Boundless Heart by Christina Feldman

Boundless Heart by Christina Feldman

Woven within Buddhist teachings and the Buddha’s path of Awakening the student will find the process of developing the ‘boundless heart’. These are governed by the brahma viharas – or Four Immeasurables, which offer guidance for the cultivation of equanimity, joy, kindness and compassion. In her book on the subject, Boundless Heart, cofounder of the Gaia House retreat center in the U.K and established spiritual author Christina Feldman, explains that the word brama refers to the ‘noble tenet’ of these qualities whilst vihara is roughly translated as ‘the place we…

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Awakening From the Daydream by David Nichtern

Awakening From the Daydream by David Nichtern

The Wheel of Life is a Buddhist allegorical painting that has been dated back to the times of ancient India. The painting is said to illustrate how it is that our sense of self and the world that we live in are determined by how we act and feel – in short, how we impose ourselves upon our own reality. In his book Awakening From the Daydream meditation teacher David Nichtern interprets the Wheel of Life as an indicator of the way that we live life by what he refers…

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Chan Heart Chan Mind by Master Guojun

Chan Heart Chan Mind by Master Guojun

Master Guojum is a guiding teacher of the Chan Community Canada and was the abbot of Dharma Drum Retreat Center in Pine Bush, New York. He is currently the abbot of Mahabodhi Temple in Singapore. In his book Chan Heart, Chan Mind: A Meditation on Serenity and Growth he pays homage to his ordination master, Songnian – a teacher who was also credited for his intricate and expert use of calligraphy. Making Ink Chan Heart, Chan Mind opens with the author recounting his early experiences with Songnian both as an…

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Hardcore Zen by Brad Warner

Hardcore Zen by Brad WarnerHardcore Zen by Brad Warner

One’s spiritual calling can come in odd and strange ways. For many it emerges at a moment of divine connection – perhaps through meditation or via communing with nature whilst for others it can occur in the blink of an eye. For some it only arrives after years of personal searching and introspective analysis which shows that there are no rules that govern the process but when the Universe calls you had better make sure that you are ready. Down in the Basement Brad Warner, author of Harcore Zen, describes…

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Kindfulness by Ajahn Brahm

Kindfulness by Ajahn Brahm

Ajahn Brahm has been a practising monk for over thirty years and is currently the abbot and spiritual director of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia. He is a popular spiritual teacher and speaker wherever he travels in the world with several popular spiritual titles to his name; including books with titles such as Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung and Don’t Worry Be Grumpy He is also known as a mystic with more than a dash of a sense of humour! A New Word for an Old Concept. Brahm…

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The Great Spring by Natalie Goldberg

The Great Spring by Natalie Goldberg

Natalie Goldberg is best known as the author of Writing Down The Bones: Freeing The Writer Within Originally published in 1986 it is said to have “…broken open the world of creativity and started a revolution in the way we practice writing in this country.” Since then it has sold over one million copies and been translated into fourteen languages. Since its publication Natalie has been teaching seminars in writing as a practice. The influential Oprah Winfrey Show once sent a film crew to spend the day with Natalie for…

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The Vow-Powered Life by Jan Chozen Bays

The Vow-Powered Life by Jan Chozen Bays

“Vows are the forces that weave together the fabric of your life and of all life. Without vows, without purposeful action, life would cease to exist.” – with those affirming words regarding intent and purposed direction Jan Chozen Bays, MD, opens her book The Vow-Centered Life. It was through the authors learning at the hands of her teacher Maezumi Roshi that she came to understand the immense power inherent within the personal vow for, as she says I understood that when we make a vow, it becomes a force that…

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Don’t Be a Jerk by Brad Warner

Don't Be a Jerk by Brad Warner

The Japanese monk Eihei Dogen was born as the illegitimate son of a Japanese aristocrat in the year 1200. By the time he was just eight years of age both of his parents had died and as a consequence he entered a Japanese monastery at the age of 12 where he studied a form of Buddhism of which he quickly tired. As a result he traveled to China where he studied a purer form of Zen – one that had developed in India around 500BC. Dogen died in 1254 and…

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The Teacup and the Skullcup by Chögyam Trungpa

The Teacup and the Skullcup by Chögyam Trungpa

Chogyam Trungpa (1940 – 1987) was, by all accounts a remarkable teacher, author, lecturer and artist. His many achievements include the founding of Naropa University, Boulder, Colorado; the Shambhala Training program; and an international association of training programs known as Shambhala International. In addition to this he was an accomplished artist, a writer for theater and film, as well as a counsellor on meditation for professionals from the fields of psychology, medicine, business and education. North America, 1974 On New Year’s Day 1974 Trungpa began teaching the first of two…

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The Dharma of Star Wars by Matthew Bortolin

The Dharma of Star Wars by Matthew Bortolin

Every ten or so years, when the national government carry out their population census, the question of religion always appears prominently on the form – a document which everyone is legally obliged to complete and return to the authorities. Ever since the release of the early Star Wars films in the late 1970s some citizens have declared on their census papers that they were ‘Jedi Knights’ – to begin with merely as anti-establishment joke but later on as a serious political statement. In 2008, 23-year-old Daniel Jones, along with his…

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Living Beautifully by Pema Chodron

Living Beautifully by Pema Chodron

The teachings contained within Living Beautifully were originally given at Gampo Abbey, which is a Tibetan Monastery in Cape Breton, Nova Scocia, during a six-week winter retreat. Whilst they would originally have been offered via a teacher, in her book Pema Chodron chose to present these essentially Buddhist insights in a way that anyone, either religious or non-religious, can understand and appreciate. Her book opens with a consideration of the impermanence of the human experience and reflects upon the fluid nature to the life that we lead on a daily…

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Right Concentration by Leigh Brasington

Right Concentration by Leigh Brasington

Buddhism is, in many regards, a spiritual philosophy that lends itself more to practical involvement than theoretical teaching. This is particularly the case when one is learning the specialized discipline of the jhanas -an offshoot of meditation that develops around deepening degrees of mental concentration. In his book ‘Right Concentration’, Buddhist teacher Leigh Brasington warns his reader of the complexities behind jhana practice – one which he ready admits is …best learned on a ten-day or longer meditation retreat.. and which he also states …is a controversial topic… He admits…

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The Passionate Mind Revisited by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad

The Passionate Mind Revisited by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad

The Passionate Mind by Joel Kramer was first published in 1974 to a widely receptive audience who connected closely with its essential commentary on the process by which we can, as spiritually awakening individuals, become more aware of our internal psychological mechanisms and how they impact upon our thinking. In many ways the fundamental premises that underpinned the book have emerged to become, for both better and worse, even more significant and prominent in our society. In an update to the original book Joel Kramer, and now Diana Alstad, have…

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Freedom Is Your Only Choice by Ajay Kapoor

Freedom Is Your Only Choice by Ajay Kapoor

The challenge that we all face when trying to explore our spirituality is just how do we cultivate a life of peace and serenity within which our Souls can thrive and express itself. The problem that many of us face today is that sense of freedom for which we crave so deeply is becoming increasingly elusive; either through poverty, racial harrassment or political control. In his book, ‘Freedom Is Your Only Choice: 108 Questions To Discover Your True Self’, Ajay Kapoor sets out 108 questions and answers that he hopes…

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An Intelligent Life by Koitsu Yokoyama

An Intelligent Life by Koitsu Yokoyama

These are Why, What, When and When – without their existence in our language we would have no ability to enunciate our inner desire for deeper understanding or expanded wisdom. As Koitsu Yokoyama points out in his book An Intelligent Life each of these interrogative pronouns are in fact some of the very first words uttered by a child as he or she begins to question the world and to evaluate their place within it. In reality we actually live in two worlds – a tangible world of experience and…

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Buddhism for Dudes by Gerry Stribling

Buddhism for Dudes by Gerry Stribling

Buddhism, as Gerry Stribling reminds us in his book ‘Buddhism for Dudes’ is not a religion but a moral philosophy – which came as a slight shock to him when he entered a temple in Sri Lanka and found monks in fervent worship. Having spent a little time with his Buddhist teachers, as well as a great deal more time spent chanting, Stribling eventually discovered for himself that Buddhism as a spiritual process does not impose fixed notions about life and how we should experience it. As he points out…

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Zen: The Authentic Gate by Yamada Koun

Zen: The Authentic Gate by Yamada Koun

Zen master Koun Yamada was one of the foremost authorities on the Buddhist path of Zen and is credited with introducing its central practices to students, drawn from a diverse range of religious faiths. In his critically-acclaimed book Zen: The Authentic Gate he describes the practice of Zen not as a religion per se but that, unlike faith-based religions, it aims to help us perceive reality and to find peace of mind based upon that reality. These comments are made in light of his observation that, whatever the modern world is, it…

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Time to Stand Up by Thanissara

Time to Stand Up by Thanissara

In these days of deep psychological soul-searching and spiritual re-assessment it is common to hear voices raised in support of the female energy of divinity. This has been an aspect of contemporary spirituality—probably initiated by Dion Fortune in the early 20th century, which has particularly grown in popularity in the West over the last few decades. However, widespread acceptance of a female aspect to divinity is starting to spread even further afield with several previously dogmatic faiths beginning to realize that our planet and its fragile ecosystems are in urgent…

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Jewels of Enlightenment by Erik Pema Kunsang

Jewels of Enlightenment by Erik Pema Kunsang

Tibetan Buddhism is formed from a cody of teachings on Buddhist religious doctrine. It is most popular within areas of Tibet, Mongolia, Tuva, Bhutan, Kalmykia and various other regions within the Himalayan mountains. This includes northern Nepal and India. Rather than remain an obscure and largely unrecognized form of Buddhism, it has spread and is estimated to be practiced by between ten and twenty million people. In the preface of Jewels of Enlightenment (a collection of Buddhist sayings compiled by Erik Pema Kunsang), the writer Lomgchen Rabjam describes how, from a…

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Feeling Wisdom by Rob Preece

Feeling Wisdom by Rob Preece

Most modern styles of spiritual practice emphasize the perceived importance of us getting in touch with our inner feelings. It is from this core belief that Western society has spawned an infinite number of psychotherapies, as well as psychotherapists, specifically designed to engage with the feelings and emotions of their clients. In his book Feeling Wisdom: Working with Emotions Using Buddhist Teachings and Western PsychologyRob Preece poses what to many in today’s spirituality movement is a sacrilegious question: might we be wrong in using emotions as the litmus test of our…

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No Mud No Lotus by Thich Nhat Hanh

No Mud No Lotus by Thich Nhat Hanh

Whilst it is a commonly-held belief in the West that personal happiness is only attainable through the absense or negation of emotional pain, this is not the Buddhist way of looking at life. Instead, the essentially Eastern philosophy sees suffering as an essential element to life and that it has an important role to play in who we are as individuals. In his book on the subject No Mud, No Lotus the acclaimed Buddhist philosopher and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh states that knowing how to suffer well is essential to realizing…

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