books

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    What They're Reading: Sharon Salzberg Paid Member

    I am reading Jonathan Cott's book On the Sea of Memory: A Journey from Forgetting to Remembering, an expansive and exciting investigation of memory and its role in forming our sense of self. Cott, a successful journalist and author, is a friend of mine. Several years ago I witnessed his struggle to recover from a deep depression. I have also seen the terrible effect ECT treatments [electroshock therapy] have had on his memory, and know Cott's uncertainty about whether that memory loss might affect his ability to write. More »
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    Handbook of Tibetan Culture Paid Member

    Compiled by the Orient Foundation, which since 1982 has been working to consolidate an international resource guide to Tibetan culture, this book is excellent for anyone interested in finding out where to study, what to study, and with whom to study just about any aspect of Tibetan culture. The Handbook synopsizes the five major Tibetan cultural traditions (including Bon) and includes a section of brief biographies of prominent lamas and rinpoches. Its bulk, however, is devoted to country-by-country listings of names, addresses, and contacts at academic and cultural organizations, medical institutions, monasteries, nunneries, museums, journals, publishing companies, and other Tibetan cultural organizations throughout the world. More »
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    Gentling the Heart Paid Member

    It is an ambitious project that Mary Jo Meadow undertakes in this companion to her first book, Purifying the Heart. Both books are intended to provide Christians with "a practice from the Buddhist tradition helpful for strengthening Christian spiritual life according to the directives of Vatican II." Gentling the Heart speaks mostly about the parallels of metta (loving-kindness) and agape and how Buddhist meditation practice can bring the two together to cultivate loving-kindness and a gentler heart. As she explains how to do this, however, Meadow ends up comparing only similarities between the two traditions, and therefore ends up diminishing both. Oversimplification, the pitfall of all too many cross-traditional guidebooks, rears its familiar head again here as Buddhist ideas are softened and assimilated to fit with Christian texts and teachings. More »
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    Morning Dewdrops of the Mind Paid Member

    This book began as a series of newsletters sent by Harada Roshi, the abbot of the Rinzai Zen Sogenji temple in Okayama, Japan, to his diaspora of students. The patient language of these essays, which first appeared between 1988 and 1992, speaks to readers in an approachable, unaffected style. Harada Roshi successfully mixes modern, often political dilemmas—the ethics of organ transplants, the Gulf War as a sorrowful manifestation of egoism—with the Buddha's teachings ("Seek the light within yourself."). Of the Berlin Wall, for example, he writes, "The true wall, a more difficult wall to bring down, is the wall of the ego within each of us. There is nothing as unreal but difficult to deal with as this wall. More »
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    What Color is Your Mind? Paid Member

    Designed to clarify points of practice rather than to be a comprehensive introduction to Buddhism, What Color is Your Mind? is largely made up of questions and answers. Thubten Chodron uses this format to full advantage, offering clear, concise responses (usually a page at most) to questions that run the gamut from rudimentary to complex: e.g., “If there are people alive today who have attained Buddhahood, why don't they demonstrate their clairvoyant powers?"; "Can we receive grace from the Buddhas?"; "Do we create karma together as a group?"; and "Isn't it selfish to do positive actions just to get merit, as if it were spiritual money?" More »
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    Manifestation of the Tathagata Paid Member

    In his translation of and commentary on the chapter from the Avatamsaka Sutra entitled Manifestation of the Tathagata, Cheng Chien Bhikshu focuses on explaining and elaborating the meaning of buddhahood according to ancient Chinese Huayen scholarship. A young Yugoslavian monk, Cheng Chien undertook this project out of a firm belief that practice is inspired by an awakening of faith in the three refuges, and taking refuge in the Buddha is only possible if one understands precisely what buddhahood is. And Cheng Chien's efforts to close the gap between a difficult, abstract concept and clear understanding in his readable introductory essay are fruitful. For the nonspecialist, however, the translation itself is less helpful. More »