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The fictionalized account of the life of Buddha by Deepak Chopra is an engaging, beautifully written story that inspires and educates. I picked it up because it’s different than anything Chopra has penned, plus I’m a sucker for well-researched accounts of historical characters presented in the format of a novel. This one did not disappoint.
Ultimately, Buddha is the story of a man, Siddhartha, who gave up everything he had–wealth, status, power–and went on a quest to understand the true nature of self and to attain enlightenment. He didn’t know what the answers would be, but he was willing to learn from spiritual masters and go to great lengths to delve deep into himself to connect with the source.
Once he found enlightenment and transformed into the Buddha, he was surprised that he had to use words, or sermons, to communicate. His healing touch and thoughts could bring freedom–from guilt, sorrow, and attachment to worldly pleasure and pain–but they couldn’t bring enlightenment. He found that without a Dharma, or philosophy, earthly beings couldn’t take the next steps away from their current way of life toward the understanding that the self is an illusion and that the end of suffering is possible.
Buddha never talked about God or the gods. He shunned ceremony and “religious practices,” because they distract from the true nature of being one with the source, or superconsciousness. Ultimately, each person’s path to clarity and freedom is unique. That’s what I love about Buddhism. It’s not a religious practice; it’s a personal journey. One can follow any of the paths to enlightenment and move toward peace, tranquility, and connection.
At the end of the book, Chopra wrote an FAQ about Buddhism to help make it more accessible to the lay person. If you’re seeking clarity, or freedom, or enlightenment, I encourage you to read this book. If it calls to you, it’s time.