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Evolving Dharma: Meditation, Buddhism, and the Next Generation of Enlightenment Paperback – October 15, 2013
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From Publishers Weekly
—Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
“Taking the reader from the banks of the Ganges to the offices of Google, Evolving Dharma shows how meditation is transforming our world. A must-read!”
—Deepak Chopra, author of The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success and Spiritual Solutions
"Michaelson tackles difficult questions about Buddhism’s evolution in Western culture, as mindfulness practice grows slowly but steadily as a popular secular activity. He examines the history of postmodern Buddhism, describes the path of practice and enlightenment through his own personal accounts of bliss and darkness, and considers future directions. Working from the foundational idea that meditation has become a set of tools for the refinement and improvement of the human mind, the author addresses the pitfalls and benefits of the more traditional spiritual/religious approach and its counterpart, the rational and scientific Western worldview...Serious practitioners—secular or religious—and curious individuals alike would benefit greatly from reading Michaelson’s intelligent and compassionate examination of mindfulness practice."
"I highly recommend this book. Its scholarship on the past is solid, its review of the present is revealing, and its sense of possibility grounded in both kindness and vision.”
—Daniel Ingram, author of Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha
“All of us need to Occupy the Dharma, to take meditation and mindfulness back from the spiritual 1% and enliven our lives. This book demonstrates and instructs us how to do exactly that. Evolving Dharma is essential reading if you’re an aspiring brainhacker, a BuJu, a seeker, or anyone who wants to see the light, lighten up and brighten up on the path from head to heart that is the delightful journey of awakening.”
—Lama Surya Das, author of Awakening the Buddha Within
“Evolving Dharma tells a story that is changing the world: the mainstreaming of meditation and the democratization of wisdom. This is not only the best book on contemporary mindfulness; it is the first of its kind.”
—Josh Baran, former Zen monk and author of The Tao of Now
“What a fantastic book! Smart, tender, incisive, and visionary. If you only read one dharma book this year, read Evolving Dharma.”
—Kenneth Folk, teacher, Kenneth Folk Dharma and Buddhist Geeks
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Top Customer Reviews
Firstly, Michaelson is perhaps a bit too credulous with regard to neuroscientific "validation" of the benefits of meditation. That scientists are formally studying meditation is indeed exciting and initial results are encouraging. However the explosion of interest in neuroscience in the popular press has given way to hype and overlooks the prevalence of poor statistical analysis in much of the field.
Secondly, Michaelson is a proponent of shifting the core meme from meditation-as-spiritual-practice to meditation-as-technology. There is much to be said for this movement which seeks to strip away unnecessary dogma and leave only proven and practical techniques. However, the author is again perhaps too credulous in emphasizing the predictability of the benefits of meditative "technology." This assurance is a property of the wider "Pragmatic Dharma" community which exaggerates the predictability of meditative practice, especially the "Progress of Insight" maps. It is important to acknowledge that Michaelson does briefly discuss the uncertainty of the science and the variability of the brainhacking "technology". Nonetheless, this reader feels more explicit skepticism is warranted.
Thirdly, Michaelson injects too much of his personal struggle and story into the book. As someone who has successfully used meditation to break through the psychological and existential chains that had (grossly unfairly) burdened him, it is understandable that he would want to leverage this poignant example.Read more ›
As a Ph.D. in Jewish thought, a law professor, a start-up entrepreneur, prolific author, and as a gay man who for years denied his sexuality, Michaelson applies his experiences through an insistent examination of the potential of meditation to change society. He attaches this to a platform for Buddhist alternatives designed for those dissatisfied with our corporate, consumerist, ecological, and economic injustices.
While he avoids reducing meditation to quietism, or spirituality to narcissism (he critiques if in a discreet endnote critics advocating this facile equation such as neo-Marxian materialist Slavoj Zizek), Michaelson displays a faith in meditation drawn from his own eager pursuit of Jewish Kabbalah and Buddhist "attainments." Hindsight adds caution; his discussion of "mindhacking" as akin to muscle-building, and stimulating "regions of the brain associated with compassion and with self-regulatory activity" causing one to hold back before acting unwisely, may lead some to hesitate at Michaelson's enthusiasm. Still, his abundant documentation cites neurological studies supporting his (admittedly contentious) claims.
He explores "feedback loops" compatible with Matthew Fox and Adam Bucko's approval in "Occupy Spirituality" (reviewed by me) of mass assemblies emerging into collective agreement.Read more ›
By the way, the famous phrase, "neurons that fire together wire together" was coined by Donald Hebb, Ph.D. at McGill University, not by Norman Doidge as the author incorrectly speculated (p. 33).
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I thought this book had some promise but I quickly got bored. I had to force myself to finish it.
I felt it lacked real usable content. Read more
The style of writing of this author was my biggest hurdle. It lurches between formal and informal in voice, and structurally, it is more conversational but without the visual cues... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Sam
Expalined everything really well and confirmed many of my own personal religious feelings and experiencesPublished 15 months ago by Margaret Ingram Melamed
Evolving Dharma, it is what the title says. It's worthy reading Jay Michaelson's insights and analysis about Buddhism in today's era.Published 16 months ago by Quynh Tran
A very good overview of modern trends in Buddhism. It is the first book that I have read that provides a breakdown of the supposed processes of enlightenment and where you go once... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Craig E. Wood
Interesting book, I'm about half-way through it - it is bringing me up to date with current Buddhist trends. Read morePublished 18 months ago by R. D. Morris
You know how some books tell you what you want to read, they reinforce your current knowledge, beliefs, biases? Read morePublished 19 months ago by Peter Stuckings
This is the best book I have read about how Buddhist dharma has evolved in the west. J Michaelson provides a fascinating and clear account of his experience in this contemplative... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Humberto Arango