One day while flipping through the pages of the Shambhala Sun, I came across a book with a dope title. It was Walk Like a Buddha: Even if Your Boss Sucks, Your Ex Is Torturing You, and You’re Hungover Agai’ by Lodro Rinzler. As if the title wasn’t interesting enough, what caught my attention was the cover art. A trail of footprints all wearing shoes, each rocking a pair of butter timbs (okay, I made that part up), except for one who walked barefoot — presumably an enlightened being or at least working towards that path. Living in a big city where some of my favorite moments is to simply wander, taking in the cityscape and to people watch, I kind of felt like I could relate.
I was a little hesitant to invest in another book for fear my schedule (which has included lots of zzz professional reading lately) would relegate Walk like a Buddha to my “shoulda, coulda, woulda” pile of books only to collect dust bunnies. So I didn’t. It wasn’t until a week later, while searching for local sangha – or Buddhist community, events that I stumbled across the cover again. Lo and behold its author would be making a pit stop to DC soon. I put it in my Google calendar and planned to attend. But wait, I wouldn’t dare attend a literary event without even turning a page or having read one word. Hey, I like to be prepared for these sorta things. So off to B&N I went and picked up my copy — and I’m so glad I did.
Walk like a Buddha is a compilation of 50 questions that Rinzler received throughout the years, particularly in the height of the tour of his first book “The Buddha Walks into a Bar…: A Guide for a New Generation”. That book was born out of feeling his spiritual and social life were separate entities and his attempt to reconcile the two. The questions in Walk Like a Buddha are divided into sections based on their subject such as Wake up Like a Buddha, Play Like a Buddha, Getting it on Like a Buddha *in my best Berry White voice*, Change the World Like a Buddha, and Work Like a Buddha. Rinzler answers questions from a Buddhist perspective such what would Sid (yes, he affectionately refers to Siddhartha Gautama as Sid), say about Facebook, break-ups, how to choose a Buddhist lineage and tradition, drugs and alcohol, being single and feeling lonely, advice to married couples, social action and so much more. Many of the questions posed were questions I have asked myself at some point.
I loved how Rinzler addressed coming out as a Buddhist. While I am never one to put a label on myself let alone my spirituality, this resonated with me. I reminisced back to 6 years ago when I cancelled Christmas. No, I didn’t really cancel Christmas but I was so profoundly immersed in the Dharma at that time. I remembered how much unnecessary stress and anxiety the season caused. It no longer served a purpose in my life. So, I told my parents I would no longer celebrate the next Christmas in the traditional sense of exchanging gifts, tree trimming, or eating cookies and
drinking pouring out a glass of milk that had been set out the night before. This came as a particularly hard blow to my son and his father who likely viewed this change as cruel, selfish, or both. But instead I committed to doing what I felt was really important and authentic to me. That was to really be present with my loved ones, cook the sacred food that my grandmother and ancestors before her had done, and simply relish in day where every minute was my own. I’m still not sure they totally got it then and quite honestly they probably don’t now – but they have respected my wishes and that is okay enough for me.
Rinzler answers are full of compassion and wisdom that far exceeds his years. He was raised as a Buddhist in the Shambhala lineage. He knew at a very early age that Buddhism would be at the cornerstone of his life. But don’t get it twisted, just because he has been taught by some of the great masters, and is a teacher himself, doesn’t mean he is not relatable. He is after all, who the Boston Phoenix describes as “the cool kid’s Buddhist.”
Rinzler even lets go of a couple four letter words. At first I blushed, but that only adds credence to the rawness of the human experience that I believe he is trying to convey. In Buddhism we are already enlightened beings, it is through our meditation practice we can relieve ourselves from suffering, quiet the confusion in our minds, and realize our true and vast potential – ultimately finding peace. As Rinzler quotes the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, “Nirvana is peace.”
So after attending his book discussion, my spirits were uplifted and I was set to wind down the evening with the last few pages I had left of Walk Like a Buddha. But first I had to read his inscription, “Amani, Enlightenment by 40 or the kegs on me”. Cool, hella cool indeed.
To find out more about how to “live with honesty, wisdom, and compassion in the face of whatever life surprises you with” check out this book. To learn more about Lodro Rinzler, who is based in NYC, please visit his website, the Institute for Compassionate Leadership, or his Buddhist advice column which appears on the Huffington Post.