Book Review: “The Buddha Walks Into a Bar” – Lodro Rinzler

2012 May 25

It’s not for lack of wanting to read Lodro Rinzler’s book ‘The Buddha Walks Into a Bar: A Guide to Life for a New Generation‘ the instant it rolled off the presses, but as the book mentions, life can get messy and things can fall between the cracks. For this reason, I hope that I get a free pass for only writing this review several months after the book’s release.

‘The Buddha Walks into a Bar’ is a joyful and fresh read that is deeply rooted in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition and remixes the old-school wisdom of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche with the new Sakyong Miphram Rinpoche and presents this in Lodro’s own authentic voice that draws from these two wisdom masters. It is a book that ‘is meant to be lived’ in that it offers real-world advice to anyone wanting to approach their lives differently or engage in self-examination and offers up exercises and practices to help to further connect with the materials within its pages. It is a guidebook for how to live an authentic, awakened life with advice on how to be in the world, how to connect to our lives and how to connect with others.

The overall framework that the book works within is that of the 3 yanas in that the chapters proceed through the ideas rooted in the Hinayana Path, makes its way through to the Mahanyana, and then moves into a taste of the Vajrayana Path. The book also relies on the Shambhala teachings of the Four Dignities which is a bit more of  Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s secular approach to traditional Buddhist teachings and relates key concepts in Buddhism to qualities manifested in four different animals as guides to how we can best navigate the world and serve as tools for helping us along.

‘The Buddha Walks Into a Bar’ covers the entire spectrum of being in this world. Sex, relationships, the ups and downs of life, money, jobs, home life, parents, technology, drinking, drugs, death, aging, compassion, anger, passion and every last little bit of what we humans go through, suffer with and derive pleasure and pain from. Traditional dharma teachings such as the paramitas, skandhas and loving kindness are integral parts of this book and mentioned frequently as they relate to all areas that Lodro takes on in providing his thoughts on how to manifest our basic goodness. These teachings are accented with the Shambhala teachings and vernacular and brought me back to my days of Shambhala Training. As such, I’d highly recommend that anyone who is currently or who has completed this program to read this book as it is a perfect companion piece to the Shambhala path.

There are many personal anecdotes throughout “The Buddha Walks Into a Bar” which indeed make you feel like you’re sharing a drink with friends in an authentic and non-pretensious manner. There are also numerous pop culture references and for the giant nerds out there (like me), the book features numerous comic book references (with a shout out to Stan Lee in the acknowledgements) and mention of budding superhero capabilities as you discover your own natural wisdom.

I have to say that this book left me very optimistic and uplifted. It was exactly what I needed after feeling overwhelmed by the current political, social and economic upheaval that I’ve been marinating over for the past while. That’s not to say that I’m turning my attention away from crisis or anything that I find particularly distasteful, rather Lodro’s book helped to reaffirm in me the knowledge and wisdom that is inherent in even the crappy parts of our lives and world and stirred in me a desire to ‘be the change’ rather than just give a consistent negative commentary on what is happening around me. This alone is well worth the cover price.

Lodro Rinzler’s ‘The Buddha Walks Into a Bar’ is a vibrant book which speaks to a new generation of Buddhists or those curious about how to wake up to their lives and be present. I’m looking forward to more of Lodro’s writing with the upcoming release of his next book on the topic of the Buddha in the Boardroom.

2 Responses
  1. May 25, 2012

    This sounds right up my alley. Thanks for this review.

  2. May 28, 2012

    On my to-read list!

Comments are closed.