Thursday, January 13, 2011

It's About Mindfulness

Here is a short novel that I can recommend: Buddha Boy, by Kathe Koja.

"Like a flashback memory, he's there in my mind: skimming up the stairs at school, his sloppy old T-shirt big as a sail, red tie-dyed dragon T-shirt, who wears stuff like that? No one. Jinsen. Head turned and laughing at something someone had said, to him? at him? I don't know. Once McManus called him a human lint ball, and he laughed about it all day."

"Do you know the concept of karma? It's kind of like a circle, or cause-and-effect, like a slow tolling bell you rang maybe a year ago, five years ago... Karma means that what you do today, and why you do it, makes you who you are forever: as if you were clay, and every thought and action left a mark in that clay, bent it, shaped it, even ruined it... but with karma there are no excuses, no explanations, no I-didn't-really-mean-it-so-can-I-have-some-more-clay. Karma takes everything you do very, very seriously."

Justin (the book's narrator) sees Jinsen get bullied (and called "Buddha Boy") because he is different. But Jinsen handles it pretty well.

"He'd drawn cartoons in the margins... some little creatures who were round as balloons with small pinched-up mouths, I didn't know what they were supposed to be..."

"They're called pretas," he said. "Hungry ghosts. Big, big bodies and little tiny mouths, they eat all the time but they never get full. Like when you have a lot of stuff, you have everything, but all you want is more."

It's a good story, and the little bits of Buddhist thought kept me interested. You can read it in a day or two. If you like it, you might also try Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse.

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