You don't have to be a practicing Buddhist to thoroughly appreciate these informative and engaging essays written by members of The Insight Meditation Society. Like a carefully prepared cup of green tea, each of these pieces is quieting to the psyche while energizing to the soul.
The teachings of IMS revolve around Theraveda Buddhism, which in the West translates into a commitment to insight, moral integrity, and compassion. As a result, these themes resonate throughout. For example, Steven Smith speaks about the insight he gained from the death of a friend--it helped him grasp the sacredness of friendship. In another essay, Michele McDonald-Smith talks about accidentally locking her car keys and her other sandal in her car. From this anecdote she begins to ponder what it would be like "to live like a guesthouse"--always ready to receive the unexpected guests and situations that come to us in everyday life. It is the use of personal stories that make these Buddhist gleanings so satisfying and accessible. As editor Sharon Salzberg explains in her introduction, "We are unfolding a tradition that speaks of current challenges, our own triumphs, and our unique lessons.... It is a significant step in the transmission of a living truth." --Gail Hudson
From Publishers Weekly
In 1976, Salzberg, Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield, young Americans returned from studying Buddhism in Asia, founded Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Mass. Today, IMS, which conveys ancient Buddhist teachings to modern Westerners, serves on the front lines of American Buddhism. Seventeen IMS retreat leaders have now contributed essays, most original, to a collection that's extraordinary not only for the depth of wisdom made accessible through a range of approaches, from memoir to history to abstract analysis, but for the high quality of much of the prose. Goldstein's "The Science and Art of Meditation" is as clear and fresh an introduction to meditation practice as exists anywhere. "Natural Freedom of the Heart," Kornfield's recollection of hard studying in the Thai forest with the "meditation master" Ajahn Chan, conveys powerfully how determination and integrity are indispensable companions along the path. Sylvia Boorstein's two bright essays offer sound advice cloaked in welcome good humor. Other exceptional writings are offered by Gavin Harrison, Christopher Titmuss and Carol Wilson. Not every piece is exemplary: Larry Rosenberg kvetches too much about modern society before delivering a brilliant rumination on silence, and a few other contributors fail to anchor their thoughts in concrete examples. Woven throughout, via introductions and her concluding essay, "Becoming the Ally of All Beings," are Salzberg's own elegant words, which emphasize the practice of loving-kindness. This book is not only a major work of American Buddhism, but anyone who buys it does a good deed: all royalties will be donated to a fund for the care of the American spiritual pioneer Ram Dass, who is recovering from a stroke. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.