Jun 13, 2011
My first read of The Open-Focus Brain: Harnessing the Power of Attention to Heal Mind and Body, by Dr. Les Fehmi and Jim Robbins, generated mild interest in the science behind Dr. Fehmi’s techniques and descriptions of case studies using the techniques.
However, the night I listened to the guided exercises on the attached CD, I had one of the most relaxed, light, and blissful experiences I’ve had in the last eleven years as a serious meditator.
I was able to reach a state I’ve only accessed during long silent meditation retreats.
The Buddhist concept of emptiness came vividly alive in my body, whereas before it had been mostly an …
Jun 04, 2011
Now that’s out of the way, The Rhythm of Family is a year-long journey through the life of one family living in Maine. It follows the seasons, from January snows back to the turning of the year at the winter solstice. The Soules have four children who are, during the year described in the book, from nine to one years of age. The point of the book is to describe the intersection of family and nature.
The introduction to the book is called “Noticing,” and this sets the tone for what follows:
Wonderful things happen in our family when we choose to move
Jun 02, 2011
“Happiness is possible,” Thich Nhat Hanh reassuringly begins the three-CD audiobook You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment.
I arrive back from two months in India and twenty days of Vipassana insight meditation retreat, where I was practicing mindfulness, and waiting for me on my doorstep is a copy of Thich Nhat Hanh’s You Are Here.
It promises to offer simple and effective practices for cultivating mindfulness. Perfect, I think to myself as I try to maintain the few remaining grains of equanimity I had cultivated back in India.
Thich Nhat Hanh …
May 31, 2011
Ezra Bayda is a Zen teacher and former student of Charlotte Joko Beck. He has written four other books, including At Home in the Muddy Water: a Guide to Finding Peace within Everyday Chaos. With his wife, Elizabeth Hamilton, he runs the San Diego Zen Centre, which, as their web-site says, is not affiliated with any particular religious denomination. This is a book that doesn’t talk much about Buddhism and has only a handful of references to the Buddha and his teachings. So is it “secular Buddhism,” with a watered down yet more widely palatable message promising that happiness is easily within our grasp, or something more?
Title: Beyond Happiness
May 16, 2011
Recently I walked into a bookstore and saw a spine bearing the title “Buddha at Bedtime.” As the father of two young children who always want a good story at bedtime, I was delighted to know that this book existed. I was even more delighted — and surprised — when I pulled the book from the shelf and realized that I knew the author, Nagaraja.
So for full disclosure, I first met Nagaraja at the Glasgow Buddhist Center over 20 years ago, and although we’ve never been close friends, we were ordained together and I’ve sometimes asked him to review books for me. But our connection is weak enough that his book …
May 12, 2011
Enlightenment used to be something of a dirty word in the west, or at least it used to be considered improper to make any claims to be enlightened. People would say this reticence was an “eastern thing” — a sign of how spiritually mature Asia was, because of course you would “just know” that someone was Enlightened. This was always nonsense. Looking at the Buddhist scriptures it’s hard to ignore the Buddha’s “Lion’s Roar” where he declares that he is awakened. There are two entire books of the Buddhist scriptures — the Therigatha and Theragatha — which are entirely composed of verses composed by people declaring that they, too, were Enlightened….
Apr 17, 2011
I remember that “wow” moment when I first read Thich Nhat Hanh’s now-classic The Miracle of Mindfulness, in which he outlines, very simply and with a sense of authenticity, powerful and effective methods of bringing mindfulness practice into daily life, such as washing the dishes as if they were sacred objects, and eating mindfully.
That “wow,” was uttered repeatedly, in with an even greater degree or reverence and appreciation, while I was reading How to Train a Wild Elephant, which is a worthy successor to Thich Nhat Hanh’s earlier work, taking the teaching of mindfulness practice to a new level.
I had heard of Jan Chozen Bays, mainly in the context of …
Mar 31, 2011
When I began reading mainstream Buddhist writings and familiarized myself with the prominent Buddhist teachers in the United States, I regularly bought Shambhala Sun, Tricycle, Turning Wheel, and eventually Buddhadharma. In 2004 the first of the yearly Best Buddhist Writing collection came out and I read it cover to cover. At that point I was simply grateful for the resource, and I didn’t even mind rereading the articles I had already seen in the magazines. Besides, the anthology included many book excerpts that inspired me to run out to my local bookstore.
Title: The Best Buddhist Writing 2010
Author: Melvin McCloud (Ed.)
Mar 30, 2011
Although Daniel Goleman’s breakthrough book was the classic Emotional Intelligence, it is his Destructive Emotions that has most impressed me. Destructive Emotions provides the edited highlights of one of the Dalai Lama’s periodic interdisciplinary conferences, and it was the first book to reveal to me the serious scientific work that was being done investigating how the the meditating mind works.
Destructive Emotions kicks off by describing an extraordinary study conducted on a western-born Tibetan monk, who agreed to meditate while having his brain’s functioning studied by functional MRI and EEG. These studies revealed the the monk had developed
Mar 11, 2011
Ajahn Sumano is a Chicagoan who worked in the corporate world before becoming a Buddhist monk and living in a cave in Thailand for 15 years, intensively practicing meditation. You’d therefore expect him to have a deep understanding of meditation, and The Brightened Mind suggests he has.
Unfortunately, just as Sumano had to go through his corporate phase before he hit his meditative years, so do we. Almost the whole first half of the book has a “marketing” feel to, it where you’re constantly told about the benefits meditation will bring, without any meditation actually being taught.
Title: The Brightened Mind
Author: Ajahn Sumano Bhikkhu
Publisher: Quest Books