Sunday, October 3, 2010

Winter Study Group of One

It's getting colder as we settle into autumn here in Chicago and the trees in the neighborhood are beginning their annual migration to reds and yellows. This means more time spent indoors as it gets lighter later, darker earlier, and colder day-by-day. As i mentioned earlier, i've decided to use this season to go back and look at the Four Noble Truths and, following the lead of Phillip Moffitt's book Dancing With Life, think about how they apply to my life now, as opposed to how they applied to Buddha's life 2,500 years ago.

My plan is to spend one month on each of the Truths, which will have me finish at the end of January. To that effect, i reread the introductory chapters in Dancing during the last week of September, and started the first chapter of Truth 1 yesterday. Since i'm not going to buy any new books i looked on my shelves this morning and pulled out a selection that i will use as supplemental material. Here's what i came up with:

Ajahn Sumedho's The Four Noble Truths
      Like Moffitt, the Theravada viewpoint
      (Online document at

Geshe Tashi Tsering's The Four Noble Truths
      The Tibetan viewpoint

Thach Nhat Hanh's The Heart of The Buddha's Teaching
      The Zen viewpoint
      (The first half of the book only)

And since i have always believed that you can't really understand the intent of what the 4 Truths are asking us to do without understanding the Six Paramitas, i may also spend time again with:

Robert Aitken's The Practice of Perfection

Daido Loori's The Heart of Being
      Selected chapters only, like the chapter on the Bodhisattva Vows

That's a lot of reading, a lot of sitting, and a lot of reflecting, but luckily i don't have to do all of that at home — on sunny days i can simply pack a couple of onigiri, a thermos of green tea (or hōjicha!), my eReader, and sit while i ride my bike.

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