Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Advaita Vedanta and Zen Buddhism: Deconstructive Modes of Spiritual Inquiry
This title explores the relationship between the philosophical underpinnings of Advaita Vedanta, Zen Buddhism and the experiential journey of spiritual practitioners. This fascinating and innovative monograph explores the relationship between the philosophical underpinnings of Advaita Vedanta, Zen Buddhism and the experiential journey of spiritual practitioners. Taking the perspective of the questioning student, the author highlights the experiential deconstructive processes that are ignited when students' 'everyday' dualistic thought structures are challenged by the non-dual nature of these teachings and practices. Although Advaita Vedanta and Zen Buddhism are ontologically different, this unique study shows that in the dynamics of the practice situation they are phenomenologically similar. Distinctive in scope and approach "Advaita Vedanta and Zen Buddhism: Deconstructive Modes of Spiritual Inquiry" examines Advaita and Zen as living practice traditions in which foundational non-dual philosophies are shown 'in action' in contemporary Western practice situations thus linking abstract philosophical tenets to concrete living experience. As such it takes an important step toward bridging the gap between scholarly analysis and the experiential reality of these spiritual practices. "Continuum Studies in Eastern Philosophies" is a new monograph series focusing on research that explores and evaluates the philosophical content and background of Eastern ideas, traditions and practices. Books in the series will seek to develop a critical understanding of the key philosophical and religious ideas of the traditions, challenge Western assumptions about the nature of Eastern thought, and explore and analyse contemporary Western practice of the traditions.
Hidden Teachings of Tibet: An Explanation of the Terma Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism
In all religions, sacred texts and objects have appeared miraculously. Among the most remarkable of these revelatory traditions is the terma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Termas herald a fresh opportunity for the renewal of spiritual practice. Here Tulku Thondup Rinpoche tells the story of the terma tradition initiated by Padmasambhava, the ninth-century saint who established Buddhism in Tibet.
The Hidden Teachings of Tibet serves as the core reference work for anyone interested in the terma, or hidden treasure, tradition of Tibet. Tulku Thondup, who has lived in the U.S. since 1980, provides a solid overview of the various types of treasures, how they are concealed and discovered, details on the so-called dakini script in which they are written, and insights into the tertons, or treasure discoverers, themselves. It is all organized in a format that makes for easy reference. Originally published in 1986, the book was issued in paperback in 1997. Tulku Thondup was also a key resource for another valuable book on the terma traditions, Apparitions of the Self by Prof. Janet Gyatso. Reviewer: Lawrence Pintak is a journalist and author who writes frequently on Buddhism and spirituality.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
The Mindfulness Solution
Mindfulness offers a path to well-being and tools for coping with life's inevitable hurdles. And though mindfulness may sound exotic, you can cultivate it--and reap its proven benefits--without special training or lots of spare time. Trusted therapist and mindfulness expert Dr. Ronald Siegel shows exactly how in this inviting guide. You'll get effective strategies to use while driving to work, walking the dog, or washing the dishes, plus tips on creating a formal practice routine in as little as 20 minutes a day. Flexible, step-by-step action plans will help you become more focused and efficient in daily life; cope with difficult feelings, such as anger and sadness; deepen your connection to your spouse or partner; feel more rested and less stressed; curb unhealthy habits; find relief from anxiety and depression; and resolve stress-related pain, insomnia, and other physical problems. Free audio downloads of the meditation exercises are available at the author's website: www.mindfulness-solution.com. Start living a more balanced life--today.
Monday, June 28, 2010
American Buddhism As a Way of Life
The United States is becoming more comfortable with Buddhism each year. Celebrity converts, the popularity of the Dalai Lama, a stream of references in popular culture, and mala beads on every third person's wrist all indicate that Buddhism is becoming an accepted part of American life, even if a relatively small percentage of the population actually describes itself as Buddhist. This book investigates the ways in which Buddhist and American ways of life have inflected one another. Gary Storhoff and John Whalen-Bridge have organized this unique collection in accordance with the Buddhist concept of the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. "Buddha" discusses two key teachers who popularized Buddhism: Alan Watts and D. T. Suzuki, correlating their personal situations with the approach to spirituality they proclaimed. "Dharma" is concerned with the impact of Buddhist ideas and texts on the most ing social problems faced by Americans, including bioethics, abortion, end-of-life decisions, and identity theft. "Sangha" treats Buddhism in relation to social relationships, with chapters on family life, generational shifts, Asian American communities, the gay/straight divide, and Buddhist artistic practices-such as the making of a Zen garden-used to strengthen communal bonds.
Tao Te Ching - The Tao and Its Characteristics
The Tao Te Ching is a classic Chinese book of wisdom, said to have been written by the Taoist sage Laozi (or Lao Tzu, the "Old Master") in the 6th century BC. It is the cornerstone text in Chinese Taoism, a philosophy, religion and way of life, and is also central to Chinese Buddhism. The Tao Te Ching has been an inspiration and guide to many Chinese artists, poets, calligraphers, and even gardeners, throughout history. In recent years its influence has spread far beyond its Chinese origins, becoming a popular source of spiritual understanding and guidance for many.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
A History of Indian Buddhism: From Sakyamuni to Early Mahayana
This comprehensive and detailed survey of the first six centuries of Indian Buddhism sums up the results of a lifetime of research and reflection by one of Japan's most renowned scholars of Buddhism. Relying on Pali and Sanskrit sources and on inscriptions from archaeological sites and Chinese translations of Indian texts, Hirakawa balances his review of early Buddhist doctrinal development with extensive discussion of historical background and the evolution of Buddhist institutions. The inclusion of Japanese and Western language bibliographies together with an extensive bibliographic essay by the translator should make this volume especially useful as an introduction to a large corpus of Japanese scholarship on Buddhism which is still not widely known in the West.
The Zen Impulse and the Psychoanalytic Encounter
Although psychoanalysis and Zen Buddhism derive from theoretical and philosophical assumptions worlds apart, both experientially-based traditions share at their heart a desire for the understanding, development, and growth of the human experience. Paul Cooper utilizes detailed clinical vignettes to contextualize the implications of Zen Buddhism in the therapeutic setting to demonstrate how its practices and beliefs inform, relate to, and enhance transformative psychoanalytic practice.
The basic concepts of Zen, such as the identity of the relative and the absolute and the foundational principles of emptiness and dependent-arising, are given special attention as they relate to the psychoanalytic concepts of the unconscious and its processes, transference and countertransference, formulations of self, and more. In addition, through an analysis of apophasis, a unique style of discourse that serves as a basic structure for mystical languages, he provides insight into the structure of the seemingly irrational Zen koan in order to demonstrate its function as a pedagogical and psychological tool.
Though mindful of their differences, Cooper’s intent throughout is to illustrate how the practices of both Zen and psychoanalysis become internalized by the individual who engages in them and can, in turn, inform one another in mutually beneficial ways in an effort to comprehend the ramifications of an individual or collective expanding vision.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness
This refreshing book is yet another sign that the next generation of Buddhism is creative, cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary. Born in 1975 in Nepal, the author is among the generation of Tibetan lamas trained outside of Tibet, and he's also a gifted meditator. His brain activity has been measured during meditation, earning him the enviable sobriquet of "happiest man on earth." He fuses scientific and spiritual considerations, explaining meditation as a physical as well as a spiritual process. Mingyur Rinpoche knows from experience that meditation can change the brain. He experienced panic attacks as a child that he was able to overcome through intensive meditation. If diligently practiced, meditation can affect the "neuronal gossip"—his imaginative rendering of brain cell communication—that keeps us stuck in unhappy behaviors.
The meditation master offers a wide variety of techniques, counseling ease in practice to avoid boredom or aversion. Less is more; practice shorter periods more often, he says. His approach will be especially welcome for anyone frustrated by meditation or convinced they're "not doing it right." This book is a fresh breath from the meditation room, written with kindness, energy and wit. Three cheers for a cheerful contemplative.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines
First published in English in 1935, this volume of seven authentic Tibetan yoga texts serves as a companion to The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Illustrated with photographs and reproductions of yoga paintings and manuscripts, this edition contains some of the principal meditations used by illustrious Hindu and Tibetan gurus and philosophers through the ages in attaining Right Knowledge and Enlightenment. Special commentaries precede each carefully-rendered text, and a comprehensive preface contrasts the tenets of Buddhism with European concepts of religion, philosophy, and science.