Latest reads

Goodreads | Buddhism without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening by Stephen Batchelor — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists

A national bestseller and acclaimed guide to Buddhism for beginners and practitioners alike

In this simple but important volume, Stephen Batchelor reminds us that the Buddha was not a mystic who claimed privileged, esoteric knowledge of the universe, but a man who challenged us to understand the nature of anguish, let go of its origins, and bring into being a way of life that is available to us all. The concepts and practices of Buddhism, says Batchelor, are not something to believe in but something to do—and as he explains clearly and compellingly, it is a practice that we can engage in, regardless of our background or beliefs, as we live every day on the path to spiritual enlightenment.
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Manual of Insight by Mahasi Sayadaw

The most comprehensive manual of the practice of insight meditation (vipassana), written by one of its foremost 20th century proponents, is translated into English for the first time.

Manual of Insight is the magnum opus of Mahasi Sayadaw, one of the originators of the “vipassana movement” that has swept through the Buddhist world over the last hundred years. The manual presents a comprehensive overview of the practice of insight meditation, including the foundational aspects of ethical self-discipline, understanding the philosophical framework for the practice, and developing basic concentration and mindfulness. It culminates with an in-depth exploration of the various types of insight and spiritual fruits that the practice yields.

Authored by the master who brought insight meditation to the West and whose students include Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, and Sharon Salzberg, Manual of Insight is a veritable Bible for any practitioner of vipassana.
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Goodreads | Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovering from Addiction by Noah Levine — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists

Bestselling author and renowned Buddhist teacher Noah Levine adapts the Buddha's Four Noble Truths and Eight Fold Path into a proven and systematic approach to recovery from alcohol and drug addiction—an indispensable alternative to the 12-step program.

While many desperately need the help of the 12-step recovery program, the traditional AA model's focus on an external higher power can alienate people who don't connect with its religious tenets. Refuge Recovery is a systematic method based on Buddhist principles, which integrates scientific, non-theistic, and psychological insight.

Viewing addiction as cravings in the mind and body, Levine shows how a path of meditative awareness can alleviate those desires and ease suffering. Refuge Recovery includes daily meditation practices, written investigations that explore the causes and conditions of our addictions, and advice and inspiration for finding or creating a community to help you heal and awaken.

Practical yet compassionate, Levine's successful Refuge Recovery system is designed for anyone interested in a non-theistic approach to recovery and requires no previous experience or knowledge of Buddhism or meditation.
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The Quantum and the Lotus: A Journey to the Frontiers Where Science and Buddhism Meet by Matthieu Ricard

Matthieu Ricard trained as a molecular biologist, working in the lab of a Nobel prize—winning scientist, but when he read some Buddhist philosophy, he became drawn to Buddhism. Eventually he left his life in science to study with Tibetan teachers, and he is now a Buddhist monk and translator for the Dalai Lama, living in the Shechen monastery near Kathmandu in Nepal. Trinh Thuan was born into a Buddhist family in Vietnam but became intrigued by the explosion of discoveries in astronomy during the 1960s. He made his way to the prestigious California Institute of Technology to study with some of the biggest names in the field and is now an acclaimed astrophysicist and specialist on how the galaxies formed. 

When Matthieu Ricard and Trinh Thuan met at an academic conference in the summer of 1997, they began discussing the many remarkable connections between the teachings of Buddhism and the findings of recent science. That conversation grew into an astonishing correspondence exploring a series of fascinating questions. Did the universe have a beginning? Or is our universe one in a series of infinite universes with no end and no beginning? Is the concept of a beginning of time fundamentally flawed? Might our perception of time in fact be an illusion, a phenomenon created in our brains that has no ultimate reality? Is the stunning fine-tuning of the universe, which has produced just the right conditions for life to evolve, a sign that a “principle of creation” is at work in our world? If such a principle of creation undergirds the workings of the universe, what does that tell us about whether or not there is a divine Creator? How does the radical interpretation of reality offered by quantum physics conform to and yet differ from the Buddhist conception of reality? What is consciousness and how did it evolve? Can consciousness exist apart from a brain generating it?

The stimulating journey of discovery the authors traveled in their discussions is re-created beautifully inThe Quantum and the Lotus, written in the style of a lively dialogue between friends. Both the fundamental teachings of Buddhism and the discoveries of contemporary science are introduced with great clarity, and the reader will be profoundly impressed by the many correspondences between the two streams of thought and revelation. Through the course of their dialogue, the authors reach a remarkable meeting of minds, ultimately offering a vital new understanding of the many ways in which science and Buddhism confirm and complement each other and of the ways in which, as Matthieu Ricard writes, “knowledge of our spirits and knowledge of the world are mutually enlightening and empowering.” 

“The Quantum and the Lotus is a mind-expanding, eye-opening exploration of the exciting parallels between cutting-edge thinking in physics and Buddhism–a scintillating conversation any thinking person would delight in overhearing.” —Daniel Goleman, author ofEmotional Intelligence

“The Quantum and the Lotus is the rich and inspiring result of a deeply interesting dialogue between Western science and Buddhist philosophy. This remarkable book will contribute greatly to a better understanding of the true nature of our world and the way we live our lives.” —His Holiness the Dalai Lama
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The Middle Way: Faith Grounded in Reason by Dalai Lama XIV

The Dalai Lama opens The Middle Way with an elegant argument for the power of compassion in cultivating a happy life. From there, he connects core ideas of Buddhist philosophy to the truths of our shared condition. His Holiness delivers a sparklingly clear teaching on how the Buddhist ideas of emptiness and interdependency relate to personal experience and bring a deeper understanding of the world around us.

In down-to-earth style, this book sets forth a comprehensive explanation of the foundational teachings of the Mahayana tradition based on the works of two of Buddhism's most revered figures. Using Nagarjuna's Middle Way, the Dalai Lama explores Buddhist understandings of selflessness, dependent origination, and the causal processes that lock us in cycles of suffering. He grounds these heady philosophical discussions using Tsongkhapa's Three Principal Aspects of the Path, presenting a brief explanation of how to put ethical discipline, wisdom, and compassion into practice.

Through these beautifully complementary teachings, His Holiness urges us to strive, "with an objective mind, endowed with a curious skepticism, to engage in careful analysis and seek the reasons behind our beliefs."
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On Being Different: What It Means to Be a Homosexual by Merle Miller

Originally published in 1971, Merle Miller's On Being Different is a pioneering and thought-provoking book about being homosexual in the United States. Just two years after the Stonewall riots, Miller wrote a poignant essay for the New York Times Magazine entitled "What It Means To Be a Homosexual" in response to a homophobic article published in Harper's Magazine. Described as "the most widely read and discussed essay of the decade," the article was developed into the remarkable short book On Being Different - one of the earliest memoirs to affirm the importance of coming out.

Merle Miller (1919-1986) was an editor at Harper's Magazine, Time and The Nation and was the bestselling author of several books, including the novel A Gay and Melancholy Sound and Plain Speaking, a biography of Harry S Truman.

Dan Savage is the internationally syndicated columnist of 'Savage Love' and the author of several books.
Charles Kaiser is an author, journalist and blogger. His books include 1968 in America and The Gay Metropolis.
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How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber

Here is the bestselling book that will give you the know-how you need to be effective with your children. Enthusiastically praised by parents and professionals around the world, the down--to--earth, respectful approach of Faber and Mazlish makes relationships with children of all ages less stressful and more rewarding.
Recently revised and updated with fresh insights and suggestions, How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen so Kids Will Talk is full of practical, innovative ways to solve common problems and build foundations for lasting relationships.
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Mortality by Christopher Hitchens

On June 8, 2010, while on a book tour for his bestselling memoir, Hitch-22, Christopher Hitchens was stricken in his New York hotel room with excruciating pain in his chest and thorax. As he would later write in the first of a series of award-winning columns for "Vanity Fair," he suddenly found himself being deported "from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady." Over the next eighteen months, until his death in Houston on December 15, 2011, he wrote constantly and brilliantly on politics and culture, astonishing readers with his capacity for superior work even in extremis.

Throughout the course of his ordeal battling esophageal cancer, Hitchens adamantly and bravely refused the solace of religion, preferring to confront death with both eyes open. In this account of his affliction, he describes the torments of illness, discusses its taboos, and explores how disease transforms experience and changes our relationship to the world around us. By turns personal and philosophical, Hitchens embraces the full panoply of human emotions as cancer invades his body and compels him to grapple with the enigma of death.
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Nagarjuna's Letter To A Friend: With Commentary By Kyabje Kangyur Rinpoche

Nagarjuna's poetic presentation of the fundamental teachings of the Great Vehicle, or Mahayana—whose followers, driven by compassion, strive to attain Buddhahood for the sake of all beings—is remarkable for its concise style and memorable imagery, making it one of the most widely quoted sources in other commentaries on the Mahayana path. This work will appeal to readers with a general interest in Mahayana Buddhism, to those who wish to familiarize themselves with one of the great classics of Indian Buddhist literature, and to students who come across passages quoted in other Buddhist works and who wish to explore further. The great Indian Buddhist master Nagarjuna (first–second century A.D.) wrote his celebrated poem "Letter to a Friend" as a gift of advice to a South Indian king, and it has since become a monument in the Indian shastra tradition.

Despite its short length (only 123 verses), it covers the whole Mahayana path, combining a practical approach to daily conduct with a theoretical exposition of the different stages leading to enlightenment. It has thus been an ideal source for many of Tibet 's great scholars seeking a scriptural authority to enhance their own descriptions of the Buddhist path. Any difficulties in understanding the poem are overcome by Kangyur Rinpoche's commentary, which turns Nagarjuna's sometimes cryptic poem into straightforward prose, expanding on each topic and ordering the different subjects in such a way that on returning to the original poem, the reader can easily make sense of the advice it contains.

It includes headings to explain Nagarjuna's frequent changes in subject and full explanations of the ideas introduced in each verse. In addition to the commentary, this book presents the original poem in the Tibetan and in a new English translation that attempts to emulate Nagarjuna's lines of metric verse. Also included are Kangyur Rinpoche's structural outline (sa bchad), a Tibetan line index to enable students to locate quotations used in other Tibetan works, full notes, and a glossary.
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Karma: What It Is, What It Isn't, Why It Matters by Traleg Kyabgon

The Buddha’s teaching on karma (literally, “action”) is nothing other than his compassionate explanation of the way things are: our thoughts and actions determine our future, and therefore we ourselves are largely responsible for the way our lives unfold. Yet this supremely useful teaching is often ignored due to the misconceptions about it that abound in popular culture, especially oversimplifications that make it seem like something not to be taken seriously. Karma is not simple, as Traleg Kyabgon shows, and it’s to be taken very seriously indeed. He cuts through the persistent illusions we cling to about karma to show what it really is—the mechanics of why we suffer and how we can make the suffering end. He explains how a realistic understanding of karma is indispensable to Buddhist practice, how it provides a foundation for a moral life, and how understanding it can have a transformative effect on the way we relate to our thoughts and feelings and to those around us.
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The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

A preeminent scientist -- and the world's most prominent atheist -- asserts the irrationality of belief in God and the grievous harm religion has inflicted on society, from the Crusades to 9/11.

With rigor and wit, Dawkins examines God in all his forms, from the sex-obsessed tyrant of the Old Testament to the more benign (but still illogical) Celestial Watchmaker favored by some Enlightenment thinkers. He eviscerates the major arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of a supreme being. He shows how religion fuels war, foments bigotry, and abuses children, buttressing his points with historical and contemporary evidence. The God Delusion makes a compelling case that belief in God is not just wrong but potentially deadly. It also offers exhilarating insight into the advantages of atheism to the individual and society, not the least of which is a clearer, truer appreciation of the universe's wonders than any faith could ever muster.
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Why There Is No God: Simple Responses to 20 Common Arguments for the Existence of God by Armin Navabi

• "Science can't explain the complexity and order of life; God must have designed it to be this way."
• "God's existence is proven by scripture."
• "There's no evidence that God doesn't exist."
• "God has helped me so much. How could none of it be true?"
• "Atheism has killed more people than religion, so it must be wrong!"

How many times have you heard arguments like these for why God exists? Why There Is No God provides simple, easy-to-understand counterpoints to the most popular arguments made for the existence of God. Each chapter presents a concise explanation of the argument, followed by a response illustrating the problems and fallacies inherent in it. Whether you're an atheist, a believer or undecided, this book offers a solid foundation for building your own inquiry about the concept of God.
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After Buddhism: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age by Stephen Batchelor

Some twenty-five centuries after the Buddha started teaching, his message continues to inspire people across the globe, including those living in predominantly secular societies. But what does it mean to adapt religious practices to secular contexts?
 
Stephen Batchelor, an internationally known author and teacher, is committed to a secularized version of the Buddha's teachings. The time has come, he feels, to articulate a coherent ethical, contemplative, and philosophical vision of Buddhism for our age. After Buddhism, the culmination of four decades of study and practice in the Tibetan, Zen, and Theravada traditions, is his attempt to set the record straight about who the Buddha was and what he was trying to teach. Combining critical readings of the earliest canonical texts with narrative accounts of five of the Buddha’s inner circle, Batchelor depicts the Buddha as a pragmatic ethicist rather than a dogmatic metaphysician. He envisions Buddhism as a constantly evolving culture of awakening, its long survival due to its capacity to reinvent itself and interact creatively with each society it encounters.
 
This original and provocative book presents a new framework for understanding the remarkable spread of Buddhism in today’s globalized world. It also reminds us of what was so startling about the Buddha’s vision of human flourishing.
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The Four Foundations of Mindfulness in Plain English by Henepola Gunaratana

In simple and straightforward language, Bhante Gunaratana shares what the Buddha said about mindfulness in his instructional talks and how we can use these principles to improve our daily lives, deepen our mindfulness, and move closer to our spiritual goals. While this book is based on a classic text, the Satipatthana Sutta, its presentation is thoroughly modern in Bhante’s trademark "plain English" style.

Based around one of the Buddha's must succinct yet rich explanations of meditation, The Four Foundations of Mindfulness in Plain English can be read as a stand-alone volume either before or after the bestselling Mindfulness in Plain English. Newcomers will find it lays strong groundwork for mindfulness practice and gives them all they need to get started right away, and old hands will find rich subtleties and insights that will help consolidate and clarify what they may have started to see for themselves.
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Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn

The landmark work on mindfulness, meditation, and healing, now revised and updated after twenty-five years
Stress. It can sap our energy, undermine our health if we let it, even shorten our lives. It makes us more vulnerable to anxiety and depression, disconnection and disease. Based on Jon Kabat-Zinn's renowned mindfulness-based stress reduction program, this classic, groundbreaking work--which gave rise to a whole new field in medicine and psychology--shows you how to use medically proven mind-body approaches derived from meditation and yoga to counteract stress, establish greater balance of body and mind, and stimulate well-being and healing. By engaging in these mindfulness practices and integrating them into your life from moment to moment and from day to day, you can learn to manage chronic pain, promote optimal healing, reduce anxiety and feelings of panic, and improve the overall quality of your life, relationships, and social networks. This second edition features results from recent studies on the science of mindfulness, a new Introduction, up-to-date statistics, and an extensive updated reading list. "Full Catastrophe Living" is a book for the young and the old, the well and the ill, and anyone trying to live a healthier and saner life in our fast-paced world.
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The Path of Individual Liberation (The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma, #1) by Chögyam Trungpa

The first volume of this landmark series presents the teachings of the hinayana. The hinayana introduces core Buddhist teachings on the nature of mind, the practice of meditation, the reality of suffering, and the possibility of liberation. It examines the nature of suffering, impermanence, and egolessness, with an emphasis on personal development through meditative discipline and study. The formal entry into the hinayana and the Buddhist path altogether is the refuge vow, in which a student goes for refuge to the Buddha, or the teacher; the dharma, or the teachings; and the sangha, or the community. The hinayana path is based on training in mindfulness and awareness, cultivating virtue, and cutting grasping. Topics covered in detail in this volume include the four noble truths, karma, the four foundations of mindfulness, meditation practice, the refuge vows, the three jewels, the five skandhas, the five precepts, twofold egolessness, and more.

The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma represents meditation master Chögyam Trungpa’s greatest contribution to Western Buddhism. This three-volume collection presents in lively, relevant language the comprehensive teachings of the Tibetan Buddhist path of the hinayana, mahayana, and vajrayana. This work will resonate with new students of Buddhism as well as the most senior students.
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Love First: A Family's Guide to Intervention by Jeff & Deborah Jay

A standard-setting book on intervention, Love First has helped tens of thousands of families, friends, and professionals create a loving and effective plan for helping those who suffer from addiction. This revised and expanded edition adds to the core material in this classic book with the most up-to-date scientific information and new intervention techniques for alcohol and other drug addictions--and an array of disorders.
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