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Looking for great modern Buddhist fiction

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I'm looking for a great Buddhist book.  Not a book about Buddhism,
but  well written fiction about Buddhist practitioners.

I've been reading Mary Gaitskill.  She has deep insights into the
complexity of human nature and is very gifted at describing them. 
If you haven't read Mary Gaitskill you could find plenty more
similar great writers in the New Yorker, of read John Cheever or
Raymond Chandler, or one of the "Best Short Stories of the Year"
anthologies.

People are complicated.  People have multiple motivations.  There
are a few writers who can share insights into the human condition in
fiction, that are difficult to discuss in non fiction.

I would like to find a good writer who has written about modern
Buddhist practitioners in America.  Maybe a story about people going
into a Vipassana retreat, why they really came, what really happened
during the retreat and when they went home.   Maybe a story about
the followers of a teacher being exposed for bad behavior.  Maybe a
story about someone who decided to stop meditating.  

Is there stuff like this that anyone here could recommend?

RE: Looking for great modern Buddhist fiction
Answer
7/6/20 3:27 PM as a reply to Tom Smith.
A quick Google search revealed a lot, but here's the top link in the results:

https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/buddhist-fiction



RE: Looking for great modern Buddhist fiction
Answer
7/6/20 5:20 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Cool.  Thanks.  Wonder why I didn't think of doing a google?

RE: Looking for great modern Buddhist fiction
Answer
7/7/20 7:18 AM as a reply to Tom Smith.
I don't know why, but many people seem to ask others to find stuff for them as opposed to asking The Oracle (Google). This same thing happens at my office all the time. My habit is to ask Google first and 99% of the time I get my answer there.

RE: Looking for great modern Buddhist fiction
Answer
7/7/20 8:40 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Yes, the Great God Google knows All, sees All, sells All.

I keep wanting people to write great stories that involve the insight stages as they actually present driving the key plot points, as has actually happened for substantial portions of my life, particularly in my teens and 20's, which are the decades that make for a lot of the best stories for a lot of people. I dream of these stories being fictional except for the fact of the way the insight stages presented, which, taken from various people's real lives, would be the only true part of the book not needing exaggeration.

Curiously, I will bet 98% of readers would imagine they were fiction also, but, as those of us here know well, couldn't be farther from the truth. Still, like all good fiction, could introduce readers to these concepts such that, if and when they ran into them, they would know something about what they were and how to handle them. I think that a really good movie about these topics could reach more than all our work here ever could.

RE: Looking for great modern Buddhist fiction
Answer
7/7/20 8:53 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
I don't know why, but many people seem to ask others to find stuff for them as opposed to asking The Oracle (Google). This same thing happens at my office all the time. My habit is to ask Google first and 99% of the time I get my answer there.
Because you trust the opinion of a person you know over a stranger to tell you if something is good and worth looking at. And google results are also based on a mystery algorithm which sometimes suppresses certain dissident views.

I like to know what people (multiple individual people) think not what "the internet" thinks, not what is the popular consensus.

This is particularly important when you are searching for something that costs money like a book because you can't trust the sellers who will always overstate the worth of their merchandise. On-line shopping reviews are also often not useful because they are mostly written just after the package is opened not after the product has been used until it is worn out and has to be replaced.

RE: Looking for great modern Buddhist fiction
Answer
7/7/20 8:52 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim, you need to read the customer reviews. And no one said you can't do both and, as luck would have it, we don't live in a binary world.

RE: Looking for great modern Buddhist fiction
Answer
7/7/20 8:56 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Jim, you need to read the customer reviews. And no one said you can't do both and, as luck would have it, we don't live in a binary world.


On-line shopping reviews are also often not useful because they are mostly written just after the package is opened not after the product has been used until it is worn out and has to be replaced.

In some cases the reviews are really rating the seller's ability to process an order and ship it quickly, rather than the quality of the product.

RE: Looking for great modern Buddhist fiction
Answer
7/7/20 8:54 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel, I think most practice logs here on DhO and elsewhere, and practice blogs, are good Buddhist non-fiction.

RE: Looking for great modern Buddhist fiction
Answer
7/7/20 8:56 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
On-line shopping reviews are also often not useful because they are mostly written just after the package is opened not after the product has been used until it is worn out and has to be replaced.

You're reading the wrong reviews!  emoticon

RE: Looking for great modern Buddhist fiction
Answer
7/7/20 8:59 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I would like to see practitioners shown in greater complexity.  For example someone who still had to deal with alcoholism or sexual obsession after awakening.  Kornfield has written about this in non-fiction essays.  Probably lots of people have.  But I would love to see some good fiction.  Part of the problem is that lots of smart people can write good essays, but it is much rarer to have the gift of writing good fiction.

I listened to a recent interview with Mary Gaitskill who writes essays and fiction.  On the subject of the "me too" movement she said she had to describe her confilits and confusion on the subject by writting a story in which the confusion and confilict unfolds in the interplay between several characters.  She  said  if she had been clearer on the topic, she would have  just written an essay.  

There is a lot I am very unclear on as I observe myself and the behavior of other long term meditatiors, disfunctional meditation groups and teachers, and for that matter the nature of societies where people  have been meditating and awakening for thousands of years.

I've been going through a series of books, published every year, "The best American short stories of the year".  Reading alot since the virus lock down.  Those top quality writers see details of human nature that I often miss,  I would love to see some of them describe what they see in modern American meditatiors.





 

RE: Looking for great modern Buddhist fiction
Answer
7/7/20 10:30 AM as a reply to Tom Smith.
Tom Smith:
12345678910111213141516171819202122
I'm looking for a great Buddhist book.  Not a book about Buddhism,
but  well written fiction about Buddhist practitioners.

I've been reading Mary Gaitskill.  She has deep insights into the
complexity of human nature and is very gifted at describing them. 
If you haven't read Mary Gaitskill you could find plenty more
similar great writers in the New Yorker, of read John Cheever or
Raymond Chandler, or one of the "Best Short Stories of the Year"
anthologies.

People are complicated.  People have multiple motivations.  There
are a few writers who can share insights into the human condition in
fiction, that are difficult to discuss in non fiction.

I would like to find a good writer who has written about modern
Buddhist practitioners in America.  Maybe a story about people going
into a Vipassana retreat, why they really came, what really happened
during the retreat and when they went home.   Maybe a story about
the followers of a teacher being exposed for bad behavior.  Maybe a
story about someone who decided to stop meditating.  

Is there stuff like this that anyone here could recommend?

Aldous Huxley's late novel "Island" is a good Buddhism-in-action-exhibiting novel, though frankly utopian. Herman Hesse's Siddhartha is probably familiar to you, if you like your dry practice mixed with some good old German Romantic Realism. A number of the Beats strove to work at least some kind of Buddhism into their works of poetry and fiction, with Jack Kerouac's Dharma Bums standing out. At the risk of seeming immodest, my own California Book of the Dead opens with a bunch of Tibetan monks chanting a dying gay man through the afterdeath bardos and finishes with an honest look at the effect of a guru scandal on an authentic practitioner who is all in, though in between a lot of satire of new age spirituality and morals tends to predominate. My "The Monk Downstairs" addresses a spiritual crisis in a Catholic monk, who quits during what is either a dark night of the soul or a foul-tempered nervous breakdown and loss of faith, though he gets laid in the end and thus it is a comedy with a happy ending.

I think Groundhog Day is the greatest Buddhist movie ever made, for those who choose the Boddhisattva exit on the free way to nirvana.

love, tim 

RE: Looking for great modern Buddhist fiction
Answer
7/7/20 9:43 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
On-line shopping reviews are also often not useful because they are mostly written just after the package is opened not after the product has been used until it is worn out and has to be replaced.

You're reading the wrong reviews!  emoticon


I always read the bad reviews first. It's not to hard to distinguish when they are caused by unrealistic expectations rather than a poor quality product.

RE: Looking for great modern Buddhist fiction
Answer
7/7/20 9:57 AM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
I think Groundhog Day is the greatest Buddhist move ever made, for those who choose the Boddhisattva exit on the free way to nirvana.

Amen.

RE: Looking for great modern Buddhist fiction
Answer
7/7/20 10:06 AM as a reply to Tom Smith.
Tom Smith:
I would like to see practitioners shown in greater complexity.  For example someone who still had to deal with alcoholism or sexual obsession after awakening.  Kornfield has written about this in non-fiction essays.




Do you have any links to these pieces you mention? Thanks.

RE: Looking for great modern Buddhist fiction
Answer
7/7/20 12:48 PM as a reply to Zachary.
Zachary:
Tom Smith:
I would like to see practitioners shown in greater complexity.  For example someone who still had to deal with alcoholism or sexual obsession after awakening.  Kornfield has written about this in non-fiction essays.

Do you have any links to these pieces you mention? Thanks.
https://books.google.com/books?id=mukDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA46&lpg=PA46&dq=intensive+meditation+practice+has+its+limitations&source=bl&ots=Rcw22TgPIW&sig=ACfU3U2p7qkMDl-4bNVpKWe4XZt7qTvsXw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjqw9-n2LvqAhULn-AKHXqNAoQQ6AEwAHoECAsQAQ#v=onepage&q=intensive%20meditation%20practice%20has%20its%20limitations&f=false

Also the book "After the Ecstacy the Laundry"

RE: Looking for great modern Buddhist fiction
Answer
7/7/20 2:09 PM as a reply to Tom Smith.
Tom Smith:
12345678910111213141516171819202122
I'm looking for a great Buddhist book.  Not a book about Buddhism,
but  well written fiction about Buddhist practitioners.

I've been reading Mary Gaitskill.  She has deep insights into the
complexity of human nature and is very gifted at describing them. 
If you haven't read Mary Gaitskill you could find plenty more
similar great writers in the New Yorker, of read John Cheever or
Raymond Chandler, or one of the "Best Short Stories of the Year"
anthologies.

People are complicated.  People have multiple motivations.  There
are a few writers who can share insights into the human condition in
fiction, that are difficult to discuss in non fiction.

I would like to find a good writer who has written about modern
Buddhist practitioners in America.  Maybe a story about people going
into a Vipassana retreat, why they really came, what really happened
during the retreat and when they went home.   Maybe a story about
the followers of a teacher being exposed for bad behavior.  Maybe a
story about someone who decided to stop meditating.  

Is there stuff like this that anyone here could recommend?

I've mentioned it here before, but 'The Years of Rice and Salt' is an alt-history epic told through a group of folks being reborn together over hundreds of years. If you're in the mood for speculative fiction, I recommend this one.