Summer Reading 2001

A few recommendations from...

Stuart Smithers
Professor of South Asian religion,
University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington

 

Songs of Spiritual Experience:
Tibetan Buddhist Poems of Insight and Awakening

translated by ThuptenJinpa and Jas' Elsner (Shambhala Publications, 2000)

The kind of literature that provides heartfelt inspiration for a society that has too much mind.

The Hermit of Go Cliffs:
Timeless Instructions of a Tibetan Mystic

by Cyrus Steams
(Wisdom Publications, 2000)

Poetry that encourages us to find the kind of solitude in the midst of life that these great yogis found in the wilderness.

Seven Experiments that Could Change the World:
A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Revolutionary Science

by Rupert Sheldrake
(Berkley Publishing Group, 1996)

This book suggests that there might be a place in which modem physics reinspires us, showing a more creative vision of the universe-where chaos is included in a dynamic order.

 

Charles Genoud
Associate teacher of the Dzogchen Foundation, Tibetan scholar, and writer
 

The Best of Meister Eckhart
by Meister Eckhart, edited by Halcyon Backhouse
(Crossroad Publishing Company, 1993)

I find most of the sermons inspiring, but "The Poor in Spirit" perhaps most of all for its uncompromising teaching about non-grasping and non-conceptualization. In some modem Buddhist writings, such words as the unconditioned, Buddha-nature, and rigpa are used without all the caution that is required to not make them into a thing, into something.

In "The Poor in Spirit" Meister Eckhart shows the rigor needed when speaking about that which one cannot speak about.

Waiting for God

by Simone Weil
(HarperPerennial, 2001)

The book isn't so interesting from the point of view of the notion of God, but rather for Simon Weil's reflections on the status of those hit by misfortune, and on how the gap separating self and other, and other and self, takes place. It is a beautiful complement to Shantideva's text, A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life.

Treasury of Dharma

by Geshe Rabten
(Edition Rabten, 1997)

A clear presentation of the important notions of Mahayana Buddhism in the Tibetan tradition.

 

Clark Strand
Writer and Haihu poet,
Woodstock, New York
 

Jewish Meditation
by Aryeh Kaplan
(Schocken Books, 1995)

In this and his other book, Meditation and the Bible, the late Orthodox rabbi Aryeh Kaplan performed amazing acts of spiritual archaeology, recovering many of the lost spiritual practices of the Western mystical tradition—some remarkably similar to Buddhist techniques.

Lying Awake

by Mark Salzman
(Knopf, 2000)

A Carmelite nun in present-day Los Angeles discovers that the mystical experiences which have made her famous as a poet may have been caused by a rare form of epilepsy. An exceptionally spare, beautiful novel.

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

by Shunryu Suzuki
(Weatherhill, 1988)

More than thirty years after its initial publication, it still offers the clearest—and purest—vision of American Zen. ▼

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