East West Wisdoms

Interweaving Spirituality and Therapeutic Healing

East West Wisdoms

Book Reviews

This is a page for books that have had a significant impact on me and my understanding of what it is to be human.

"Aging with Wisdom : Reflections, Stories and Teachings" by Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle.

This beautifully written, succinct book is an incredibly useful and inspiring guide on how to think wisely and compassionately about one’s aging process. Having recently celebrated my 70th birthday and noticed how this felt like a very significant event, marking my transition into a new stage of life, I was particularly interested to learn about Hoblitzelle’s new book. ... Read the rest of this review

Review: "Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill" by Matthieu Ricard.

I was really blown away by this book. It is pith teaching, written with great clarity, skill and compassion.
Matthieu Ricard draws on Buddhist teachings to give wonderfully clear directions on how to find happiness and to distinguish between seeking the automatically temporary experiences of pleasure, euphoria and bliss, versus the more lasting experience of a deep, resounding happiness and contentment. He blends together reports of Western sociological and psychological research on happiness with a Buddhist perspective and suggests clear guidelines on how each of us can contemplate and embody these findings and teachings in our own lives ... Read the rest of this review

"Practicing Peace in Times of War" by Pema Chodron.

This week's book to consider is a small but useful little book to help understand and transform anger, aggression and ill will into peaceful mindstates. In "Practicing Peace in Times of War," Pema Chodron draws on Buddhist teachings to explore the origins of aggression, hatred and war. Her key message is that to change cultures of violence and national tendencies to go to war, we must look to foster peace in our own minds and hearts - rather than just relying on our politicians and leaders to manifest peace. Change from the bottom up is more reliable and profound than from the top down! ... Read the rest of this review

"Something Beautiful for the World: a shakuhachi sadhana" by Tarchin Hearn

This week's book to consider is both a work of poetry and a deep spiritual teaching, using the process of constructing and learning to play the bamboo flute as a metaphor for learning how to recognise, shape and play ourselves as we master our inner flute. Tarchin Hearn presents a moving and evocative guide to mindfulness of all our senses. Just reading his poetic words stimulates the imagination ... Read the rest of this review

"Opening Your Inner "I": Discover healing imagery through Selective Awareness" by Emmett E. Miller, M.D.

This week I am turning my attention to an excellent example of Western self hypnosis techniques, developed by a very creative and wise medical doctor who determined to learn how to use the power of the mind to help the many patients who presented to him with a wide range of physical and mental illnesses. I plan to return to reviewing more of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche's books in a little while but think it's time to consider a very Western way of using the mind to heal. ... Read the rest of this review

"The Sanity We Are Born With: A Buddhist Approach to Psychology" by Chogyam Trungpa.

This is the second in my series reviewing some of the works of Ven. Chogyam Trungpa, the Tibetan Buddhist meditation master, scholar and founder of the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, U.S.A. In this book Chogyam Trungpa presents key Buddhist ideas about the mind and how the underlying goodness and healthiness that constitute the basic sanity of all people can be uncovered and brought to awareness. Following an introduction discussing the meeting of Buddhist and Western Psychology, the book is loosely divided into three parts ... Read the rest of this review

"Transcending Madness: The Experience of the Six Bardos " by Chogyam Trungpa.

Over the last few months I have been drawn to study the works of Ven. Chogyam Trungpa, the Tibetan Buddhist meditation master, scholar and founder of the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, U.S.A. Accordingly, I plan to review at least two of his books in the next while. Today I shall review 'Transcending Madness: The Experience of the Six Bardos' by Chogyam Trungpa. In this book Chogyam Trungpa discusses how the Tibetan Buddhist term, 'bardo' (usually associated with life after death), can be usefully explored and interwoven ... Read the rest of this review

"Buddhist Practice on Western Ground " by Harvey B. Aronson, PhD

This book is particularly useful for longer term meditators, Buddhist teachers and psychotherapists interested in exploring the usefulness of integrating Buddhist psychology into their practice. It is a scholarly book but very readable. The most outstanding quality of 'Buddhist Practice on Western Ground' is the clear and profound identification of cultural differences and their significance, between teachers with traditional Asian assumptions about interdependence and social obligations and students from western cultures where the emphasis is on individuality ... Read the rest of this review

"Infidel: My life" by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

I 've chosen to talk about this book because of what it has taught me about the process and consequences of religious indoctrination. Although the focus here is on fundamentalist examples of Muslim faith and its explicit instructions on female rights and behaviours, I believe its lessons on the conditioning process and power of indoctrination are applicable to all fundamentalist religious societies. Read the rest of this review

The Majesty of Your Loving: A Couple's Journey Through Alzheimer's by Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle, with a forward by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

This is a very moving account of the personal journey, from diagnosis to death, of a very close and loving couple who were not afraid to share their experience of the progressive loss of faculties and slow death caused by Alzheimers. It is a poetically written book about love, fear, hope and loss; about bravery and endurance; commitment and acceptance. Read the rest of this review

Going To Pieces Without Falling Apart : A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness by Dr Mark Epstein.

Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart is a truly excellent book on some of the most significant differences between Buddhist and Western psychology. Dr Mark Epstein is a psychiatrist in private practice and a long term meditator and student of Buddhadharma. From his depth knowledge and direct experience, he has brilliantly woven together the wisdom of two worlds: Buddhism and Western psychotherapy. Read the rest of this review

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