Maybe the title is contrived, but something about it made me curious when I saw it in the store. After we’ve all lived through a worldwide trauma, there was something appealing about a book that would look at the regular occurrences we all endure and help them make sense.
I’ve been reading a lot about psychology, and a lot of modern psychologists are starting to urge people recovering from trauma towards mindfulness and meditation, as studies are now confirm the real and lasting benefits of it. So I figured this book would be a great entry into understanding meditation and where it comes from, within the framework I’m already prone to responding to, which is psychology.
Mark Epstein goes through the events that lead to the Buddha’s enlightenment, analyzing the stories, looking at the original text and not just translations, and extrapolating what kind of trauma the Buddha would have endured while he lived through the events of his life. There’s no effort to state that some of the more magical events didn’t happen or are embellished, but rather just a sincere effort to look at an influential, mythical man as a man. Epstein also looks at the characters the Buddha encountered as the people they may have been, taking all the trauma’s they’re said to have endured and peeling back the layers of those events to show the effect on the psyche. It’s all weirdly compelling.
I came out of this with a better understanding of Buddhism and meditation, which was the goal, and very intrigued by Epstein’s own way of interpreting life, myth, science, religion and magic. It wasn’t what I thought it would be, and I’m curious to learn more.