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Harold Ramis Was 'Buddhish,' Always Had A Pocket-Sized Guide To Buddhism On Him

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HAROLD RAMIS
In this Dec. 12, 2009 file photo, actor and director Harold Ramis laughs as he walks the red carpet to celebrate The Second City's 50th anniversary in Chicago. (AP Photo/Jim Prisching, File) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

While the late Harold Ramis is best known and will be forever remembered for his work on iconic comedies including "Ghostbusters," "Stripes," "Caddyshack" and "Groundhog Day," what many people may not know of is the actor and director's unique relationship to Buddhism.

The "Buddha of Comedy," as the Chicago native was known by many, actually kept a laminated, pocket-sized primer on the eastern religion with him wherever he went, according to a Monday post on Buddhist blog Tricycle. He even would copy the "5 Minute Buddhist" guide and give it to friends, such as director Judd Apatow.

On the heels of Ramis' death late last month at the age of 69, Todd Kuhns of Red40 Entertainment reproduced a downloadable PDF of the primer for anyone who might wish to follow in the comedy legend's footsteps. It is a copy of an online photograph taken of a version of the primer Ramis provided to a Shambhala Sun Foundation auction in 2009.

"The idea was to present a simple Buddhist primer on something the size of a Chinese takeout menu," Ramis explained in an interview with Shambhala Sun.

The primer includes a quote from Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh: “The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment, feeling fully alive.”

Ramis, who was raised Jewish, once described Zen Buddhism as "my shield and my armor in the work I do," the Tribune reported. "It's to keep a cheerful, Zenlike detachment from everything.” He said he was introduced to the faith through his wife, Erica Mann Ramis, and mother-in-law, both of whom had experience living in Buddhist meditation centers.

Many of Ramis' films, especially "Groundhog Day," are also said to illustrate Buddhist ideas. Still, as Ramis explained to Robert Loerzel in a 2008 interview published last month by Chicago magazine, he did not actually identify as a Buddhist -- joking that he was "Buddh-ish" instead. Ramis told Loerzel he embraced "the core beliefs" of Buddhism, describing himself as "leaning" toward the faith but not necessarily practicing it:

I read a bit, a basic Buddhist text called What the Buddha Taught, and said, “Oh, yeah, this makes sense.” Memorable, simple, didn’t require articles of faith, but completely humanistic in every way that I valued. So I proselytize it without practicing it. Much easier.

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