Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal ( The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, ( and Visit the author's website:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him! (And get your belly buttons ready for contemplation!)

Do not think you will necessarily be aware of your own enlightenment. Dogen

And as long as you're subject to birth and death, you'll never attain enlightenment.

Do you remember that book? No, not The Moor's Last Sigh. That's my book shelf back there.  I mean If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him which is not on my book shelf but will be soon.  It was written by psychotherapist Sheldon Kopp and published back in the 1970s when we hippies were all examining our navels for the profound meaning of life, i.e. enlightenment. (I found it just behind a piece of dark cotton lint.)

At the time, I was too busy being a hippie and then serving in the Army and then being a hippie again (a college student with two kids) so I didn't read the book. But it's reputed to be a classic so I just ordered it this morning. Better late than never and I'm looking forward to some old, hippie, meaning-of-life-type life words of advice. When I went to Amazon to buy it, I found the list I copied below. It's billed as an eschatological list, and eschatology is the study of the end of the world. Lovely stuff. Nevertheless,  I love this common sense approach to psychotherapy and to life which basically says, "The way you think life is really pretty much the way it really is, so get over it. Here it is, so stare into your belly button and get thinking (that's called omphaloskepsis by the way):

1. This is it!
2. There are no hidden meanings
3. You can't get there from here, and besides, there's no place else to go
4. We are all already dying and we'll be dead for a long time. 
5. Nothing lasts!
6. There is no way of getting all you want.
7. You can't have anything unless you let go of it.
8. You only get to keep what you give away.
9. There is no particular reason why you lost out on some things.
10. The world is not necessarily just. Being good often does not pay off and there is no compensation for misfortune.
11. You have the responsibility to do your best nonetheless.
12. It is a random universe to which we bring meaning.
13. You don't really control anything.
14. You can't make someone love you.
And I want to add a number 15 to this list apropos of number 14:
15. You CAN make people hate you.

Afterthoughts: Apparently, according to the Buddhist chatter on the Internet, killing the Buddha if you meet him on the road is not to be taken literally. It's all symbolic stuff, you see. The "road" is the path to enlightenment, and meeting the Buddha on that road would mean that you thought you found the illusive goal of reaching enlightenment, but hold on now, if you think you achieved enlightenment, it means you DID NOT! Get it? It's like, just searching for enlightenment IS enlightenment but if you are searching for enlightenment and think that makes you enlightened, you're not. Now do you get it? Really, it's pretty easy.

Next, we writer's usually feel that we know something other people don't. That is, compared to the average schmo, we are enlightened. But, my dear fellow scribblers, we don't know shat, and so, KILL THAT THOUGHT. There, now you are enlightened. You're welcome.

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