Radical Responsibility: How to Move Beyond Blame, Fearlessly Live Your Highest Purpose, and Become an Unstoppable Force for Good by Fleet Maull. Sounds True, May 2019, $22.95, 266 pp., cloth.
Maull, a meditation teacher in the Shambhala and Zen traditions, once faced the prospect of life in prison without parole. (He ended up serving 14 years.) Radical Responsibility is a demonstration of what Maull has learned and taught over the last three decades. Dozens of guided meditations and opportunities for self-reflection are offered to help you train your mind and take responsibility for your actions, empowering you to determine your future, no matter where you’ve been or what is happening to you right now.
Here: Poems for the Planet edited by Elizabeth J. Coleman. Copper Canyon Press, April 2019, $18, 240 pp., paper.
Representing over 125 voices, Here: Poems for the Planet is so much more than a poetry collection dedicated to all we stand to lose as the Earth heats up. In addition to five poetry sections on themes such as animals and the next generation, the book also has practical tips from the Union of Concerned Scientists on how to take meaningful action as well as best practices for reaching out to elected officials, organizing public events, and engaging with the media. Copper Canyon Press is an independent nonprofit publisher, and this book was crowdfunded with the intent to distribute a copy to every member of Congress.
How to Stay Human in a F*cked Up World: Mindfulness Practices for Real Life by Tim Desmond. Harper One, June 2019, $24.99, 224 pp., cloth.
“It’s possible to pay attention and care about the suffering in the world without letting it poison us.” This statement is at the heart of the new book by Tim Desmond, a mindfulness teacher, psychotherapist, and longtime student of Thich Nhat Hanh. How to Stay Human in a F*cked Up World shows us that by relating to life’s ever-present pain with compassion, joy, equanimity, and wisdom, we have a fighting chance to experience happiness. Desmond invites us to take our mindfulness practice off the cushion and into the world (which never has been and never will be perfect).
Debating Yoga and Mindfulness in Public Schools by Candy Gunther Brown. University of North Carolina Press, May 2019, $34.95 paper, $100 cloth, 456 pp.
What’s the harm in having kids do mindfulness meditation or sun salutations in homeroom? Plenty, according to Candy Gunther Brown, a professor of religious studies at Indiana University-Bloomington who has served as an expert witness in four legal challenges to these practices in schools. Like many of us, Brown believed that these were secular applications until she examined the historical and religious context for herself. This book is a thorough history of mindfulness and yoga in public schools, related court cases, and legal analysis that led Brown to advocate an opt-in model as a way to maintain the separation of church and state.
WHAT WE’RE REREADING
When Zen master, activist, and Buddhist pioneer Bernie Glassman died in November 2018 at the age of 79, it was the eve of the 23rd annual Bearing Witness retreat at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where an estimated 1.1 million Jews and others were exterminated by the Nazis. Glassman had already been a Zen priest for more than two decades when he started the socially engaged Zen Peacemakers Order in 1994, inspired in part by a “street retreat” he had undertaken on the steps of the US Capitol. One of the Peace-makers’ three tenets became “Bearing Witness” (the others are “Not-Knowing” and “Taking Action” ) or opening your-self to all of life’s joys and sorrows— even the most extreme and inhumane— as a way to heal ourselves and others. “Bearing witness” in this sense has since found a home in the modern Buddhist lexicon, sealing Glassman’s legacy.
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