This is a group in which we can share information about what we are currently reading or have read and discuss emerging themes..

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Started by David Brazier. Last reply by Satya Robyn Aug 4. 5 Replies

I have just completed reading Of Human Bondage, volume I, by Somerset Maugham. It was published in 1915 and is the story - probably substantially autobiographical - of a young man growing up and having great difficulty finding direction in life. I…Continue

POWER, WEALTH & WOMEN ~ Gandavyuha

Started by David Brazier Jun 4. 0 Replies

I am reading Doug Osto’s book Power, Wealth and Women in Indian Mahayana Buddhism: The Gandavyuha-sutra…Continue

THE ASIATICS ~ Frederick Prokosch

Started by David Brazier. Last reply by David Brazier May 3. 2 Replies

Last night I read a chunk of the novel The Asiatics, by Frederick Prokosch. I say "a chunk", because my copy is missing the first fifty pages or so, so I was plunged into the middle of the action, at which point out hero was already locked up in a…Continue

Hallelujah Anyway by Ann Lamott

Started by Jan Wizinowich May 3. 0 Replies

This little book explores mercy in humorous and insightful ways. Lamott shares her stories as illustrative of our bombu natures with honesty and humor. What I found particularly interesting is that she is Christian, but has what I consider a…Continue


Started by David Brazier. Last reply by David Brazier Apr 1. 7 Replies

I am currently reading this work, translated by Cathy Porter, published in London by Alma Books. This paperback edition was published in 2010.I am finding it more interesting than I expected. You can imagine the dynamics of the Tolstoy household. He…Continue


Started by David Brazier Mar 7. 0 Replies

Review by Attila MislaiTulku Thondup Rinpocse' book of The Healing Power of Mind) seems to be so consonant with Zen Therapy as if the authors would have joined with each…Continue


Started by David Brazier. Last reply by David Brazier Feb 18. 3 Replies

Iris Murdoch, 1978. The Sea, The Sea. Panther. Fiction. 502 pages. Winner of the Booker Prize. Last night I started reading The Sea The Sea  by Iris Murdoch. This is the third or fourth of her novels that I have read - maybe the fifth. They are each…Continue


Started by David Brazier. Last reply by Vajrapala Lut Moerman Feb 7. 3 Replies

A new book by…Continue


Started by David Brazier Jan 27. 0 Replies

Submitted by Attila MislaiEveryman by Philip RothThere is a silent desperation that keeps haunting the main character in Roth's excellent novel. Nothing dramatic, nothing hysterical,…Continue

The Incantation of Frida K.

Started by Alexi Francis Jan 27. 0 Replies

I'm about halfway through The Incantation of Frida K. by Kate Braverman. I was a little reluctant to read about the life of Frida Kahlo again - there seems to be a lot about her. I'm struggling with the book because of this but what makes it a very…Continue

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Comment by Satya Robyn on May 19, 2017 at 18:00

Sounds interesting Steve - without Buddha I wouldn't have found such riches in Christian teachings... 

I'm reading a memoir by Patrick Lane - he was alcoholic until he was 62 - it's a very beautiful book about his early months of recovery, written about his garden and interspersed with memories. I do like memoir... The Drabble sounds good Annette.

Comment by Steven Durham on May 17, 2017 at 20:01

I am reading "Without Buddha I Could Not be a Christian" by Paul Knitter, with mixed results.  I can appreciate his teaching/explanatory forays into Buddhism, and I am learning from those; but his "returns" to Christian faith have been less than helpful. I'm also reading "Shinran's Gospel of Pure Grace" by Alfred Bloom, a fascinating look into the arising of faith in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism.

Comment by Alexi Francis on May 17, 2017 at 18:01

I am halfway through a memoir, Turning by Jessica J. Lee. It's just been published. Jessica swims in 52 lakes surrounding Berlin as a challenge and a way to come t terms with her problems. I like the way swimming, water, the seasons and natural world help the author heal and take her out of her depression. I like the way it's written too.

Comment by Tamuly Annette on May 17, 2017 at 17:48

I am about to finish reading  a novel by Dame Margaret Drabble entitled The Dark Flood Rises published by Canongate in 2016. It is mainly about ageing and the way the different characters go though this last part of life.   It is not nostalogic but instead writtent with "finesse" in a mixture of humor and slight irony. The stteing is between the Uk and the Canaries. It made me reflect on my own ageing and the way I go through this phase of life.  I am inclined to agree with one of the character's  thought: "She has often suspected that her last words to herself in this world will be 'You bloody old fool'

Comment by David Hope on May 3, 2017 at 22:01

I started reading "Beyond the Forest Garden" by Robert Hart recently. Robert was the first person to develop the concept of Forest Gardening in the UK, and I was fortunate to visit his wonderful garden on Wenlock Edge in Shropshire twice during the 1990s. My main reason for picking up the book was that Robert's philosophy of life was strongly influenced by Jung and Gandhi. I'm attending a weekend workshop on "Gandhi, Globalisation and Gratitude", led by Satish Kumar, at a venue near Malvern in June.

Comment by Robert McCarthy on May 2, 2017 at 23:36

I have not been reading books for a few years but was camping with a few friends and browsed a little of a book from an Israeli historian named Harari. I was rather interested and borrowed his two recent and very popular books Homo Sapiens and Homo Deus. The former our history and the latter our future.

I had been very much wanting more understanding of how we came to find ourselves in this current situation and Harari was very helpful. He posits that Sapiens became all powerful some seventy thousand years back when we gained the abilitiy to abstract.  From abstraction we could join together in beliefs and thus cooperate together in actions that quickly dominated other human species which were limited to tribal size groups.  As we could abstract we could also be conditioned and led by those who control such beliefs.

He concludes by looking at an aspect of 'scientism' which is increasingly driving our societies- dataism. Adam Smiths invisible hand in economics seems to be replaced by a similar positive view in creating mass data. I very much recommend these two books.

Comment by Steven Durham on March 15, 2017 at 20:49

I'm reading a book titled Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Culture and Family in Crisis byJ. D. Vance.  It tells the story of Vance's growing up in the remoter parts of the Kentucky hills (hence "hillbilly"), part of a traditional large extended family living in rural poverty.  Later the family moved to a small "rust belt" town in Ohio for work in a steel mill there.  It describes the forces and factors that both grind the culture and its families apart, as well as hold them together in profound loyalty.  While the book does not mention Donald Trump, these are a significant part of the people who voted for him; so the insights into their struggles and despair are invaluable.  How to tie this in to Buddhism?  Spirituality plays a central part in peoples' lives, even if they attend church but rarely if ever (and a sangha or dharma talk would be completely unheard of, in these parts).  Dukha is rampant, and people turn largely to illicit drugs to ease the pain -- which leads to addiction and all the problems associated with that.  They seek Buddha in a bong, I suppose one might say.  I'm still wrestling with that series of questions -- how to relate these struggles to Pure Land -- and don't have a good answer.  But this is definitely a good and worthwhile book!

Comment by Attila Mislai on March 7, 2017 at 10:55

Tulku Thondup Rinpocse' book of The Healing Power of Mind) seems to be so consonant with Zen Therapy as if the authors would have joined with each other in checking their works line by line. David has wrote about the possibility of healing with a profound explanation as to its lucid Buddhist theoretical background and the Rinpocse has made out its practical pandant with meticulous care.
Tondrup Rinpocse comes from the Nyingmapa tradition whose central tenet is the Dzogchen teaching stating the essence of all beings is a pure awareness, clean, tranquil and joyous. All of its varied methods and means (symbols, rituals, visualizations, meditations) derive their significance from how skillfully they are able to facilitate the cultivation of that awakened awareness and foster its unhampered flowing through our everyday actions.
There is a special kind of parlance the origin of which I believe is found in the true strength of realisations. Only those who managed to go beyond the limits of subjectivity, let go of the contents of their mind and sojourn in the peaceful provinces of that pristine awareness are able to speak this marvellous language which is evocative and down-to-earth, precise and highly imaginative at the same time. No doubt, Tondrup Rimpocse not only speak about pure qualities of consciousness, he is a real embodiment of them.
The first part of the book is about the general outlook of the tradicional healing art the assumptions of which is so radically dissimilar to our western approach. Morris Berman writes on the latter: „From the sixteenth century on, mind has been progressively expunged from the phenomenal word….Subject and object are always seen in opposition to each other. I am not my experiences and thus not really a part of the world around me. The logical endpoint of this world view is a feeling of total reification: everything is an object, alien, not-me, and I am ultimately an object too, an alienated „thing” in a world of other, equally meaningless things” (Berman) The Buddhist thinking shows a striking contrast with this philosophy. The primal reality is consciousness, mind is the key to health and happiness, and the final cause of suffering can be comrehended as the result of a false, rigid dualism showing through our perceptions and thinking. We habitually tend to regard fleeting, conditioned phenomena as if possessing independent existence and from this erroneous view flow than innumerable false distinctions embodied in our blurred perceptions, emotional reactions, behavioural tendencies and mental confections (samskaras). In this school of thought healing is attainable through cultivating the (Big) mind (Buddhata), opening to it, immersing in its spacious, peaceful, luminous nature. Although seeing from this deeply holistic perspective, healing doesn’t differ fundamentally from liberation, the author professedly makes do with a modest aim: drawing on ancient practices he teaches simple, quotidian methods assisting anybody with everyday distresses whatever form the suffering it may don.
Along with offering valuable pieces of advice how to create or summon up the right intentional stance that is indispensible for any healing effect to be come into being, he gives detailed instructions on how to pay attention to the breathing process, how to use our creative imagination to bring forth healing visualisations or how to benefit from the salutory effects of taking refuge in power beyond the ego. The smaller the supremacy of the ego the more we are open to healing influences – that can be the motto of the traditional approach. In other words, the real source of healing can be neared by learning to let go of the conditioned ego and to swim „in the bottomless ocean of Buddhata, where self doesn’t figure… there is one seamless purity in which all the ordinary things…..occur just as they are.” (David).

Comment by Attila Mislai on January 27, 2017 at 10:17

Everyman by Philip Roth

There is a silent desperation that keeps haunting the main character in Roth's excellent novel. Nothing dramatic, nothing hysterical, not even conscious for the most part, still, it proves to be enough to deprive him slowly the capacity to enjoy the tastes of his nonchalant, easygoing life. Nothing seems to help, neither his proudly professed stoicism ("Just take it as it comes. Hold your ground and take it as it comes. There is nothing more we can do."), nor the graceful, epicurean wantonness in which he was never idle to splash about ("God is death, so why not take the world as being a playground for me.")

As we see him through the events of his life that turns out every bit impeccably ordinary, an awkward, grim suspicion begins to gradually nestle itself in the reader: the story is actually a harrowing parable about what immensely estranged man could grow when putting all his energy into multifarious attemps to escape from the truth of mortality.

The cost is high. Everything that makes life liveable and authentic (relationship, creativity, compassion) will lost. This perspective can help us grasp the highly symbolic significance of the protagonist's seemingly common death: he dies unexpectedly in a senseless, comatose state (condition of avydia per excellence) while being operated on because of his ailing heart (the failing centre of his being).

If one tried to enter this sad, meaningless, barren odyssey - where the hero falls through the adventures of his life, one after the other, without becoming able to come any nearer to his true home - with some therapeutic intention (though it sounds pathetic and somewhat ludicrous in terms of a fictional character) one could take as a starting point the story of how as a child he first confronts with death: he chances upon the body of a soldier washed ashore. (I don't think it would be overwrought parallelling this with the narrative of how his bumping into the a corpse set the Buddha going.) The path of recovery that may lead everyman to "reclaiming the rapport with himself" (Epstein) runs along the train of his losses. Healing cannot take place without "befriending our disown parts" (Caldwell).

Comment by David Brazier on January 11, 2017 at 8:16

I like the look of Myokei's reading list. Buddhism as social liberation is a vitally important theme. I hope you will write something about it for us Myokei, when you get time. Best wishes - D.


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ITZI Conference 2017

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Study Grouop

Posted by Dayamay Dunsby on November 13, 2017 at 8:04 0 Comments

We had our regular skype study group on Saturday evening. Three people attended including myself and we studied some of Dharmavidya’s writings and had very helpful discussions about subjects such as Buddhist prayer, accepting death and being Human. The next group will be on Saturday the 25th at 9.30pm. This late time is due to the fact that some of our members are overseas in different time zones. if you would like to join us please email me adamdunsby@hotmail.com or skype me…


ON BEING LIBERALLY DOGMATIC (rather than dogmatically liberal)

Posted by David Brazier on November 8, 2017 at 11:30 0 Comments

Last night I had a conversation in a restaurant in which a person reported the view that the religion of the future would be Zen because Zen was a religion without dogmas. This statement struck me with particular force because at the moment I am in the middle of reviewing a draft chapter by another author on "Eastern Meditation Meets the West" for a future publication. This chapter highlights the cultural filters that ideas have to pass through in order to get a stamp of approval by our…



Posted by Dayamay Dunsby on September 9, 2017 at 20:56 0 Comments

Found this on a Chogyam Trungpa video…

''The relationship between student and teacher is like a dance…

In relating with the teacher, your critical input and your surrendering work together. They’re not working against each other. The more input you get from the teacher and the phenomenal world and the more you develop, at the same time, the more you question. So there is a kind of dance taking place between the teacher and yourself. You are not particularly trying to switch off…


Reflections on Foolishness.

Posted by Dayamay Dunsby on September 5, 2017 at 11:50 2 Comments

I sometimes can’t believe how defective I am!! Whilst despairing of myself the other day I remembered a Shinran teaching that I found some time ago. It really made me think and reinforced my resolve to practice.

It is a Pureland teaching about the depth of our sin preventing us from being genuinely good. Our efforts to be decent, caring beings are always based in and therefore contaminated by our self centredness, greed hatred and delusion. This is due to the…


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