Book reviews
Best Dalai Lama Biography: Kundun by Mary Craig

Best Dalai Lama Biography: Kundun by Mary Craig

by Katinka Hesselink - Spirituality on November 21, 2014

Mary Craig’s biography of the 14th Dalai Lama and his family is so good it was turned into a movie. That makes sense: it’s an inspiring story about the Dalai Lama, his family and culture. However, beyond that it’s the story of surviving the track through the Himalaya’s, the Chinese always on their trail and the subsequent landing in India that really make this a book to remember.

At the same time, and this is inherent in the story, we are called on to empathize with the Tibetan people living in occupied Tibet.

Once in India the family of the Dalai Lama became involved in the burgeoning democracy if the TIbetan people that their prominent brother was (is) trying to foster.

The book starts with the death of the previous Dalai Lama and the subsequent search for his rebirth. This is always an interesting start to a Tulku’s story as it takes us right into the magical worldview of Tibetan Buddhism. Tulku’s (incarnated lama’s) have a magical aura in Tibetan Buddhism and of course the Dalai Lama is among those whose reputation is highest. He had a lot to live up to growing up.

The current Dalai Lama was even asked, in his late teens, to write a meditation for his followers on his unity with Avalokiteshvara: Buddha of compassion. I do this meditation regularly because it’s a beautiful sadana and not too long. However, if you look at this from the Dalai Lama’s perspective it’s quite something. Here you are, a teen being prepared by your teachers and tutors for this dual role of spiritual guru and leader of a country and you have to write something to help people worship you more effectively.

The Dalai Lama is world famous. He received The Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to free Tibet peacefully from Chinese occupation. He teaches Buddhism both to TIbetans, Tibetan Buddhists and people interested in no more than happiness in this life. He reaches out to scientists to find common ground between Buddhist psychology and meditation and modern neurology and psychology.

He’s a mountain of a man who will be sadly missed when he passes on.

Most biographies focus on those very public aspects of his life. Kundun instead focuses on the people around him, their culture and struggles, their hopes, fears and challenges. The result is a must-read book for anybody interested in Tibet, Human Rights, Exile and of course Tibetan Buddhism.

Meditation books for kids - Moody Cow

Meditation books for kids

by Katinka Hesselink - Spirituality on November 14, 2014

Can children learn about meditation? Sure they can! The books on this page are meant for pre-school children and kids in primary school. They make meditation and spirituality fun.

It’s not a good idea to make it all too heavy for them: you don’t want them rebelling later and forgetting about these options for a healthier and more balanced life. Instead you want them to acquire a skill they’ll be using throughout their lives. Don’t you?

Shown here is the popular: Moody Cow Meditates

Remember: the main point is for them to learn to be with what is – that emotional discipline will be the basis for all that follows. [click to continue…]

Thumbnail image for Love: The Saint and the Seeker – Mother Teresa and Christina Stevens

Love: The Saint and the Seeker – Mother Teresa and Christina Stevens

November 1, 2014

Some books defy categorization. ‘Love: The Saint and the Seeker‘ by  Christina Stevens is one such book. It’s marketed – understandably – as a biography of Mother Teresa. However, Christina Stevens has only known the saint for a couple of days. Instead the book is mostly an autobiography of Christina Stevens and how Mother Teresa’s life […]

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Thumbnail image for The View From Within: First Person Approaches To The Study Of Consciousness

The View From Within: First Person Approaches To The Study Of Consciousness

July 17, 2014

Miscellany of articles on the edge of the science of consciousness. Challenging and fascinating. On the roll of the body in consciousness and healing, about the metaphysics of introspection and more. View from Within: First-person Approaches to the Study of Consciousness is all that and more. On the attempt to integrate the experience of consciousness with […]

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Thumbnail image for Dakini Power: Twelve Extraordinary Women Shaping the Transmission of Tibetan Buddhism in the West

Dakini Power: Twelve Extraordinary Women Shaping the Transmission of Tibetan Buddhism in the West

May 5, 2014

When I first became a Buddhist, and did so within Tibetan Buddhism, I got a few emails warning me that I had entered a patriarchal movement. They were not wrong, though my teacher seems (while himself male) pretty good at giving his female students the same opportunities as his male students. In fact, the most […]

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Thumbnail image for Mindfulness for Dummies review

Mindfulness for Dummies review

April 24, 2014

What’s the ideal mindfulness book? Personally I don’t really need to read another book EXPLAINING mindfulness. The term is confusing, very general and even somewhat misleading. And no book I’ve read deals with any of that (1). Instead most mindfulness books I’ve read treat mindfulness like it’s pretty straight forward. Which, in a way, it […]

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Thumbnail image for Imagining Karma: Ethical Transformation in Amerindian, Buddhist, and Greek Rebirth

Imagining Karma: Ethical Transformation in Amerindian, Buddhist, and Greek Rebirth

April 7, 2014

Obeyesekere is the kind of thinker I love: sweeping, sociological, anthropological and philosophical. However, unlike myself, he’s a real scholar and doesn’t ignore the details. In Imagining Karma: Ethical Transformation in Amerindian, Buddhist, and Greek Rebirth he looks at just what makes karma special from rebirth thought in cultures around the world. The unifying theme he finds is […]

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Thumbnail image for Neufelt, Ronald W. (ed). Karma and rebirth: Post Classical Developments

Neufelt, Ronald W. (ed). Karma and rebirth: Post Classical Developments

April 6, 2014

This book is a companion to Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions. Instead of looking at the classical period (before the common era), it looks at more modern developments in interpreting karma. That means it starts with Buddhism 2000 years ago, catches up to Hinduism in the 1850s and covers the reception of karma in […]

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Thumbnail image for Doniger O’Flaherty, Wendy (ed). Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions

Doniger O’Flaherty, Wendy (ed). Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions

April 5, 2014

Another of the books I looked at to get my facts straight when writing about karma was: Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions, edited by Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty. It’s a collection of academic articles on the topic, collected in 1980 in hopes of deepening the understanding of karma in cross-religious perspective. That means […]

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Thumbnail image for Karma: Dimensions of Asian Spirituality

Karma: Dimensions of Asian Spirituality

April 4, 2014

In researching my (upcoming) book about Karma, I brushed up my knowledge on the topic. One of the books I turned to was Karma: Dimensions of Asian Spirituality by Johannes Bronkhorst. My teachers at Leiden University whisper his name with awe. Professor Bronkhorst is a living legend in the study of India and Buddhism. From the […]

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