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Thread: Possibly the best Buddhist book ever

  1. #1

    Possibly the best Buddhist book ever

    but seriously...

    The Sound of Silence by Ajahn Sumedho.

    This book transcends sects within Buddhism, and even transcends history. Its simple, its about Sumedho's experience right now- and yours and mine. The book is gentle, not about views and opinions. Its about awareness. Its like having a wise grandparent just encouraging you, moment to monent, to take note. It doesn't agree nor disagree with your opinions.
    Each chapter seems to be a transcript of an actual talk by Sumedho.
    I can't write a review here that would do it justice so all I can do is encourage you to read it.
    Let me know if you liked it.

    Rich

  2. #2

    Re: Possibly the best Buddhist book ever

    I am not completely comfortable with the recommendation ... I am sure that it is a wonderful book, but I prefer to not play tennis on the football field. I hope you understand. Ajahn Sumedho is a gifted and respected teacher in his tradition, but it is rather a different path from here. I cannot say more without having read this particular book.

    I have ordered the book, and I will have a look. One cannot judge a book by its cover, I hear.

    Gassho, Jundo

  3. #3
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Possibly the best Buddhist book ever

    Don't take this the wrong way, Rich - but you seem to ONLY be talking from a Theravada perspective - and not talking much about Zen at all.

    Are you coming from Theravada TO Zen and are new to Zen? As Jundo says, they are slightly different 'sports'.

    *gassho*

    Chet

  4. #4

    Re: Possibly the best Buddhist book ever

    Hi Chet
    Have a read of it I think you'll be surprised. No concepts (the idea of Theravada or Zen unarisen) just awareness. Mainly I'd say its like shikantaza as a book.
    Take care my friend
    Rich

    Hi Jundo

    "but I prefer to not play tennis on the football field"- its all grass on the ground (or astroturf if you must!)
    The form of Zen =tennis
    The form of Theravada =football
    The grass/ground= awareness/shikantaza

    Just in case its not your thing (dont want you to waste money on my account) heres some cheap copies:
    http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchR ... ho&x=0&y=0

    ATB
    Rich

  5. #5

    Re: Possibly the best Buddhist book ever

    Hi Rich,

    It is ordered and will be read. I am sure that it is a lovely book by a great teacher.

    I prefer to teach folks to pursue one way thoroughly and wholeheartedly before they are distracted from it and give in to the tendency to run from one thing to the next. Most people do not know how to do that in the spiritual supermarket, and just run from one thing to the next thing ... never satisfied. In fact, Shikantaza is the art of being thoroughly enlightened within just one action, and is the medicine for our running after this thing and then that thing endlessly ... never satisfied, always searching.

    I am not a "my way or the highway" fellow, or orthodox about the "one right way" ... and I do not think there is "one right" Buddhism or even "one right religion" ... but I believe in practicing one game at a time, especially in the kind of game we play here. Tennis is lovely, football is lovely, grass is grass ... but football played with tennis rackets is an awkward game, as is tennis while lobbing a football.

    Thank you for respecting our teaching emphasis here at the football camp.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - Just today, I recommended some writings by Thich Nhat Hanh on the issue of anger to someone who was facing some special issues there. There is a place for other practice in the right situation. It is just that one must be very cautious about mixing and matching if one is to avoid creating a spiritual Frankenstein (what Trungpa called "Spiritual Materialism"), or risk losing the "nothing more is needed, all is right here" message of our Shikantaza way. I'm sorry. I certainly will read the book to see if it is in keeping with the insight.

  6. #6
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Possibly the best Buddhist book ever

    I think I understand what you're saying, Rich; I haven't read The Sound of Silence, but I have read Sumedho's The Mind and the Way, and had a similar reaction to it. His writing/speaking style has an excellent manner of pointing to "just this." He's not one of those Therevadin teachers that's all tripped out on jhana experiences, or intent on proving "what the Buddha really taught about the concept of Muladharmavasta as expressed in the Brahmawhackalacka Sutra, Middle Discourses III: 37." He teaches about just this, even if in "Therevada language." How the mind shapes our experience of "reality," how we mistake the gyrations of the mind for experience itself.

    I personally find reading teachings from different traditions and perspectives, rather than muddying or complicating my practice or perspective, clarifies the essential or basic teachings of the lineage to which I am committed. Using different words or a different framework to express the same basic experience or teaching actually does a lot to illuminate which is the frame and which is the picture. Although if we were to Dogenize this, we would have to say the frame is the picture... but the frame/picture is just this moment; if something helps us drop the thinking that places a gap between us and the experience of this moment, who cares exactly in which style the frame is carved?

  7. #7

    Re: Possibly the best Buddhist book ever

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    I think I understand what you're saying, Rich; I haven't read The Sound of Silence, but I have read Sumedho's The Mind and the Way, and had a similar reaction to it. His writing/speaking style has an excellent manner of pointing to "just this." He's not one of those Therevadin teachers that's all tripped out on jhana experiences, or intent on proving "what the Buddha really taught about the concept of Muladharmavasta as expressed in the Brahmawhackalacka Sutra, Middle Discourses III: 37." He teaches about just this, even if in "Therevada language." How the mind shapes our experience of "reality," how we mistake the gyrations of the mind for experience itself.

    I personally find reading teachings from different traditions and perspectives, rather than muddying or complicating my practice or perspective, clarifies the essential or basic teachings of the lineage to which I am committed. Using different words or a different framework to express the same basic experience or teaching actually does a lot to illuminate which is the frame and which is the picture. Although if we were to Dogenize this, we would have to say the frame is the picture... but the frame/picture is just this moment; if something helps us drop the thinking that places a gap between us and the experience of this moment, who cares exactly in which style the frame is carved?
    Perhaps I have jumped to conclusions and assumed much too much? Better to read the book first, and to keep an open mind! ops: It is rather foolish of me to criticize something I have not even read. My apologies.

    Brahmawhackalacka Sutra

    That made me laugh!

    Gassho, J

  8. #8

    Re: Possibly the best Buddhist book ever

    Thanks for the giggle Stephanie re:suttas
    Yes, I agree entirely with what you said so well..thank you.
    See Jundo..I'm not an evil Theravadin in drag come to confuse pure Zennies :wink:

    Rich

  9. #9

    Re: Possibly the best Buddhist book ever

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    Although if we were to Dogenize this, we would have to say the frame is the picture...
    I like this quote - the world needs more dogenization....

  10. #10

    Re: Possibly the best Buddhist book ever

    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly
    See Jundo..I'm not an evil Theravadin in drag come to confuse pure Zennies :wink:
    That Dude Looks like a Zennie! :twisted:

  11. #11

    Re: Possibly the best Buddhist book ever

    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly
    Just in case its not your thing (dont want you to waste money on my account) heres some cheap copies:
    http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchR ... ho&x=0&y=0
    You can also have a look att google books, http://tinyurl.com/2w672eh. Not the whole book, but still large parts of it.

  12. #12

    Re: Possibly the best Buddhist book ever

    I like this quote - the world needs more dogenization....
    That Dude Looks like a Zennie! :twisted:
    :lol: :lol:

    You can also have a look att google books, http://tinyurl.com/2w672eh. Not the whole book, but still large parts of it.
    Thanks for that url

    All the best guys

    Rich

  13. #13

    Re: Possibly the best Buddhist book ever

    Jundo quite rightly doesn't want practice issues confused so I'm adding this for any newbies who might think of getting the book.

    A very large percentage of the book is chatting about just awareness. If you read it carefully you will see that the idea of a little observer detachedly watching the outside- something that seems quite common when reading Theravada books- isn't there. Sumedho even says that awareness isn't a "point" in the mind as well as some other comments that a careful reading will show are in keeping with Zen.

    He does however like to play with awareness- which isn't part of shikantaza. These games he plays don't, in my opinion, go against the Zen approach and can help to understand this way of being but I want to make it clear they aren't general Soto practices as far as I know. Again, in my opinion, I don't think they go against the spirit of practice here and, having played with them to see, I have gained a lot from them.

    On a couple of occasions there are bits about hearing the 'sound of silence'. He personally has noticed that when he is very open and aware he notices a constant background sound.There's some evidence that the ears can produce sound as well as respond to it and , I guess, that when very open and still it might be noticed. Whatever it is and whether or not its heard (as long as its not an ear problem needing treatment) it shouldn't be a problem within a Zen framework as what we do is just be aware of whats there. Just wanted to say this is not a general Zen discussion point as far as I know.

    Everything else, I think, will not cause anyone any confusion and the general chatty, non-conceptual tone of just noticing what is may be very useful.

    I hope this is useful caveat to my recommendation and will allow folks to get the most from the book without causing any confusion with their Treeleaf practice.

    Rich

  14. #14

    Re: Possibly the best Buddhist book ever

    11 of the 27 talks contained in this book can be downloaded for free, they appeared in the prior collection "intuitive awareness." the link:

    http://abhayagiri.ehclients.com/pdf/...-awareness.pdf

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