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August: Breakfast With Buddha by Roland Merullo

Updated: Oct 8, 2020

A road trip with a Monk leads to self exploration and answering the big questions in life like why are we here, with an amusing twist.....

When his sister tricks him into taking her guru on a trip to their childhood home, Otto Ringling, a confirmed skeptic, is not amused. Six days on the road with an enigmatic holy man who answers every question with a riddle is not what he'd planned. But in an effort to westernize his passenger--and amuse himself--he decides to show the monk some "American fun" along the way. From a chocolate factory in Hershey to a bowling alley in South Bend, from a Cubs game at Wrigley field to his family farm near Bismarck, Otto is given the remarkable opportunity to see his world--and more important, his life--through someone else's eyes. Gradually, skepticism yields to amazement as he realizes that his companion might just be the real thing.

In Roland Merullo's masterful hands, Otto tells his story with all the wonder, bemusement, and wry humor of a man who unwittingly finds what he's missing in the most unexpected place.

Fuel For Thought Questions:

1. How does Otto change throughout the story? What key pieces play a part in his evolution?

2. What events or comments convince the reader that Rinpoche is a spiritual teacher? Were there moments where you questioned his authenticity?

3. This story speaks about contemporary American society. What is it that Otto finds positive or negative about the state of American life?

4. Amish country, the Hershey’s Factory, bowling alley baseball game, tour of Chicago, mini golf and swimming in a Minnesota lake were all chosen activities on their road trip. What do you think Merullo’s purpose was for including each of these? Do you think the book would have been different had they not been included?

5. How would you describe Otto’s experience after sitting with Rinpoche for two hours? Have you ever experienced something similar to this?

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