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Lions Roar : July 2019
LOVE ON EVERY BREATH Tonglen Meditation for Transforming Pain into Joy By Lama Palden Drolma New World Library 2019; 232 pp., $15.95 (paper) Tonglen, which means “giving and tak- ing,” is an ancient Buddhist visualiza- tion practice that involves breathing in the suffering of oneself and others and breathing out compassion and relief. Though it’s a powerful technique for cultivating unconditional love, Lama Palden Drolma has found that tonglen feels overwhelming for many people. As an alter- native, she recommends “love on every breath,” which is her name for a variation of tonglen from the Shangpa lineage of Tibet. The key difference is that love on every breath incorpo- rates a visualization of Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara in Sanskrit), an embodiment of enlightened love in the Tibetan tradition, similar to Kwan Yin. Note, love on every breath is not just for Vajrayana practitioners. Lama Palden offers alternative ways of framing the embodiment of love for people of other traditions, including secular humanists. She says that love on every breath is a particularly helpful practice for activists confronting the suffering of this world. ZEN BEYOND MINDFULNESS Using Buddhist and Modern Psychology for Transformational Practice By Jules Shuzen Harris Shambhala Publications 2019; 184 pp., $17.95 (paper) Jules Shuzen Harris is a psychothera- pist, the abbot of Soji Zen Center in Pennsylvania, and the first African American man to receive dharma transmission in the Soto Zen tradition. According to Harris, when Buddhism is secularized—when it’s stripped of its philosophical and ethi- cal framework—it loses much of its power to transform our lives. Yet how do we maintain the philosophical and ethical framework, and still make Buddhism relevant in today’s world? Harris’ answer is to combine meditation, a deep study of the abhidharma (traditional Buddhist psychology), and a modern psychotherapeutic method that involves creating “mind maps” via short prompts or questions that one answers quickly, with- out trying to get the “right” answer. This process, says Harris, helps us understand ourselves better, and ultimately loosens our attachment to the stories we tell ourselves. Harris provides ample, meaty prompts for us to contemplate. REVIEWS BUDDHISM AND VEGANISM Essays Connecting Spiritual Awakening and Animal Liberation Edited by Will Tuttle Vegan Publishers 2019; 247 pp., $19.95 (paper) In Buddhism and Veganism, the con- tributors use Buddhist sutras, history, and the words of wise teachers from the past and present to argue that avoiding animal-derived products is a critical component of dharma practice. What’s most compelling, though, are the personal stories in these pages. Several practi- tioners recount how, after their own deep experience of suffer- ing, they realized that all sentient beings suffer in the same way, and how this insight increased their compassion for animals. One woman, who lost her infant daughter in childbirth, recalls how she felt alone in her grief because so many people turned away from her heartbreak. Then, years later, she encountered an abused and injured horse on a trail. Most people walked by the animal, not even looking at his suffering, but she felt his pain as if it were her own and vowed to save him—and did. TRUE VIRTUE The Journey of an English Buddhist Nun By Sister Annabel Laity Parallax Press 2019; 462 pp., $18.95 (paper) Sister Annabel Laity, the first Western monastic in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village tradition, has an inspiring life story. After a pastoral English child- hood, which included being schooled by Catholic nuns, Laity studied ancient languages at London Uni- versity and then moved to Greece to work as a Classics teacher. There, she met the Tibetan lama Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso and heard him give a traditional teaching on the benefit of empti- ness: that if someone sees a coil of rope and mistakes it for a snake, they’re very afraid, but when they realize it’s really just a rope, their fear vanishes. This touched her deeply, and she realized she was Buddhist. Laity aspired to become a Vajrayana Buddhist nun, but while helping build a monastery in India, she discovered being a monastic in that particular tradition wasn’t for her. Eventually, Laity met Thich Nhat Hanh and, in 1988, she was ordained, along with Sister Chan Khong, on Vulture Peak in India, which is where the Buddha is said to have given his first teaching on emptiness. Find the best Buddhist books at store.lionsroar.com—and support our non-profit mission. LION’S ROAR | JULY 2019 80