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Posts Tagged ‘mourning’

Lunch With Buddha ~Roland Merullo

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Lunch With Buddha is a second road trip with Otto Ringling and Voyla Rinpoche which begins in Washington State and takes us to North Dakota.   The first road trip for these two can be found in the Merullo novel of 2007 called Breakfast With Buddha.   I discovered this book in May of 2009 and so enjoyed it that I put it on my summer reading list and reviewed the book on my own.

I was just roaming around Amazon and this opening paragraph on the Amazon review of Breakfast with Buddha just snagged my full attention:

“The only thing certain about a journey is that it has a beginning and an end – for you never know what may happen along the way. And so it is with this journey into the minds and souls of two very different men – one of them in search of truth, the other a man who may already have found it.”

Lunch With Buddha  is a new road trip, because Ringling has made a promise to his wife that he will scatter her ashes in a mountain spot where they went camping when they were newly married.  It is seven months after the death of his wife from cancer and it is time to take care of his promise.  The Buddhist monk in the first story is now his brother-in-law and the father of his 5 year old niece.   The retreat center on the family farm in North Dakota is up and running and after the family returns the ashes to the earth, the two men are to drive a gift truck back to the retreat center.

Merullo actually took this trip with his children in order to write this second book which must be going to become a trilogy. (I expect in a few years that we will see the Dinner with Buddha on the book shelves – The stage has been set)  My copy of the novel came complete with photographs of the various locations that they shared and the specialty meals that they enjoyed.  I have always wanted to go to CAVE B  and the Grand Coulee Dam  but because I live in Washington State we just go past those spots getting to someplace else.

There is as much detail about the other states that the team travels through also and their swim in Yellowstone is a delightful segment I thoroughly enjoyed.  The duo are very respectful of each other as Ringling moves from grief to mourning and the Monk assists in the letting go and looking towards the future and the teaching of his child to use her gifts.  The current US elections add to the story line and the conversation and the characters that they meet along the way add an extraordinary dimension and quirkiness to the journey.


When TLC book Tours asked me to review this book, I just jumped right up in the air – no lie – and happy danced.  In the wakeful moments of the past three years when I just could not sleep, I have read  Breakfast With Buddha  3 more times.  It just delights me and calms me down into a centered space.  The questions that Otto Ringling is asking are the questions that I am contemplating.  The book can pull me away from worry and anger in just a moment or two of reading.

When the Independent publisher, contacted me early on, I joined the Facebook page for Lunch with Buddha and sent out a huge “bring it on” message.   I had so much trouble waiting that I purchased another book by Merullo in the mean and explored his other words.  I chose A Little Love Story I was not disappointed.   I just enjoy Merullo’s style – play with words and ideas.


I am filled with gratitude for having been given a copy of this book to read and I say a huge thank you. The book also supports an Independent publishing company, PFP Publishing and that feels good too.  TLC and Newtonville Books are offering up a free copy of this book for the best comment – so what would you like to say?  What questions would ask the author?

Sometimes a second story on the same pathway is not so wonderful – this was not the case with LUNCH WITH BUDDHA It was a joy to read and explore. I was fully engaged in the road trip, every mile of the way.

Lunch with Buddha home page
Roland Merullo web page

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.  Thank you.  Donations also welcomed.

Related Reading:
Breakfast With Buddha
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Walter’s Muse

Shadows Play Upon a Death

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Dove of Peace

I understand the jubilation of the soldiers in the death of Osama Bin Laden, yes, I do understand.  The warriors were given a task and a mission and now another assignment has been accomplished, I understand that sense of victory and the want to experience it out loud with clanging gongs.  And just as certainly as a suicide bomber detonates, I knew this “leader” would not be taken alive. I can reconcile my feelings, but I cannot dance and rejoice in the wild passions of glory.

I am extremely happy that the people who took care of this tragic person and did not bomb the whole neighborhood around the area and use such bullying aggressive tactics.

I do not condone the behaviors and actions taken by this person or of others throughout history. The evil residue of their horrific treatment of their “others” permeates my cells and interferes with my loving spirit.

I am called to love my enemies and to live my life with kindness, I am called to work for justice and so I take a deep breath and work to find forgiveness and be forgiving.

I am begging the question again and again of what was the message that motivated this assault?  Why is it so important for these despotic individuals to hang on to the past as the answer to the future?  What part did I willingly play to promote these perceptions?  How am I not sharing my values and actions in a way that the “others” might understand?  How does one communicate with those who are unable to listen and hear?

I believe that there are canonized holy books in every corner of the earth that have value and wisdom.  I do not believe that because they were bound together and offered up for centuries as rules, that there is not a huge body of wisdom and spiritual understanding that is continuously being added to these tomes of ideology.

Jesus said to me, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Pema Chödrön, a Western Buddhist Nun said, “It is fairly common for crisis and pain to connect people with their capacity to love and care about one another.  It is also common that this openness and compassion fades rather quickly, and that people then become afraid and far more guarded and closed than they ever were before.  The question, then, is not only how to uncover our fundamental tenderness and warmth but also how to abide there with the fragile, often bittersweet vulnerability.  How can we relax and open to the uncertainty of it?”  (From Taking the Leap)

When I close my eyes in contemplation, I breathe deeply into the pain of what has happened and acknowledge all the suffering that has proceeded this moment; I can hear the screams of pain and agony of each victim.  I am stilling myself into this pain.  I am not masking it or covering it up or eating it down, down back inside.   I know this pain and I feel this pain, and I read this pain in the others I encounter.

I release and let go.  It is an exercise in patience and constant endeavor.   I will acknowledge that it is a part of me, and I have known pain and suffering, I have not known surrender.  Bin Laden resisted he did not learn surrender either.  We are the same.  We are one.

A list of my new “others”  wander into my attention, you know the Wall Street Angry Folks who are making up their own rules, the Rupert Murdock style folks who want to control the media, the elected officials who think they have the “right” and often “controlling” answers for other’s lives…and the list builds on and on until we arrive at our own doorstep covered in the moments when we failed to communicate with loving kindness, when we failed to be most mindful and were thoughtless and cruel.  I need to forgive myself and surrender.

I am in process and working at not forgetting.  I am not at a point of closure; I will again use Pema Chödrön’s words:

When things fall apart and we can’t get the pieces back together, when we lose something dear to us, when the whole thing is just not working and we don’t know what to do, this is the time when the natural warmth of tenderness, the warmth of empathy and kindness, are just waiting to be uncovered, just waiting to be embraced.  This is our chance to come out of our self-protecting bubble and to realize that we are never alone.  This is our chance to finally understand that wherever we go, everyone we meet is essentially just like us.  Our own suffering, if we turn toward it, can open us to a loving relationship with the world.

We all need to share our stories and thoughts of this event and I hope that people will feel free to share here in the comments section and to share links that were important to your thinking about our actions to come.  Thank you, I appreciate all your good wisdom and sharing.

You might think that other’s should encounter what I have put into words here, I would appreciate a Stumble or a Tweet or meeting on Facebook – Please feel free to share, it would be appreciated.

Related Reading:
I do not rejoice at the death of a man
Out of Osama’s death comes a fake quote
Lessons from the Dead
Healing Change; Healing Action