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Anyway, as I stepped into the 20s, I think I became a little better. I substituted snob for shy, and bravado for cowardice. It worked. People think I am a snob. And mistake me for being aggressively confident. When I saw Giulio Cesare Giacobbe's How To Become A Buddha In 5 Weeks, I picked it up for one reason only - I am a fan of the Buddha. Not in a religious, "I bow to thee," way, but let's just say he and I have had a beautiful friendship the past few years. Giacobbe's book tries to simplify Buddhism, and tries to present some of the Buddha's precepts and teachings in a simple, easy to understand and identify manner. I am all for simplification - I never understood why it should be so hard to reach this phenomenon called God, if so much of the world thinks God is so important. Too much of religion comes packed with guidelines, dogmas and vague rules, which is why I stay away from it. Giacobbe takes us through the Buddha's 8-fold path, and argues that it should be whittled down to 5 in the end. Two he ignores, which means that all that is left is to perform the 3 actions.
I liked Giacobbe's easy to understand style - but there are very little practical exercises. Apart from saying 'breathe' and a few choice phrases of visualization as a mantra, there is precious little that is new. I know that I will not become a Buddha in 5 weeks. You know that too. Everyone knows that. But it is possible to become a better human being in 5 weeks. Some of Giacobbe's principles may help you. Others are plain hyperbole. He ruins it completely in the end when he talks of unconditional love and compares it to a mother's love. Seriously?Perhaps he hasn't heard of the 1000s of cases where mothers have willingly tortured and abused their child. Yes, even fathers too. Where did 'unconditional love' go then? To me, that's a myth. Love. That's enough. Let's not tag a label to it and call it unconditional.
And some of his references are well, dodgy. He quotes the Dalai Lama as saying that “…the Buddha is inside you whatever you do and wherever you go.” and then says "I don’t know where and when he said it but, given the Buddha’s pot belly, he must have said it somewhere! (p. 26)". Try passing an academic paper, Mr Giacobbe with those sort of references. Having said that, there is a little wisdom in the book. As with life, take what comes with a little bit of salt. And perhaps a little spice. Sweeten it up if you must. But don't swallow it whole.
Verdict: Just about O.K.