Books in Brief Fall 2002

© Chokyi RinpochePresent Fresh Wakefulness:
A Meditation Manual on Nonconceptual Wisdom

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche
Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe, 2002
192 pp.; $20.00 (paper)

Revered abbot, author, and Tibetan meditation master Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche presents what he considers to be the indispensable principles for modern Buddhist practitioners to arrive at liberation and enlightenment. “We have no choice,” he says, “but to use our present habit of deliberative effort to arrive at effortlessness. . . . In this book, I will unfold the various ways to arrive at nonconceptual, present, fresh wakefulness.” This Dzogchen master’s candid, witty, and at times poetic teachings stress the importance of overcoming our conditioning to arrive at an understanding of emptiness.

© Ajahn ChanFood for the Heart:
The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah

Ajahn Chah
Boston: Wisdom, 2002
416 pp.; $18.95 (paper)

Ajahn Chah’s wisdom, charisma, and simple teachings have had a profound effect upon the development of the Vipassana community in the West. Published on the tenth anniversary of his death, this collection brings together for the first time the dhamma talks of Thailand’s best-known meditation teacher and forest monastic, talks previously available only in rare or limited editions. Organized into three sections—Conduct, Meditation, and Wisdom—Food for the Heart presents Ajahn Chah’s teachings on meditation, liberation from suffering, calming the mind, enlightenment, and the “living dhamma.”

© Thich Nhat HanhNo Death, No Fear:
Comforting Wisdom for Life

Thich Nhat Hanh
New York: Riverhead, 2002
208 pp.; $23.95 (cloth)

At some point in their lives, most people are haunted by the question “What happens after death?” Beloved teacher, poet, and activist Thich Nhat Hanh takes this question to heart in his latest book about how to understand death and stop fearing life. By looking at our lives as an endless cycle of manifestations, he counsels, “When we understand that we cannot be destroyed, we are liberated from fear.” His advice is founded on personal examples, and guided meditations help readers grapple with the loss of a loved one, confront their own mortality, and live each day to its fullest.

© Toni PackerThe Wonder of Presence and the Way of Meditative Inquiry
Toni Packer
Boston: Shambhala, 2002
144 pp.; $12.95 (paper)

In this meditation manual, Toni Packer provides a personal, nondenominational approach to spiritual growth. Most of the chapters originated in talks Packer gave during retreats at Springwater Center, where she is a resident teacher, but interviews and letters are also included. Packer places particular emphasis on the direct experience of the present moment as a means to meditative inquiry. She writes, “The immense challenge to each one of us is this: Can we live our daily lives, at least for moments at a time, in the wonder of presence that is the creative source of everything.

© Chogyal NorbuDream Yoga and the Practice of Natural Light
Chogyal Namkhai Norbu
Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications, 2002
168 pp.; $14.95 (paper)

A third of our lives is spent in sleep, and over the years many people have come to realize the value of using the sleep and dream states for spiritual development. Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche goes beyond more popularized lucid dream practices to explain the Dzogchen methods of dream yoga and the practice of natural light, by which rigpa, or pure awareness, develops. Also included is a text by the nineteenth-century Dzogchen master Mipham, offering further perspectives on the Dzogchen system. This revised and expanded edition includes never-before-published material, including exercises to maintain one’s practice—and access rigpa—through all moments of the day and night. According to Namkhai Norbu, “even a few experiences of lucidity or, more ideally, seizing upon the lucid Dream State as an opportunity to practice meditation, may lead to great opportunity.”

Awakening and Insight:
Zen Buddhism and Psychotherapy
Polly Young-Eisendrath and Shoji Muramoto, eds.
New York: Brunner-Routledge, 2002
288 pp.; $80.00 (cloth), $24.95 (paper)

Since the early 1990s, many efforts have been made to explore the integration of Buddhism and psychotherapy. Awakening and Insight takes Japanese Zen as a starting point and presents critiques, commentaries, and histories of Zen Buddhism from a psychological perspective. Muramoto, a psychologist, and Young-Eisendrath, a Jungian analyst, culled the material largely from the Buddhism and Depth Psychology conference that took place in Kyoto, Japan, in 1999. It also features a new translation of the groundbreaking 1958 conversation between Shin’ichi Hisamatsu and C. G. Jung.

© Barbara BergerAll the Way to Lhasa:
A Tale from Tibet

Barbara Helen Berger
New York: Philomel Books, 2002
32 pp.; $15.99 (cloth)

Here is a book for all children who have a dream that seems far, far away. In this luminously illustrated picture book, a young boy and his yak set out, traveling up windy slopes, over rickety bridges, and through torrential floods, to reach the shining city of Lhasa. Despite the discouragement of an old woman he meets on the way, and despite his fear of the dark and the snow, the boy places one foot in front of the other. In the last rays of the sun, he hears bells and drums and-Emaho! He has made it. Inspired by a tale heard from a Tibetan lama, Barbara Helen Berger's rendering offers readers both young and old a breathtaking view of the enchanted land of Tibet.

© Barbara Berger

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