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Right Reading

Summer book recommendations

Toni Packer
Founder and resident teacher, Spring-water Center for Meditative Inquiry
Rochester, New York

Infinite Potential: The Life and Times of David Bohm
David Peat
Addison-Wesley Longman Publishing Co.: Reading, MA, 1996.
$25.00. Hard cover. 353 pp

Since he was a small boy, Bohm was interested in how everything works together. His work in physics was less about the mathematics of it and more about finding the meaning of wholeness - of the individual and society and the cosmos. It was this interest in wholeness that led him to his dialogues with Krishnamurti, who I am also very interested in.

Jan Willis
Professor of Tibetan Buddhism
Wesleyan University

Living Buddha, Living Christ
Thich Nhat Hanh
Riverhead: New York, 1996.
$20.00. Hard cover. 208 pp.

The Color of Water
James McBride
Putnum: New York, 1996.
$12.00. Paper. 291 pp.

That's Funny, You Don't Look Buddhist
Sylvia Boorstein
Harper San Francisco, 1997.
$20.00. Hard cover. 167 pp.

I’ve already read the Dalai Lama’s book, The Good Heart, and enjoyed it very much. So since I always learn something new when I read Thich Nhat Hanh’ s books, I thought I’d read Living Buddha, Living Christ. I am going to read Sylvia Boorstein’s and James McBride’s books because I am always interested in seeing how people write about their spiritual journeys. 

Charles Hallisley
Professor of Buddhist Studies
Harvard University

All by Kenzaburo Oe

A Quiet Life
Grove: New York, 1996

A Personal Matter
Grove: New York, 1970

Teach Us How to Outgrow Our Madness
Grove: New York, 1977

A Silent Cry
Farrar, Straus, & Giroux: New York, 1994

The Pinch Runner Memorandum
M. E. Sharpe, Inc.: Armonk, N.Y., 1994

This summer, I am planning to read sequentially through as much as I can of Kenzaburo Oe’s cycle of novels about his life with his severely brain-damaged son, a theme he has turned to again and again. Lately, I have been reading Oe’s latest novel to be translated into English, A Quiet Life. It is part of this cycle and it has made me want to go back to the previous works in the cycle: from the first novel, A Personal Matter, through A Silent Cry and The Pinch Runner Memorandum, as well as the short novels, Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness and Aghwee the Sky Monster. In planning to read Oe this summer, I am planning to give myself a chance to think more deeply about the First Noble Truth, and to think through with Oe how his suffering is not only a “problem” but also a site where we learn how to focus our attention on what really matters.

David Guy
Tricycle contributing editor and novelist.

The Supreme Doctorine: Psychological Studies in Zen Thought
Hubert Benoit.
Sussex Academic Press: Sussex, England, 1995.

I resurrected this battered secondhand paperback from my bookshelf when Joko Beck referred to it in Nothing Special as “the main teacher I’ve had all my life... the best explanation of the human problem that I’ve ever found.” The truths of Zen are famously unstatable, but Benoit makes a remarkable attempt, without lapsing into cliches either of psychology or of spiritual practice. His writing is sometimes confoundingly difficult—a small chapter sometimes takes me an hour to read—but it is well worth the effort.

Noelee Oxenhandler
Writer

Loving-Kindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness
Sharon Salzberg
Shambhala: Boston, 1997.

Bury Me Standing
Isabel Fonseca
Vintage: New York, 1996.

Sharon Salzberg’s Loving-Kindness, in a powerful and gentle way, dissolves the gap between “insight” and “compassion.” Isabel Fonseca’s Bury Me Standing is a moving, though unsentimental, account of those homeless wanderers, the gypsies.

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