Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Dharma of The Princess Bride

The Dharma of The Princess Bride

What the Coolest Fairy Tale of Our Time Can Teach Us About Buddhism and Relationships

Ethan Nichtern

North Point Press




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 Bridein hand, we can set out on the path to contemporary Buddhist enlightenment with the most important relationships in our lives.

Table of Contents:
Introduction: Fairy Tales, the Real World, and True Love

1. Mercenaries or Besties: What Are Friends For?
2. The Bad Guys: Out There vs. In Here
3. Find Your Inner Fezzik: The Practice of Friendship

4. There Is No Buttercup
5. Lost on the High Seas: Emptiness and Dating
6. Basic Goodness: How the Farmboy Was Finally Reborn
7. As You Wish, Part I: The Practice of Partnership

8. All Sentient Beings Have Been Grandpa
9. Fred Savage Is a Jerk, and I Am Fred Savage: Gratitude for Your Lineage
10. As You Wish, Part II: The Practice of Family

Conclusion: Have Fun Storming the Castle
Appendix: Seven-Step Loving-Kindness
(Metta or Maitri) Practice in 20-25 Minutes



Mercenaries or Besties

What Are Friends For?

OBEY fezzik.

When Andre the Giant’s stenciled face began appearing everywhere in American cities in the 1990s, immortalized against brick and concrete in the artist...


Praise for The Dharma of The Princess Bride

Praise for The Dharma of the Princess Bride

"A book filled with important insights, humility, and wonderful humor."
—Christopher Guest

"A glorious book: a wise, pragmatic toolkit for creating meaningful relationships with friends, in romance, and with family. Reading it is like a warmhearted friend taking your hand and helping you figure out how to live."
—Sharon Salzberg

"This powerful book inspired me to start meditating again. If I had read it before getting into a miserable relationship with someone who LOVED The Princess Bride, I'd probably like the movie too."
—Duncan Trussell, host of The Duncan Trussell Family Hour

"Examples from both [The Princess Bride] and [Ethan Nichtern's] personal life add warmth to this study of relationships and Buddhist philosophy. Fans of the movie will want to see it again armed with Nichtern's insights."
—Candace Smith, Booklist

"Fans of popular films who are also drawn to Buddhist principles will find much to enjoy here as Nichtern's deconstruction of the plot skillfully and clearly teases out well-defined lessons—his ruminations on friendship through the relationship of Fezzik and Inigo Montoya are a highlight . . . For those who seek meaning, love, and values, even in unorthodox places, this unusual work will come as a pleasant surprise."
Publishers Weekly

"Ethan Nichtern brings Buddhist wisdom to bear on the topics of love, friendship, and relationships through a pop culture lens that is simple irresistible."
—Lodro Rinzler, author of Love Hurts and The Buddha Walks into a Bar

"How can I not read this book!"
—Mandy Patinkin, a.k.a. Inigo Montoya

About the author

Ethan Nichtern

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.

Ethan Nichtern

©Marissa Dutton

From the Publisher

North Point Press

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