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As a reference, this is a great book. Just don't try reading it cover to cover like me. It's best used to just thumb through, or to look up a particular area of travel.
I recently had the opportunity to test and verify some of the information in this book by embarking on one of the routes. I found the mix of information and history informative.
The book is durable and convenient in size to take along with you. And, seems a good value for the price. I plan on keeping this book on hand as a good reference for when I next take a road trip in Northern California.
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One wonderful example of this is, "What would Buddha do about that coffee habit?", to which the response is: "Our country is full of sickly-looking, skinny people, just because we don't drink tea. Whenever people feel weak, they should drink tea (Kissa Yojoki)". In that simple piece of advice, we're told both a common sense and medicinal answer to that coffee habit (the author tells us that tea is healthier than coffee, which is truthful). The author expands on the passage, giving a short interpretation of the lesson including "...When we have to have something, the truth is that thing has us. Ask yourself who is master, who or these things you 'need'. If it's not you, something is wrong". It's passages such as this that make us stop, and think "oh yeah...".
To a serious scholar of Buddhism, this book may lack substance and true contextual meaning, and may leave the some readers gasping like a fish out of water, reaching for a more substantial main course. However, it does successfully bring Buddhist teachings into our daily lives, and can be a great tool for living a simpler, better life.
However, after I put the book down for awhile, and then came back to it with no expectations, its simplicity was what seemed to be its charm - short, one-page advice regarding everyday problems that can be extrapolated to other areas of life very easily. Take this one, for example:
"What would Buddha do when he can't resist having dessert?"
Metcalf quotes a few lines from Saraha, Dohakosha 64, and then gives his own paragraph of interpretation, which includes reminding us of oneness and interconnectedness - "don't wolf the chocolate; think of the labor that brought it to you. When we really experience our desires and fulfillments, we realize oneness with the Buddha way."
For the beginning, such as myself, this little book is useful to remind us that Buddhism can be lived all day, every day, even when it seems like there's just no way about something. For the advanced readers, it might help when he or she is struggling with a problem like one named in the book, and needs a point of reference to help them along the way.
Overall, I would say it's not a book to be read front to back, so much as it's a book one refers to in times of need; it's not a book that will clearly teach someone "how to be a buddhist," but it will offer waypoints along the path. For an excellent introduction to buddhism, try (and don't let the title scare you off) _The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism_ - that's an *excellent* starter for those wishing to learn about almost every element of this path.