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Lions Roar : September 2013
POLISHING THE MIRROR How to Live from Your Spiritual Heart By Ram Dass Sounds True 2013; 224 pp., $21.95 (cloth) “When I got high,” Ram Dass asserts, “I felt like this was who I knew myself to be—a deep being, at peace, in love, and free.” Yet drugs only allowed him to touch a place of enlightenment; they didn’t let him stay there. In search of real freedom, he left for India in 1966 and eventually met his Hindu guru, Neem Karoli Baba. Ram Dass says, “I kept hoping to get esoteric teachings from Maharaj-ji, but when I asked, ‘How can I become enlightened?’ he said things like, ‘Love everybody, serve everybody, and remember God’ or ‘Feed people.’ When I asked, ‘How can I know God?’ Maharaj- ji said, ‘The best form to worship God is in all forms. God is in everything.’ ” These simple teachings, steeped in love, are the foundation of Ram Dass’s seminal book Be Here Now, as well as his new release, Polish- ing the Mirror. It mixes illuminating per- sonal anecdotes with a brass-tacks guide to spiritual practices, including the use of malas, mantras, and devotional chants. THE GREEN BOAT Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture By Mary Pipher Riverhead 2013; 240 pp., $16 (paper) Mary Pipher once spent a night in a tent with three of her grandchildren. The two youngest—ages four and two—blissfully listened to the sounds of the night birds, but the oldest—Kate, age six—was terri- fied and wanted to go home. When Pipher asked Kate why she wasn’t as brave as her little brother and sister, she cried, “Nonna, they are little. They don’t know enough to be scared.” These days, Pipher feels like Kate; she knows too much about the world’s precarious environmental situa- tion and sometimes wishes she didn’t. Yet, she asks, if we adults don’t come to grips with the environmental crisis, who will? In The Green Boat, Pipher uses her back- ground in psychology to explore the ways in which we avoid facing the bad news. Then she unpacks how we can get past our fear, despair, and anger to effect posi- tive change. Pipher is also the author of Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Ado- lescent Girls and Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World. TEN BREATHS TO HAPPINESS Touching Life in Its Fullness By Glen Schneider Parallax Press 2013; 96 pp., $12.95 (paper) The Ten Breaths practice is a simple way of using the breath to help establish new patterns of happiness. Here’s the gist of how to practice it: when something beautiful touches you—a sight, sound, or feeling—stop and focus on the beauty for the length of ten breaths. Glen Schnei- der, a dharma teacher ordained by Thich Nhat Hanh, spontaneously devised this practice one evening in his garden. He noticed the crescent moon framed by the bare branches of a tree and decided to take ten conscious breaths while gazing at the lovely scene. During those breaths, Schneider felt nourished, and when he went outside the following evening and again saw the moon, he suddenly felt the same pleasant feeling. Schneider sus- pected he was onto something and trained himself to do the Ten Breaths practice at least once a day. Now, he enjoys deeper connections with people and savors life more. In Ten Breaths to Happiness Schnei- der explains from a neurological per- spective why this practice is effective and shows how it relates to more traditional Buddhist practices. THAI MAGIC TATTOOS The Art and Influence of Sak Yant By Isabel Azevedo Drouyer River Books 2013; 144 pp., $29.95 (cloth) A form of tattooing practiced in Southeast Asia, Sak Yant is rooted in a combination of Theravadan Buddhism, Brahmanism, and animism. The Sak Yant masters— frequently Buddhist monks—are seen as spiritual mediums who imbue the tattoos they create with magical spells for pros- perity, protection, and happiness. Popular images include real and mythical animals and deities from the Hindu pantheon or their symbols, such as Shiva’s trident. The principle inspiration for Sak Yant, how- ever, is Buddhist iconography and the most prized image is that of the Buddha. Thai Magic Tattoos gives a brief history of tattoos in general and Sak Yant in particu- lar. It profiles various Sak Yant masters, outlines the ritualized process of Sak Yant tattooing sessions, and attempts to explain why these sacred tattoos inspire such pas- sion. The text is lavishly illustrated with photography by René Drouyer. ♦ SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2013 80