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Lions Roar : November 2014
tAMing tHe oX Buddhist Stories and reflections on Politics, race, Culture, and Spiritual Practice By Charles Johnson Shambhala Publications 2014; 208 pp., $17.95 (paper) a former professional cartoonist, Charles Johnson is a professor emeritus and writer who won the u.S. National Book award for Fiction in 1990, making him the second black american male to receive this prize, after Ralph ellison. at age fourteen, Johnson was perusing his mother’s bookshelf when he found a volume on yoga with a chapter dealing with meditation. immediately sitting down to follow his breath, he felt himself in the here and now. But as peaceful and renewing as this experience was, it also scared him. meditation felt like such a powerful tool that maybe he couldn’t control it. By 1981, however, he’d found the medita- tion teachers he needed and began a daily practice in earnest. Now, in Taming the Ox, Johnson explores Buddhist themes, especially the recent emergence of black american dharma practice. While Johnson chews on tough topics in this collec- tion of essays and works of short fiction, it’s an engaging and at times humorous read. HoW to eAt By thich Nhat Hanh Parallax Press 2014; 128 pp., $9.95 (paper) While some monastic communities deemphasize food in favor of focusing wholly on the spiritual, thich Nhat Hanh’s community considers food central to practice. “in the Catholic tradition, in the eucharist,” thich Nhat Hanh says, “you see the piece of bread as the body of Jesus. in the Buddhist tradition, we see the piece of bread as the body of the cosmos.” When we mindfully savor each bite, we understand that in bread there’s the sun and rain, the soil and compost, the farmer and baker, because without any one of them there’d be no bread. So, when we eat mindfully, we feel nourished by and connected to the universe. We also become more aware of own bodies and emotions and, thus, naturally eat in moderation, leading to better health. moreover, mindful eat- ing is a powerful tool for social change. in deeply contemplating our food we find ourselves inspired to advocate for best-farming practices and/or take action on behalf of the world’s hungry. How to Eat is a concise and cheerful guide to mindful cooking, serving meals, eating, and washing the dishes. ♦ shambhala sun november 2014 80