reviews

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    Cheerleading for Capitalism (and Consciousness Too!) Paid Member

    Conscious Capitalism By John Mackey and Raj Sisodia Harvard Business Review Press, 2013 368 pp.; $27 cloth I don’t think Max Weber could have predicted the appearance of Conscious Capitalism. Weber was busy working to demystify capitalism and the origins of our current ideology of work when he wrote The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905). What horrified Weber most about the cultural forms that capitalism produced were the dehumanizing results that came along with the benefits of efficiency, division of labor, innovation, enterprise, and technology. More »
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    Meditation in the Modern World Paid Member

    buddhify The buddhify app takes the usual formula of meditating while sitting still, with minimal distractions, and flips it on its head. Instead of practice with no distractions, the focus of buddhify is meditation on the go. The app includes several contexts you can choose from, whether commuting, walking, or working out at the gym, and then serves up a selection of bit-sized guided audio practices tailored to those particular environments. This app is great for urban dwellers and for folks who are newer to meditation, or for those who would like to experiment with meditating in new environments. I also hear that kids love it—which probably has something to do with its funky orange design. buddhify.com Available for iPhone and Android More »
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    Over the Wall Paid Member

    In case you haven’t noticed, the English-language Buddhist mediasphere has become vast. It encompasses countless books in various genres, magazines for practitioners, blogs and websites, various forms of social media, academic journals, podcasts, films and television programs, and more. It isn’t possible to stay abreast of all these sources, and so of course choices have to be made. Often people select sources based on their particular orientations toward Buddhism: Perhaps the reader is a casual practitioner interested in meditation for better health and well-being, or a full-time monk training in a traditional lineage, or a professor of Buddhist studies trying to teach iPhone-addicted undergraduates about emptiness and dependent co-origination. The result, naturally enough, is that communities of conversation form around different concerns and approaches, which are stimulating but also limiting. More »
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    So the Darkness Shall Be the Light Paid Member

    The thing that most made my internship at a preeminent Harvard community hospital seem like a descent into what Buddhists call the hungry ghost realm was coming face to face with the limits in our modern medical approach to the natural process of aging and dying. A disturbing experience with a dying patient one night when I was on call left an indelible impression that will forever remind me of those limits. More »
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    What I'm Reading Paid Member

    The Voice Is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac By Joyce Johnson Viking Press, 2012 512 pp.; $32.95 hardcover “[Kerouac] was the first one I heard chanting the Three Refuges in Sanskrit, with a voice like Frank Sinatra.” —Allen Ginsberg, in an interview in New Age Journal, April 1976. In 1941, I was newborn and oblivious to the ways that post–WWII anti-Communist fervor and the fears roiled by the existence of the atomic bomb had produced a stifling culture from which many creative people sought release. In that year, Jack Kerouac dropped out of Columbia University to join those peers and seek his authentic self as an artist. More »
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    Books in Brief Spring 2013 Paid Member

    Five years after the publication of Breakfast with Buddha, a novel that follows Otto “Mr. Ordinary” Ringling and the Siberian Buddhist master Volya Rinpoche on a cross-country road trip, Roland Merullo returns with Lunch with Buddha (AJAR Contemporaries, 2012, $16.85, 347 pp., paper). Lunch takes Otto and Rinpoche on another road trip, this time from Washington State to North Dakota, where Otto’s sister Cecelia and Rinpoche—now married with a child—run a Buddhist retreat center. Merullo doesn’t shy away from using suffering as the building block of his characters’ growth: in Breakfast, Otto drives West to settle his parents’ affairs after their fatal car accident, while the sequel begins with the death of Otto’s wife, who has asked him to spread her ashes in Washington. More »