a part of the culture. In a chapter titled "Buddha 101: Stumbling Up Monkey Mind Mountain," Moore describes his weekend at a Zen monastery in upstate New York where he and other participants learn the basic lessons of mindfulness and sitting meditation. Other chapters find Moore discovering key principles of Buddhism, such as the struggle to give up attachment to material things ("Why Do Tibetan Buddhists Have Such Trouble with Their Vacuum Cleaners?: They Lack Attachments") and zazen, or sitting meditation ("Eat Your Rice, Wash Your Bowl, and Just Sit: Studying with the Seven-Year-Old Master"). In a final chapter, Moore remarks that his Buddhism, even though he calls himself a "fairly lousy Buddhist," has made him aware that he should "live my life according to the principles of kindness, compassion, and awareness." Moore's hilarious and sometimes irreverent look at Buddhism is a perfect primer for the budding Buddhist.
Richard Hughes Seager
...The Accidental Buddhist is of historical and critical interest, accidentally....[It provides} a window on the way some Americans currently dabble in things Buddhist...a bit of affection for the Dalai Lama, together with some hit and miss practice and generic reflections on mindfulness and non-violence....His [book] reflects the '90s search for a sentimental, user-friendly spirituality, well-suited to the catch-as-catch-can religious lives of many seekers in the American middle class. -- Journal of Buddhist Ethics
Kirkus Reviews
A self-absorbed but still instructive trek through the many varieties of American Buddhism. Moore (The Emperor's Virtual Clothes) claims a predicament with which many Americans are familiar: Life along the information superhighway can seem a hurried, tense affair. Like other seekers, Moore turns to Buddhism to soothe his angst and fill the meaningless void. Thus, another book about yet another Baby Boomer who skeptically embraces an Eastern religion—and who thinks that his spiritual quest is fascinating enough to relate to all the world. The quest is hackneyed, the humor irritating ("Why do Tibetan Buddhists have trouble with their vacuum cleaners? They lack attachments"). That said, Moore's tale is valuable on an entirely different, perhaps unintended, count: as a travelogue detailing the tremendous diversity within American Buddhism. His anecdotes make it clear that the umbrella term "Buddhist" encompasses strict Zen monks, laid-back Tibetan politicos, and beatnik holdover Allen Ginsberg. In his travels, Moore attends weekend retreats, chronicles the Dalai Lama's 1996 visit to Indiana, and grooves to Change Your Mind Day, a meditative Buddha- fest in New York City's Central Park. Along the way he asks whether American Buddhism is "the real thing or just shallow amusement"; his own experiences seem to indicate that it is both. In the end, Moore's wanderings come full circle, as he quite accidentally discovers a group of practicing Buddhists in his own rural town. He finds that his family is his sangha (monastery), and while he still feels he is "probably a fairly lousy Buddhist," he will eclectically combine his various forms of new knowledge to find a path thatmakes sense to him. Now that may be an authentic American Buddhism.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781565121423
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
10/01/1997
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
228
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.52(h) x 0.88(d)

Meet the Author


Dinty W. Moore has worked as a documentary filmmaker, professional modern dancer, wire-service journalist, and college creative writing professor. He has published fiction and poetry in numerous national literary magazines and is the author of another book of nonfiction, The Emperor's Virtual Clothes: The Naked Truth About Internet Culture. He lives with his wife and daughter in State College, Pennsylvania.

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