Introverted monk Seido Oda is set in his ways as a Buddhist priest in a peaceful temple in the tranquil mountains of Japan. His life is changed forever when he is ordered by his superiors to move to America in order to set up a new temple there.
He ends up in Little Calabria, Brooklyn and it is quite a culture shock for Oda, as the American believers are astoundingly different from the devout, spiritual students he is used to. For example the rich couple who think praying will help increase their company profits, the businessman who has his own version of Buddhism to preach or the narcoleptic that sleeps through the religious lectures.
He soon finds his patience and his own beliefs put to the test as he struggles to guide an eccentric cast of characters towards the path of enlightenment. In helping his fellow Buddhists in their own personal journeys, Oda finds that the biggest discoveries he will make are his own.
I found reading this book quite therapeutic. The stunning descriptions of the natural, serene Japanese landscapes and even the noisy, brash chaos of the city through Oda’s eyes were told in such sober, soft tones that reading was like a meditation in itself. There were lots of details about the Buddhist religion including philosophies and practices which I found to be enlightening and interesting rather than preachy or pretentious. Oda’s story is both entertaining and endearing. Buddhaland Brooklyn is overall a charming and thoughtful tale about change, faith and acceptance and was a delight to read.