This is a solid entry in the continuing trend of engaging the Thelemic system of Aleister Crowley through the lens of Eastern philosophy, particularly...moreThis is a solid entry in the continuing trend of engaging the Thelemic system of Aleister Crowley through the lens of Eastern philosophy, particularly Hindu Vedanta and Mahayana Buddhism. Drawing largely on the Upanishad tradition, and especially the Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya Sutra ("The Heart of the Perfection of Transcendent Wisdom," commonly: the Heart Sutra), with more than a little tongue-in-cheek humor and copious references to related ideas from Western philosophy (ahem, Nietzsche, cough), this book takes a far less praxis-oriented approach than either Tantric Thelema or Stellar Tantra while complementing both well.
The philosophical approach herein provides a means for filling in some of the gaps in the linkage leading from Crowley's own writings on Eastern systems—such as "Science and Buddhism" and Eight Lectures on Yoga—to these later adaptations of his work by examining ways in which key ideas from Thelema (such as the "0=2 formula") may be seen as recapitulations of ancient principles recast in the more scientific language of modernity and stripped of much of their religious trappings. The author's style manages to keep potentially heavy material comparatively light hearted, though his wit occasionally may be deemed sarcastic by some.
In sum, I can readily recommend this book to anyone who is not too uptight about rigorous scholarship or doctrinal purity while also interested in aligning the apophatic views of these variant, yet closely related, religio-philosophical systems.(less)
I found this at random in a local used bookstore which I do not frequent, and it seemed like one of those "buy now or never see again" opportunities....moreI found this at random in a local used bookstore which I do not frequent, and it seemed like one of those "buy now or never see again" opportunities. I am extremely glad I listened to that inner voice.
This book is the most comprehensive, thorough, and unbiased overview of the satipaṭṭhāna practices of meditation I have ever encountered, and I rather doubt that anyone will be able to do better. The author takes as his sources not only his traditions translation of the Satipaṭṭhānasutta itself, but various redactions such as the Tibetan and those recently recovered from Tung-huang, along with ancient and modern commentarial literature of many traditions and schools. The bibliography alone runs 21 pages.
All of this information is synthesized and analyzed in the context of the teachings of contemporary Buddhists as well as the suttapiṭaka as a whole, using the Buddha's other teachings to elucidate elements of the Sanskrit & Pali "originals" where the translation has become confused or controversial over the millennia since they were committed to writing. As the fruit of the author's Ph.D. research, it is suitably academic for those inclined to that view, without becoming bogged down with unnecessary detail in the text itself, reserving technical asides for the footnotes. My only complaint is that the pagination of the notes is somewhat odd, perhaps reflecting a European or Indo-Asian styleguide rather than the American & British conventions with which I am more familiar.
Both the outline and depth of coverage have proved extremely useful to my own practice, as well as directly informing several meditation classes I have taught since. It is, in my opinion, an indispensable guide. Which, for my friends, sadly means "no, you cannot borrow it."(less)
Not Crowley's best work. I can only imagine it would be still more bombastic with music. Still, it would be interesting to see what a bunch of serious...moreNot Crowley's best work. I can only imagine it would be still more bombastic with music. Still, it would be interesting to see what a bunch of serious and well-trained actor-magician-musicians could do with it.(less)
The biggest downside of this edition (as of May 2012), which comes from an old BBS-era hand-typed flat-ASCII copy, is that the few bits of Greek are s...moreThe biggest downside of this edition (as of May 2012), which comes from an old BBS-era hand-typed flat-ASCII copy, is that the few bits of Greek are spelled out, as "Sigma-Alpha-Beta-Alpha-Omega" instead of "ΣΑΒΑΩ" and "Pi-alpha-nu" for "Παν". (This appears to have been fixed since I posted the review, or else it was specific to the browser I was working from when I first read it.)
Apart from that, it is even handier than a print copy, as Heidrick's notes draw attention to variants between different editions, and of course electronic text is searchable.(less)