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Lions Roar : January 2005
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2005 87 LETTERS TO A SPIRITUAL SEEKER By Henry David Thoreau; edited by Bradley P. Dean Norton, 2004; 266 pp., $21.95 (cloth) The letters here, collected for the first time in a separate volume and introduced and annotated by Thoreau scholar Bradley P. Dean, are from Thoreau to his friend Harrison Blake, a fellow Harvard graduate. (The letters of Blake did not survive.) Here we get a glimpse of Thoreau in his social milieu, struggling to publish, to make ends meet, on the lecture circuit, maintaining acquaintances. But Thoreau of course also awakens the hopes of everyone who wishes for a life well examined and well-lived: “The fact is, you have got to take the world on your shoulders like Atlas and put along with it,” he writes Blake. “You will do this for an idea’s sake, and your success will be in proportion to your devotion to ideas.” SONG OF MIND: Wisdom from the Zen Classic Xin Ming By Master Sheng Yen Shambhala Publications, 2004; 224 pp., $16.95 (paper) There are precious few Chinese Chan (Japanese: Zen) masters who have set up shop in America, and Master Sheng Yen, who divides his time between the U.S., his native Taiwan, and his many students around the world, is perhaps the most renowned. This book is a line-by-line oral commentary on a 49-stanza poem composed by Chan Master Niutou Farong (594-657). The Xin Ming, Song of Mind, explains the nature of mind, the state of “no-mind,” and a meditation method to experience no-mind. If the topic of mind/no-mind is a little unfamiliar to you, don’t fear. Master Sheng Yen is an able guide, a knowledgeable and unpretentious teacher who is committed to the dharma and his students: “I hope that you did not come expecting to sit at the feet of an enlightened master,” he tells his students. “Do not concern your- self with anyone’s enlightenment, including your own. Just fix your mind on your method and let go of the rest.” SERMONS OF A BUDDHIST ABBOT By Soyen Shaku; translated by D.T. Suzuki Three Leaves Press, 2004; 224 pp., $8.95 (paper) Sermons of a Buddhist Abbot, first published in 1906, is one of the first titles from Three Leaves Press, the new religious imprint from Doubleday/Random House. Sermons is notable both as an introduction to Buddhist thought and as an historical doc- ument. Rinzai teacher Soyen Shaku was the first Buddhist teacher to visit America. He attended the World Parliament of