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Lions Roar : September 2013
BY ANDREA MILLER Books in Brief HOW TO WAKE UP A Buddhist-Inspired Guide to Navigating Joy and Sorrow By Toni Bernhard Wisdom Publications 2013; 240 pp., $16.95 (paper) Toni Bernhard’s first book, How to Be Sick, focused on chronic illness. But to her surprise, many readers turned out to be healthy people who related what she said about illness to whatever chal- lenge they were facing, be it the dissolution of a marriage or job stress. This inspired Bernhard to write How to Wake Up, which is about how our difficulties—whatever they are—can lead us to awakening. “The Buddha wasn’t concerned with heaven or hell, with miracles or saints,” writes Bernhard. “He was interested in investigating the human condition, particularly the presence of suffering in our lives and how we might alleviate it so that we can find the peace and well-being we all hope for.” What the Buddha discovered was that while we can’t avoid life’s ups and downs, we can learn to attain a well-being that isn’t dependent on cir- cumstances. To help us do that, he taught a wealth of detailed practices, and in How to Wake Up Bernhard helps us apply them to the challenges of our lives now. DAKINI POWER Twelve Extraordinary Women Shaping the Transmission of Tibetan Buddhism in the West By Michaela Haas Snow Lion 2013; 344 pp., $16.95 (paper) Dakini Power offers twelve fascinating and intimate profiles of women teachers who are shaping Tibetan Buddhism in the West. The term dakini applies to both exceptional women prac- titioners and to meditational deities embodying wisdom. “The dakinis are depicted as strong and fiercely independent,” writes Michaela Haas. “The Tibetan word for dakini, khandro, literally means sky-goer, and it hints at the expansiveness of their view. I find this interesting. All the female masters I met are extremely compassionate, warm, and kind, with very soft and tender hearts. At the same time, they are also firm and seem to have backbones of steel.” The women profiled have had a wide range of life expe- riences. They include Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, an Englishwoman who did twelve years of solitary retreat in a cave in the Himala- yas, and Karma Lekshe Tsomo, who went from being a Califor- nian surfer to the head of the world’s foremost association of Buddhist women. SPIRITUAL ECOLOGY The Cry of the Earth Edited by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee The Golden Sufi Center; 280 pp., $15.95 (paper) Spiritual Ecology is an anthology edited by the Sufi teacher Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee. As he explains, the book’s contribu- tors—luminaries from various spiritual traditions—all have the same essential message: our environmental crisis is also a spiri- tual crisis. We’ll only be able to bring the world back into bal- ance when we have regained a spirituality grounded in nature. Contributors John Stanley and David Loy note that while most religions reject biological evolution because it seems to conflict with their creation stories, to remain relevant they must embrace evolution and focus on its spiritual meaning. Scientists, however, also have a limiting belief: scientific materialism. So to survive, humanity needs a deeper truth than either religion or science alone provides. Contributor Susan Murphy Roshi sees our envi- ronmental crisis as “a tremendous koan set for us by the Earth,” and to solve it we “need to relearn the fundamentals that were once natural to us.” Disappearing forests, melting glaciers, heat waves—these are, according to Thich Nhat Hanh, bells of mind- fulness urging us to look deeply at our impact on the planet. SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2013 79