Friday, May 23, 2014

Juicy summer Dharma reads

Amber Larson, Dhr. Seven, Crystal Quintero, Wisdom Quarterly (SUMMER READING)
"Peace is within; do not seek it without" - the Buddha (Vinita Jaynt/

Juicy Dharma reads for the beach over the long Memorial Day weekend (

Young, rich Prince Siddhartha (Buddha-to-be)
This weekend is the unofficial launch of summer in the U.S.

It would be fun to read some good trash with a half-hundred shades of nonsense and salacious... but that gets old fast.

Where's the substance I want? Where's the long term profit. Cheap thrills are not only not that cheap, they aren't that thrilling.

Snakes as sex symbols for Eves?
We have to wonder if the story of the Bodhisattva, when reborn as Siddhartha in the faraway frontier of ancient India, wasn't a kind of bodice ripper of its time.

Handsome, gallant prince has a harem ("dancing girls and all-female musicians and palace guards"), plays sports like archery and proto-polo (Persian chowgan or some kinder version of buzz kashi or kokspar with an un-taxidermically-treated leather "ball"), rides a white pony horse named Kanthaka, does feats of strength, learns great royal skills from Brahmin tutors, wears flowing gowns of the greatest Kasi fabric, and enjoys more riches than he can comfortably get his head around. Where?

Prince Siddhartha in the upper floors of his seasonal palace guarded by women and filled with "dancing" girls and female musicians and a surfeit of luxurious foods and other delights.

Playing with the boys in feats of strength in Central Asia -- proto-polo with a "pigskin" made of lamb, equestrian skill for warriors in need of nomadic endurance (wiki/
Indus Valley Civilization and Kapilavast
Imagine a cosmopolitan crossroads on the Silk Road, travelers and magicians going from the Far East to the West and paradises beyond India and Asia.

Was that the Terai of Nepal? Not likely, but that's what the colonial British books say. Afghanistan is a better candidate, Sanskrit-speaking Gandhara and the remnants of the once great Indus Valley Civilization (romanticized "distant lands" between Egypt and India) and what remained of it. India's influence extended all the way to Iran (which later became Zoroastrian and Sufi-inspired Persia before being overtaken by Islam).

Dance, dancing girls, dance!
Worlds to the west were pre-Christian, pre-Jewish, pre-Abrahamic described in the pejorative as "pagan." Full of shamans, traders, trailblazers, and Sumerian-Egyptian-Arabian-Bedouin post-Babylonians. Life could not have been easy, after the fall of so many great empires and city-states like Harrapa and Mohenjo-Daro.

The Path to Enlightenment, like the course of society as explained by the author-comedian Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy BBC Radio series), goes through phases or stages of sophistication. How will we survive? How shall we eat? ...What's for lunch?

Read (
So reading The Aphorisms and Back-Stories (Dhammapada), The Bodhisat Fables (Buddhist Birth Stories that inspired Aesop, according to British scholar and University of London Professor Rhys Davids), or The Lists (more) may do at first, then the stories (sutras, long discourses and apocryphal texts), then The Analyses (vibhanga), then The Commentaries, The Higher Teachings, but eventually what we need for nourishment is The Synthesis (Bhikkhu Bodhi, Pema Chodron, Ajahn Brahm, Sharon Salzberg, Ayya Khema, Caroline Davids, Joan Halifax, Islaine B. Horner, Ayya Tathaaloka (facebook)...

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