Books In Brief

THE SOUND OF SILENCE:
THE SELECTED TEACHINGS OF AJAHN SUMEDHO
Wisdom Publications, 2007
400 pp.; $16.95 (paper)

Teachings from Ajahn Sumedho, a popular American-born teacher and founder of the first Theravada monastic community in the West, have been hard to come by in print. So it’s good to see that the talks collected in this volume - delivered mostly in 2001 and 2005 - preserve his warm, humorous style, and reflect his flexible view of teaching as “presenting things for you to investigate.” These spontaneous talks are accessible, but they are explorations and require attention. The title comes from a meditation practice Sumedho developed on his own over forty years of practice, one not found in the Pali canon.

BUDDHISM: TOOLS FOR LIVING YOUR LIFE
Vajragupta
Windhorse Publications, 2007
180 pp.; $16.95 (paper)

Vajragupta, a teacher in the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order (FWBO), is here “attempting to give a feel for what a �Buddhist life’ might be like, for people of all kinds of backgrounds and experience.” He sets about this task in an appealing, readable, and practical fashion, blending accessible teachings, practices, and personal stories. In the style of the FWBO, one of the largest Buddhist groups in Europe, he draws on diverse sources and presents an approach to Buddhism intended to be as directly relevant to modern life as it is comprehensive and rigorous.

THE GREAT MEDICINE THAT CONQUERS CLINGING TO THE NOTION OF REALITY
Shechen Rabjam
Shambhala Publications, 2007
142 pp.; $16.95 (paper)

In a style traditional to Tibetan teaching, Shechen Rabjam, the grandson and spiritual heir of the beloved Nyingma teacher Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, presents his commentary on a classic text by a past master - in this case Shechen Gyaltsap, his grandfather’s root teacher. Though the title may sound intimidating, Rabjam’s commentary is engaging and accessible as he covers many topics with an ease that is as welcoming as it is authoritative. This is a concise and valuable teaching on bodhicitta, or enlightened mind, and other fundamentals concepts.

MIND BEYOND DEATH
Dzogchen Ponlop
Snow Lion Publications, 2006
318 pp.; $25.95 (cloth)

Drawing on a great range of material, this book about death is very much a book about life. The Dzogchen Ponlop (born 1965) is known as one of the finest Tibetan teachers of his generation, and he is considered to be as well versed in the psychology of his Western students as he is in the dharma. The bardos, or intermediate states, are popularly understood to be the realms between death and rebirth. In these formidable and skillfully elucidated teachings he explains the bardos of life as well, and how an understanding of all six bardos is an essential guide in the present as well as the hereafter.

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