Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Always easier to hate on dudes, nahmsayin'? I shit on Breaking Open the Head and 2012 before: fine.

Not saying you shouldn't read 'em — I just put 'em on the same level as books by Tom Clancy, John Grisham, Paramahansa Yogananda, or Jed McKenna: pulpy plane-flight entertainment.

Here're a couple books whose authors speak more lucidly, more eloquently and more experientially about practice, its means, its ends, and the various highs and lows in between.

Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chogyam Trungpa

According to Georg Feuerstein's Crazy Wisdom, as well as many other accounts, Trungpa was one very weird dude who got up to some ultra-weird shit. Another instance of an Eastern adept unable to handle the West? Maybe.

Still, this book ought to be mandatory reading for anyone with a daily practice of any sort.

Two asides: First, isn't "Chogyam Trungpa" such a great fucking name? It's an amazing potpourri of consonants and syllables, all arranged most flavorfully. I often wander the house reciting aloud it and its many variations: Chogyam Trungpa, Chungpa Trogyam, Chogpa Trungyam.

Second, and this is empirically proveable in a laboratory setting, but Georg Feuerstein possesses the supernatural ability to string together words — any words! in any combination! — in such a way that sleep is automatically, instantaneously induced in the reader. Sorta like chugging a bottle of NyQuil or being sapped with a velvet-covered blackjack, only without the attendant aches.

Not only will a Feuerstein book stun its reader to unconsciousness, but all Level 3 characters or lesser within a 10-foot radius must make a Saving Throw against Sleep Spells or else succumb to a deep slumber that lasts for three rounds.

Remember, Feuerstein's Enchantment won't work on oozes, constructs, the undead, or Richard Freeman. Mainly because Richard doesn't actually need to read yoga books — he merely glances at a yoga book's Library of Congress summary to parse its contents.

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Sunryu Suzuki

I can neither confirm nor deny any weirdness on the part of Sunryu Suzuki, though I'm sure there're some tell-alls out there. As with Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, though, it doesn't matter. This is a collection of transcripts of many of Suzuki's talks. He hits on aspects of practice in a clear, lucid, no-nonsense manner.