June 12, 2004

Current Reading

Posted at June 12, 2004 03:15 PM in Books .

I just finished House of Reeds this morning, which I had received from the library after reading its precursor a couple of weeks ago. It was entertaining but nowhere near as complete as the first novel. I was about 3/4 of the way through the book when I realized that a lot of things either weren't going to happen or weren't going to be tied up in this book. There is a third book on the way, of course.

I started Jack Black's famous You Can't Win this morning following my finishing the other book. This one looks to be an engaging but very quick read. Combining my interest in history, criminals and outcasts, this will be an interesting book. I'm trying to recall who recommended it to me but I can't.

I'm also reading Great Eastern Sun by Chogyam Trungpa on the side. I lent R my copy of his Shambhala book while discussion sitting meditation recently and realized that I hadn't read this yet, even though I bought it last summer, and it is a companion to that text. R and I may go on a weekend retreat with one of the local groups at some point, just for basic meditation, so we were discussing shine' and simple meditation work. Shambhala has a good example of such in a more "secular" format as the Shambhala system of training and teachings were Trungpa's attempt to come up with a secular mode of practice drawing from Tibetan Buddhist traditions but not necessarily couched in its terminology. I'm actually interested in doing their Level 1 training at some point as I figure it can only help my contemplative practice.

I recall avoiding a lot of Trungpa's work for a long time because my one-time friend and mentor, John Michael Greer, had nothing but derision for him as a teacher. He used to call him "Chug-a-lug Dumptruck" in regards to his drinking. Some of John Michael's points were valid in that it is difficult to rely on the supposed wisdom of a teacher who effectively died a drunk and from his alcohol abuse but it also points to the fact that teachers are just people like you or me and to expect better at all times isn't necessarily realistic. It does give me pause, even now, in embracing much of what he did because there is always the question... The only way to really know is to evaluate for yourself in the end though. People who place their faith in teachers as perfect paragons of virtue are always disappointed in the end. (Of course, John Michael fulfilled this to a 't' himself in the end, becoming a poster child for what not to be as a practitioner, which was disconcerting at that the time.)

On another note, R and I went to see the new Harry Potter movie last night and I must agree with a number of others that I like it more than the first two in many ways. The darker tone is welcome, especially with Harry being older, and the sense that one finally gets of the school as an actual space instead of a group of separate sets and sound stages. I think R was a bit surprised when I suggested going but we went out to a nice dinner and then to the movie.

Tonight, we're off to see Skinny Puppy in downtown Seattle.


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