Ghostbusters star Harold Ramis – carried a pocket buddhist text with him to achieve zen like calm

Posted on 15 April 2014
By Pierce King
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Ghostbusters legend Harold Ramis achieved a zen like calm by carrying a pocket sized Buddhist text with him wherever he went.

Ramis will be remembered fondly for his work on iconic comedies including Stripes, Caddyshack, Animal House and perhaps most vividly for Groundhog Day, which is celebrated for exploring religious and philosophical beliefs.

The Chicago born star was known as the ‘Buddha of Comedy’ by many and kept a laminated, pocket-sized primer on the eastern religion with him wherever he went,

He even would copy the “5 Minute Buddhist” guide and give it to friends, such as director Judd Apatow.

Following the director’s death at the age of 69, Todd Kuhns of Red40 Entertainment reproduced a downloadable PDF of the primer for anyone who might wish to follow in the comedy legend’s footsteps.

It is a copy of a version of the primer Ramis provided to a Shambhala Sun Foundation auction in 2009.

Ramis explained in an interview Shambhala Sun: “The idea was to present a simple Buddhist primer on something the size of a Chinese takeout menu.”

The primer includes this quote from Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh: “The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment, feeling fully alive.”

Ramis, who was raised Jewish, once described Zen Buddhism as: “My shield and my armour in the work I do.

“It’s to keep a cheerful, Zenlike detachment from everything.”

He added that he was introduced to the faith through his wife, Erica Mann Ramis, and mother-in-law, both of whom had experience living in Buddhist meditation centres.

Many of Ramis’ films, especially Groundhog Day, also expand on Buddhist ideals. But, as Ramis explained to Robert Loerzel in a 2008 interview published last month by Chicago magazine, he did not actually identify as a Buddhist — joking that he was “Buddh-ish” instead.

Ramis told Loerzel he embraced “the core beliefs” of Buddhism, describing himself as “leaning” toward the faith but not necessarily practicing it:

“I read a bit, a basic Buddhist text called What the Buddha Taught, and said, ‘Oh, yeah, this makes sense.’ Memorable, simple, didn’t require articles of faith, but completely humanistic in every way that I valued. So I proselytize it without practicing it. Much easier.”