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Touching Enlightenment: Finding Realization in the Body Hardcover – January 1, 2008

4.9 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ray, a student of Tibetan Buddhist master Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, has written several other books and very evidently knows a great deal about meditation and the Tibetan Buddhist tradition as passed down by his unconventional guru. This book about the ultimate nonconceptual wisdom—what we can know in our bodies —is, paradoxically, highly conceptual and very slow going. The prose is labored (a clear and accurate conceptual understanding of the subtle processes involved is necessary so we have the apparatus to receive, comprehend and give voice to our experience). Frequently, Buddhist teachers use concrete examples or real-life stories to illustrate difficult or subtle points. Ray shares one important anecdote from his own life, but more tales from his or his students' lives would help. The critique of Western overdependence on thinking is certainly familiar, so the author's starting point is not new. The visualization exercises he offers in the book's appendix are comparatively fresh. But these instructions are probably more effective heard than read, and Ray's publisher indeed offers an audio program of related meditation practices. This book could use hard editing and clearer, more concrete language and examples. (Jan.)
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Review

“Through his own deep experience, Reggie Ray skillfully guides us into an awakened bodily life. He offers necessary, wise, and liberating practices of realization within our mysterious human form.”
Jack Kornfield, PhD, author of A Path with Heart
 
Touching Enlightenment provides readers with a fresh look at the steps required to turn our understanding of enlightenment into full embodiment—a vital process that determines the way in which we actually conduct our lives. An indispensible book for the serious practitioner.”
John Daido Loori, abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery and author of True Dharma Eye: Master Dogen’s Three Hundred Koans
 
“Reggie Ray’s approach to the dharma is wonderfully fresh while also radically rooted in the foundation of the Buddha’s meditation instruction—mindfulness of body. He has a richly textured understanding of the lived body as the vessel of wisdom mind, as well as the carrier of all the karmic patterns that obscure this pristine awareness. Highly recommended.”
John Welwood, author of Toward a Psychology of Awakening
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 395 pages
  • Publisher: Sounds True; 1 edition (January 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591796180
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591796183
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #282,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Mathern on March 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Reginald Ray has written a beautiful book full of important thoughts on how our bodies are front and center to the spiritual path. I cannot recommend this book enough for the spiritual seeker. So much of our time is spent moving away from our bodies as a result of pain or some other trauma. But the running away is the last thing we need to do. Going deeper into the wisdom of our body is the call by Mr. Ray and one that I find important. Our bodies are the gate way to truth inside ourselves.
I think Ray's book is timely in that so many seekers are searching for a deepening into the presence they find in their meditation. Yet unfortunately the body is not involved for many teachers and practitioners. But that should be the beginning point not an add on.

In Ray's words:
"It is my belief that we modern people can arrive at the full embodiment that has always been a possibility for our species. The impact and the implications of such a recovery are nothing less than revolutionary. For to recover our original or primary body as our own involves experiencing the totality of oneself, without judgment; living with a directness that is not filtered or distorted by the thinking mind; rediscovering ourselves within the network of relations with others; coming to awareness again of the primordiality of the natural world as a subject; and, perhaps most surprising, beginning to sense and see what has been called the "unseen world," the "other world," the world of "others" who, while not flesh and blood, are nevertheless living presences around us and with us, to inspire, guide, and protect.
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Format: Hardcover
Reginald Ray's thoroughly researched book discusses the Buddha's teachings on attaining enlightenment through the body. This is an interesting angle and makes for a fascinating and useful book. The book has an academic tone, and feels very intellectual and analytical. The book resembles a dissertation that has been turned into a book (which isn't a bad thing, but does reflect on the overall tone of the book). Despite being a rigorous analysis of the body and enlightenment as it appears in Buddhist literature, the book contains many useful descriptions of hands on techniques. I suffer from chronic pain issues and found many of the techniques extremely helpful. I've often read about creating a shift in consciousness in relation to pain in the body - and I've never quite been able to grasp a "healthier" approach to physical pain. Touching Enlightenment is the first text to actually lead me to a different consciousness in regards to approaching physical pain. As a consequence, I feel a new level of relief and comfort in relation to my body and illness. Having these techniques, and the experience of practicing them, placed within the larger context of Buddhist theory was also helpful. Ray is strongest when discussing Buddhist literature, but is less successful when describing the emotional issues in his own life. That being said, this book is a welcome addition to the literature on Buddhist theory. People interested in yoga therapy and other healing modalities will also find Touching Enlightenment to be essential.
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Format: Hardcover
I strongly echo the sentiments in Mr. Bucher's review. This is an important book. Mr. Ray appears to be a rare example of someone who is both a serious scholar and a deep practitioner. By the latter, I mean someone who is not just talking about the realization that is contemplated by Buddhist philosophy as an intellectual exercise, but who has experienced it personally through his practice. Anyone who has embarked on that path with any seriousness comes to realize that language and ideas, no matter how eloquent, can't change us in the ways described by the Buddha; only direct experience, unmediated by the conceptualization implied by language, can be transformative. The practices Mr. Ray discusses, derived from Tibbetan Yoga traditions, are a very direct path to this experiential wisdom. Ray seems also well positioned to speak to the particular needs of the modern person, including Westerners. His body-based approaches also, as eluded to by Mr. Bucher, seem especially appropriate for people who have experienced trauma. Although not discussed in the book, this is consistent with recent neuropsychological research, which is revealing the extent to which emotions and "unconscious" material are experienced and held throughout the nervous system, and hence, the body (see, e.g., the work of Allan Schore [[Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self: The Neurobiology of Emotional Development; and Bessel Van Der Kolk Traumatic Stress: The Effects of Overwhelming Experience on Mind, Body, and Society.Read more ›
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