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Lions Roar : March 2014
BY ANDREA MILLER Books in Brief UNFINISHED CONVERSATION Healing from Suicide and Loss By Robert E. Lesoine with Marilynne Chöphel Parallax Press 2013; 176 pp., $14.95 (paper) Longtime Buddhist practitioner Robert Lesoine was at the den- tist with his mouth full of equipment when his cellphone rang. It was his best friend’s ex-wife calling, but she was screaming and crying so hard that she was incomprehensible. Finally Lesoine understood: his best friend had killed himself. For two years fol- lowing this loss, Lesoine kept a journal to help him work through his profound grief—the shock and disbelief, the rage and sorrow. Unfinished Conversation incorporates moving sections from the journal, plus writing prompts, meditations, and other practical suggestions for finding support in the wake of a loved one’s sui- cide. Lesoine’s collaborator, Marilynne Chöphel, is a marriage and family therapist who specializes in the treatment of acute and relational trauma. WIND AND RAIN The Life of Ikkyu Story by Ven. Miao You, art by Yan Kaixin Buddha’s Light Publishing 2013; 160 pp., $9.95 (paper) Buddhist Light Publishing is translating a series of Chinese graphic novels telling the life stories of great Buddhist monas- tics. Wind and Rain is the biography of the Rinzai Zen monk and poet Ikkyu. Rumored to be the illegitimate son of Emperor Go-Komatsu, he was a fifteenth-century vagabond who is cel- ebrated for attaining enlightenment at Lake Biwa when a crow cawed. Wind and Rain is the sanitized, all-ages version of his story. There’s no mention of his notorious consumption of alco- hol or his late-life lover, Mori, a blind singer. The emphasis is instead on Ikkyu’s deep commitment to justice. From a young age, he criticized the corruption he saw in both the aristocracy and Buddhist institutions and he sought out teachers who, like him, shunned material wealth and titles. Amid the hardships of war, he organized relief for the poor and helped create and rebuild temples. Ikkyu passed away in his eighty-eighth year in the middle of autumn. BUDDHA’S BOOK OF STRESS REDUCTION Finding Serenity and Peace with Mindfulness Meditation By Joseph Emet Tarcher 2013; 224 pp., $15.95 (paper) The first noble truth in Buddhism is dukkha, which is most com- monly translated as “suffering.” But as Joseph Emet points out, some leading translators are now rendering this Pali word as “stress.” Buddha’s Book of Stress Reduction begins by exploring the stressful impact of our to-do lists. The average toddler smiles six hundred times a day, but as we grow up our focus shifts from the present to future goals, which limits our happiness. Emet is not suggesting we throw away planning or any of our other adult life skills, but he is recommending that we take more time to enjoy the present moment, even in the face of the need to get things done. Emet goes on to address the myriad elements of stress, such as past wounds, worry, irritation, anger, fear, work, and relationships. LOVE LETTER TO THE EARTH By Thich Nhat Hanh Parallax Press 2013; 144 pp., $14.95 (paper) Environmental activists get a bad rap for being dour. Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, however, is anything but. Instead of finger- pointing and calling for austerity, his solution to our environ- mental crisis is mindfulness. Through mindfulness, he says, we realize that the Earth is not simply the ground beneath our feet—we are the Earth. Every cell in our body comes from the Earth and is part of it. “We are a living, breathing manifestation of this beautiful and generous planet,” he says. When we know SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2014 75