I, of course, am a Buddhist called Bodhi.
This fictional Bodhi is Dr. Bodhi King, who is a forensic examiner. He’s a lanky, long-haired fellow who meditates and occasionally dispenses advice about mindfulness. The physical description is reminiscent of me twenty years ago.
Please note, in the photograph below, the shoulder-length hair I sported back in 1999. And although there’s no way to assess my height from the photograph, I am six feet tall and was, at that time, skinny enough to be termed “lanky.”
I’ve never been a forensic examiner, although I do have a degree in medicine (veterinary, though, not human).
No, I don’t think that Melissa F. Miller based her character on me. But I’m 100% confident that she took some of the Buddha quotes in the novel from two of my websites, including this one.
But first, I was delighted that there weren’t any Fake Buddha Quotes in the book! Many fiction authors, I’ve found, aren’t particularly good researchers. If they want to make a character appear wise, they simply grab something from a quote site and off they go. If they’re inclined to do a little “fact-checking” they’ll confirm that the quote in question can also be found on another quote site, and maybe a Facebook page or two. Of course is it’s on Facebook it must be true.
Miller, to her great credit, doesn’t put any Fake Buddha Quotes in her hero’s mouth.
Even more to her credit, she uses genuine quotations the headings for some chapters of the book. She even provides scriptural citations for those quotes. While most writers are happy to dangle the word “Buddha” at the end of their quotes, Miller gives the names of suttas. For example, here’s one quote she uses, accompanied by its attribution:
Ardently do today what must be done. Who knows? Tomorrow, death comes.
The Buddha, Bhaddekaratta Sutta
It can’t be a coincidence that every single quote she uses is found either on this site or on RealBuddhaQuotes.com (the sibling site to this one), that the wording in every one of the quotes is identical to what’s found on those sites, and that, similarly, the attributions are identically worded as well.
So I congratulate Ms. Miller on her diligent research. The only thing she didn’t do was give my Real Buddha Quotes or Fake Buddha Quotes sites any acknowledgement, but I can forgive that.
One slightly jarring note in the novel was a description of Bodhi King meditating:
Her eyes drifted up to the rearview mirror and she checked on Bodhi. He appeared to be meditating. His head was unbent and his eyes were closed. His hands rested on his thighs and his forefingers and thumbs met in two ovals. His lips were not moving, but she could have sworn she heard a vibrating sound coming from his throat.
The whole “meditating with the forefingers and thumbs making circles on the knees” thing is such a stereotype — and an inaccurate one at that. Any time I look for stock photos of people meditating, there it is. And yet I don’t think I’ve ever once, in almost 40 years of meditating, seen a Buddhist adopt that hand gesture.
The most common position for the hands in Buddhism is “dhyana mudra” (literally “meditation hand-position”) with the hands resting in the lap, the fingers of the right hand on top of the fingers of the left, with the tips of the thumbs touching.
There are four other books in the Bodhi King series, and I’m curious to know if Miller uses any more quotes from my website in them. I’m unlikely to read them to find out, though. Miller is a pretty good writer, but her style isn’t my cup of tea. If you happen to have copies, please let me know!
Here’s a complete list of the quotes that Miller borrows, with links to the Fake and Real Buddha Quotes sites:
- “Ardently do today what must be done. Who knows? Tomorrow, death comes.”
- “Whatever precious jewel there is in the heavenly worlds, there is nothing comparable to one who is Awakened.”
- “The world is afflicted by death and decay. But the wise do not grieve, having realized the nature of the world.”
- “Conquer anger with non-anger.”
- “We will develop and cultivate the liberation of mind by loving kindness, make it our vehicle, make it our basis, stabilize it, exercise ourselves in it, and fully perfect it.”
- “What is past is left behind. The future is as yet unreached.”
- “Think not lightly of evil, saying, ‘It will not come to me.’ Drop by drop is the water pot filled.”
- “Your worst enemy cannot harm you
as much as your own thoughts, unguarded.”
PPS: My name does actually appear in a novel written by a former meditation student of mine, Penelope J. Holt, who borrowed it for the name of a character who was a Buddhist monk. The book is called “The Painter’s Gift.” Penelope was kind enough to send me a copy when the book was published.