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Book Reviews

MEDITATION IN ACTION by Chogyam Trungpa.

(Stuart and Watkins. 15s.).

Review by J. C. Cooper.

Source: Studies in Comparative Religion, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Winter, 1970) © World Wisdom, Inc.

The size of this book of seventy-four pages is in inverse proportion to its importance and value. Being a transcription from tape-recorded lectures its message is conveyed more in the spoken than the written style, but the appearance of simplicity is deceptive; there is profound teaching in these pages, in fact as little, or as much, as the understanding and perception of the reader himself can bring to them.

Stress is laid on the Buddhist teaching of the necessity of experience of truth, rather than mere learning from books and teachers or indulging in useless speculation. Books and an educational system condition our minds as to "what to think, rather than to do real research from within ourselves". We need "to get beyond the pattern of mental concepts we have formed; not that this implies a drastic abandonment of these concepts, but, instead, to "go through" them to an understanding of them and oneself.

There is a full and felicitous use of allegory and parable which brings home the point as only these methods can. For example there is the story of the woman who, suffering from hunger, followed the Buddha for food. Buddha insisted that she should first learn to refuse the food offered, and in the difficulty of this act "she realized that the real hunger inside her was the desire to own, grasp, possess and want". What better introduction to the doctrine of Buddhism could there be than this apparently simple parable?

In these days of so much pinchbeck Hindu and Buddhist writing, it is a relief and a privilege to be given the real gold.