Calm Breath, Calm Mind: A Guide to the Healing Power of Breath
by Geshe YongDong Losar
Wisdom Publications, June 2022, $15.95, 200 pp., paper
This is your plain English guide for harnessing the power of our lung (breath energy), which can help with calming the mind, clearing energy channels, and expanding your awareness (not to mention liberating all beings from the cycles of samsara). Geshe YongDong Losar is a lama in Bön, an indigenous tradition that predates the arrival of Tibetan Buddhism in the Himalayas, and founder of centers in Canada and Costa Rica. Through exercises that include tonglen (“sending and receiving”) and nine-breath purification, Geshela’s clear and powerful instructions make Calm Breath, Calm Mind a book you can turn to again and again.
Look, Look, Look, Look, Look Again: Buddhist Wisdom Reflected in 26 Artists
by Kevin Thomas Townley Jr.
Lionheart Press, February 2022, $27.95, 284 pp., paper
This book is for Buddhists, art enthusiasts, and anyone looking to kick-start their creative juices. Townley, a writer, actor, filmmaker, singer, meditation teacher, and Zen practitioner, explores the five wisdom energies in the work of 26 women artists. This dynamic and insightful read concludes with the idea that both art and the dharma are for everyone and reveals the richness that can come with giving everything more than one quick look.
Meditations of the Pali Tradition: Illuminating Buddhist Doctrine, History, and Practice
By L. S. Cousins, edited by Sarah Shaw
Shambhala Publications, September 2022, $24.95, 336 pp., paper
Lance (L. S.) Cousins (1942–2015) was a leading scholar in Pali language and literature and the Abhidhamma. This posthumous book, discovered nearly complete on Cousins’s computer after his death, is the first comprehensive exploration of meditation systems in Theravada Buddhism. Though Cousins was a scholar, he wrote with the practitioner in mind, and readers interested in what he believed was the essential role of jhana (an absorptive state that arises from concentration), as well as lost traditions and the flourishing of vipassana (insight), will find much value in this book. (For more, listen to a podcast interview with the book’s editor, scholar Sarah Shaw).
A History of Buddhism in India and Tibet: An Expanded Version of the Dharma’s Origins Made by the Learned Scholar Deyu
translated by Dan Martin
Wisdom Publications, June 2022, $97.95, 984 pp., cloth
Tuck in for the colder months with this new translation of the comprehensive history of Buddhism in India and Tibet, written by an anonymous author in the 13th century. This text is part of the Library of Tibetan Classics, a series of books compiled by the Institute of Tibetan Classics in Montreal, Canada. The project is also endorsed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Through translations of texts previously thought lost, ecumenical teachings, royal family trees, and an extensive bibliography, the reader—who needn’t be a scholar but who should get ready for all kinds of footnotes— gets the most thorough history available to date.
WHAT WE’RE REREADING
The Issue at Hand: Essays on Buddhist Mindfulness Practice
by Gil Fronsdal
As a budding Buddhist in the late 2000s, I learned a lot from Gil Fronsdal and other teachers featured on Insight Meditation Center’s website. After beginning The Issue at Hand, I was immediately reminded of what drew me in to both the Buddha’s teachings and Fronsdal’s style—simple instructions on ending suffering, emphasis on direct experience, and invitations to get curious about what you do and why you do it. Published in 2001 as transcribed and edited dharma talks, this book is freely available in multiple languages on IMC’s website. Short chapters begin with brief verses from the Pali canon and other early Buddhist books and nicely illustrate Fronsdal’s commentary on themes including the four noble truths, meditations on the body, and generosity.