Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment - Deepak Chopra
Chopra is best known for his spiritual how-to books. Here, he turns to fiction (though he adds a how-to epilogue), writing about the life of Prince Siddhartha, who became the Buddha. Chopra divides his book into three parts. The first chronicles the youth of a motherless boy who has a destiny: to be a spiritual leader as foretold by astronomers at his birth. But his powerful father refuses to bow to fate and keeps his son isolated from the world. In the second part, Siddhartha, now a husband and father, sees suffering and decides to leave his life of leisure and become a monk. Despite extreme asceticism and a duel with a demon, enlightenment eludes him. In the final section, Siddhartha sees the error of trying to defeat his body and, in one night, achieves enlightenment and becomes the Buddha. The Buddha's story is compelling, and though Chopra's writing can be overly dramatic and his language flowery, he captures the essence of the spiritual seeker, sometimes shockingly single-minded in the pursuit of illumination. When the novel ends, the explanations begin, with Chopra providing a Q and A about the tenets of Buddhism. Many will find his "answers" as enigmatic as they are enlightening.
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