My Buddhist Christmas by Jeremy Phillips
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: September 8, 2015
Amazon ♥ B & N
It’s not surprising that sixteen year old Chris Jones has no idea where he fits in…
After all, he’s a Buddhist kid in America—during the Christmas season. Add in the fact he plays guitar in a punk rock band called The Dharma Bhumz, and his life is one giant paradox. Caught between the principles of his religion and the influence of his hard-partying bandmates, Chris is in a constant struggle for balance.
An upcoming talent show is his chance to shine—or fail spectacularly…
It’s already hard enough preparing for the show, since his friends are more interested in getting high than practicing. And now Chris has to worry about impressing pretty Mary Simpson. To make matters even worse, Mary’s parents are fundamentalist Christians, a few steps above his family on the social ladder, and they firmly believe Chris isn’t good enough for their precious daughter.
Conflicted about his friends, lying to his family, and still mourning a devastating loss, Chris wonders if being an American Buddhist guitar wizard wanna-be is worth it.
Or does any of it even matter anymore?
I take a deep breath, and make a seriously conscious effort to actually go Buddhist on this situation. I think of the first Buddhist thing that comes to mind, which happens to be the thing that seems most appropriate in this situation, as in so many other times in life:
The mind of the past is ungraspable.
The mind of the present is ungraspable.
The mind of the future is ungraspable.
This is from the Diamond Sutra, the only part of it that I actually know right off the top of my head. It’s good stuff, and all it really means is to be here now, in this moment, the moment right here in front of you, because it’s the only time that you’ll ever actually get to live in, ever, in this life.
At a moment like this, sitting with a prettily smiling Mary across from me, I can see that idea so very well. This moment, this second right here and right now, is the only fragment of time that I can actually have. Once it’s past, this time will be nothing but a memory. Thinking forward into the future is the same.
It’s projecting what I want or fear or imagine, into just dreaming about how things are going to be. Even the present is ungraspable, a slightly harder idea to think about maybe, until you notice that “the present” is just another concept. When does this present come into being, shifting from the future into our present view? When does this present stop being present, and slide off into becoming the past?
At no time, really. So, just like the others, the present is also just a concept. There’s really only this. This now, only this eternal moment right here, that every really does exist. So—Be Here Now, I tell myself. I mean, really, come on. This is the only moment you’re ever gonna live in.
Jeremy Phillips has been interested in Buddhist philosophy for more than twenty years, and attends services at a Shin Buddhist temple in Spokane, Washington.
When he isn't writing or keeping busy being a father and husband, he works as a Respiratory Therapist at several different hospitals. He lives in Spokane with his wife, children, dogs, and bonsai trees.