April 04, 2004

Philosophy and Buddhist Books

Posted at April 4, 2004 12:59 PM in Buddhism .

I did a run to the bookstores yesterday while I was out running an errand.

At the University Bookstore, I picked up Pierre Hadot's The Inner Citadel, which is Hadot's examination of Stoicism in Aurelius' Meditations. He gives a look at the underlying basis of what Marus Aurelius was writing about, puts Stoicism into a context and discusses the role of religion in the Roman Empire.

I'm a bit of a Neoplatonist myself with a focus on Theurgy but Stoicism has a lot of value and I've begun learning more about it over time, even with some of its more esoteric diffiulties with platonism in general. Stoicism has a strong moral basis and, in these post-Christian times, I think that it has a lot of value to give to people, be they pagans like myself or not. There should be a bedrock of principle informing one's actions even if you can't always live up to it well.

I also picked up Jacques LaCarriere's The Gnostics, which is a popular press kind of book from City Lights, a leftist publisher. I got this used and it is more of a literary reconstruction of how the Gnostics might have lived moreso than a scholarly breakdown of Gnostic thought (if such a thing existed as a monolithic structure, which is unlikely). It is short and ought to be fun to read.

On the Tantric front, I picked up The Tantric View of Life by Herbert Guenther and Tibetan Yoga by Garma C. C, Chang. The last is really utterly mistitled. The bookstore had another book with the exact same contents labled "rare" under a different title. It is really a collection of two sets of essays. The first on The Teaching of Mahamudra and the second being The Epitome of an Introduction to the Six Yogas of Naropa. I purchased it (cheaply) for the latter as it is a basic but practical overview of the Six Yogas of Naropa with instructions and advice and this is a topic of some interest to me. Chang's work is early in the Buddhist popularization of the last 40 years but still good nonetheless.

The final find today, always at the used book store, is a bunch of early training materials from Chogyam Trungpa's Shambhala training. This, overall, was Trungpa's attempt to produce a somewhat recontextualized and secular vision of the Dharma. Some people consider it a bit lightweight (and it is in a sense) but I've found aspects of it appealing. There are a couple of public books about it (two by Trungpa) but it is most often taught in the form of a training program, which I have never attended due to lack of time and, in some ways, sufficient interest. The books I found are large booklets of lectures from the late 70's and early 80's by him that are specifically used as part of his training program. They specifically say "A Sourebook for Level A of the Shambhala Training Graduate Program" (or level B, C, and D) so it seems that I got a hold of some internal materials that the organization uses as part of their training. Pretty obscure stuff but interesting from a number of points of view.

I purchased:
A Book: Great Eastern Sun
B Book: The Dignity of the Warrior
C Book: Windhorse
D Book: The Golden Key and Discovering Magic
and one uncategorized book titled The Three Yanas of the Dorje Kasung (Dorje Kasung is one of Trungpa's names...)

They were about two or three books each and are cheaply produced but I think I'll get some interesting reading in them.

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