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Reviews Written by
Amy VG (BC)
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Open Heart, Clear Mind: An Introduction to the Buddha's Teachings
Open Heart, Clear Mind: An Introduction to the Buddha's Teachings
by Thubten Chodron
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.41
43 used & new from CDN$ 1.83

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Introduction of Tibetan Buddhist Core Beliefs, March 10 2009
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Thubten Chodron does an amazing job explaining Tibetan Buddhisms main teachings in such a down-to-earth way; really helping the beginner understand and relate to the teachings. Chodron also has a way of really getting the reader to "wake up" and realize some things, in an honest thought provoking way. With-in the book's 200 or so pages, Chodron helps the beginner along their spiritual path; jam-packed with such wisdom and sound advice. Of course I say "beginner", but I would think any one of every level would benefit from reading this book, I know I will be reading this over again from time to time. I highly recommend.

Awakening to the Sacred: Creating a Personal Spiritual Life
Awakening to the Sacred: Creating a Personal Spiritual Life
by Lama Surya Das
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 20.99
54 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Be sure to check this out from the library first, Feb. 7 2009
I have mixed feelings about this book...

I do think this is a good book for those how still believe in their existing faith but perhaps have lost their way from their spirituality. Lama Surya Das provides many inspirational Buddhist practices to bring the Western-reader back to their spirituality without having to loose their existing religion.

For practicing Buddhists, I think you may find some value in reading this book, but perhaps there are many other books solely for Buddhism with its own special practices.

I enjoyed reading Part 1: Matters of the Spirit, which Lama Surya Das briefly touches on some of the Buddhists practices and truths. He, also, blends God and Buddhism quite nicely, for those who believe in God.

I didn't particularly like Part 2: Approaches to Spiritual Practice. I did find a few gems of practice, so it was still worth the read for those, but mostly I thought there was a lot of fluff. Plus I found the text was laden with Lama Surya Das' opinions. Some...a little outlandish. Without going into too much boring detail, I've give two quick examples: Lama Surya Das states that people should only do hatha yoga poses for spirituality, not for just exercise. That seems like a silly statement, as we all know every one has different goals in life. Another example is he promotes the use of drug treatment in therapy situations. While this may or may not be true, and though I am not entirely certain, however, I do not think Lama Surya Das is a certified therapist and has no authority on this matter.

Part Three: Coming Home to Your True Nature has some good suggestions, especially for the beginner.

All in all, before taking the time to read this rather lengthy book, check out all the reviews and perhaps peruse the table of contents before buying this book. Perhaps simply loan it out of the library.

Frog, Bee and Snail Look for Snow
Frog, Bee and Snail Look for Snow
by Loek Koopmans
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.18
30 used & new from CDN$ 4.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, Feb. 2 2009
The illustrations are absolutely stunning: gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous! The story is simple, but it definitely captures the attention of my six and four yr olds. There's too much text for my wiggly two yr old, but that's to be expected.

The basic story is of these three friends, the frog (water), bee (air), and snail (earth/land) who go looking for snow, as of course they are usually hibernating during winter (so it's a great book to read during week 16 of Oak Meadow Grade 1, as for science we go through hibernation). The story goes through all the seasons to eventually winter, where they are too cold. Beautiful Mother Nature comes to carry them back home. So this book is also lovely for pagan-friendly families.

Begin to Hope
Begin to Hope
Price: CDN$ 15.00
61 used & new from CDN$ 1.78

4.0 out of 5 stars Very Unique!, Feb. 2 2009
This review is from: Begin to Hope (Audio CD)
What an amazing voice! And a unique songwriter! Regina Spektor is kind of folksy, but in a funky pop sort of way. Some of her songs are a bit odd...but definitely fun. I absolutely love the first track called Fidelity. Second track Better is lovely. Same with the third track Samson. And I just love the forth track On The Radio. Highly recommend if you like lovely jazz/folk style music!

Guided Meditation: Six Essential Practices to Cultivate Love, Awareness, and Wisdom
Guided Meditation: Six Essential Practices to Cultivate Love, Awareness, and Wisdom
by Jack Kornfield
Edition: Audio CD
Price: CDN$ 18.50
27 used & new from CDN$ 14.99

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!, Feb. 2 2009
This is such a lovely meditation CD. Lovely lovely lovely!

This 2-CD set has a total of 6 guided meditations in various lengths.

Sitting Practice (22:59)
Lovingkindness Meditation (22:00)
Forgiveness Meditation (12:44)
Buddha Transforms Difficulties (10:33)
Gratitude Meditation (12:25)
Mind Like Sky Meditation (29:29)

Jack's voice is soothing and soft. And he does an excellent job walking through these ancient Vipassana/Insight/Buddhism style meditations. I do enjoy all of them, but I especially like Lovingkindness and Mind Like Sky, both are just fabulous! Definitely opens the mind, providing such spaciousness which lasts for many hours afterwards. Highly recommend!!

Natural Radiance: Awakening to Your Great Perfection
Natural Radiance: Awakening to Your Great Perfection
by Lama Surya Das
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.94
20 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Start, Feb. 2 2009
I have found this book and CD set to be very helpful for the beginning Tibetan Buddhist. With-in his short book (76 pages) Lama Surya Das briefly goes through some of the Dzogchen style of meditations. There's definitely enough information here to begin a solid practice.

The accompanying CD has 7 short meditations on it:
Track 1: Morning Wake-up Sky Breath Practice (4:13)
Track 2: Rushen: Subtle Discernment (10:03)
Track 3: Natural Meditation (13:58)
Track 4: Trekhod: Seeing Thru (11:46)
Track 5: SkyGazing Meditation (15:52)
Track 6: HUNG Mantra (10:12)
Track 7: Togal: Being There (11:24)

I don't find Lama Surya Das' voice to be very relaxing, and he has, to me, a thick American accent. But I still thoroughly enjoy this CD. Lama Surya Das is good natured, humorous, and personable and that comes thorough during these meditation tracks. I figure once I gain enough insight from the meditations, I won't really need the CD anymore, so it's a good starting point to develop an individual personal practice. Also, Lama Surya Das suggests using the tracks individually and/or all together for a longer meditation session.

Promised Land
Promised Land
Price: CDN$ 20.00
39 used & new from CDN$ 8.93

5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely!, Jan. 20 2009
This review is from: Promised Land (Audio CD)
This is such a lovely CD. I find Dar Williams voice to be so beautiful, and I love her story-like songs. In recent CDs, Dar Williams has been getting a little more "pop-y", but there's still a bit of folk in this one. I love that most of her songs have a social and environment message too. I was first introduced to the music of Dar Williams when her popular "Christians and Pagans" song came out about 12 years ago. I saw her live back then and I couldn't believe such a tiny woman could have such a powerful voice. Amazing!

Last night, I was dancing with my girls listening to this CD when my oldest daughter said to me "I just love your music Mommy, it's sooo lovely". I couldn't agree more! This is a great album!

The Peddler's Dream: Yoga With a Story About Following Your Heart
The Peddler's Dream: Yoga With a Story About Following Your Heart
4 used & new from CDN$ 12.53

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!, Jan. 20 2009
We received this DVD last week from one of Amazon's independent sellers, as both Chapters and Amazon.ca do not have this DVD in stock. I really like the two Storytime Yoga books I have, both by Sydney Solis, and so, I wanted to get a better understanding of a "Storytime Yoga" class.

My kids really like this DVD as it's educational while being very entertaining. I find it's a bit short, only 20 minutes or so, and we move through the poses a little too quickly (great for kids!), but I definitely do recommend this yoga DVD for children, as it's so rich in imagination and so different than any other kids yoga DVDs out there.

Awakening the Buddha Within: Eight Steps to Enlightenment
Awakening the Buddha Within: Eight Steps to Enlightenment
by Lama Surya Das
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.53
87 used & new from CDN$ 0.04

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Start Here, Jan. 19 2009
What an amazing book! In this hefty volume Lama Surya Das explains, in great detail, the Buddha's teachings on the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eight-Fold Path. I've read similar teachings from other books, but what sets Awakening the Buddha Within apart is Lama Surya Das' Western view. Four hundred pages full of fabulous wisdom for the Westerner wanting to start a secular spiritual life using the ancient teachings of the Buddha.

Lama Surya Das writes very well, and is highly engaging, making this book an absolute pleasure to read, especially with all his colourful tales from his experiences in India learning from Tibetan monks.

Aside from the historical Buddha teachings, the Tibetan teachings, and his own experiences, Lama Surya Das also provides many suggestions on how to incorporate these practices into our own lives, with lots of marvelous guided meditations, each one building on the previous meditation, plus providing many, mainly Tibetan, fulfilling mantras. So, if just starting out, this one book will build your practice for several years without needing any other book.

One thing to note though: Lama Surya Das writes about how enlightening the practice and teaching of Lojong (compassionate living) can be, but he doesn't go into much detail, only providing several of his favourite "slogans", so if you are interested in learning more (or obtaining) all of the 59 Tibetan "slogans" you will need to find them in another book. Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron goes through the "slogans" in detail. Lama Surya Das does provide a lovely Tonglen meditation though.

This book is so great! It provides such a wealth of inspiration and practical information, I could write so much more about Awakening the Buddha Within...but I will write just one more thing: I have read several Buddhist books now, mainly on Zen, and so, this is my first book on Tibetan Buddhism, and while I like the clean, simple teachings of Zen, I'd have to say I find Tibetan Buddhism to be delightful, full of such vibrant compassionate living. Just lovely!

Zen Keys: A Guide to Zen Practice
Zen Keys: A Guide to Zen Practice
by Thich Nhat Hanh
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.84
41 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-opening, Jan. 13 2009
I really like Thich Nhat Hanh's teaching/writing style. He writes very simply, yet poetically, which helps the novice to understand. I did enjoy reading Zen Keys, though truthfully, it was not what I had expected. I thought this "guide to Zen practice" would be full of the theories and practices of Zen, but instead Thich Nhat Hanh's message is very straightforward: Zen is not about concepts and study, it's about experience, about living mindfully every moment of every day, that when we keep becoming "stuck" in our head with concepts, we will never fully see "true reality".

What I really liked about this little book is his explanation on the Zen koans, which to me seem so contradictory and confusing. Well...they are supposed to be. To help practitioners stop thinking conceptually and to "awaken" to simply living mindfully. Thich Nhat Hanh also writes about reality, and how when we think too much we are not in "true reality", only the reality we've fabricated. To see "true reality" we have to practice living fully moment to moment.

You see the theme here? Thich Nhat Hanh wants us to simply practice mindfulness and meditation. But just don't have any expectations about your practice, as he says that should not be the aim!

Zen Keys is a little book (it is sometimes nice to have quick reads) consisting of 161 pages of simple explanations of Zen practice, and then 40 pages of translated writings from Tran Thai Tong, a Vietnam king who reigned in 1225-1400ce and who practiced Zen. Tran Thai Tong eventually gave up his throne to practice Zen full-time. To read these writings is definitely a wonderful treat.

I also thoroughly enjoyed reading the intro by Philip Kapleau. His words are also full of such eye-opening wisdom.

One odd thing I found while reading Zen Keys is I found that Thich Nhat Hanh was trying to convince readers that Zen is the "true" way from the Buddha's original teachings (less dogma and study, more experiential). While this may be true, however, aren't all styles of Buddhism helpful, regardless of which one is the "best" way to enlightenment? Of course, this is just my personal interpretation of this, and other readers may certainly not have "felt" this.

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