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Touching Enlightenment: Finding Realization in the Body Paperback – August 1, 2014
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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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
—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
Top Customer Reviews
His basic premise at the beginning of the book is very important: that many long time practitioners reach an impasse in the meditation. That is, after decades of meditation, many practitioners have not attained full realization. Ray shows us why in a stunning discovery that when we find "our very own body is nothing other than the trikaya, or three bodies of enlightenment, the three bodies of the Buddha", realization becomes entirely possible.
A bit of background: as a former Zen Buddhist, I had fallen out of practice and been struggling to re-establish a regular meditation routine. Ray's book shows how this is difficult for our disembodied culture, living in our heads as we do. One of the first points is that we are incarnate for a reason, and that the body is the vehicle through which enlightenment occurs. Therefore, to progress along the path of meditation, it must be included in the process. As a former massage therapist and bodyworker, the somatic basis for entering the path rings true. Our body is similar to an event horizon through which we can experience the entire universe of space time, not merely the veil we take to be solid reality.(KABOOM! DONG! CHIMES - hearing celestial songs yet? Read the book!)
Ray's style is both accessible and scholarly, something both the lay practitioner and seasoned Buddhist will appreciate. I will mention, that if you want to experience the somatic exercises for yourself, you should download the audio teachings. A kinesthetic, bodily experience of the teachings will deepen your understanding in a way the conceptual can only hint. Good reading to you.
Ray says upfront that you can't really write about spirituality, as it tempts one into the very substitution of thinking for life itself that he is writing about. Nevertheless, his writing can clarify the mind and inspire the spirit to move in daily practice toward embodied awareness. And he describes for us the path of dethroning the ego including the "good news" of chaos and the necessity of falling apart - because ultimately the ego is "like a suit of armor that is way too small." He shows us the possibility of experiencing the vitality of life flowing through us in such a powerful way that we can feel we have found our true life beyond any preconception or idea.