Friday, 15 May 2015

THE GREAT IMAGE - YUDRA NYINGPO/ANI JINBA PALMO


THE GREAT IMAGE - YUDRA NYINGPO/ANI JINBA PALMO

RATING:A-

I would highly recommend reading the multiple introduction pieces as well as the main text, as they not only explain what lies ahead but also suggest what we should do with what we read - how to benefit from reading the biography of a learned Dzogchen master. The advice given is of value, in my experience, as it is through reading the biography of Acariya Mun in this fashion that my practice of Buddhism commenced in this current life. I aim to read another 3 biographies after this book.

The main text is an autobiography of Vairotsana recorded by his close disciples and translated by Ani Jinba Palmo. It offers both a guide to the path of practice and an historical account of Buddhism as it became established in Tibet.

I would recommend this book to those interested in learning about the onset of Buddhism in Tibet, practitioners of Vajrayana, and those enjoying Buddhist autobiographies.


Saturday, 2 May 2015

THE BIG QUESTIONS - LAMA SURYA DAS


THE BIG QUESTIONS - LAMA SURYA DAS

RATING: B-

The 14 questions covered in this book are not the questions I myself have asked, but are the questions most people in today's confusing and troubled world do ask and the questions I might have asked if I were not too busy finding the answers out for myself to ask to have ever asked such a question.

The questions are responded to from a predominantly Buddhist viewpoint, but cater to followers of many religions with references and ideas from other faiths.

I would recommend the book to those who have asked these questions, those who have no idea where to begin to answer the questions, and to those who find Lama Surya Das's books an enjoyable and intelligent read.

BTW: Lama Surya Das has a brand new book out - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4tYC6VMGus&feature=youtu.be



Friday, 24 April 2015

READING IN THE BRAIN - STANISLAUS DEHAENE


READING IN THE BRAIN - STANISLAUS DEHAENE

RATING:C

This book deals with reading - covering the basics of how we read to how we learn to read, problems with reading, how writing and reading came about, etc. It covers both science and evolutionary matters related to reading.

I found the first part of the text enjoyable and invigorating, but by the time I was a third to half way through, I began to get a bit bored finding it less personally interesting. There were also a lot of notes to keep checking - although predominantly only sources.

I would recommend this book to those who are interested in the subject of reading from a scientific or historical viewpoint, and those interested in reading that simply want to read about reading.

Friday, 20 March 2015

THE SPIRITUAL DOORWAY IN THE BRAIN - KEVIN NELSON





THE SPIRITUAL DOORWAY IN THE BRAIN - KEVIN NELSON

RATING: C+

Although the main text was both interesting and informative, and my mind was posing questions, solutions, and theories as I progressed with reading the text, the conclusion chapter was a rather weak let-down. Had that stood up to the same invigorating excitement provided by the main book, I would have rated it higher. It was an anti-climax, in that it offered no set solution to the investigations detailed throughout the main text.

I would recommend the book to those interested in NDE's, spiritual activity in relation to physicality, and those interested in reading layman-texts on neurology.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

THE MEDITATOR'S ATLAS - MATTHEW FLICKSTEIN



THE MEDITATOR'S ATLAS - MATTHEW FLICKSTEIN

RATING: B-

Although coming from a predominantly Theravadan viewpoint, this 'guide to meditation' is helpful whichever Buddhist path you follow. I would call it more of a GPS system than an atlas, however. It offers direction along the pathways more than illustrating the path itself, which is done by the sutra that the book bases itself upon. It covers the entire pathway of Buddhist meditation starting from square one right through until enlightenment and is suited to all practitioners whatever stage they are at offering explanations of clarity upon the main text.

I would recommend this book to those wanting a step-by-step guide suited to any path of Buddhist meditation. It would also be of use to those with meditation questions but no teacher.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

WHEN THINGS FALL APART - PEMA CHODRON


WHEN THINGS FALL APART - PEMA CHODRON

RATING:B-

A 22-chapter book collection coming from some of Pema Chodron's talks. Various aspects of life in the Western world and Buddhist attitudes and applications to assist us to deal with matters are given in an everyday language with a scattering of explained Tibetan words. If you simply read the book, as I did, it is a fairly quick read - but if you plan to work with each topic it can extend the length of time needed to cover a thorough reading.

I personally found the book a quick read, as whilst relating to various parts of the text I did not actually stop to practice, being mostly familiar with these practices already. However, I am still glad that i chose to read the book, as every new view on topics is helpful in the long run.

I would recommend the book to Westerners interested in a general Buddhist source of inspiration and assistance with their practice, along with those wishing to work with the various topics covered.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

BREAKING FREE - SRIMALA


BREAKING FREE - SRIMALA

RATING: C

A rather strange book, I found. The book details the life of an English woman as she goes through various stages of living her life and how learning and practicing Buddhism alters her direction. That the author spent most of their life in England and was sincerely practicing Buddhism might lead one to assume that my having been born here, spent a little more than half of my life so far living in England, and being a serious practitioner of Buddhism would allow me to find multiple connections. However, I found that there were very few similarities.

The actual autobiographical aspect was simple enough to understand, but the Buddhism it contained was so very different to the Buddhism that I practice, it was confusing and hard to find any common ground. I found it more geared towards a Hinayana than Mahayana path, although apparently it was the latter. Giving one example, the book leads one to see the practices more as stages one can struggle towards in order to succeed, rather than stages one naturally reaches due to ones practice.

I would recommend the book to those interested in general Buddhism, English Buddhism, and Western Buddhism - rather than those engrossed in Dzogchen studies or a developed practice of Tibetan Buddhism. I would also recommend this book to those who wish to read of how Buddhism can change ones life in the Western world, and those interested in reading Buddhist biographies.