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A Great New Buddhism Book for Westerners

Western Lights: A Collection of Essays on Buddhism

I have read hundreds of books about Buddhism, and as time goes on I have become more and more interested in those works that seek to bring the timeless wisdom of the Buddhist tradition out of its Asian shell and present it in a way that is accessible to Westerners. Andrew Furst has managed just that with his offering of "Western Lights." This book is of particular interest to anyone curious about Buddhism, but remains sympathetic to concepts like faith and prayer, as "Western Lights" presents Buddhism through the lens of the Pure Land tradition. Andrew skillfully addresses concepts like karma, Atheism, faith, meditation practice, and enlightenment in a down to earth way that many westerners will find refreshing. I would recommend this book to any Westerner beginning their exploration of Buddhism.

Click here to purchase, Western Lights: A Collection of Essays on Buddhism

My life as a spiritual materialist.

The first book I ever read by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was “Glimpses of Abidharma.” About half way through the book I put it down. I hadn’t the faintest idea as to what he was talking about, but I never questioned my own limited understanding of the complex subject matter, Buddhist psychology. Instead, I jumped straight to the conclusion that Chogyam Trungpa didn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground.

Fast forward five years…

I am pillaging the Buddhist selection of a bookshop in northern India. As my finger runs from spine to spine a nun approaches me and asks, “Have you ever read Chogyam Trungpa?” I told her that I had, and didn’t care much for the experience. She seemed surprised, and asked me what book I had read. I answered, and she replied, “Well… That’s a pretty advanced book. You should try Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism.” Once I overcame the offense of her assuming I was not “advanced,” I heeded her suggestion, and purchased the book. I returned to my room, and began a love affair with Chogyam Trungpa that still to this day is alive and well.

The book hit me right between the eyes!

I loved and hated it simultaneously. I couldn’t stop reading it, but periodically I had to sit it down and take a break. As the words leapt off the pages, I became painfully aware of the inauthenticity that pervaded my life. With each page it became more and more obvious that I had not been living, but playing a game. On page five, Trungpa Rinpoche begins to describe the movement of the Lord of Form, which is a rather mythological name for the masks that ego wears and the insecurity that necessitates such coverings. He says, “(The Lord of Form) does not signify the psychically rich and secure life situations we create per se. Rather, it refers to the neurotic preoccupation that drives us to create them, to try to control nature.” I sat the book down, my mind awakened to its own deception. I had to take a walk and soak it all up.

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