These wonderful sutras (Buddhist teachings) were written by Laurence Musgrove, English professor at Angelo State University.
With no retreat centers or meditation teachers nearby, he documents his spiritual journey in original sutras, calling into dialogue the imagined persona of the Buddha.from the back cover
His nearest Buddhist centers are in San Antonio (3 hours away) and Santa Fe (7 hours away).
The sutras are laid out as poems with little rhyming and considerable enjambment. They could be considered prose poems, but feel more rhythmic. Something is missing if the line breaks are not respected. The speaker largely speaks in concrete language. The imagined Buddha speaks in metaphor and images. This is a gentle Buddha with deep empathy and wisdom. The poems hold up well on repeated reading. My wife and I are on our second pass through the whole collection and have read our favorites several times more.
The dialogues have little to say about theology/cosmology and much to say about every day behavior and how to treat people, including ourselves.
What I like most about working in the yard
Is that it gives me a lot of time to think,
Even though my body isn’t all that happy.
About the mowing and trimming part.
I also like the my neighbor the Buddha
Will often come over to talk to me about
The parade of my imagination.
For example, today I was picturing all of
The different ways people use a broom.
There are those that like to push a wide
Brush of a broom all the way down the long
Quiet hallway of the future in front of them.
Also there are those who love the short
Stroke of a broom in the here and now.
In the late hot afternoon, I swept dry
Clippings into small piles long the curb.
Next, I walked around with a bucket
And squatted down to pick up the piles.
Then, crouched as I was, I saw his shadow
Walking toward me over the even grass,
Ice cubes singing in the glass in his hand.
This Buddha is very American and very eclectic. He follows a Buddhism that fits gently with Jesus’ teachings. This is not the religion of the institutional church, either Buddhist or Christian. The book reminds me of “God’s Dog: Conversations with Coyote“ by Webster Kitchell. Both Coyote and the Buddha in these books have lost their ethnic roots. As has been observed elsewhere, perhaps in Kitchell’s book, “Coyote is nobody’s fool. He belongs to all of us.”
I like the imagination, word play, and teachings in this book.