Sunday, 3 February 2008

Three new books

I got three books for my birthday this year, all having to do with Buddhism and meditation!

Meditation Bliss: Inspirational Techniques for Finding Calm by David Fontana is such a cute little book. It's a paperback book targeted at teenage girls (according to the publisher), but I find it very appealing. It's filled with really lovely artwork, pretty girls in meditative poses in a variety of settings. The colours are muted pastels, and the text is gentle, encouraging and simple. There is basic information here about how to get started with meditation, and various techniques you can use in meditation, such as mindful breathing, affirmations, loving kindness, mantra recitation, mandalas, chakras, koans, letting go of the past, chanting OM, kin-hin (walking meditation), and more. The book does not approach meditation from any particular spiritual tradition, so appropriate for anyone interested in learning to meditate. Highly recommended, although it is a bit girly!

The second book is Buddhist Peace Recipes by Pushpesh Pant. I've never seen a Buddhist cookbook before, so I was thrilled to receive this from a friend at work. The recipes contained in this book are purely vegetarian, as you would expect of a Buddhist cookbook, and there are full colour photographs of each recipe. It's a lovely book. The book introduces the reader to the concept of the middle way and Ayurvedic, Tibetan and Chinese medicine. The recipes are then divided into soups & salads, snacks, starters, main course, rice & noodles and desserts. There is no real attempt to explain why each recipe is particularly "Buddhist", but there is a note of interest about Buddhist thought accompanying each recipe. Here's one:

Padmabha (Padma, the lotus, represents the seat of awakened knowledge, the heart. The reddish hue symbolises compassion and the discriminating deployment of energy. This curried dish is from the Thai Buddhist reertoire.)

6 oz tofu, cut in cubes
3-4 sliced red chilies
2 cups coconut milk
1 Tbs red curry paste
3 Tbs light soy sauce
2 tsp palm sugar
8 oz mushrooms
4 oz green beans
4 torn kaffir leaves
coriander leaves to garnish
salt and black pepper to taste

Heat 1/3 the coconut milk in a saucepan. Add the curry paste, soy sauce and sugar. Mix well. Add mushrooms stir and cook for a minute and a half. Stir in the remaining coconut milk and bring to boil. Add green beans and tofu and simmer until vegetables are cooked and gravy is just enough to coat. Salt and pepper to taste.
Add kaffir lime, chilies. Garnish with coriander.

The third book is Meditating with Mandalas by David Fontana. It is so beautiful! The book contains a fairly lengthy (50 pages) introduction to mandalas and how to meditate with them, the remainder of the book presents 52 full colour mandalas with accompanying suggestions for meditation. The mandala that appears on the cover of the book is called 'Nature's Harmony'. The author offers these suggestions for using this mandala:

1. Look at the sky, with its heavenly bodies, in the corners of this mandala. Then progress through the outer frame of the lotus motifs. You find yourself symbolically in the realm of mountains and clouds.
2. Pass through the next circle into the greenery of nature, where trees, plants, birds and insects abound. This is Eden, the natural paradise.
3. Finally, penetrate the mystic centre, which borrows from nature to express its divine creativity. Imagine the central circle as the cross section of a shaft of light that drills into your deepest self to awaken the spirit.

I'm sorry the image of the cover isn't really big enough for you to see details. The mandalas in the book are 9"x9", which is plenty big enough to see all the wonderful, detailed, meticulously coloured art work. I look forward to practising with this book--as soon as I buy a book stand! The instructions tell you to gaze at the mandala in the usual sitting meditation posture, with hands in dhyana mudra. So I need a bookstand, because I'd hate to prop this thing up and have it slide off my altar, possibly knocking over a candle and at the very least leaving me feeling none too peaceful! :)

I love my new books and am so grateful to have received them. Wonderful gifts, all!

May all beings be at ease.

1 comment:

Derek said...

Yep, these books look wonderful. I love the design of the first one - the graphics are great.

..and funny that those recent episodes of "Battlestar Galactica" we watched featured a mandala as a plot device!