The Buddha Walks Into a Bar sounds like the opening line to a joke, but it is in fact the title of a brilliantly accessible book by Lodro Rinzler. The subtitle of this book – A Guide to Life for a New Generation – identifies its purpose and intended audience from the outset, and it has to be said that non-Buddhist readers are likely to get just as much out of it as Buddhists will.
Written in a cheerful, humorous and down-to-earth style, The Buddha Walks Into a Bar helps readers to understand exactly how the Buddha’s teachings can be applied to life right here in the 21st century. Forget renouncing the world and living in a cave (for now, at least), this book is about bringing Buddhism into your normal everyday life – a life in which you work, play, have sex and are likely to encounter plenty of difficult people and situations along the way.
With chapter titles like Your Life is a Playground, Being Gentle With Your Incredible Hulk Syndrome, Sex, Love and Compassion, Rejoicing in the Coconuts of Wakefulness and Singing a Vajra Song (in the Shower), you might assume at first glance that this book lacks substance, but you would be very wrong. The author is simply presenting solid Buddhist ideas and principles in a way that members of ‘Generation Y’ will find easy to relate to. This approach extends to the anecdotes that are used throughout the book, which are far more likely to take place in a bar or at a workplace than at a three-month retreat.
The author sets the tone straight away with the opening paragraph of his Introduction:
‘This isn’t your grandmother’s book on meditation. It’s for you. That is, assuming that you like to have a beer once in a while, enjoy sex, have figured out that your parents are crazy, or get frustrated at work. It’s a book that doesn’t put Buddhism on some pedestal so that you have to look up to it. It’s about looking at all the nooks and crannies of your life and applying Buddhist teachings to them, no matter how messy that may be.’
If that opening came across like a breath of fresh air to you then The Buddha Walks Into a Bar should definitely be on your reading list.