I have just begun a very exciting book, Nonduality, by David Loy. It is a philosophical analysis of three major non-dual philosophical systems: Advaita Vedanta, Taoism and Buddhism. It explores notions such as nondual perception and action in a rigorous and yet readable manner. Though is is primarily an academic work, it has already in a couple of chapters opened up some “real-life” philosophical puzzles that have haunted me for some time now!
I came across it in Joan Tollifson’s reading list, which is a rich source for books in the non-duality ballpark.
Very excitingly, the author himself has uploaded the book as a scanned copy here. Please read for a sophisticated and exciting glimpse into the most profound philosophical traditions on the planet!
Sam Harris’ book Free Will is the most clear and cogent piece of writing on the subject of free will that I have come across.
If we follow the assumption that our mind states, our thoughts and feelings, are the product of the neurochemistry of our brain, then we must agree that as none of us have sculpted our brains, we are not in control of our minds.
Even if we believe that we have souls, then the same argument applies. We did not create our souls, therefore we are not “responsible” for them.
These summaries above are crude approximations to the elegance and power of the book, which I urge you to read now. Especially in the light of non-dual traditions, it makes for powerful reading.
I thought it would be fun and interesting to list some of the books that inspire me in contemplation and writing, and to invite you to do the same in your comments.
So here goes.
1 The Snow Leopard, by Peter Matthiessen
2 Everyday Zen, by Charlotte Joko Beck
3 Zen and the Brain, by James Austin
What three books might you add to this list?
Now the air is struck by the shrill of a single cicada, brilliant, eerie, a sound as fierce as a sword blade shrieking on a lathe, yet subtle, bell-like, with a ring that causes the spider webs to shimmer in the sunlight. I stand transfixed by this unearthly sound that radiates from all the world at once. . .
Many who visit this blog might have already read this gorgeous book, but since I am re-reading it for around the tenth time, I thought I should write briefly about it.
This is a travel book as well as an exploration of Zen Buddhism and contemplation. The author is travelling in the Himalayas with the famous field biologist George Schaller, and he describes the various landscapes and people he comes across in shimmering, pure prose. He has a keen sense for flickering, elusive beauty: cobwebs shining in the sun; the cry of a cicada that frames the silence; the loveliness of a lame beggar girl.
As he travels, the author describes his own discovery of Zen meditation and the way it grounds his life, especially since the death of his wife from cancer. Matthiessen goes into the history of both Zen and some Tibetan Buddhism, and the impact his various teachers have had on him.
Read, read, read!