Monday, January 1, 2007

Book Review: The Best Buddhist Writing 2005; Melvin Mcleod, ed; 2006

"Waking Up At Work" caught my eye while I was flipping through the pages of The Best Buddhist Writing 2005. I was at the time feeling out of sorts about my relationship with my job and while standing in a quiet corner of the bookstore devoured half of Michael Carroll's article before deciding this might be a volume worth taking home.

That was a good decision. It's been one of the more enlightening books I've had the pleasure to read this year. Not because it lead me to a great spiritual awakening, but simply because it features nuanced writing on a variety of interesting topics, everything from reimagining the work place to the pleasures of spending time with children, from the history of Japanese haiku to teachings on mediation from some of the world's great Buddhist masters, from stories of personal redemption from violence and addiction to contemplations on the mysteries of nature.

32 non-fiction articles are collected here under the guidance of Melvin McLeod, Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian bi-monthly Buddhist magazine Shambala Sun. For anyone interested in Buddhism, this volume is a wonderful introduction to how the philosophy is expressed in daily life, from sitting mediation to sitting in the office. And as many of the writers here are North American, it can also serve well those looking for an introduction to trends in North American Buddhism, quite clearly expressed here as the quest to make life meaningful when the rewards of life in a culture of material abundance are not enough.

There are several pages worth of quotable passages from this collection, but as it will probably have resonance with the greatest number of readers, allow me to end with one from "Waking Up At Work." Michael Carroll writes:

"The sober reality we face is this: resisting work's difficulties and hoping for smooth sailing is pointless. Work, indeed all life, is often disappointing and uncertain, and it is futile to expect otherwise. Being hostile toward any of life's difficulties only amplifies our discomfort, and we end up at war with ourselves, arguing with our lives rather than living them."



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