Monthly Archives: February 2018

Creating a One of a Kind Buddhist Book — the Dhammapada Handbook!


The Dhammapada are the thoughts and sayings of the Buddha in poetic format. These were given typically as an instruction after various people consulted with him about their troubles and situations.

On one hand, it is a small book that one can go cover to cover fairly quickly. But for the careful reader and the daily meditation student, it is a call to practice that can take a lifetime to decipher.

Expanding the Book Scope

The Dhammapada is a book very dear to me. I traveled with one of my various copies for two years on the road. Along the way, I found favorite verses. Recently, I had the interesting idea, “Why not write a series of short stories based on the Dhammapada verses that resonated for me?”

Even before I started writing, I thought about expanding the scope. It went along these lines
“What if I started with a public domain translation of the verses?”
“Next, what if I paraphrased each passage with my own words?”
“Then, suppose I wrote down commentary like a Dhamma talk about my thoughts about the passage? But do it in a way as if I was having a one on one conversation?”
“Finally, end with a series of practices that I’ve found helpful related to the verses.”

And that’s how I came up for the idea of a highly original Buddhist book in a world where so many exist already.

Why This Book is Different For Me.

So here’s why is it truly unique as a book and for me.
– This is written from the viewpoint of a Buddhist lay practitioner sharing their life experiences. I have listened to and attended the talks of various schools. And live each day trying out different things in my Dhammic toolbox.
– I tried to both modernize yet keep traditional the Dhammapada paraphrases.
– This is not the whole Dhammapada, just some verses that build on each other when covered in a particular order.
– I made the decision to minimize Buddhist vocabulary which can be distracting for new users.
– I am making it free as I do all of my Buddhist books.
– This is my most personal book especially with the commentary. Not quite an autobiography. But an open exploration of the verse based on life experiences.
– It is simultaneously both creative fiction AND creative non-fiction. So it involves a lot of switching of writing styles in a short time. Some chapters were mostly written in one day.
– I extensively use public-domain translations. Thanks Project Gutenberg and Wikisource!!!
– For the first time, I provided Wiki pages and direct downloads of a work.
– The stories are companion pieces to the paraphrasing, commentary, and practices.
I am releasing for the first time chapter by chapter rather than waiting till the end. So it may still be rough but it is out there.
– I never plan to do another book in this format!

So far, this writing experiment has been exhausting yet gratifying. From the response so far, readers seem to be enjoying it

On many Sundays, i will be releasing a new chapter until completion.

In a future blog, I will discuss another creative tension of creating this work.

Are there Spiritual Project Managers in Our Midst ?


It has been some time since I’ve written a “real blog”. That is because I’ve been busy getting out Spiritual StormsHer Time, and now the Dhammapada Handbook. Each book had its own challenges. I will speak about these in this and future blogs.

A little while back, I undertook a Lean Six Sigma Project which took away my writing weekends for five straight months. But as went through this effort, I saw it as a kind of a religious pilgrimage somewhat like The Canterbury Tales or walking El Camino de Santiago.

I also wanted to include content influenced by St. John of the Cross. Indeed, the original title of the book was The Dark Night of the Soul: A Spiritual Project Manager’s Journal. So the topics that I wanted to cover were clear.

But how to do so was not as you can tell from reading the first two chapters. The introduction was a fictional encounter that I had while on the Jamestown Ferry.

The next chapter seemed far too close to my liking to the mysterious ride in Corporate Intent. So  I decided to add friendly but mysterious off-world aliens where things such as driverless flying cars and recreating heaven were possible. Then things took off.

As I was writing the book, i could feel the tension from almost being there with Mike, the bootcamp instructor and him grabbing me through his words to get my attention! Hopefully readers will feel the same.

I provided various principles to use while living each day or working on a project of any size. These are wrapped in an unpredictable adventure story. Those that are reading The Dhammapada Handbook will find some of the same themes therein, however presented differently.

Lessons Learned

So what lessons that I learned to pass on to other part-time writers?

Lesson One:  Allow yourself time to try out various approaches before settling into one. If I had chose an approach too early, it would have caused trouble later.

Lesson Two: Watch when you are getting into old writing patterns. Think instead, how can I make this fun for the reader.

Lesson Three: Why stick in one genre when you can have four? This may open up greater possibilities to explore.

Wrapping Up

We are still learning on how some of the ancient wonders and structure were built. Perhaps there was a “super project manager” involved or not. Maybe they are still in our midst! Or in time we can overcome the high percentage of project failures by trying something completely different such as Spiritual Project Management (or another approach). I look forward to that day.