Book Review:The Bodhicaryavatara by Santideva by Debra Saturday

As I have just finished reading a translation of ‘The Bodhicaryavatara’ by Santideva (Shantideva), I wondered, ‘how will I retain all this great wisdom?’ . For me, re-reading a book will give me more insight…for invariably I will have pass over some of this and some of that….but also…at times my mind is not ready to understand the full depth of a verse or a passage…and then the next time I read it …a light goes off…’Ah! Now I see better’.

The Bodhicaryavatara by Santideva

From the back cover of this edition:

‘Written in India in the early eighth century AD, Santideva’s Bodhicaryavatara became one of the more popular accounts of the Buddhist spiritual path.’  One could ask ‘why this writing is so popular?’

Here my dear reader is an example: Perfection of Meditative Absorption, verse 135 – ‘If one does not let go of self one cannot let go of suffering, as one who does no let go of fire cannot let go of burning.’ With this single verse…if our mindstream is ready…we can make a direct connection between burning and suffering. but if you are me….it will take many more readings and many meditations to fully release.

So do I suggest this book to read? Yes. Make that a large caps Yes. 🙂 I had borrowed the book from our Monastery library…loved it so much bought my own copy from a used book store.

A last bit from the back cover: ‘Important as a manual of training among Mahayana Buddhists, especially in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the Bodhicaryavatara is still used by modern Buddhist teachers.’ I agree. This book is a manual and that is how I read it. It is not always pleasant to read …some verses are grisly…’meat from skeleton’  …yet it is meant to be an awakening…to how reality is…not how we perceive it.

Enjoy! ~ Debra Saturday

Book Review: 365 Nirvana Here and Now by Josh Baran

A little known secret: I enjoy quotes especially ones that take you deep within. Yes, I know, what a surprise! 🙂 It seems I am not the only one. most of my twitter contacts enjoy quotes also. Maybe like attracts like? Hmm. 365 Nirvana by Josh Baran

365 Nirvana Here and Now: Living Every Moment In Enlightenment, edited and with commentary by Josh Baran is one of those quote books that you can let the book fall open and you have your ‘gem’ for the day or if you are me, for the week. (Barnes & Noble/Amazon do not have this book in stock at this moment…your local well-loved book store might though!)

Given the title, you would think 365 Nirvana is entirely comprised of Buddhist quotes, yet it is not so…. Examples: “With ‘I’ eliminated…this is Nirvana here and now. ~ The Buddha,  ‘It is right in your face. This moment, the whole thing is handed to you. ~ Yuanwu,  ‘You search for God in heaven and earth, but you don’t know the one who is right before your eyes, because you don’t know how to search into this very moment. ~ Jesus.’

And this from the Introduction by Josh Baran…’This treasury of insights, a chorus of the present moment sung by ancient and modern voices that span time, distance, religion, tradition, and culture – is an invitation’ … I could not have said or written it better. This little book has become a constant source of reflective material that sits on my nightstand within easy reach.

So tonight…I let 365 Nirvana ‘pick’ the quote ending this post…see where it takes you.

Just One Time

Where you are going

and the place you stay

come to the same thing.

What you long for

and what you’ve left behind

are as useless as your name.

Just one time, walk out

into the field and look

at the towering oak —

an acorn still beating at its heart.   Peter Levitt

come

Calm Abiding

Besides settling the mind, mindfulness meditation develops a certain kind of strength, a sort of mindfulness muscle, and cultivates stability so that every thought doesn’t drag us out of the room. Hostile thoughts, sexual thoughts, thoughts about ice-cream don’t just drag us away. We are able to be steady and present with whatever arises in our mind – that’s why this practice is also known as calm abiding. ~ David Nichtern