Books — Buddha in the Boardroom
Buddha In The Boardroom

By Will Stewart

Buddhism for work, Buddhism for life Area authors present ancient wisdom in novel form

Buddha in the Boardroom, by Keith MacConnell and Gary Mosher

Bodhi Tree Publishing, 2005, paperback, 138 pages

A bartender dispensing Buddhist wisdom.

As I began to read the book, this struck me as a bit odd. As one who has studied the philosophy of the man known as the Buddha, being a bartender seems to me to be a violation of one of the basic tenets of Buddhism.

As the fifth factor of the Noble Eightfold Path, Right Livelihood basically states that one should earn one’s daily bread in an occupation that preferably helps others, but definitely doesn’t hurt them, as excessive alcohol consumption has the possibility to do. Buddhist scriptures even quote the Enlightened One as naming “trading in intoxicating drinks” as one of five trades to be avoided. But never mind that.

The bartender in question is the central character in “Buddha in the Boardroom: Applying Ancient Eastern Philosophy to the Solution of Modern Business Problems,” a book by Nashua- and Hudson-based authors Keith MacConnell and Gary Mosher.

Aptly named Buddy, the bartender is a buddha, or fully-awakened one, who takes to dispensing Buddhist-based advice to a trio of stressed-out management types at his pub, The Bodhi Tree Café. Like the Buddha, Buddy is an older, bald man with a large potbelly — just a few of the similarities between the bartender and the man formerly known as Siddhartha Gautama.

The management types are known only as the Accounting Manager, the Production Manager and the Sales Manager. They are not given names, the authors say at the end of the book, because each of us can and do find ourselves in similar situations as these characters, each a modern-day Everyman.

The book begins when the businessmen enter the café with unhappy expressions. Buddy the buddha, of course, is happily living in the present moment. Perplexed by his cheerfulness, the businessmen ask how he can be so happy. So begins the authors’ introduction to Buddhism, which continues throughout the book.

Using a simple question-and-answer format via the book’s dialog, as well as a number of well-known Buddhist parables, Buddy (and occasionally his daughter, the also aptly-named Dharman) explains the Buddhist perspective on life to the three men. Buddy starts with the basics, The Four Noble Truths and The Noble Eightfold Path, and proceeds to expand on the practical value of Buddhism in today’s world.

Lessons are presented over 30 chapters, most giving a Buddhist approach to such business aspects as motivation, teamwork, risk, communication and time management. Interwoven among the chapters are central Buddhist teachings, like the inter-connectedness of all things and need to look within. Each chapter averages only three or four pages, making it very easy to digest, even if it is a little preachy at times.

 For what appears to be first attempt at a book, “Buddha in the Boardroom” isn’t half bad. The dialog feels a bit forced at times and the copy could have used a little more editing (particularly with regard to the proper use of its and it’s), but overall it’s a worthwhile little read. Let’s hope there’s more to come from MacConnell and Mosher in the future.                                                       

—Will Stewart

2005 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH