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Shambhala Sun | March 2012
You'll find these reviews on page 83 of the magazine.

Books in Brief

By ANDREA MILLER.

 

The Buddha Walks Into a Bar: A Guide to Life for a New Generation
By Lodro Rinzler
Shambhala Publications 2012; 208 pp., $14.95 (paper)

Lodro Rinzler used to have an alarm clock shaped like a swordwielding samurai and every morning it would wake him up with the recorded sound of a warrior yelling in Japanese, “Wake up! Wake up! It is time for the battle!” For many of us, life is a battle, but, according to Rinzler, it doesn’t have to be; Buddhist meditation— though not a quick-fix solution—can be a tremendous tool for transforming heart and mind. The Buddha Walks Into a Bar is an introduction to Buddhism and, as twenty-eight-year old Rinzler’s first book, it’s geared toward the under-thirty set. “It is not our family, our job, or our sex life that gets us into trouble,” says Rinzler. “What gets us into trouble are the layers of concept and attachment that we place on these things. We should raise our gaze and turn our attention out to the world that surrounds us. From there whatever we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch can be considered sacred.”


Patience: The Art of Peaceful Living
By Allan Lokos
Tarcher 2012; 240 pp., $14.95 (paper)

Hunger, fatigue, technological failure, feeling like we’re being ignored, rushed, or disrespected—these are just some of the situations and factors that can needle us into impatience. No wonder, says Allan Lokos, so many of us respond to the very word patience with a sense of deficiency. We say, “I don’t have enough patience” or “I need more,” slotting it in the rarefied domain occupied by time and money. That said, Lokos continues, “The wonderful thing about patience, unlike time, is the more we use it, the more we have.” His new release takes an in-depth look at the unhappiness caused by impatience and its close cousin anger, and it maps out practices for increasing our equanimity. Throughout the book are profiles of real people who are working with patience, as well as relevant, thought-provoking quotes. Allan Lokos, a longtime Buddhist practitioner and teacher, is the founder of the Community Meditation Center in New York City and the author of Pocket Peace: Effective Practices for Enlightened Living.


Leaves Falling Gently: Living Fully With Serious & Life-Limiting Illness Through Mindfulness, Compassion & Connectedness
By Susan Bauer-Wu
New Harbinger 2011; 160 pp., $16.95 (paper)

Maggie, as described in Leaves Falling Gently, had been living with HIV for many years and still felt relatively healthy when she was diagnosed with AIDS. But this diagnosis left her repeatedly sobbing and shaking and it haunted her with images of being completely debilitated. For people with life-limiting illness, Maggie’s experience of being bombarded with unhelpful thoughts is not uncommon. In Leaves Falling Gently, Susan Bauer-Wu demonstrates how mindfulness, compassion, and connectedness are never out of reach. Uniquely qualified to write this manual for living with dying, Bauer-Wu is a neuroscientist who has researched the benefits of mindfulness for patients going through the stem cell transplant process; she has worked as a palliative care nurse; and has personally walked the path of loss with close friends and family.


Like a Yeti Catching Marmots: A Little Treasury of Tibetan Proverbs
By Pema Tsewang Shastri
Wisdom Publications 2012; 176 pp., $15.95 (paper)

A compendium of Tibetan proverbs, Like a Yeti Catching Marmots takes its title from one of the Tibetan proverbs in this collection of 108 traditional tales. According to Tibetan mythology, the yeti is a feeble-minded beast that feeds only on marmots. When a yeti sees a marmot, it grabs it and then sits on it, saving it to eat later. But as soon as the yeti sees another marmot, it goes chasing after that one—unwittingly allowing the first marmot to escape. Some of the proverbs in this book stand on their own, requiring no explanation. For the others, Pema Tsewang Shastri provides a short comment or offers an English expression with a similar meaning. For instance, “like a yeti catching marmots” means “a bumbling, foolish effort.” A number of the selections relate to Buddhism, such as, “One thinks of dharma when the stomach is full; one thinks of stealing when the stomach is empty,” and “All with shaved heads are not monks; all with saffron robes are not lamas.”


Walking the Tiger’s Path: A Soldier’s Spiritual Journey in Iraq
By Paul M. Kendel
Tendril Press 2011; 320 pp., $16.95 (paper)

Walking the Tiger’s Path won usabooknews.com’s Best Books award for 2011 in the Buddhist category. While Paul M. Kendel was serving in Iraq, he fired off an impromptu email to Shambhala International, asking for help in dealing with the ugly realities of war. He didn’t necessarily expect a response, but not too long after pressing send, he got one. As the true story of Kendel’s transformative correspondence, Walking the Tiger’s Path unfolds against a desert backdrop of brutality. But with humor and heart Kendel delves deep into his experiences with his fellow soldiers, the locals, and the daily grind of the chain of command. “The only quiet time is in the shower or a sweltering porto-potty,” he wrote in an email. “Neither are terribly conducive to meditation practice. However, riding around all day in a Humvee waiting to get blown up provides one with unusual opportunities at contemplation.”


The Novice: A Story of True Love
By Thich Nhat Hanh
HarperOne 2011; 148 pp., $23.99 (cloth)

Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness With Children
By Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village Community
Parallax Press 2011; 240 pp., $22.95 (paper)

Based on a folktale, The Novice is a novel by Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh set in Vietnam when Buddhism was still new to the country and temples there only accepted men for ordination. The protagonist, Kinh Tam, longs to live as a monastic, so she disguises herself as a man and becomes a novice. Time goes by and she thrives in the sangha. Then a wealthy woman falls in love with Kinh Tam and accuses her of impregnating her. Now Kinh Tam faces a terrible choice: Should she keep her secret and suffer a harsh, possibly fatal punishment, or should she reveal her gender to rebut the accusation, which would end her life at the temple? Planting Seeds, another new release by Thich Nhat Hanh, is a wonderful resource for parents and educators who wish to share mindfulness with children in an age-appropriate way. It’s packed with suggestions for meditations, cooperative games, activities, art projects— even whole lesson plans. Planting Seeds includes a CD of charming songs and practices.


Save the Himalayas
By Rima Fujita
One Peace Books 2011; 42 pp., $19.95 (cloth)

Tashi and the Tibetan Flower Cure
By Naomi C. Rose
Lee & Low Books 2011; 40 pp., $18.95 (cloth)

Designed to teach kids the importance of the environment, Save the Himalayas is the tale of a brother and sister who take a journey on the back of a crane to search for the family of a lost baby snow leopard. Author and illustrator Rima Fujita is the founder of Books for Children, an organization that produces and donates picture books to kids in need, and through this organization several thousand copies of Save the Himalayas will be donated to Tibetan refugees. Beautifully and colorfully illustrated, the text is in three languages: English, Japanese, and Tibetan. The foreword is by the Dalai Lama, and the introduction is by Richard Gere. Tashi and the Tibetan Flower Cure, another children’s book, tells the touching story of a little girl named Tashi and her grandfather Popola, who misses his home in Tibet. When Popola gets really sick, Tashi remembers him telling her that some people in his old village used to be cured of illness by sitting downwind from a field of flowers, and this gives Tashi an idea for how Popola might be cured. At the heart of this story is love—the love of friends, family, and community.


From the March 2012 Shambhala Sun magazine. Click here to browse the entire issue online.




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