Today’s Recommendation:
Timeless Truths

Timeless Truths for Modern Mindfulness:
A Practical Guide to a
More Focused and Quiet Mind
by Arnie Koza
★★★★ 1/2

Mindfulness—focusing on the present moment while accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations—is growing in popularity. You can find apps, online courses, and articles on the subject. Businesses like Google are incorporating the practice at work, resulting in lower stress levels, less frustration, fewer sick days, and less burnout. Health centers at universities are getting in on the act too, helping overly stressed students find relief.

This basic guide to mindfulness is geared toward the curious, the beginner, and the person looking for real help with the burdens of modern life. Divided into five sections—Appreciating Mindfulness, How to Practice, Mindfulness in Action, Going Deeper, Going Even Deeper—this handy guide tells you everything you need to know to get rid of stress and gain newfound peace: how mindfulness works, how to practice it, and how to apply it in daily life.

Along with explanations of mindfulness, each chapter includes a unique guided meditation and a timeless truth that will guide the reader to deal with obstacles to practicing mindfulness, living with wisdom, and how to create unconditional happiness through mindfulness.

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Today’s Recommendation:
Buddhist Philosophy
by William Edelglass

Buddhist Philosophy:
Essential Readings
by William Edelglass
★★★★ 1/2

The Buddhist philosophical tradition is vast, internally diverse, and comprises texts written in a variety of canonical languages. It is hence often difficult for those with training in Western philosophy who wish to approach this tradition for the first time to know where to start, and difficult for those who wish to introduce and teach courses in Buddhist philosophy to find suitable textbooks that adequately represent the diversity of the tradition, expose students to important primary texts in reliable translations, that contextualize those texts, and that foreground specifically philosophical issues.

Buddhist Philosophy fills that lacuna. It collects important philosophical texts from each major Buddhist tradition. Each text is translated and introduced by a recognized authority in Buddhist studies. Each introduction sets the text in context and introduces the philosophical issues it addresses and arguments it presents, providing a useful and authoritative guide to reading and to teaching the text. The volume is organized into topical sections that reflect the way that Western philosophers think about the structure of the discipline, and each section is introduced by an essay explaining Buddhist approaches to that subject matter, and the place of the texts collected in that section in the enterprise.

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Today’s Recommendation:
The Zen Records of Hakuin Ekaku

Complete Poison Blossoms from a Thicket of Thorn:
The Zen Records of Hakuin Ekaku
trans by Norman Waddell
★★★★★

With this volume, Norman Waddell completes his acclaimed translation of the teaching record of one of the greatest Zen masters of all time, Hakuin Ekaku (1685–1769). Hakuin lived at a time when Japanese Buddhism as a whole and his own Rinzai sect in particular were at low ebb. Through tremendous force of character and creative energy, he initiated a reform movement that swept the country, and today, all Rinzai Zen masters trace their lineage through him. This outcome is all the more extraordinary because Hakuin’s base of operations was a small temple in the country town of Hara, where he grew up, not in one of the nation's political, cultural, or commercial centers.

This book represents the first full publication of the Keisō Dokuzui in any foreign language. Inspired by the enthusiastic reception that greeted his 2014 selections from the text, Waddell returned to work and now gives us the opportunity to examine the entirety of Hakuin's record and to benefit as never before from the example and instruction of this exuberant personality and remarkable teacher. Poison Blossoms contains a highly diverse set of materials: formal and informal presentations to monastic and lay disciples, poems, practice instructions, inscriptions for paintings, comments on koans, letters, and funeral orations. While most items are brief, easily read in a quick sitting, the book also includes extended commentaries on the Heart Sutra, one of Mahayana Buddhism’s central texts; on the famously difficult Five Ranks of Tung-shan; and on the accomplishments of his eminent predecessor Gudō Tōshoku.

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Today’s Recommendation:
Mindfulness in Plain English

Mindfulness in Plain English:
20th Anniversary Edition
by Henepola Gunaratana
★★★★ 1/2

Since Mindfulness in Plain English was first published in 1994, it has become one of the bestselling — and most influential — books in the field of mindfulness. It’s easy to see why.

This expanded edition includes the complete text of its predecessor along with a new chapter on cultivating loving kindness, an especially important topic in today’s world. For anyone who is new to meditation, this is a great resource for learning how to live a more productive and peaceful life.

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Today’s Recommendation:
Our Appointment with Life
by Thich Nhat Hanh

Our Appointment with Life:
Sutra on Knowing the Better Way to Live Alone
by Thich Nhat Hanh
★★★★ 1/2

"Our appointment with life is in the present moment. The place of our appointment is right here, in this very place."
— Thich Nhat Hanh

This easily accessible translation and commentary by Thich Nhat Hanh on the Sutra on Knowing the Better Way To Live Alone, is the earliest teaching of the Buddha on living fully in the present moment. "To live alone" doesn’t mean to isolate oneself from society. It means to live in mindfulness: to let go of the past and the future, and to look deeply and discover the true nature of all that is taking place in the present moment. To fully realize this is to meet our appointment with life and to experience peace, joy, and happiness this realization brings. A wonderful addition to the library of anyone interested in Buddhist studies.

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Today’s Recommendation:
Under the Bodhi Tree

Under the Bodhi Tree:
A Story of the Buddha
by Deborah Hopkinson
★★★★★

Once upon a time in ancient India, a prince was born. His name was Siddhartha, and one day he would inherit a powerful kingdom. His father tried to protect him from the suffering and hardship beyond the palace walls, but just like children everywhere, the prince longed to see the world.

Under the Bodhi Tree is the story of a boy and his journey for understanding that eventually led him to the path of peace. Told in lyrical language, this excellent introduction to the story of the Buddha is beautifully illustrated and perfect for children who are curious about the real people who made history.

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Today’s Recommendation:
The Zen Talks of Kobun Chino Otogawa

Embracing Mind:
The Zen Talks of Kobun Chino Otogawa
★★★★

Kobun Chino Otogawa was an instrumental figure in the transmission of Zen to America and it's evolution within our culture. When Eijeiji, one of Japan's two head temples, sent a classically educated trainer of monks to help establish the forms of the first Zen monastery in the US, they were unaware of the depth of his faith in Buddha nature - that we are already enlightened and the purpose of practice is to find buddha within our selves. Arriving as a young man in the midst of a social revolution, Kobun seemed to resonate in perfect time with the evolution of American Zen. With a refined ability to embody exquisite form and an emphasis on boundlessness, in this paradox, Kobun practiced Zen with intuitive creativity like Miles Davis played jazz.

Although he came to assist Shunryu Suzuki at the San Francisco Zen Center, Kobun was enamored by the way Zen, unfettered, blossomed in new soil and he followed it wherever it grew. For Kobun, Zen was not an institution, but the elemental nature of every aspect of our lives and existed in myriad forms. Kobun founded four temples, taught Buddhism at Stanford and Naropa University, demonstrated and taught calligraphy and archery, spoke at events and met with sitting groups in their living rooms and hiked the wilderness with the people he mes. When Steve Jobs launched Next computer, Kobun was listed as it's spiritual director.

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Today’s Recommendation:
Two Zen Classics

The Gateless Gate and The Blue Cliff Records
by Katsuki Sekida
★★★★★

The strange verbal paradoxes called koans have been used traditionally in Zen training to help students attain a direct realization of truths inexpressible in words. The two works translated in this book, Mumonkan (The Gateless Gate ) and Hekiganroku (The Blue Cliff Record), both compiled during the Song dynasty in China, are the best known and most frequently studied koan collections, and are classics of Zen literature. They are still used today in a variety of practice lineages, from traditional zendos to modern Zen centers. In a completely new translation, together with original commentaries, the well-known Zen teacher Katsuki Sekida brings to these works the same fresh and pragmatic approach that made his Zen Training so successful. The insights of a lifetime of Zen practice and his familiarity with both Eastern and Western ways of thinking make him an ideal interpreter of these texts.

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Today’s Recommendation:
The Practice of Chan Buddhism

Attaining the Way:
A Guide to the Practice of Chan Buddhism
by Sheng Yen
★★★★ 1/2

This is an inspiring guide to the practice of Chan (Chinese Zen) in the words of four great masters of that tradition. It includes teachings from contemporary masters Xuyun and Sheng Yen, and from Jiexian and Boshan of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). Though the texts were written over a period of hundreds of years, they are all remarkably lucid and are perfect for beginners as well as more advanced practitioners today. All the main points of spiritual practice are covered: philosophical foundations, methods, approaches to problems and obstacles—all aimed at helping the student attain the way to enlightenment.

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Today’s Recommendation:
The Chan Practice of Huatou

Shattering the Great Doubt:
The Chan Practice of Huatou
by Sheng Yen
★★★★ 1/2

Huatou is a skillful method for breaking through the prison of mental habits into the spacious mind of enlightenment. The huatou is a confounding question much like a Zen koan. Typical ones are "What is wu [nothingness]?" or "What was my original face before birth-and-death?" But a huatou is unlike a koan in that the aim is not to come up with an answer. The practice is simple: ask yourself your huatou relentlessly, in meditation as well as in every other activity. Don't give up on it; don't try to think your way to an answer. Resolve to live with the sensation of doubt that arises, and it will pervade your entire existence with a sense of profound wonder, ultimately leading to the shattering of the sense of an independent self.

Master Sheng Yen brings the traditional practice to life in this practical guide based on talks he gave during a series of huatou retreats. He teaches the method in detail, giving advice for dealing with the typical pitfalls and problems that arise, and answering retreat participants' questions as they experience the practice themselves. He then offers commentary on four classic huatou texts, grounding his instructions in the teaching of the great Chan masters.

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Today’s Recommendation:
The Selected Poems of Li Po

The Selected Poems of Li Po
by David Hinton
★★★★ 1/2

Li Po (A.D., 701-762) lived in T’ang Dynasty China, but his influence has spanned the centuries: the pure lyricism of his poems has awed readers in China and Japan for over a millennium, and through Ezra Pound’s translations, Li Po became central to the modernist revolution in the West. His work is suffused with Taoism and Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism, but these seem not so much spiritual influences as the inborn form of his life.

There is a set-phrase in Chinese referring to the phenomenon of Li Po: “Winds of the immortals, bones of the Tao.” He moved through this world with an unearthly freedom from attachment, and at the same time belonged profoundly to the earth and its process of change. However ethereal in spirit, his poems remain grounded in the everyday experience we all share. He wrote 1200 years ago, half a world away, but in his poems we see our world transformed. Legendary friends in eighth-century T’ang China, Li Po and Tu Fu are traditionally celebrated as the two greatest poets in the Chinese canon. David Hinton’s translation of Li Po’s poems is no less an achievement than his critically acclaimed The Selected Poems of Tu Fu, also published by New Directions. By reflecting the ambiguity and density of the original, Hinton continues to create compelling English poems that alter our conception of Chinese poetry.

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Today’s Recommendation:
Real Happiness by Sharon Salzberg

Real Happiness
10th Anniversary Edition:
A 28-Day Program to Realize the Power of Meditation
by Sharon Salzberg
★★★★ 1/2

“An inviting gateway to the interior territory of profound well-being and wisdom.”
—Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Wherever You Go, There You Are

From Sharon Salzberg, a pioneer in the field of meditation and world-renowned teacher acclaimed for her down-to-earth style, Real Happiness is a complete guide to starting and maintaining a meditation practice. Beginning with the simplest breathing and sitting techniques, and based on three key skills—concentration, mindfulness, and lovingkindness—it’s a practice anyone can do and that can transform our lives by bringing us greater resiliency, creativity, peace, clarity, and balance.

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Today’s Recommendation:
The Lotus Sutra

The Lotus Sutra:
A Contemporary Translation of a Buddhist Classic
by Gene Reeves
★★★★ 1/2

The Lotus Sutra is regarded as one of the world's great religious scriptures and most influential texts. It's a seminal work in the development of Buddhism throughout East Asia and, by extension, in the development of Mahayana Buddhism throughout the world. Taking place in a vast and fantastical cosmic setting, the Lotus Sutra places emphasis on skillfully doing whatever is needed to serve and compassionately care for others, on breaking down distinctions between the fully enlightened buddha and the bodhisattva who vows to postpone salvation until all beings may share it, and especially on each and every being's innate capacity to become a buddha.

Gene Reeves's new translation appeals to readers with little or no familiarity with technical Buddhist vocabulary, as well as long-time practitioners and students. In addition, this remarkable volume includes the full "threefold" text of this classic

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Today’s Recommendation:
Awakening Joy for Kids

Awakening Joy for Kids:
A Hands-On Guide for Grown-Ups to Nourish
Themselves & Raise Mindful, Happy Children
by James Baraz & Michele Lilyanna
★★★★★

Awarded the 2016 Nautilus Gold Medal for Parenting and Family!

Spirit Rock founder, author, and teacher James Baraz’s Awakening Joy offers his large and devoted readership a program to gain contentment and happiness by cultivating the seeds of joy within. Here he joins with Michele Lilyanna, a classroom teacher for 25 years, to offer caregivers and children ways to find joy in each day together.

This unique offering nourishes both adults and kids. James shares the practices for the adults—parents, caregivers, and teachers. Michele offers her own experiences as a parent and as a teacher, showing how the themes work with kids, followed by the tried and true lessons that she's used herself in the classroom and at home.

Packed with practices and activities that James and Michele have gathered over their many years of working with thousands of adults and children in retreats, workshops, and the classroom,

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Today’s Recommendation:
The Life of the Buddha

The Life of the Buddha
by Heather Sanche
★★★★★

“In the full bloom of spring, in a beautiful garden, in a place called Lumbini, a prince was born.”

So begins the extraordinary story of the life of Siddhartha Gautama, the prince who would become the enlightened Buddha, the Awakened One. This classic tale follows Prince Siddhartha’s journey of truth-seeking and discovery, including his life-altering encounters with human suffering and his realization of the Four Noble Truths. Today, millions of people all over the world follow the Buddha’s teachings on meditation, selflessness, and compassion. Rendered here in exquisite original watercolor illustrations, this inspiring story is brought to life for young readers curious about one of history’s most monumental and influential figures.

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Today’s Recommendation:
Training in Compassion

Training in Compassion:
Zen Teachings on the Practice of Lojong
by Norman Fischer
★★★★★

A prominent Zen teacher offers a “direct, penetrating, and powerful” perspective on a popular mind training practice of Tibetan Buddhism (Rick Hanson, author of Buddha’s Brain).

Lojong is the Tibetan Buddhist practice of working with short phrases (called "slogans") to generate bodhichitta, the heart and mind of enlightened compassion. With roots tracing back to the 900 A.D., the practice has gained more Western adherents over the past two decades, partly due to the influence of American Buddhist teachers like Pema Chödrön. Its effectiveness and accessibility have moved the practice out of its Buddhist context and into the lives of non-Buddhists across the world.

It's in this spirit that Norman Fischer offers his unique, Zen-based commentary on the Lojong. Though traditionally a practice of Tibetan Buddhism, the power of the Lojong extends to other Buddhist traditions—and even to other spiritual traditions as well. As Fischer explores the 59 slogans through a Zen lens, he shows how people from a range of faiths and backgrounds can use Lojong to generate the insight, resilience, and compassion they seek.

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