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Lions Roar : May 2011
SHAMBHALA SUN MAy 2011 83 By AndreA Miller books in brief DaviD SteinDl-RaSt essential Writings Selected and introduced by Clare Hallward Orbis Books 2010; 168 pp., $20 (paper) This volume, part of the Orbis Modern Spiritual Masters Se- ries, is a selection of David Steindl-Rast’s writings on topics such as creativity, love, contemplative practice, and grateful- ness. Brother David Steindl-Rast, born in 1926 in Austria, is a Benedictine monk who was an early pioneer in Buddhist– Christian dialogue. Over the years, he has attended many Zen retreats and has had many teachers, including Soen Nakagawa Roshi, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, and Eido Shimano Roshi. He helped open the Zen Mountain Center in Carmel Valley, Cali- fornia, and he wrote the foreword to Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, Living Buddha, Living Christ. In that foreword, he described meeting Thich Nhat Hanh in the sixties and how he recog- nized him as a brother in the spirit. As Steindl-Rast has put it, “The quest of the human heart for meaning is the heartbeat of every religion.” PoSeR My life in twenty-three Yoga Poses By Claire Dederer Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2010; 352 pp., $26 (cloth) This book is for you if you’ve ever shied away from trying yoga because you feared that everyone in the class would be thin, gor- geous, and a former dancer. Poser is the story of a real woman’s exploration of yoga and how it led her to strive less for perfection and to open herself up to more joy. It’s also a story about fam- ily—about being a wife, daughter, mother. Author Claire Deder- er’s mother left her father for a younger man when Dederer was a child, and the trauma of that family breakup had long-term effects on Dederer, which came to haunt her marriage. She didn’t want to make the same mistakes her mother had, so she made different ones—like trying too hard to be a perfect mother. De- derer’s writing is wholly approachable, with lots of warmth and self-deprecating humor. RuMi: the Big ReD Book the great Masterpiece Celebrating Mystical love & Friendship By Coleman Barks HarperOne 2010; 512 pp., $29.99 (cloth) In 1976, when Coleman Barks attended Robert Bly’s Great Mother Conference in Ely, Minnesota, Bly proposed that participants do a writing exercise. They were to rephrase A.J. Arberry’s scholarly translations of Rumi’s odes into engaging, modern English. Barks, who was an English professor in Athens, Georgia, was immediately smitten with Rumi’s poetry and, after the conference, he took up translating it daily. Barks felt relieved that in Rumi’s verses, he could leave the explicating mind behind. “These poems could not be ex- plained,” he says. “ They had to be entered, inhabited.” In the thirty- five years since he did that writing exercise, Barks has become inter- nationally renowned for his translations and is the bestselling au- thor of The Essential Rumi, The Soul of Rumi, and Rumi: The Book of Love. Rumi: The Big Red Book is the culmination of his work. one hunDReD naMeS FoR love a Stroke, a Marriage, and the language of healing By Diane Ackerman W.W. Norton & Company 2011; 336 pp., $26.95 (cloth) After Diane Ackerman’s husband Paul West had a stroke, his speech therapist said she hoped he’d eventually be able to com- municate his basic wants and needs verbally, with gestures, or possibly with a communication board with about 80 percent ac- curacy. “Basic wants and needs. The phrase spun in my mind,” writes Ackerman. “Life lives in nuances and innuendos. How could Paul’s immense cosmos of words shrink to the size of a communication board overnight? How could ours?” But that’s just the beginning of this true and ultimately triumphant love story. In One Hundred Names for Love, Ackerman guides her husband back to words by utilizing her understanding of him, language, and the brain, and eventually he is able to return to his profession, writing books. Diane Ackerman is the author of A Natural History of the Senses and Dawn Light. She’s also a con- tributor to the Shambhala Sun.