Notable Books 30
Everyday Dharma: Seven Weeks to finding the Buddha in You, Lama Willa Miller, Theosophical Publishing House, Quest Books, 2009, Pages 268, $15.95
This is a Quest book that has been around for seven years or so. It is an excellent presentation to Buddhism in the Tibetan tradition. It is very clear in its arrangement of topics and extremely well written. I think it should be more widely known. Perhaps one of the reasons it is not as well-known as some Quest books is because it also falls under the classification of ‘Self-help’ books. The author has apparently anticipated this and in her introduction includes the following:
“Many new students of spirituality and Buddhism do not initially have contact with a teacher. They start with books, so it seems to me there should be books available that show people how to start a practice”
I have never been a fan of "self-help" books. In my experience, they promise more than they can deliver, but I will say this book under review does deliver and it does so with no pretenses. It has taken me more than the suggested seven weeks “to find the Buddha within”, but that’s only because I prefer to savior the sections as I work through them.
You might want to check out the author’s page on the link given below. You can see that she is more than qualified to write this kind of book.
About the author Lama Willa Miller (see photo underneath)
Willa B. Miller, PhD is the Founder and Spiritual Director of Natural Dharma Fellowship in Boston, MA and its retreat center Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, NH. She was authorized as a dharma teacher and lineage holder (lama) in the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism after completion of two consecutive three-year retreats in the nineties. She has also practiced in the Shangpa and Nyingma lineages.
The book under review is broken into 7 parts: Week One, Week Two, etc. Then each week is subdivided into seven days. Each day begins with a passage to be read. Frequently, you will have an exercise to do and this often is followed up with a quotation. Interspersed throughout the book are “Dharma Tips” that I found to be useful. There is a nice section at the end of the book with ‘Resources for Further Exploration’. It is essentially up to date and helpful.
Most importantly, go to Facebook, click on the Group (left hand side) and type ‘Everyday Dharma’ in the Facebook search bar at the top. You will find this to be a closed group, but you can click to join. Initially, your membership will be pending. When I did this, the number of members was approaching 340.
Masters and Men: The Human Story in the Mahatma Letters (A Fictionalized Account) by Virginia Hanson, Theosophical Publishing House, Quest Books, Pages 343, $7.50
In the last issue of Theosophy Forward, I reviewed Ed Abdill’s new and excellent book on the Mahatma Letters. I also reviewed a book by Joy Mills. I included a picture of some years ago when I visited Krotona for the first time to give a weekend seminar. In that picture was myself with Joy and Virginia. I’m including it again since it ties in with the previous reviews. (From the left – Virginia, myself, Joy: 1982)
As I was reviewing Ed and Joy’s book, I realized Virginia combined these two together when she was working under Joy’s presidency at Olcott and wrote this fictionalized account of the Mahatma Letters (ML). Hence, the reason for this brief assessment. Even though it has been a number of years since the above picture was taken, I clearly remember discussing with Virginia her book. I told her how it helped me bring together the story behind the ML and how wonderful she did in filling in the gaps to make it flow more smoothly. As she talked about writing the book and keeping the story line flowing, I got the distinct impression that she had seen the story unfold before her eye as she wrote. It was just an impression on my part, but I always felt she authenticated her version for me – and for us.
The blurb on the back cover is so well written, I shall just copy it here because it is a story we know so well.
During the last part of the nineteenth century, from the deep vastness of the Trans-Himalayas, two members of the Occult Brotherhood began exchanging letters with Alfred Percy Sinnett, brilliant English journalist, then residing in Allahabad, India. Due to the superphysical method of writing and transmitting some of the letters, and due to the astonishing facts and philosophy contained in them, an intense world-wide interest in this correspondence developed which has been sustained to the present day.
In 1923 all of these communications were placed in book form under the title The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett and have gone through ten printings. The original letters, dating back to 1880, are in the archives of the British Museum. From this extensive and unique correspondence, novelist Virginia Hanson, a serious student of the letters for many years, has authored this fictionalized version of a very vital episode of the theosophical story. Based on carefully substantiated facts, she has painted a delightfully human work picture of two wise, compassionate, extraordinary individuals. Their names are Koot Hoomi and Morya, and they come vividly alive in this innovative tale.
Notable Books is compiled by Ralph Hannon