While this isn't the sort of book I would pick up at first glance (it was my book club's choice), I can honestly say that I walked away feeling slightly more enlightened. Enlightened in a spiritual, religious, self-knowing way.
Back in high school -- when I was extremely unsure of myself and everything else in the world, I read how-to books constantly. Anything from How to Win Friends & Influence People to How to Market Yourself as a Brand. I would actually stay in on Friday nights in order to read these books and get a better sense of who I could be someday.
The reason I bring this up is because this book brought me back to those days. I started it off by flying through the 200 pages. It's short and the pages are small. I had a month to read it in order to prepare for my book club, and I knew I could get through it in a matter of days. But once I had gotten through more than half of the book, I realized I wasn't really getting that much out of it at all. Eventually, I sat myself down with a pen and paper and started from the beginning again. This time, I reverted to my high-school self and thought about every word as a way to make myself a better, more enlightened person. And this time, I really learned something.
Right from the beginning, this book is about getting to know yourself -- what makes you happy, uncomfortable, bored and angry. One of the first notes I have is a list of "What kinds of things am I still getting comfortable with about myself?" But from there, it talks about accepting this -- and every -- side of yourself. If you find yourself judging someone, ask yourself why. And then, rather than hating yourself for being so judgmental, this book challenges you to love yourself for that exact quality. Love yourself for it because that is just one piece of who you are. It may not be the best, but it is a part of you and every part should be embraced.
Another topic that the author delves into is the idea of having many forms of religion/spirituality/whatever you'd like to call it. She says:
I've often heard that one should pick a specific path and stick to it. I am a member of the Quakers; I have been initiated as a Mureed -- a student of Sufi path -- I practice yoga regularly, attend workshops on quantum psychology, and follow many Buddhist teachings, including Tonglin. I am also a trained Reiki master healer. That's my one path.
I think this is something that has become more popular in today's day, but it is still refreshing to be able to belong to so many different forms of practice. While I was raised Catholic, I often find myself believing in Buddhist beliefs. Some may say this is contradictory, but I -- as well as the author -- believe that your path is whatever you'd like it to be. One belief or hundreds.
From here, the book goes into a direction of finding love. Hence, this is what the book is -- "a spiritual guide for finding love on a spiritual path." Since I have a serious boyfriend, many topics were a little irrelevant for me. Such as, thinking about your non-negotiables in a partner or ideal qualities. Instead, I found myself questioning whether my boyfriend had the qualities I wanted (he did -- mostly!), or using the book to attract new friends rather than a partner.
My notes show little exercises that I completed such as "stories I tell myself," "my insecurities/what I'm afraid of" and "rating 1-10 of my values in a person." While most of them were things I knew and thought about daily, some of them were truly surprising to me and made think a little harder.
If you're looking for a book that will challenge you, make you think in a new way or just get you to understand how other people view dating, I would certainly recommend If the Buddha Dated. If nothing else, it will inspire you to get to know your spirituality and faith a little better.