Compassion and Meditation: The Spiritual Dynamic between Buddhism and Christianity, by Jean-Yves Leloup
Inner Traditions, 9781594772771, 165 pp., 2009
A French Orthodox priest teaching meditation in a Zen dojo, this might seem strange but such is the life of Jean-Yves Leloup. A long time practitioner of Hesychast, a Christian form of meditation, Leloup shares his experience in this form as well as his understanding of and connection to Buddhism. He believes that meditation without compassion is lacking something, and in the same thought that compassion without meditation is incomplete.
While it would be an oversimplification to attribute compassion to Christianity, and meditation to Buddhism, and try to combine them; Leloup does think that both systems contain both compassion and meditation, but that their differences and similarities can support each other. He is not alone; he briefly traces an interesting history linking Christian and Buddhist practices and ideologies in religious texts going back to the 1700’s. Continue reading
Abraxas, Issue One, Autumn Equinox 2009, edited by Robert Ansell and Christina Oakley Harrington
Fulgur, 128 pp., 2009
Abraxas isn’t just “An International Journal of Esoteric Studies”, this first issue is also an art book. At 290mm x 232mm it’s a large quarto, beautifully bound, and printed on high quality paper, including a handtipped sheet. Richly coloured paintings are beautifully reproduced, along with many lovely illustrations in monochrome. And then there’s the text.
This first issue focuses largely on witchcraft, and while I can’t detail every essay that appears, I would like to highlight several that I felt stood out in this already exceptional collection.
Stephen Grasso’s piece “Skip Witches, Hop Toads”, illuminates Continue reading
The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality, by H.H. Tenzin Gyasto, the 14th Dalai Lama
Broadway Books, 978767920810, 216 pp., 2005
Many books that touch on science and spirituality follow the pattern of using one to try to (dis)prove the other. In this book, while His Holiness seeks the middle path of Science and Spirituality, he doesn’t try to marry the results, but the process. Rather than trying to show how science is directly supporting or opposing Buddhist thought, he spends the time focused on the process of science and the importance it holds to Buddhism, as well as how Buddhism must change with the understanding of our world.
“My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation: if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the finds of science and abandon those claims.”
His Holiness so believes Continue reading
Beyond Happiness: Deepening the Dialogue Between Buddhism, Psychotherapy and the Mind Sciences, by Gay Watson
Karnac Books, 9781855754041, 193 pp. (incl. appendices), 2008
Psychology, psychotherapy and the mind sciences have shown a growing interest in their links with the Buddhist models of the mind and the Buddhist psychology, this book is another effort to put forth some of what has been coming out of this interaction.
While it may seem odd, I was glad in the intro when Watson admitted her limitations for this writing she is “not a scientist and freely admit that my understanding of these fields come from secondary sources which report back to the interest layperson from the fields of research.” Several books I’ve read on this topic have the authors presenting themselves as more of an authority than perhaps they have the right to.
Beyond Happiness also goes beyond similar books, for it not only discusses Buddhism in light of psychology but includes neuroscience and neurobiology as part of the exploration. The book follows the pattern of View, Meditation, and Action, a familiar pattern of thought to many Buddhists. Continue reading
Traditional Thai Medicine: Buddhism, Animism, Ayurveda, by C. Pierce Salguero
Hohm Press, 9781890772673, 134 pp. (incl. index and appendices), 2007
Thai Medicine is a tradition that began to form in the 13th Century in Thailand, a combination of beliefs and theories taken from the animistic indigenous religion, Buddhism, and medical theories from ayurveda and yoga. It remains a popular practice, existing alongside western medicine in 83% of hospitals in Thailand, but Salguero fears that it is a dying practice, mainly supported by the elderly and tourists, and practiced by the older generations.
As the older generations Continue reading
Healing with Form, Energy, and Light: The Five Elements in Tibetan Shamanism, Tantra, and Dzogchen, by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
Snow Lion Publications, 1559391766, 159 pp (incl. glossary), 2002
Bön is the indigenous Tibetan religion that predates Buddhism, often called Tibetan Shamanism. As a religious belief it had historically suffered a social oppression under the Lama culture of Buddhist Tibet, but His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama has recognized Bön as one of the five major spiritual traditions in Tibet, which has led to a resurgence of information and interest in this traditions. Tenzin Wangyal is a Bön-po (practitioner), considered a Bön master and has spent his life studying Vajrayana and Bön. Due to this upbringing (and perhaps the modern state of the religion), the Bön in this book is heavily influenced by Tibetan Buddhism, as opposed to being “pure” Bön, which may not have existed for centuries and as a religion that mythologically dates its origin 17,000 years ago, one must expect some drift in beliefs and practices. Continue reading