Embrace Nothing: If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha. Live your life as it is, not bound to anything ~ Linji
Killing Buddha: A Humorous Novel Approach to the Truth
Listen up Bleep fans. Betsy Chasse is out with a new novel about enlightenment and questions about the deepest thoughts a modern woman can face. Deep truths. Like how much tequila is too much. And can anyone ever find nirvana if they’re trudging through a muddy field in five-inch Christian Louboutin black leather pumps?
Like I said, this is a Betsy Chasse book, which means it’s not your typical “let’s all find happiness through a three-day intensive with kumbaya moments”. Of course it features shoes.
Spoiler alert: I know the real Betsy Chasse. I’ve known her longer than either one of us would care to admit—pre Bleep, in fact. I’ve said on many occasions how her magnificent contribution to self-empowerment What the Bleep Do We Know!? changed my life and led me on the road to who I am today. So I’m a bit biased.
Seriously, when I got the chance to read Killing Buddha I wondered how much it would skew to Betsy’s real story and whether this would be her long awaited version of what she really wanted to say about Bleep but was afraid to admit.
The answer is about as enigmatic as that quote from Linji, and we’re all better off for it. Killing Buddha is an enjoyable romp that throws daggers at the inanities of Hollywood and the New Age movement. But as we’re along for the ride we gradually find ourselves at another place, where we get to take a look at ourselves and ponder that eternal question: who am I really?
I don’t think I’m ruining anything by saying the book is somewhat based on Betsy’s life, and she’s earned the right to tell it however she wants. She’s changed enough of the plot points to protect the guilty and create a masterful narrative that is incredibly funny and poignant at the same time.
We meet her protagonist Sara on the worst day of her life, or at least one of the black mark days on her existential spiral downward. To the outside world she’s a successful Hollywood producer, with the BMW, trophy boyfriend, designer clothes, and Jimmy Choos to prove it. Inside though, she’s seething with the rage of someone whose spent her life pleasing others in the hopes that by toeing the line and doing what’s expected of her she’ll finally get what she deserves. Not surprisingly, Sara is forever disappointed.
Through a course of events befitting her self-destructive nature, Sara wakes up to find herself broke, carless, out of work, dumped by her boyfriend and seeing a future of living on the streets with her faithful dog Zak. Okay, maybe she’s never seen rolling a shopping cart filled with Gucci scarves and Valentino dresses down Melrose Avenue, but she’s a wine-drinking, chain-smoking hot mess and going nowhere fast.
Given one last chance, she signs on to produce Killing Buddha, a documentary about spirituality, a subject the self-absorbed Sara knows nothing about but hopes will give her more gravitas in the industry that had pigeonholed her into the go-to girl for making soft porn fantasies.
Nothing appears as it seems, and what was supposed to be her road to redemption looks like it might be her undoing.
Sara’s filmmaking adventure with her motley crew of misfits takes us on a carnival ride of consciousness raising events, both hilarious and thought provoking. Each experience forces Sara to examine herself in ways she never imagined. Would she come out of it with a soul revealing breakthrough. Even more important–would we care?
A hard as nails woman like Sara could have come across like a world class bitch or the world’s most privileged yet clueless white girl, but in Betsy’s skillful hands we root for her all the way. We see her humanity and ache for her to find happiness. It’s easy for us to see a part of ourselves in her; that is, anyone who’s ever wondered why they’re here on Earth and struggled to figure out their place in it.
We’re glad to go on the ride with her. At times she gets herself into some unfortunate situations that call into question how much love and light goes on behind the scenes at spiritual growth events. Sara handles it all with humor and ingenuity—and a hefty amount of wine and cigarettes. If they’re not fictionalized versions of real life events (I swear I really don’t know), they’re the type of things I’ll bet Betsy wished she’d done in similar circumstances.
Speaking of humor; this book is flat-out funny. There’s a scene early on where Sara’s bike collides with a tree, and while that may not sound humorous, in Betsy’s hands it elicits the same kind of chuckles you get from watching crash videos on YouTube. Her venture into the dog biscuit making world (which is based on real life) takes a humorous look at what happens when good intentions go wrong.
There is something for everyone here. Hollywood and New Age meet in this rollicking fast paced novel that might be too much to bear for those who still believe that these institutions are full of candy hearts and unicorns. Killing Buddha has enough stories about the dark side of Tinseltown to convince anyone with good sense never to set foot south of the Cahuenga Pass. Yet enough of the entertainment biz’s good points show through and make it clear why someone like Sara would be attracted to it. Behind the hypocrisy shown by some of the so-called gurus described here, there’s also plenty of valuable wisdom for anyone truly searching for answers.
Betsy’s easy, stream of consciousness prose makes this a book you can breeze through in a weekend. But the substance hidden between those glasses of wine may make you want to read it again and again. An important book to add to your Kindle or bookshelf today.
Debbie Spector Weisman, empowers dreamers to live a life they love through her Dream-Life Coaching practice. She has written or contributed to 29 books including 101 Dream Dates and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and Premonitions. Her new radio show Dream Power Radio premieres November 5th on Amazingwomenofpower.com More information about her services at www.thedreamcoach.net.