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Lions Roar : January 2009
95 SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2009 stressed and sick. Through Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Medita- tion in Everyday Life (1994) and the earlier Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Pain, Stress, and Illness (1991), Kabat-Zinn brought Buddhist meditation into the mainstream. In his books Kabat-Zinn uses plain language to make meditation come to be nothing more—or less—than paying full and close atten- tion, “the direct opposite of taking life for granted,” he writes. Though Wherever You Go contains exercises, Kabat-Zinn pres- ents mindfulness as a way of life rather than a technique. His work has also contributed to forging ties between Buddhism and science. Neuroscience today is increasingly interested in understanding the relationship of mind, brain, and body, and Kabat-Zinn’s work has helped bring mindfulness meditation into labs as well as living rooms. Everyday Zen: Love & Work by Charlotte Joko Beck is filled with those small and deep paradoxes that Zen is so good at: no- self, gateless gate, nothing to do, nowhere to go. Through Joko Beck’s clarifying tutelage, these mind-bending propositions be- come less cryptic and more self-evident. This 1989 work is based on a series of her dharma talks, which gives it a special quality of directness. There’s little Buddhist lingo, little talk of enlightenment. It’s all about prac- tice. Then more practice. Sitting is practice, emotions are practice, rela- tionships are practice. There’s nowhere to go but everyday life, every moment of which offers a chance to wake up and smell the now. The old Asian Zen masters have much to say about life in the twenty-first century, and Joko Beck has translated them well into this here, this now. She can distill her teaching into one of her favorite lines from the Shoyo Roku, a collection of koans: “From the withered tree, a flower blooms.” Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche was nothing if not ambitious. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say he had great aspirations—aspira- tions not so much for himself but for his students and everybody else. Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior, published in 1984, starts with a chapter on creating an enlightened society. Trungpa Rinpoche made no small plans. Shambhala is a guidebook for life, an attempt to translate a complex and ancient Tibetan system of beliefs, symbols, and practices to fit a contemporary Western life- style. From how to sit on a meditation cushion to how to dress, Trungpa offers instruction. In choosing the central metaphor of the warrior for his teachings, Trungpa could reach across belief systems and cultures, and break out of the boxes of Buddhism and Meaningful to Me Eight prominent teachers and writers tell us about the Buddhist book published in the past thirty years that has meant the most to them personally. JUDITH LIEF Author of Making Friends with Death I first discovered The Tibetan Book of the Dead in the Evans-Wentz version, but fell in love with it when I en- countered the more earthy Chögyam Trungpa/Francesca Fremantle translation. This short text speaks to the heart of what gives us courage and what makes us afraid. Filled with practical advice for working with the mind in chal- lenging times, it points out how easy it is to lose trust in our own potential for awakening and to cover up what is most luminous and splendid. JOAN SUTHERLAND Zen teacher and founder of The Open Source Reading John Tarrant’s The Light Inside the Dark: Zen, Soul, and the Spiritual Life was a revelation because it was the first Zen book I’d read that was entirely, naturally Western in both its understanding and expression. I’d thought it would take a couple of generations for a book like that to come along, and yet here it was, fully formed, graceful, and intelligent, and ushering in a new era in Zen literature. SYLVIA BOORSTEIN Author of Happiness Is an Inside Job My current favorite book is the late Nyanaponika Therea’s essay collection The Vision of Dhamma. In his essay on mindfulness he sounds like the tidy German housewife his mother likely was and, when describing metta (loving- kindness) in his essay on the four sublime states, he sounds like St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians. AJAHN AMARO Co-abbot of Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery Mindfulness: The Path to the Deathless, the meditation teaching of Ajahn Sumedho, has clear and precise instruc- tions in some of the most essential methods of Buddhist meditation. Like all profound texts, it’s a wellspring of fresh insights no matter how many times it is read. It has served as an invaluable guidebook to me for more than twenty years. ➢