Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Breakfast with Buddha, by Robert Merullo or New Age Buffoonery 2008

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”.
Siddhartha Gautama, (otherwise known as the Buddha).
I was lucky I found this quote from the Buddha as it is the perfect description of this authors ego centric world view. As I continue on my path to achieve the coveted Hermit status, I realized I must already be far removed from the dregs of society.  Being a curmudgeon has been extremely successful as it has kept me at arm’s length from people such as the author of this book. I didn't realize this delusional thinking was still around until I looked at the date of publication, 2008. It happened to coincide with the current resurgence of New Age Buffoonery on the national stage. I should have been suspicious but was not. I should be more careful next time. Since the beginning of recorded history, defining the “good” has been a central tenant of all religion and philosophy. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle are the most famous in the development of western philosophy and the Buddha in eastern thought. Socrates was concerned about wisdom and knowledge, Plato metaphysical worlds and reality and for Aristotle how to be a good citizen. The Buddha was more introspective unconcerned with politics, physical realities, logic and reason, and developed a complex system to explain our earthy existence. Karma and reincarnation are the best known but his philosophy was governed by the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path and the Middle way on the path to enlightenment.
I'm a fan of Eastern religion and when I saw the title Breakfast with Buddha I thought it could be interesting. I hope my thinking improves. The author writes a third person autobiography summarizing his religious and spiritual experiences and studies. He does this by encapsulating his religious philosophy in a holy man named Rinpoche. Based on my reading of this book, the author considered himself this holy man. Using this Indian Swami as voice, the author explains the correct Path to the knuckle dragging reader. Unfortunately, the author is not a philosopher capable of stretching or challenging the readers mind.  He apparently has crafted a lifestyle, an amalgam of convenient beliefs the sum of which are not the least bit unique or enlightening. It mostly consists of a total rejection of all “traditional” belief systems, (Christianity especially) and he wants us to believe this is the path to Nirvana (the enlightened state not the band).   By page 25 he declares his bona fides as a multi-culturalist but spends most of his book remarkably intolerant of all others as I will point out.

.”I am the furthest thing from a homogenist.  I love my life but I'm not foolish enough to believe that everyone else should love it. I should pause here for a moment and say this: I enjoy the variety of humanity. I am not one of these people who wants everyone to live the way I live. What causes more trouble on our troubled earth than people like that. The homogenists I call them. Look at me they say. I'm happy, I'm law-abiding, productive and pleasing to God. ”…. Pp25-26.   
You and I might have considered a happy law-abiding productive citizen, living in a way pleasing in the site of God a very hearty endorsement. Mr. Merullo, considers “these people”‘the devil themselves. Except that he doesn't believe in the devil. What clap trap. I couldn’t help but wonder what the editor thought when he read that but then it dawned on me; the editor thinks the same way.
He then just as quickly establishes his secular humanist bona fides.
” I'm a good dad, good husband and I try to treat people decently. But I have to tell you that I am a Christian-not in the judgmental, hateful sense in which that word has lately been thrown about, but an old-fashioned Christian. I don't go to church often, those rituals don't do much for me.” P61.
 Continuing on page 117 he continues his notions of being “very good" defined as a user of free-trade coffee, free range chicken, and recycling. In the spiritual quest of the book, these ideas represent moral dilemmas.
He also oozes white guilt and on page 107 blames success on social inequality and this inequality is the motivation for natural wealth. “I've always been ill at ease with the vast distance between my life and the lives of other Americans”. In context, he mostly means black Americans. Redistribution bona fides established.
He has a vigorous antipathy towards Christians and if I quoted even a small percentage of his anti-Christian ranting it would go on for I guess the entire 320 pages of the book. I should include one more example of his disdain for Christian beliefs. Referring to talk radio,
“when I listen a bit longer to the so-called Christians, it sounds to me as if their cure for what ails us is more and stricter rules, more narrow-mindedness, more hatred, more sectioning off of the society, and it has always seemed to me, if Christ’s message could be distilled into one line, that line would have to do with kindness and inclusiveness not rules and divisiveness.” p 153.
Traditional secular humanists have difficulty with the concepts of right and wrong, good and evil, and especially sin. Sin must not exist as its primary function is to control human behavior. A good secular humanist is offended by the notion of sin. The author must be a grand secular humanist. I was surprised, at first, at his intolerance for all other beliefs but intolerance is the basis of most liberals’ worldview. Anyone who fails to believe as good liberals  do is either stupid, uninformed, ignorant, or a worshiper mysterious beings talking out of a burning plant.  Let me include one last little line. Listening to this talk radio he is offended and writes;
”someone else said that all our troubles could be traced to immorality-drugs and drink, abortion, homosexuality (how they love to talk about homosexuality, these people) high school students coupling without benefit of the blessing of the church or their elders.”
Don't you feel like his arms are open and he wants to embrace and welcome all of us”? I'm kidding of course. I only mention this because the ostensive point of the book, quite remarkably if not ironically, was the inclusive nature of a derivative Buddhist life. His thesis was supposed to convince us to accept everyone as long as they have tattoos, piercings, non-traditional belief systems, and alternative worldviews on possessions, reject traditional views on working, dress unusually and act strangely, and or course copulate and procreate randomly. Regular folks need not apply.
God help us and protect us, I pray, from books and people like Robert Merullo.

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