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Evolving Dharma: Meditation, Buddhism, and the Next Generation of Enlightenment Paperback – October 15, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: EVOLVER EDITIONS (October 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583947140
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583947142
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.8 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #330,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Since Buddhism was transplanted to America by counterculture movements in the 20th century, the gulf has widened between those who see the practice as a spiritual/religious endeavor and those who regard it as a secular phenomenon. Michaelson (God vs. Gay?) 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. He is fortunately unafraid to come to grips with the darker sides of the tradition (for example, sexual and power abuses by teachers and gurus) in his discussions about Buddhism&'s future and its ethical obligations to the world and to itself. Serious practitioners—secular or religious—and curious individuals alike would benefit greatly from reading Michaelson&'s intelligent and compassionate examination of mindfulness practice. (Oct.)

Review

“Jay Michaelson gets it. His voice is contemporary yet serious, informed yet engaging—and much needed today.”
—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."
Publishers Weekly

"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


 

More About the Author

Dr. Jay Michaelson is a nationally known writer and activist. He is the author of five books, most recently Evolving Dharma: Meditation, Buddhism, and the Next Generation of Enlightenment (North Atlantic); God vs. Gay? The Religious Case for Equality (Beacon), a 2012 Lambda Literary Award finalist and Amazon.com bestseller; and Everything is God: The Radical Path of Nondual Judaism (Shambhala). His writing appears regularly in the Daily Beast, the Forward, Tricycle, and the Huffington Post.

In addition to his writing, Jay is a leading LGBT activist. Recently the vice president of the Arcus Foundation, the leading funder of LGBT causes worldwide, Jay's advocacy work has been featured in the New York Times, NPR and CNN and he has been listed as among the "most inspiring LGBT religious leaders" by the Huffington Post and among "our religious allies" by The Advocate.

Michaelson own contemplative journey includes twelve years in the dharma, including several long-term vipassana retreats in the United States and Nepal. He is affiliated with the Practical Dharma movement and the Contemplative Development Mapping Project, and has participated in the Mind and Life Institute, Wisdom 2.0, Buddhist Geeks, and other emerging dharma communities. He has taught at institutions from Kripalu to Burning Man, and at over two dozen university campuses around the country.

Jay is also an accomplished scholar of religion who holds a PhD in Jewish Thought from Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a JD from Yale Law School, an MFA from Sarah Lawrence, and a BA from Columbia. He has held teaching positions at Yale University, City College, Harvard Divinity School, and Boston University Law School, and has been a scholar-in-residence at over 100 institutions around the country. He is presently an advisor to the Varieties of Meditative Experience project at Brown University.

Customer Reviews

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I actually found my teacher from reading this book.
Josh Kelly
This is the best book I have read about how Buddhist dharma has evolved in the west.
Humberto Arango
It is a practical direction which has helped my practice.
D. Adams

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Mark Ettinger on October 18, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Michaelson has produced the first book documenting significant, recent trends in Western Buddhism and related contemplative paths. In this function, the book is well written and accurate. However this reader was distracted by three flaws.

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.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
Jay Michaelson organizes his investigation of an engaged, politically savvy, and sensibly skeptical Buddhism by a traditional Tibetan pattern--surveying the ground, following a path, and coming to fruition. But Michaelson's approach in Evolving Dharma departs from what typically will be found next to this briskly paced but well-documented study on a bookstore's shelf. Rather than inspirational guff or dry scholarship, this blends personal with political outlooks.

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.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Akira Otani on October 20, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having completed a similar volume in Japanese, I enjoyed this book very much. Although the author's choice of terms such as "brainhacking", brain "technology", etc., to describe Buddhist meditation in general and recent mindfulness techniques in particular, (i.e., the "thirdwave cognitive behavior therapy" adopted MBSR, MBCT) may be a bit off-putting for some readers at first, the book is well-researched and provides useful and fascinating information on the spread of Buddhism in the West.

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).
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By martin bello on December 7, 2013
Format: Paperback
I have been involved with buddhist spirituality and meditative practice for 28 years. I have used the meditative techniques mentioned with great accuracy in the book, and to great personal benefit. The discussion of buddhist spritual practice and the benefits of using these methods outside of any involvement with buddhism ,is described in a lively,articulate, and accurate manner in this outstanding book. I have read and studied literally hundreds of books on buddhist philosophy and spiritual practice, and hence I do not make the above statement easily. In addition, I have personally met and spoken with many of the leaders of American buddhism. Hence, I can not recommend this book strongly enough
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Scott Phillips on November 15, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating, clearly written and honest book about the emerging movement to practice Buddhist meditation without the "religious trappings" that often go along with it. I loved it, and it inspired me to recommence a lapsed practice.
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