Now that I am about to sign a contract with Wisdom Publications for my book Buddhism for Dudes, I am at the end of something that has consumed a lot of my time since 2011 – finding a publisher for Buddhism for Dudes. I can now devote more time to writing, and learning new Buddhist stuff.
For the red-hot latest thoughts on practical, non-metaphysical dharma in daily life, you might want to check out the website stumbledupon.com and enroll and identify “spirituality” among your interests. I am copy-and-pasting the most interesting “list” articles, along the lines of “20 Best Mini-Meditations.” They’re quite good. It’s useful stuff.
I do so much need to free my mind of the resentment I feel toward those institutions I opine are perversions of Buddhism: The Pure Land, Nichirin, particularly Soka Gakai, and other followers of the Lotus Sutra. I am not going to lecture you about them here, but you can look it up on Wikipedia and come to your own conclusions. After all, people who chant “nam-myoho-renge-kyo” and expect personal gain are still going to present a Buddhist persona in public, whatever that is. Pleasant and happy. Compassionate and empathetic. Non-complaining. Peace people.
Personally, my ideal Buddhist persona is a man who lives responsibly and has the courage and potential to “run toward the gunfire,” that is, to be of real use, if not a source of leadership, when the shit hits the fan. A guy who can act out of compassion without regard to his own safety.
I hope that the book I’m working on now, Buddhism for Dudes II: The Noble Eightfold Path, doesn’t take me as long to finish as the first one, on which I worked and researched for six years. Number Two will be two or three times the size of little 75-page BFD, which, according to my editor at Wisdom, the design department intends to have lots of fun with. They’re thinking a mini-format to sell to impulse-buyers in the checkout line, designed to look like a shop manual complete with phony grease stains and titled and by-lined in a military stencil font. The book is so little that it would get lost in the stacks. I want a book guys can carry around in their pockets. I want a book that will be limber and fit in the space between a battle helmet and the helmet liner. Once I explained those things to Wisdom, who at first wanted a bigger book, the light bulb went on, I guess, and saw the merits of selling it small as intended.
So, as soon as I see the contract, Buddhism for Dudes will no longer be available as a Kindle e-book – until the Wisdom edition is released, which won’t be until sometime in 2015. Since I won’t be “selling” it anymore, so to speak, access to the book will be limited to word.doc and PDF copies of the manuscript I am happy to send through e-mail to anyone who requests it at email@example.com. It will also be available in a “bootleg” privately printed edition for eight dollars, which includes postage and handling. Or seven dollars if you meet me in certain taverns in Louisville, KY and Knoxville, TN.
I’ll miss my relationship with Kindle, although I will still have another book available, the anthology Confessions of a Buddhist Gunslinger. While BFD was on Kindle, from 2011 until now, it earned me enough money to buy a refurbished laptop computer with a 17 inch screen. Sales have gone flat, though, from a high of 84 copies sold last December to a sluggish 30 – 40 copies this winter and spring. And basically, only British people have bought it. My sales are better in Australia than in the US. But Confessions . . . nobody buys Confessions.
One of Buddhism for Dudes’ best traits (other than lucidity) is its humor. It’s a funny book (On the Precept to refrain from sexual misconduct: Instead of jerking off on the guest towels, try this: paint a skinny mustache across your upper lip with her eyebrow pencil, turn off the lights as you slip into the bedroom and introduce yourself: “Hello. My name is Raul.” You need to say this with a South American accent. “Allo. My name is Rauoooool…”) I’m a funny guy. But funny isn’t easy. BFD II needs to be as funny as BFD I. Funny is hard work. I correspond with a sailor/stand-up comedian named Chris who I hope to use as a humor consultant. As soon as I think that I’ve written anything funny.
I went on a Carnival cruise to Key West and the Bahamas not long ago, and half the cruisers were college kids on spring break. They made a lot of noise and ran around nearly naked while the sun was up. Most of the “older” cruisers resented their presence and made comments about avoiding spring break next time, but for some reason, the college kids glommed on me and my wife and we had the most incredible night dancing with a big group of kids from Virginia Tech and George Mason University. And whenever we decrepited off the dance floor for a break, the other college kids applauded. When we were worn out and were making our way to the elevators, a (probably drunk) girl I’d never seen before grabbed me and pulled me back onto the dance floor and said, “I’ve been waiting to dance with you all night.”
Why little, toady me? I look like Grumpy in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I didn’t get it, why those kids wanted to spend time with me, and buy me drinks, and give me the best physical workout I’ve had in years on that dance floor? It was like I attracted them. I’ve always been a draw for little kids and dogs and people with mental retardation, but college kids? I gave the Virginia Tech/George Mason clique four copies of the bootleg paperback version of Buddhism for Dudes, and they were reading it in a single sitting and passing them around.
I don’t want to be smug and make talk about a “Buddhist radiance” or something like that that pulls people to me. But I hope that whatever-it-is works in my favor when I go out to sell books next year. I have a history of “being good with people,” but my brain isn’t what it used to be, not to mention smoking marijuana all day to counter the pain from neuropathy and fibro. Due to the lack of confidence that I can be with people and not say something stupid, I’ve become a bit of a hermit. The only time that I go out and be with people is my Wednesday evening yoga class.
So I was discussing book promotion with my editor at Wisdom (hereafter referred to as my editor), I made mention that I am not as comfortable in public situations as I used to be, and that I live a reclusive life. Would that present issues when the book is released? I asked.
“Dude,” said my editor, “we publish monks.”