Short reviews of Safe Harbor: Guidelines, Process and Resources for Ethics and Right Conduct in Buddhist Communities edited by Alan Senauke with Teresa Lesko • Verses from the Center: A Buddhist Vision of the Sublime by Stephen Batchelor • The Diamond Cutter: The Buddha on Strategies for Managing Your Business and Your Life by Geshe Michael Roach • An Awakened Life: Uncommon Wisdom from Everyday Experience by Christopher Titmuss • Finding a Joyful Life in the Heart of Pain: A Meditative Approach to Living with Physical, Emotional, or Spiritual Suﬀering by Darlene Cohen • Beautiful Work: A Meditation on Pain by Sharon Cameron • Forest Path by the Community of Wat Pah Nanachat
In his eloquent introduction to this badly needed handbook, Alan Senauke writes candidly of the “tragic accounts of misconduct and abuse in Buddhist communities” of the last two decades. Along with other articles, the book presents the guidelines adopted by diverse traditions to handle these problems. All sanghas and their teachers should have this book to deal with crises when they arise. It will also help victims and potential victims to recognize what is exploitation and where to turn for relief. —PDS
Those who love both philosophy and dharma practice will rejoice over this book, in which Stephen Batchelor eloquently shows how the two can serve each other. As his central focus, Batchelor explores the writings of the great second-century Buddhist teacher Nagarjuna, who is considered one of the most important ﬁgures in Buddhism but whose writings many people consider impenetrable. However, as Batchelor writes, “Instead of regarding the text as a work of Buddhist doctrine or philosophy—I treat it in the spirit of a Zen koan, which provokes intuitions of the sublime by forcibly challenging entrenched opinions about ourselves and the world.”
In seeing things
To be or not to be
Fools fail to see
A world at ease.
In this book, Batchelor oﬀers a poetic new translation of Nagarjuna’s Verses from the Center and a provocative and lucid commentary about both its meaning and practical use. —WN
With all the burning interest on applying Buddhist principles to daily life, this book is sure to help and intrigue many readers. It applies Buddhist principles to the marketplace and oﬀers specific strategies for both business and personal success. Based on the Diamond Cutter Sutra, Roach’s personal experience as a monk, and his involvement in building a $100 million diamond business, this book deepens and expands the notion of wise conduct. He argues that it’s our impeccability of conduct and understanding of emptiness that brings us both inner and outer riches. Without any sentimentality or discussion of suffering, Roach instructs readers how to engage in “mental gardening” by replacing unskillful habits with more skillful and ﬁnancially rewarding ones. The Diamond Cutter radically challenges many traditional assumptions about what it takes to bring about business success. It’s a gem. —RK
Everyday life is the theme of this collection of essays. It weaves wisdom and practicality into musings on many topics ranging from love to psychotherapy to projections. Titmuss draws on his experiences as both a teacher and student to express his love for and embodiment of the dharma. He reminds us of the rewards of exploring the internal universe and sprinkles his teachings with bits of humor such as “‘my’ can be thought of as a shorthand for misery.” Each essay shows how the Buddha’s teachings can be applied right here and now, without exception. As he notes at the end of the book, “In the depth of being, there is blessedness revealing everything. Just everything.” —RK
Illness can not only be a great teacher, it can create one. Darlene Cohen, who suﬀers from rheumatoid arthritis, helps us learn how to live with “mundane anguish”—suﬀering that is part of our ordinary lives. In precise language and with stories drawn from her life and others’, she convinces us that the aﬄictions of modern life are as debilitating as a chronic illness. Using the Buddhist tool of mindful awareness, Cohen goes on to craft subtle methods by which we can discover “The One Who Is Not Busy”—our basic aliveness without judgment in the present moment. Her honest phenomenological descriptions of how she discovered these approaches cause the reader to feel the power of mindful attention to one’s mind and body. Darlene Cohen inspires us to “widen our weave,” to become able to hold our own and others’ suﬀering and to release it, which leaves us deepened and freshly available for pure experience. —RFK
The unshakeable commitment to live without allowing pain to turn into suffering is the compelling subject of this book. With great eﬀort, discipline and an absence of sentimentality, Cameron explores pain while on three retreats. She intersperses her insights with dreams and memories that both haunt and heal her. Engrossed in the elements of pain, sadness and thought, she realizes, “there was no reason to fear.” Cameron’s authenticity and willingness to explore the pain within pain is ennobling. This is not an easy book to read, but like meditation, it’s definitely worth the eﬀort. —RK
Downloads available online for free distribution at Forest Sangha and elsewhere.
To celebrate the twenty-ﬁfth anniversary of Wat Pah Nanachat forest monastery in Thailand, members of its international community assembled this “present moment snapshot” of monastery life. It is an inspiring collection of essays from a wide cross-section of the members—from the abbot to the most recently ordained novice. Included are reﬂections on mindfulness of mosquitoes, the beauty of sila (virtue), and even an exploration of music and monastic training. Acalo Bhikkhu, ordained at Wat Pah Nanachat and currently living at Abhayagiri Monastery in California, writes about the challenges of visiting family in his native Australia after three years in Thailand. Taken together, these essays are a moving tribute to Ajahn Chah’s unique monastery and to the noble commitment of the monastics who practice there. —RK