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Lions Roar : July 2011
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2011 81 BY ANDREA MILLER Books in Brief FIRE MONKS Zen Mind Meets Wildfire at the Gates of Tassajara By Colleen Morton Busch Penguin 2011; 272 pp., $25.95 (cloth) In June 2008, a single lightning storm caused more than 2,000 wildfires across California, and one of those fires surrounded Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, the oldest Zen monastery in the United States. Fire Monks is the true story of the five monks who, instead of evacuating, risked their lives to save the center. The monks—four men and one woman—had minimal training in firefighting but years of Zen practice, and they were able to meet the fire with mindfulness, treating it as a friend to be guided in- stead of an enemy to be vanquished. Colleen Morton Busch, a former senior editor of Yoga Journal, has done a remarkable job of both researching the fire and spinning a good yarn. This book reads like a hair-raising adventure novel. TEA HORSE ROAD China’s Ancient Trade Road to Tibet By Michael Freeman and Selena Ahmed River Books 2011; 340 pp., $65 (cloth) In the seventh century, Tibetans developed a taste for tea and it quickly became a staple in their meaty diet. At the same time, China—struggling to fend off the Mongols—found itself cov- eting sturdy warhorses. Since Tibet had horses and China had tea, Cha Ma Dao, or the Tea Horse Road, came into being. It’s a network of trails covering nearly 2,000 miles, and was one of the most important trade routes of the ancient world. This book by photographer and writer Michael Freeman and scholar Sele- na Ahmed provides a rich visual journey through many of the modern road’s branches. There are photographs of tea and horse culture: teashops, terraced tea plantations, colorful tea festivals, horse races, and saddle-making. But the scope of Freeman’s stunning photography is much wider than that. There are also remarkable images of Buddhist sculptures and temples, pilgrims, monks, and nuns. This is a hefty book that deserves a place of honor on the coffee table. PEACE IS EVERY BREATH A Practice for Our Busy Lives By Thich Nhat Hanh HarperOne 2011; 160 pp., $22.99 (cloth) “You have lots of work to do, and you like doing it,” says Thich Nhat Hanh at the beginning of Peace Is Every Breath. “But working too much, taking care of so many things, tires you out. You want to practice meditation, so you can be more relaxed and have more peace, happiness, and joy in your life. But you don’t have time for daily mediation practice.” If this describes your situation, Peace Is Every Breath will be an excel- lent resource. It offers anecdotes, meditations, and advice on connecting with your present experience without putting your life on hold. Thich Nhat Hanh explains: “It isn’t necessary to set aside a certain period exclusively for ‘Spiritual Practice’ with a capital S and a capital P. Our spiritual practice can be there at any moment, as we cultivate the energy of mindfulness and concentration.” THE HEART OF THE REVOLUTION The Buddha’s Radical Teachings on Forgiveness, Compassion, and Kindness By Noah Levine HarperOne 2011; 224 pp., $15.99 (paper) At age seventeen, Noah Levine hated happy people and depressed people. He hated adults, teachers, cops, and hippies. He hated the world, and he reveled in this hatred, smoking PCP, shooting her- oin, stealing, and getting in fights. Then he found the Buddhist path and he slowly began to discover his true, loving heart. In this new volume—his third book—Levine shares his story and offers the practices, which he used to find in himself forgiveness, compassion, and kindness. The Heart of the Revolution covers a lot of ground. It offers a fresh look at mercy, a term not frequent- ly used in Buddhism; includes an extensive commentary on the Metta Sutta; gives the lowdown on personal and romantic love; and explores cosmology and the three personality types accord- ing to traditional Buddhist thought.