An engagingly contemporary approach to Buddhism—through the lens of an iconic film and its memorable characters
Humorous yet spiritually rigorous, drawing from pop culture and from personal experience, The Dharma of “The Princess Bride” teaches us how to understand and navigate our most important personal relationships from a twenty-first-century Buddhist perspective.
Friendship. Romance. Family. These are the three areas Ethan Nichtern delves into, taking as departure points the indelible characters—Westley, Fezzik, Vizzini, Count Rugen, Princess Buttercup, and others from Rob Reiner’s perennially popular film—as he also draws lessons from his own life and his work as a meditation teacher. Nicthern devotes the first section of the book to exploring the dynamics of friendship. Why do people become friends? What can we learn from the sufferings of Inigo Montoya and Fezzik? Next, he leads us through all the phases of illusion and disillusion we encounter in our romantic pursuits, providing a healthy dose of lightheartedness along the way by sharing his own Princess Buttercup List and the vicissitudes of his dating life as he ponders how we idealize and objectify romantic love. Finally, Nichtern draws upon the demands of his own family history and the film’s character the Grandson to explore the dynamics of “the last frontier of awakening,” a reference to his teacher Chogyam Trungpa’s claim that it’s possible to be enlightened everywhere except around your family.
With The Dharma of “The Princess Bride” in hand, we can set out on the path to contemporary Buddhist enlightenment with the most important relationships in our lives.
Ethan Nichtern is a senior teacher in the Shambala Buddhist tradition and the author of The Road Home: A Contemporary Exploration of the Buddhist Path and One City: A Declaration of Interdependence. He is also the founder of the Interdependence Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to secular Buddhist study as it applies to transformational activism, mindful arts and media projects, and Western psychology. Nichtern has taught meditation and Buddhist studies classes and retreats across the United States since 2002. He is based in New York City.