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Lions Roar : March 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN MArcH 2009 91 BY ANDreA MCQUiLLiN BOOKs iN BrieF miniATures of A Zen mAsTer by robert aitken Counterpoint, 2008; 260 pp., $24 (cloth) this collection of very short texts—brief teachings, insights, memories, and spiritual observations—from the venerable rob- ert aitken makes poignant reading. perhaps it’s as close as we’ll get to an autobiography of the american Zen master, political activist, and man of letters. aitken’s keen mind has weathered the years well and these “late thoughts” are its distillate. they include formative insights from boyhood, recollections of teach- ing moments, and reflections on everyday events. Most affecting, however, is the old master’s matter-of-fact awareness of mor- tality (“what happens after death? i really don’t know but—at ninety—i’ll find out soon”), his faith in humanity, and his ap- preciation for paradox. aitken is a man of Zen to the end. The Book of TiBeTAn meDicine how to use Tibetan healing for Personal wellbeing by ralph Quinlan forde gaia, 2008; 176 pp., $19.95 (paper) this book on tibetan medicine, a thousand-year-old system that draws on theory and technique from ancient india, China, per- sia, and Greece, is as informative as it is attractive. author ralph Quinlan forde walks us through tibetan medicine’s develop- ment, principles, and methods in pithy chapters that are accom- panied by eye-catching photos and a pleasing design. but forde’s treatment is not superficial. He takes pains to explain tibetan medicine’s cultural and spiritual context, which is dramatically different from the milieu in which western medicine is prac- ticed. a holistic, integrated system, tibetan medicine looks for the root causes of health and sickness in cosmology (such as sea- sonal changes), human factors (such as diet and behavior), and the effect of spiritual dynamics (such as karma). while many of its therapeutic techniques are commonplace these days (dietary changes, herbal remedies, massage, etc.), without knowledge of the back story, some cures will strike you as peculiar (cupping, pills made of valuable metals, special prayers). still, forde may have the power to make a believer out of you. BriLLiAnT sAniTY: Buddhist Approaches to Psychotherapy edited by francis J. Kaklauskas, susan nimanheminda, Louis Hoffman, and Macandrew s. Jack University of the rockies Press, 2008; 396 pp., $34.95 (paper) of the many books exploring the common ground between buddhism and psychology, this collection is distinct because all of its contributors are (or were—there is one posthumous contribution) accomplished in both disciplines. Brilliant Sanity, therefore, doesn’t have to make an argument for the existence of a complementary relationship between the two—that’s assumed. rather, it maps the territory and suggests a path for the clinician who does both. what is the required conceptual framework? How does that framework relate to common psychotherapeutic models? what training is required for the contemplative psycho- therapist? what are the advantages and potential pitfalls of prac- ticing both? Brilliant Sanity is a capstone to the contemplative psychotherapy program at naropa University, which celebrated its thirtieth year in 2006 with a conference where many of these contributors made presentations. hAiku minD 108 Poems to cultivate Awareness & open Your heart by patricia donegan Shambhala Publications, 2008; 231 pp., $18 (cloth) My thin poetic education was launched in elementary school with an introduction to haiku—seventeen syllables in three phrases of 5–7–5. and because i could compose a haiku at ten, i con- cluded they were child’s play. Haiku are that, but so much more. Here poet, translator, and meditation teacher patricia donegan introduces us to the idea of haiku mind, which she defines as “a simple yet profound way of seeing our everyday world and living our lives with the awareness of the moment expressed in haiku.” to instill haiku mind in the reader, donegan has us practice it through the 108 poems she’s selected from haiku masters past and present. Her format is similar to the Sun’s “about a poem” department. each poem is followed by a short (250-word) reflec- tion on its theme and a brief biography of the poet. this short collection may unlock the door to your haiku mind.