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Lions Roar : May 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2008 99 BY ANDREA MCQUILLIN BOOKS IN BRIEF MONEY, SEX, WAR, KARMA: Notes for a Buddhist Revolution By David R. Loy Wisdom Publications, 2008; 160 pp., $15.95 (paper) David R. Loy is an original thinker on the intersection of Buddhism and modern society. Money, Sex, War, Karma collects essays by the professor of philosophy and comparative religion expanding on his thesis that the greatest potential of Buddhism for the West is as a framework for collective, not just individual, liberation. Loy analyzes the ways that society and its institutions contribute to the delusion of “self ” and to the drive for transitory rewards like wealth, fame, sex, and so on by molding our attention and limiting our awareness. The book’s subtitle is apt—for Loy, Buddhism is not just some gen- tle spiritual path; it’s a tool for social criticism and change. But the revolutionary sword cuts both ways, and just as the West needs Bud- dhism, says Loy, a living, vital Buddhism also needs the West. “The Buddha was more flexible and open-minded than the institutions that developed to preserve his teachings,” he writes. “Today we find ourselves in a situation where that flexibility needs to be recovered.” DANCING WITH LIFE Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering By Phillip Moffitt Rodale Books, 2008; 352 pp., $24.95 (cloth) Many Buddhists are tempted just to scan the Buddha’s first teaching, on the four noble truths, before moving on to the more “advanced” stuff. But in Dancing with Life, Phillip Moffitt makes a solid case for a lifetime’s serious study of these insights on suf- fering and its cessation. The vipassana teacher and former Esquire editor models his investigation on a method outlined in the Samyutta Nikaya, teachings from the original Buddhist canon, which gives instruction on the development of twelve separate insights, three for each of the noble truths. These in- sights arise from practicing with the truths: first reflecting on them, then opening to the direct experience of them, and, lastly, knowing what each truth implies. This valuable contemporary study of Buddhism’s fundamentals demonstrates why these an- cient teachings are so essential and relevant to today’s world. WARRIOR-KING OF SHAMBHALA By Jeremy Hayward Wisdom Publications, 2008; 476 pp., $18.95 (paper) This memoir will be illuminating to those of us who were else- where occupied or too young to take part in the early Buddhist scene in North America, when pioneers like Chögyam Trungpa mixed it up with hippie seekers and began to mold today’s “senior students” of Buddhism, many of whom, like Jeremy Hayward, are now teachers themselves. Warrior-King of Shambhala is a personal chronicle of the skeptic’s journey, as well as an insider’s account of the events that marked the establishment of one of the more vibrant and lasting Buddhist communities in North America. Those who come to this book seeking either a sordid tell-all or a saccharine endorsement of “the good old days” will be equally thwarted. In the end, Hayward demonstrates the difficult personal and public business of sorting out the ambiguous legacy of a pow- erful teacher. His honesty is courageous and imperfect—and that’s likely the way Chögyam Trungpa would have had it. FEEDING YOUR DEMONS Ancient Wisdom for Resolving Inner Conflict By Tsultrim Allione Little, Brown & Company, 2008; 256 pp., $23.99 (cloth) In Feeding Your Demons, Tsultrim Allione, author of the classic Women of Wisdom and founder of the Tara Mandala retreat cen- ter in southwest Colorado, teaches an adaptation of the practice called chöd (roughly translated as “cutting through”), an elabo- rate visualization practice developed by the eleventh-century fe- male Tibetan Buddhist teacher Machig Labdron. Allione’s pared- down five-step approach begins by giving a mental form to our “demons”—our fears, obsessions, illnesses, and other problems. The practitioner then identifies and mentally “satisfies” that demon’s needs before dissolving the visualization and resting in awareness. Like many complicated rituals, this practice has a simple central objective, which is to resist projecting our suffer- ing onto others and to recognize how we create our own enemies. In practicing feeding our own demons, says Allione, “we might MAY 80-105.indd 99 MAY 80-105.indd 99 3/6/08 11:36:46 AM 3/6/08 11:36:46 AM