Wednesday, 17 March 2010

A daily book of Buddhist slogans: Always Maintain a Joyful Mind

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'Always Maintain a Joyful Mind: and Other Lojong Teachings on Awakening Compassion' by Pema Chodron is very easy to use every day to give you something useful to focus on.  I could say something 'spiritual' to focus on, but that could put people off who don't believe in God - these teachings are useful in taking us outside of our inward-looking selves, our egos, whatever we believe.

It consists of 59 'slogans' or one-line instructions designed to wake you up.  They are ancient Tibetan 'lojong' teachings.  Each slogan occupies a page, and on the opposite page there is a short commentary by Pema Chodron.  The idea is that you open a page every day and let that be the theme for the day.
Pema Chodron is a Buddhist nun and teaching director in an abbey in Nova Scotia, who has written many popular books on Buddhist teachings.  She is American; I think she is popular as she can make Buddhist teachings understandable to a Western audience without diluting their power.  For example, the slogan "Don't talk about injured limbs" has her commentary: "Don't make yourself look good by disguising others' weaknesses."  About "Don't be so predictable" she says: "Don't hold grudges against other people."

What I particularly liked about this book is that Pema Chodron emphasises how we ourselves benefit from behaviour that may look purely altruistic: being generous, kind and less reactive decreases our own suffering as well as that of other people.  I guess that's the point of Buddhism: we look at the blissful face of Buddha and think he got that way by meditating, but that's a Western misconception; he got that way by practicing letting go of his selfishness and developing compassion - and became blissful as a result!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Books we can't put down

I liked ABE books' piece on 'Books we never get round to reading' or similar title.  Now they have the opposite - books we devour.  Here is the link.  I liked the fact that the author included ones she/he didn't think were 'good' books but was stuck into them anyway!  I read Nora Roberts that way.. though I support her having a 'kick-arse' female detective series, politically speaking.
  What books does everyone else have like these?