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Lions Roar : September 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN SepteMBer 2009 89 BY ANDreA MiLLer BOOKs iN BrieF tHE tRutH of suffERing and tHE patH of liBERation by chögyam trungpa edited by Judith l. lief shambhala Publications, 2009; 155 pp., $21.95 (cloth) the four noble truths seem so straightforward that some stu- dents may be anxious to move on to what they perceive as meat- ier teachings. in this posthumous volume, however, chögyam trungpa reveals layers of subtlety in these foundational buddhist teachings. beginning with the first truth—there is suffering— trungpa stresses the importance of recognizing our habits. we do everything we can to avoid suffering, preferring instead to pursue happiness. but, according to the second truth, this blind pursuit is the root of our pain. trungpa Rinpoche explains in de- tail how thoughts become fixations, then emotions such as jeal- ousy, and finally actions. now that we’ve had our wake-up call, the third truth is that the cessation of suffering is possible. we all experience signs of awakening, he says, but advises that we not seek such signs. instead, utilize them when they arise to develop confidence in the dharma. Finally, the fourth noble truth is the truth of the path. there are many guidelines to help students on their journey, yet each student must forge their own way. WElcomE to tHE dEpaRtuRE loungE adventures in mothering mother by meg Federico Random House, 2009; 208 pp., $25.00 (cloth) although it doesn’t directly talk about the four noble truths or otherwise use dharma lingo, this memoir by buddhist meg Fed- erico does address impermanence, something that is clearly at the heart of buddhism. by turns hilarious and heart wrenching, Welcome to the Departure Lounge is the story of addie, Federico’s mother, in her final years. it begins when addie, under the influ- ence of martinis, takes a tumble and is taken to a hospital, where suddenly she sits bolt upright on the gurney and yells, “ i de- mand an autopsy!” addie and walter, her new (but not so spry) husband, have begun to show signs of alzheimer’s, and it only gets worse. Highlights include addie and walter—forbidden by doctors to drink—conspiring to order cases of booze, and walter using mail-order sexual aids to enable him to paw nightly (and indiscreetly) at addie. but capers aside, the greatest strength of this book is the complex picture Federico gives us of her mother and of their ever-evolving relationship. fREEing tiBEt: 50 years of struggle, Resilience and Hope by John b. Roberts ii and elizabeth a. Roberts Amacom, 2009; 279 pp., $24.00 (cloth) written in an engaging, narrative style, Freeing Tibet is the story of a culture that has been struggling to survive for half a century. the husband and wife co-authors recount the cold war begin- nings of tibet’s struggle included a clandestine cia propaganda campaign and the abandonment of tibet’s freedom fighters in a Himalayan bay of Pigs. then, after the nixon administration cut off funding for the tibetans, their cause was adopted by the sixties counterculture movement and, finally, taken on by celebri- ties—actors, musicians, and world leaders. as you might expect, this book details some ugly and disturbing violations of human rights in tibet, but lighter moments are provided by various col- orful characters, chiefly allen Ginsberg, who once apparently of- fered magic mushrooms to the dalai lama. Freeing Tibet is not the chronicle of a hopeless cause—au contraire. it tells how an engaged global community could liberate the tibetans. no sElf, no pRoBlEm by anam thubten snow Lion Publications, 2009; 134 pp., $14.95 (paper) author anam thubten, who was born in eastern tibet, under- took buddhist training in the nyingma tradition at an early age and has been teaching in the west since the 1990s. His teachings are unpretentious and sometimes outright humorous, but they are also profound. no self, no Problem is about how to let go of our notions of ego identity in order to discover our true nature and achieve real liberation. “we are perfect as we are,” says anam thubten. “when we realize this, we are perfect. when we don’t realize this, we are also perfect.” there is a glossary of terms at the back of no self, no Problem that those new to buddhist concepts will find useful.