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The Best Buddhist Writing 2013
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Book Club > Group Read: Best Buddhist Writing 2013

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message 1: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (kristicoleman) We will be reading and discussing The Best Buddhist Writing 2013. The discussion will begin on May 5, and we will be discussing one article each week. I do hope that you will all join us in discussing the Dharma.

If you do not want to buy the book, I believe Babs is going to post links to the articles that are available online.

message 2: by Babs (new)

Babs | 61 comments Okay this is the best I could do to get you started. The introduction of course is not available anywhere except in the book, so folks will have to get the hint of what was written by how the discussion goes.

Article 1 The Truth Never Fails (is a book) to get an excerpt and a feel for what might be contained check out this site: The Truth Never Fails: http://davidrynick.com/this-truth-nev...

Article 2 A Buddha Walks Into a Bar (is also a book) but good review and synopsis can be found at this site:
A Buddha Walks Into A Bar: http://buddhaspace.blogspot.com/2011/...
Hopes that helps everyone get started a little.

message 3: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (kristicoleman) Thanks Babs!!

message 4: by Larry (new) - added it

Larry (dralas) | 29 comments Thanks Kristi and Babs for getting this off to a great start. Mr McLead makes a few points in his introduction that I will take the liberty to quote here and let his words stand without any comment from me. we can all then let his words sink into us and then if any discussion arises after that reflection I will be happy to participate and offer my own comments.

First he reminds us that;
“Traditionally in Buddhism, there are two ways to realize enlightenment. The first is sudden, an immediate flash of experience in which we finally see the true nature of reality.”

He goes on to offer a few examples then,

“The second way is the gradual path to realization, so subtle we may not even know it’s happening. Traditionally it is said to be like taking a long walk in the fog. It’s not really raining, and you don’t notice your clothes getting wet. But eventually you realize you are covered with the fine dew of awakening.”

He goes on to make reference to various of the titles included and his process of selection. resulting in revealing his focus in this collection,
“ Although Buddhism takes many different forms around the world, the Buddhism practiced in the West over the last fifty years has generally focused on meditation practice. This year’s anthology is soaked in meditation - its wisdom, compassion, and openness.”

Again he relates to some specifics in the articles and to authors of the articles. Then before thanking others who helped him produce the anthology he concludes with,
“Meditation is…[sic] Like life itself, it’s hard work, and its so subtle you may not even notice it, but it works. May your robe - or suit or dress - be soaked in the mist of dharma too.”

May it be of benefit - Mangalam

message 5: by Dan (new)

Dan Thank you for going to all that trouble to summarize the introduction.

message 6: by Larry (new) - added it

Larry (dralas) | 29 comments Hello all

It is May 9 and I am looking forward to others response to the first read This Truth Never Fails. I have never read anything else by Rynick. I enjoy this kind of reflection on practice and mind and the revelations and insights that arise. This short read reminded me of one of my favorite Jack Kornfeld works, After the Ecstasy the Laundry. I also appreciated the quote from the poet Kabir "Between the conscious and unconscious, the mind has put up a swing: all creatures, even the supernovas, sway between these two trees, and it never winds down." This is also my experience with practice and awareness, the swing from very aware and awake to totally on autopilot. Then a fresh start and a deep breath and everything continues.

message 7: by Babs (new)

Babs | 61 comments Hi Larry, Having been Mother's Day week end I was out of town and now just checking in. I will share my thoughts tomorrow.

message 8: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (kristicoleman) So we've had 2 articles so far. I've loved both, but as I was on retreat this weekend I can't seem to remember what they were about! I'm going to go home tonight and review the last 2 articles as well as read the one for this week.

Anyone else have thoughts on our first two articles, or the one to be read this week??

message 9: by Babs (last edited May 21, 2014 05:29AM) (new)

Babs | 61 comments "Being still is not a means to an end; it is not that we should be still and then create something else or change. Being still is being who we are".

A little slow getting back but here I am. Larry I agree with you on Rynick's article. I too like Jack Kornfeld and better still Steve Hagan's, Buddhism Plain and Simple and the first article is similar in his reflections on practice and mind.

I love the thought that if I had to say what meditation and Buddhist teaching bring to me is
it's about being awake and in touch with what is going on here and now.

I like the comparison of 'swinging between two trees' when referring to conscious and unconscious; of being aware and unaware of now. So often in our lives we fill our days with clutter...and never find time for stillness. Because we are so very busy being anything but still, we fail to see what is right in front of us.

"The suffering and pain that come from misperceiving, misunderstanding, and mistaking our self to be a duality of self and not-self".

message 10: by Babs (new)

Babs | 61 comments Let's move on to the next two readings: The Buddha Walks Into a Bar and How To Meditate. Please posts your thoughts or comments when done so we can continue a discussion.

message 11: by Larry (new) - added it

Larry (dralas) | 29 comments I found both Lodro Rinzler and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche's articles emphasizing the importance of developing a personal meditation practice to be very good. We can always use reminders to practice.

I have been fortunate enough to receive teachings directly from Rinpoche and I have participated in programs alongside Mr Rinzler. The Sakyong is an excellent teacher and manifests as a realized being. Making a connection with him was an important part of my path at that time. His reminder to return to the breath is always good advice no matter what other practices we have been given as establishing that moment to moment awareness is the best foundation for each practice we move on to moment to moment.

I was a bit more disappointed in Lodro's article as some of the statements seemed inappropriate. I do not think others in Siddhartha Gautama's community called him Sid. He was also called Shakyamuni, which means king of the Shakya tribe. They may have respectfully called him Muni or MahaMuni. Lodro may have been continuing in the tradition of making the dharma available by using terms and speech currently in use within a culture. Or making it accessible by using phrasing that does not challenge the reader or listener. The Buddha set that example himself. Still his reminders to practice were heartfelt and are good reminders for us all to practice first then contemplate these articles.

I look forward to others comments and I look forward to moving on to the next article moving the content more towards Zen perspectives for a change.

message 12: by Babs (last edited May 29, 2014 08:34AM) (new)

Babs | 61 comments These two articles, for me, seem to address the issue of why we practice and how to practice. I didn’t quite understand Rinzler’s title and was waiting for a punchline that never came; however the substance of his article was excellent. People seem to gravitate to Buddhism and or meditation anticipating it will eliminate their problems. Not only eliminate them but NOW!

However, neither is the case. Rinzler’s thought that through meditation ‘we want to learn how to be sane, how to be more openhearted in our daily lives, and how to spread sanity and compassion in an increasingly chaotic world’ is wonderfully stated. Much of what is chaotic in today’s world seem to be a general lack of compassion by people of differing perceptions of how things are ‘supposed to be’. We have become more polarized than unified in dealing with others. We are less accepting of someone else’s point of view.

‘There are techniques of Buddhism, such as meditation, that anyone can adopt. And, of course, there are Christian monks and nuns who already use Buddhist methods in order to develop their devotion, compassion, and ability to forgive’. Dalai Lama

Personally I loved Mipham’s article. I come from the place of a ‘beginner’s mind’ as far as having developed a meditation practice. So I identified with his basic techniques of meditation. I identified completely with his explanation of how difficult it is to maintain mental focus as thoughts continue to pass through my mind during sitting practice.

I thought his analogies were wonderful and his understanding of what mindfulness is and does in our meditation practice hit the nail on the head; “All these depend on developing some basic aspects of mindfulness, which we could equate with strength training, and awareness, which we could equate with flexibility, endurance, and stamina”.

His understanding of how difficult meditation can be for some folks and helping people gain clarity of developing a sound practice were well put. Such as his explanation of focus on breathing; ‘this is often called following the breath, or mindful breathing. It leads to peaceful abiding’.

Both authors were gentle and lighthearted with their suggestions knowing full well, I think, of how difficult it is for those new to Buddhist meditation. This is one reason I was personally drawn to the practice; the degree of compassion and the wonderful sense of humor many brought to the practice.

'To meditate means to go home to yourself. Then you know how to take care of the things that are happening inside you, and you know how to take care of the things that happen around you'.-Thich Nhat Hanh

message 13: by Larry (new) - added it

Larry (dralas) | 29 comments Babs wrote: "These two articles, for me, seem to address the issue of why we practice and how to practice. I didn’t quite understand Rinzler’s title and was waiting for a punchline that never came; however the..."
Thanks for bringing into focus compassion in your experience of these articles. Once when my current teacher was asked by a group of her most senior students 'What is the one thing you have taught us that is the most important for us on our path?' Her Eminence Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche answered 'Be kind to everyone, always'

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