When I opened Rashmi Khilnani’s latest book, Buddha Speaks, the first thing I realized was that Khilnani received these messages by channeling the Buddha. Of course, I immediately wondered whether Khilnani’s intense meditation experiences came from the historical Buddha or from her own mind.
The second thingI recognized, however, is that it doesn’t really matter where the messages originated. Khilnani addresses the issue up front, saying “such a question comes from the mind which seeks division, separation, and definition. In unity consciousness … I become my Buddha Self which is one with the All, and thus this becomes a dialogue with my own Buddha nature.”
With that conundrum taken off the table, Khilnani guides us into the content of her meditation sessions, which are surprisingly down-to-earth, and often humorous. Among the responses to questions about the meaning of life, for instance, the Buddha replies with a snippet of the children’s song, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” This playfulness brings a delightful balance to some difficult philosophical discussions.
One of Khilnani’s recurring themes is how to bring sacred teachings into the sphere of everyday life. One of the most intriguing parts of Buddha Speaks is the conversation about how this bridging of the sacred and the profane might look different in the modern world than it did in the Buddha's day.
Khilnani has clearly studied Buddhism for a long time, but she didn't make me feel like an outsider. Instead, her tone is warm and welcoming even to new students.