Review of "Buddhist Boot Camp"

By Timber Hawkeye
HarperOne, 2013
Review by Michael Sakuma, Ph.D. on Jun 24th 2014
Buddhist Boot Camp

Move over Alan Watt. Step aside Thich Nhat Hanh. There's a new Buddha in town, and his name is Timber Hawkeye. He's here to throw down some serious wisdom about life, love and an enlightened way to live.

I'm a big fan of Buddhist writings -- but my attention span is not what I'd like it to be sometimes. The typical " intro to buddhist ideas" book can be esoteric- somewhat vague and for lack of a better term, mindboggling, I often find myself drifting off into my own thoughts, looking at the words on the paper instead of reading them and then battling inside myself about the pros and cons of eating another vegan doughnut for a snack. Due to this unfortunate reaction to dense prose, I have more unfinished books on my shelf (and more finished doughnuts on my stomach)  than I'd like to admit.

There are many things to like about this book. There are countless insights offered by Hawkeye that can be effective at putting life in perspective, battling depression and anger and helping one see the forest amongst the trees of our days.  

What I really like about this book is that the messages are pithy- they are dense, but in short bytes. Each chapter is about the length of this review - short enough to allow reflection and even a want for more. In this way it is written a little bit like a 365 devotional whereby ideas or thoughts are written in a short format to allow for easy reflection. I'm not sure exactly how many of these entries there are but I do not believe there are enough for one day a year. Topics include, the concepts of 'mindfulness', with entries entitled "less is more", "sit happens" and "leave no trace." (I particularly like this last entry and now think about it every time I enter and leave a room). Other topics include "love and relationships" "religion and spirituality" "understanding" "success" "anger insecurities and fears" and "living in gratitude."

In thinking about how the book is set up I can't help but liken it to those Buddhist-inspired toys offered in some novelty shops. You might've seen them-you take your wet paintbrush  and draw a beautiful design on a dry board and watch within minutes as the design disappears. It's kind of symbolic of the brevity and beauty of our lives and perhaps emphasizes the non-attachment that is so central to Buddhist teachings. I'm not sure if Hawkeye intended this, but the format of the book mimics of this style and message. Each entry is interesting and has a pearl of wisdom -- and just as soon as you engage with it and enjoy it, it is over.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It is the kind of book that changes you. But don't go into it thinking that it will be the best book you'll ever read and that your life will completely change after you read it- He'll tell you why when you get there (in the chapter entitled "at the root of our suffering.") I think Hawkeye's approach is refreshing, and I agree with most of what he puts forth. Fans of this genre might see glimpses of Brad Warner -- another rebellious though more iconoclastic favorite in the area.

A final observation of the book, and again, this is my own interpretation- Each entry is chockfull of provocative quotes. It emphasizes his non-ownership over this wisdom and that it is but some of much wisdom, already observed and reflected in the world. I believe that you will recognize as you read -- these quotes and observations about the world are not reflections from outside, but rather reflections of the wisdom that is already in each one of us. The word "educate" comes the from Latin e-ducere means "to lead out" and Hawkeye and his Buddha brethren are just reaching for that little fat man that already resides in each one of us.  I wouldn't say every one NEEDs to read this book, but everyone could benefit from it along their path. Happy reading and happy trails.

"All know the Way, but few actually walk it. —Bodhidharma


© 2014 Michael Sakuma


Michael J. Sakuma, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Dowling College, NY


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