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Lions Roar : May 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN MAy 2009 89 By andrea miller BooKs in Brief nAturAl wAKefulness discovering the wisdom we were Born with By Gaylon Ferguson Shambhala Publications, 2009; 176 pp., $21.95 (cloth) Profound yet practical, natural wakefulness is a meditation manual that will be of special interest to beginners but will also serve to inspire seasoned practitioners. Author Gaylon Ferguson is a senior teacher in the Shambhala tradition, with thirty-three years of experience leading meditation retreats, a core faculty member at Naropa University, and a prominent African-American Buddhist teacher. In this, his much-antici- pated first book, he offers advice and contemplative exercises to help us both uncover our basic goodness and commit to prac- tice. Additionally, he shares helpful selections from question- and-answer sessions with his students. In the forward, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche says, “ This book will be of tremendous benefit to those who have the courage to engage their mind and heart and develop their potential.” Personally, what I most appreciate about natural wakefulness is the warmth and acces- sibility of Ferguson’s voice. Buddhism of the heArt reflections on shin Buddhism and inner togetherness By Jeff Wilson wisdom Publications, 2009; 176 pp., $16.95 (paper) Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, also known as Shin, is the most popu- lar form of Buddhism in Japan, but not much has been written about it that is aimed at Western readers. buddhism of the heart helps to address that gap. Author Jeff Wilson’s approach is to stay away from Shin’s long history of scholarship and instead unpack Shin the way most practitioners do—through stories and anecdotes. The point, he says, isn’t separating the fact from the myth; it’s understanding how the stories reveal the way we can learn to live in accord with the dharma. Shin, a heart-based Buddhism, is geared toward laypeople, so it is only fitting that Wilson’s book is user-friendly, with a helpful glossary of terms and suggestions for further reading at the back, plus a liberal sprinkling of humor throughout. mindful eAtinG: A Guide to rediscovering a healthy and Joyful relationship with food By Jan Chozen Bays, Md Shambhala Publications, 2009; pp. 240 pp., $16.95 (paper) According to the U.S. department of Health, nearly two out of three American adults are overweight and it’s estimated that millions of Americans are bulimic or anorexic. A primary cause of this epidem- ic of eating disorders, says longtime Zen teacher Bays, is the lack of one essential human nutrient: mindfulness. Her book, Mindful eating, will help you learn to be present at the table—to notice how each bite looks, feels, smells, and tastes. This in turn will allow you to identify your habits with food; tap into your body’s innate wisdom about what, when, and how much to eat; and develop a more com- passionate attitude toward yourself. Bays, who has been teaching mindful eating for more than twenty years, peppers her book with exercises and the real-life stories of people who have discovered that, although the palate offers many pleasures, sometimes what we hun- ger for isn’t food, but rather the feeling of being truly alive. Zen wrAPPed in KArmA diPPed in chocolAte A trip through death, sex, divorce, and spiritual celebrity in search of the true dharma By Brad Warner new world Library, 2009; 288 pp., $14.95 (paper) While living in Japan, Brad Warner was ordained a Buddhist monk. In 2004, he returned to the U.S., began teaching Buddhism in his homeland, and earned a name for himself as the author of hardcore Zen and Sit down & Shut Up. To Warner’s dismay, he became what he’d always despised—a religious authority figure. “People began expecting me—of all people—to be the thing they envisioned a Buddhist master ought to be,” writes Warner. “But let me clue you in on a little secret, friends and neighbors, not only am I not that thing. No one is.” In Zen wrapped in Karma dipped in Chocolate Warner unpacks his failed marriage and the deaths of his mother and grandmother and in the process reveals that the shit can hit the fan for anyone, even so-called spiritual su- permen. That said, he tells us, even when the worst does go down, Buddhist practice can provide rational, realistic ways to cope.