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Lions Roar : September 2017
By John DeMont THE BEST MINDS OF MY GENERATION A Literary History of the Beats By Allen Ginsberg Edited by Bill Morgan Grove Press, 2017; 460 pp., $27.00 (cloth) Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche invited Allen Ginsberg to the Naropa Insti- tute in the early days of the West’s first Buddhist-inspired university. Thus began Ginsberg’s twenty-three-year run teaching a course—at Naropa and later at Brooklyn College—on the literary history of the Beat Genera- tion. Ginsberg’s poetic voice shines through in the forty-nine lectures reprinted in this volume. Many of the Beat luminaries are there: Jack Kerouac, Lucien Carr, William Burroughs, and Gregory Corso, as well as the author of Howl himself. But there’s nothing pre- dictable about this collection, which delves into topics like the influence of jazz musician Charlie Parker’s improvisations on Kerouac’s prose style, the Buddhism in On the Road, and what the Beats scene in Times Square was like in the 1940s. THE SWEEPER A Buddhist Tale Written and Illustrated by Rebecca Hazell Shambhala Publications Inc., 2017; 25 pp. $16.95 (hard) Padme is an orphan who works as a maid in a wealthy household in ancient India. She spends dreary days sweeping floors for an impossible-to- please master and mistress. This lav- ishly illustrated children’s book comes alive when, one day, the Buddha arrives at the household. He explains that life is suffering and change is inevitable, but meditation can help a person see, accept, and live the truth of their existence. Hearing this, Padme sighs, because all her work makes finding time for such a practice impossible. But the Bud- dha tells her to make her sweeping a form of meditation. His les- sons don’t end there. Years later, they meet again. This time, when Padme asks for a prayer for all those who live, die, and suffer, the Buddha teaches her the Four Immeasurables. It’s another way the book serves as a lively, easily digestible introduction to basic Bud- dhist practices and history, for young and old minds alike. ♦ www.WhatOurPeopleSay.org LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2017 77