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Lions Roar : January 2013
With Mindfulness You’re Less Likely to Kill the Person Holding Up the Line Anovel about three brothers, The Angry Buddhist is a steamy mix of murder, matching manga kitten tattoos, and a fierce congressional election. The eldest brother, Randall, is the politician and he’s running against Mary Swain, with her pro-death penalty stance and five-hundred-dollar high- lights. Then there’s little brother Dale, who’s in and out of prison, and Jimmy, for whom the book is named. He’s a cop with anger- management issues, alcoholic tendencies, and post-divorce bit- terness. Yet with the help of meditation and a few cute photos of dogs, he’s slowly turning his life around. The Angry Buddhist is Seth Greenland’s third novel, and a TV series based on it is in development by Showtime. Greenland was also a writer-pro- ducer on the Emmy-nominated HBO series Big Love and one of the original bloggers for The Huffington Post. For twenty years, he has been practicing mindfulness. — ANDREA MILLER Mindfulness and Buddhist practitioners put a lot of emphasis on accepting things as they are. But fiction is a fantasy. It’s not real. So for you, is there any contradiction between your practice and your writing? I want to accept things as they are. But first I need to know what they mean, and in order to understand what they mean, I write about them. I write fiction to make sense of things. What message about Buddhism did you want to leave people with? Samuel Goldwyn, the great old film producer, said that if you want to send a message, call Western Union. So it’s not like I wrote the book to send a message, but one of the takeaways is that there’s great value in practice. There are many satirical elements in this book, but what I don’t satirize is mindfulness and Buddhism. I treat them very respect- fully. And there’s a reason for that. I think they have terrific value. But Jimmy’s teacher, Bodhi Colletti, teaches online and her email address is DharmaGirl@gmail.com. You’ve definitely treated her satirically. The book is not meant to be a deep exploration of the student/ teacher relationship one finds in Buddhism. I don’t mean to dis- parage Colletti—you can have a terrific teacher online. It’s just a very modern construction, and she’s teaching a form of Bud- dhism lite. Jimmy, though, is benefiting from her teachings. I guess one of the points I’m making is that you don’t need to go SETH GREENLAND Q&A PHOTOBYGILCOPE SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2013 25