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Lions Roar : November 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN NoveMBer 2009 81 BY ANDreA MiLLer BOOKs iN BrieF HAPPiNeSS: essential Mindfulness Practices By Thich Nhat Hanh Parallax Press, 2009; 120 pp., $12.95 (paper) Happiness is a collection of the practices developed by Thich Nhat Hanh in his more than sixty years as a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and teacher, and it shines with the warmth and insight that has made him one of the best-known Buddhist luminaries in the West. The purpose of the volume is to help us bring our minds into our bodies and, thereby, become fully alive, fully mindful. The practices are divided into six sections: daily practices, eating prac- tices, physical practices, relationship and community practices, extended practices, and practicing with children. In Happiness, Hahn says we usually behave as if we were poor. But, he says, “We can recognize that we have a treasure of enlightenment, under- standing, love, and joy inside us. It’s time to go back to receive our inheritance. These practices can help us claim it.” eVideNCe By Mary Oliver Beacon Press, 2009; 76 pp., $23.00 (cloth) In evidence, Mary Oliver delivers the same lyrical yet unadorned language and level of insight as she did in her previous eighteen volumes. One of my favorites among her forty-six new poems is “Prince Buzzard,” which describes the beauty of a bird that I’d not previously seen as beautiful. The buzzard “came down / with [his] spoony mouth” and his hunger, and he settled over a dead lamb’s white body. His dark work, says Oliver, “wasn’t to be done easily or quickly, / but thoroughly— / and indeed by time summer opened its green harbors / the field was nothing but flowers, flowers, flow- ers, / from shore to shore.” Life is precious, fleeting, and ultimately joyful. This is what Mary Oliver tells us in every poem. tHe CourAge to Be PreSeNt Buddhism, Psychotherapy, and the Awakening of Natural Wisdom By Karen Kissel Wegela Shambhala Publications, 2009; 224 pp., $24.95 (cloth) At the heart of Mahayana Buddhist teachings is the ideal of the bodhisattva, one who puts the needs of all others before their own. Karen Kissel Wegela says that when she started practicing Buddhism in the seventies, she found this notion threatening. Wouldn’t such self-sacrifice be indicative of a psychological prob- lem? Not necessarily, Wegala has since realized. Buddhism teaches that we mistakenly hold on to a sense of the self as separate and permanent. But the path of the bodhisattva exposes this sense of self as illusion, thereby leading us to delight and openness. The Courage to Be Present integrates the ideal of the bodhisattva with the principles of the professional therapist. The focus is on how counselors and psychotherapists can tap into bodhisattva qualities while working with clients. Wegela, who was a longtime columnist for the Shambhala Sun, teaches contemplative psychology at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. BeAtS At NAroPA edited by Anne Waldman and Laura Wright Coffee House Press, 2009; 228 pp., $15.95 (cloth) MANAtee/HuMANitY By Anne Waldman Penguin, 2009; 130 pp., $18.00 (paper) Many of the literary movers and shakers in the Beat world were teachers and presenters at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poets at Naropa University. As a result, the university has a huge ar- chive of these writers’ oral material, which editors Anne Waldman and Laura Wright mined for Beats of Naropa. The Beat writers— known for their activism, Buddhism, and party animalism—are the stuff of legend, but this anthology goes deeper than the wild tales. Waldman was one of the founders of the famous poetics school, and she has been influenced by the “moment-to-moment playfulness” of the Beats. Manetee/Humanity is Waldman’s new book-length poem. For this dreamy work, she found inspiration in animal lore, evolutionary biology, and Tibetan Buddhist ritual. WoNderlANd: the Zen of Alice By Daniel Doen Silberberg Parallax Press, 2009; 120 pp., $12.95 (paper) Koans are questions used in Zen training to help us leave the intel- lect behind and accept things as they really are. The uninitiated,