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Lions Roar : July 2013
THE SUPREME THOUGHT Bodhichitta & the Enlightened Society Vow By Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche Dragon 2013; 87 pp., $22 (paper) “Basic goodness” and “enlightened society” are key concepts in the Shambhala tradition. However, “good” here does not mean good as opposed to bad, but rather “pure, intrinsically good.” That is, despite our struggles and confusion, there is something essen- tially good about our existence as human beings. “Conventionally, society, politics, and human interaction might not be described as good or pure,” says Shambhala Sun columnist Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, writing here under his full Shambhala title, Kongma Sakyong II Jampal Trinley Dradül. “But when society develops confidence in basic goodness, that goodness can manifest and emanate into all fields of human activity. Having confidence and inspiration in the message of basic goodness, a good society can dawn here on Earth.” The Supreme Thought can be purchased through Shambhala Media at shambhalamedia.org. 99 BLESSINGS An Invitation to Life By Brother David Steindl-Rast Image 2013; 128 pp., $14.99 (cloth) Brother David Steindl-Rast is acclaimed for building bridges between religious traditions. A Catholic monk of the Benedictine Order, he has studied extensively with Zen teachers and is the coauthor, with the late Robert Aitken Roshi, of The Ground We Share: Everyday Practice, Buddhist and Christian. In 99 Blessings, Steindl-Rast offers a series of original interfaith prayers. Pithy and lyrical, they celebrate everything from sparrows to birthdays, from hidden things to fresh linen. To learn more from Steindl-Rast, you might wish to check out the course on awakening the heart and mind that he and Zen teacher Paul Haller will be co-leading from June 28 to July 5 at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. DEEP RELAXATION Coming Home to Your Body By Sister Chan Khong Parallax Press 2013; 40 pp., $14.95 (cloth) When I have trouble sleeping at night, I move from my regular bed to the bed in the guestroom, and sometimes just this change of scene helps me nod off. But if not, I have an even more effective tool in my pajama pocket: deep relaxation, as taught by Thich Nhat Hanh’s closest collaborator, Sister Chan Khong. Her deep- relaxation technique involves finding a comfortable position, closing your eyes, focusing on the breath, and releasing the tension in your body from head to toe. If you wish, you can then go deeper by focusing on a part of your body that needs special attention or healing. But deep relaxation is not just helpful for falling asleep; it’s also an excellent way to take a breather when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Khong suggests dividing a stressful workday into segments and doing short sessions of deep relaxation between each segment. When you do this, she says, you’ll come to your next activity with increased freshness and effectiveness. ♦ EUROPEAN INSTALLATIONS by Spencer Tunick Self-published in a limited edition of 1,400, 2013; 112 pp., $80 (cloth) When we were looking for a cover for this, the “Body” issue of the Shambhala Sun, we knew we wanted to avoid easy, clichéd imagery—and what could be more clichéd than the way popular media and advertising represent the body? We were looking for something fresh and real, pointing to the common identity we all share by way of our human bodies. We chose “Dead Sea 6, 2011” by Spen- cer Tunick, the longtime video artist/photographer whose first book, European Installations, has just been released. Tunick has been documenting the live nude figure in public, with photography and video, since the early 1990s, organizing nearly one hundred site-related installations that make use of volunteers sometimes numbering into the thousands—all nude, unless you count the occasional bit of body paint. The artist describes his “human installations” as a combination of performance art, photography, sculpture, and land art that transcends the sexuality usually associ- ated with the naked form. His aim is to reveal abstract “new shapes” that challenge our views of the body and also ask us to consider the complexities of presenting art in public spaces. Of course, not everyone is willing to go there with Tunick; his choice to work with as unusual and con- troversial a medium as nude bodies has resulted in five arrests. But in May 2000, the Second U.S. District Court recognized that his work should be protected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court then ruled in Tunick’s favor too, allowing the May ruling to stand and the artist to freely organize his work in New York City’s streets. Self-published in a limited edition of 1,400, European Installations can be ordered from spencertunick.com. ♦ On the Cover SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2013 80