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Beiträge von Kim Boykin
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Rezensionen verfasst von
Kim Boykin (New York, NY)

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Venus of Dreams
Venus of Dreams
von Pamela Sargent
  Taschenbuch

4.0 von 5 Sternen Settling Venus, 20. März 2007
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Venus of Dreams (Taschenbuch)
I've settled Mars many times in my science fiction reading; it was a new adventure to settle Venus. "Venus of Dreams" is the Venusian analogue of Kim Stanley Robinson's "Red Mars" (which I also recommend): a realistic and entertaining story of what it might be like to make a new planet habitable for humans, including the science, the politics, and the individual human drama.

Iris Angharads is from the Plains Nomarchy in what used to be the United States. As a child, she dreams of working on the Venus Project instead of taking over the communal farm run by her mother. She and her significant others struggle with issues of ambition, family commitments, and what is worth sacrificing in order to attain your dream.


Buddhism in America (Columbia Contemporary American Religion)
Buddhism in America (Columbia Contemporary American Religion)
von Richard Hughes Seager
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 25,92

5.0 von 5 Sternen Engaging and informative, 19. März 2007
This "road map to the American Buddhist landscape" succeeds in being both "engaging and informative," as the author intended. While it could be used as a text for a college class, it will also be of interest to American practitioners of Buddhism (like me) who want to know more about our roots and about the variety of forms of Buddhism in America.

Part One provides background material on the history of Buddhism and its transmission to America and includes a short chapter on "Very Basic Buddhism" for those new to the subject or wanting a refresher. Part Two, the largest part, discusses the various forms of Buddhism in America, with chapters on Jodo Shinshu, Soka Gakkai, Zen, Tibetan, Theravada, and "other Pacific Rim migrations." And Part Three explores some "Selected Issues": gender equity, social engagement, intra-Buddhist and interreligious dialogue, and the Americanization of Buddhism.


The Myth of Freedom (Shambhala Classics)
The Myth of Freedom (Shambhala Classics)
von Chogyam Trungpa
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 15,68

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5.0 von 5 Sternen What Buddhist practice is really all about, 19. März 2007
Incisive teachings by one of the most influential Tibetan Buddhist teachers in the West. A central theme: giving up our hopes that meditation will bring us bliss or tranquility or make us better or wiser people or otherwise serve our ego's purposes, and realizing the liberation that is right here within our pain and confusion and neurosis.

Trungpa's "Cutting through Spiritual Materialism" seems to be more widely known and more often recommended, but I like "The Myth of Freedom" even better, and I think it's a more suitable book for people who are new to meditation. (Also recommended: "The Wisdom of No Escape" by Trungpa's student Pema Chodron.)


Journey of Awakening: A Meditator's Guidebook
Journey of Awakening: A Meditator's Guidebook
von Ram Dass
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 9,36

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5.0 von 5 Sternen For new explorers of spirituality and meditation, 16. März 2007
This is a friendly invitation and beginner's guide to meditation--of various forms, from various traditions, Eastern and Western--with suggestions for picking a form suited to you, and helpful advice for the times when you get lost or stuck. The book is sprinkled with quotes from all sorts of wise people and cute little drawings of a meditator, and it includes an extensive directory of groups offering meditation instruction, plus a good list of suggestions for further reading.

Ram Dass, born Richard Alpert, left his position as a psychology professor at Harvard in the 1960s to explore mind-expansion through psychedelic drugs and then through the guidance of an Indian guru. His bestselling 1971 book "Be Here Now" includes a chronicle of this journey and, like "Journey of Awakening," invites the reader to spiritual practice, but it focuses more on Hinduism and is written, illustrated, and typeset in a very hippie, psychedelic style, so you might prefer or definitely not prefer that book.

Welcome to spiritual practice!


Lost Treasures of the Ancient World: Ancient India [UK Import]
Lost Treasures of the Ancient World: Ancient India [UK Import]
DVD ~ Lost Treasures of the Ancient World

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Good overview of Indian history, 15. März 2007
This 50-minute documentary is a good overview of the history of India through the 17th century, with special attention to archaeology and architecture. Topics include the Indus Valley civilization, the Aryans, the Vedic period, karma and reincarnation, the caste system, the Mauryan Empire, Ashoka and the rise of Buddhism, the Gupta Dynasty and the resurgence of Hinduism, the Rajput Empire, the rise of Islam, the Mughal Empire, and the Taj Mahal.

If you're considering using this video in the classroom or watching it with children, note that one of the architectural treasures from the Rajput Empire is a temple covered with explicitly sexual sculptures.


A Place Without a Postcard
A Place Without a Postcard
von James Brush
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 21,95

4.0 von 5 Sternen Stayed up until 4 a.m. to finish it, 15. März 2007
Rezension bezieht sich auf: A Place Without a Postcard (Taschenbuch)
Amazon has classified this book as science fiction (which is why I ran across it, since I regularly surf Amazon to find good sci fi), but it's really just plain fiction.

A guy wakes up and doesn't know where he is or who he is, and he discovers that he can't see. As his memory returns, we learn that he's a photographer who makes his living shooting fake UFO photos for tabloids, and he was riding his motorcycle through West Texas when something happened--but what? And why is he wanted by the law? And why is this mysterious stranger taking care of him?

The story is compelling, but what I found particularly fascinating about the book is that, because the point-of-view character has been blinded, the richly descriptive narration tells us how things sound, feel, smell, and taste--everything but how they look.


The City, Not Long After
The City, Not Long After
von Pat Murphy
  Taschenbuch

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4.0 von 5 Sternen How would artists fight a war?, 15. März 2007
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The City, Not Long After (Taschenbuch)
After a plague that killed most of the population, San Francisco has become an artists' colony. A young woman goes to San Francisco to find her mother and to warn the residents of the coming invasion. The artists must fight to defend their city, but they'd rather be painting the Golden Gate Bridge blue.

This is an entertaining, unusual, and well written post-apocalyptic story that gives new meaning to the phrase "the art of war." It includes magical elements that I could've done without, but all in all, I really enjoyed it.


The Road
The Road
von Cormac McCarthy
  Taschenbuch

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Wow, 15. März 2007
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Road (Taschenbuch)
"The Road" is the story of a man and his son struggling to survive in the incinerated and desolate remains of North America. And it's the story of a fragile spark of hope and willingness to live within the bleak disaster of human existence.

The prose is spare and beautiful, and the story is quietly compelling.

Even my all-time favorites of science fiction mostly seem like four-star books to me, and I've wondered if I need to adjust my scale, but I'm glad I've saved an extra star for books like this one. (Some four-star post-apocalyptic novels: "Earth Abides," "Alas, Babylon," "The City, Not Long After," and "The Stand.")


Life Of Buddha [UK Import]
Life Of Buddha [UK Import]

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4.0 von 5 Sternen A documentary about the life of the Buddha, 15. März 2007
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Life Of Buddha [UK Import] (DVD)
This 90-minute documentary (with audio in English, German, or French) tells the traditional story of the life of the Buddha and intersperses information about the way of life in northern India at the time of the Buddha.

If you're new to Buddhism, you may find the film a little slow, with more detail than you really want. I think it will be more interesting to those who already know something about Buddhism. I learned details of the story of the Buddha that were new to me, and I enjoyed getting a better sense of how the Buddha might actually have lived. For many years now, in teaching classes on Buddhism, I've shown pictures from the children's book "Prince Siddhartha" to illustrate the story of the Buddha, but now I will certainly add or substitute excerpts from this video.

The DVD's bonus features (50 minutes' worth) basically seem to be footage that didn't make it into the actual film. I found much of it pretty dull, but the extra interview material from Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh was a nice bonus. I especially liked his discussions of the Buddha, karma, and nirvana, and I'll probably use these in my teaching.


How to Raise an Ox: Zen Practice as Taught in Master Dogen's Shobogenzo
How to Raise an Ox: Zen Practice as Taught in Master Dogen's Shobogenzo
von Eihei Dogen
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 16,20

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5.0 von 5 Sternen On Zen practice: clarification & inspiration, 15. März 2007
This book is a translation and explication of selected essays by Dogen, the 13th-century Zen master who founded the Soto school of Zen in Japan and is regarded as one the world's great religious teachers. Francis Dojun Cook was a professor of Buddhism and a serious Zen practitioner (he was a student of Maezumi Roshi, founder of the Zen Center of Los Angeles), and his primary aim in this book is "to help the reader gain a better understanding of what it means to practice Zen, particularly in the Soto form established by Dogen Zenji."

The first half of the book is Cook's introduction to the Dogen texts, highlighting and clarifying some important themes. The second half is Cook's translations of the "Fukan zazengi" ("General Recommendations for Doing Zazen") and nine chapters from the "Shobogenzo"--texts chosen because they focus on various aspects of practice. At the end of the book is a lineage chart including many of the Zen masters mentioned in the Dogen essays.

Ch. 1 is mainly about how Dogen understands practice. Ch. 2 is about faith as the basis of Dogen's Zen. (Cook defines Buddhist faith as "a very deep certitude in the veracity of a certain doctrine, accepted and used as a touchstone for conduct in the faith that practice will verify its truth.") Ch. 3 is about arousing the thought of enlightenment (bodhichitta)--that is, arousing the determination to work ceaselessly to liberate all other beings from suffering and delusion, even while not being completely liberated oneself. Ch. 4 is about Zen as a means of dealing with karma and its consequences, not by "transcending" conditioned existence but by radically affirming and fully experiencing it. Ch. 5 is about the role of the scriptures in Dogen's Zen. (Cook observes that the verse attributed to Bodhidharma cautions only against "dependence" on words and letters, not against making use of them.) And Ch. 6 is about the continuous practice needed to live each moment fully, with wisdom and compassion.

My own practice can actually get derailed by questions like "Where do I get the motivation to practice, if not from the just the sort of self-centered attachments and aversions that I'm hoping to let go of through Zen practice?" and "How do I practice without making it an exercise in trying to get something I lack, thus denying the inherent buddha-nature I'm hoping to realize?" This book deals with such issues in a way that I found very helpful. (As usual, I found Dogen's interpreter more helpful than Dogen himself. Maybe someday I'll be able to get more inspiration from Dogen directly?) I also appreciated Cook's argument that Dogen's faith-based Zen is much more akin to a religion of "other-power" (tariki) like Pure Land Buddhism than to a religion of "self-power" (jiriki), which is how Zen sometimes gets characterized.

One tiny complaint: Cook slips into some of the caricatures of Christianity that I find tiresome in Zen literature. I wish Zennies would stick with talking about Zen and not try to compare Zen with traditions they don't know as much about.

Another Dogen commentary I highly recommend: "Flowers Fall: A Commentary on Zen Master Dogen's Genjokoan" by Hakuun Yasutani Roshi.


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