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Category Archives: Reviews – new review of spiritual books

Sacred Space The Prayer Book 2015 – The Irish Jesuits

The Sacred Place website began in 1999 as a project by Jesuits in Ireland. They make content available every day at Ave Maria Press started publishing the prayer book in a print version in 2005. This popular resource has sold more than 400,000 copies and has introduced many non-Catholics to the invaluable traditions of Lectio Divina (sacred reading) and the six-step method developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola.

In addition to readings from the Bible and commentary on them, there are short prayers and spiritual exercises to perform. A longer essay appears each week — “Something to think and pray about each day this week” — on subjects such as What Makes God Love Us? Suffering and Joy, Recognizing and Accepting Anger, Wanting to Forgive, the Joy of Freedom, Meeting God Within, Humility and Compassion, and Grace in Dying.

Book review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


Calling on God Inclusive Christian Prayers for Three Years of Sundays – Peter Bankson, Deborah Sokolove

The prayers in Calling On God were written for the public worship of Seeker’s Church which is “a small, progressive congregation called to creative liturgical expression, inclusive language, and shared leadership. This shared leadership extends to the writings of texts for the congregational prayer, which are created anew for each season of the liturgical year.”

The prayers are keyed to the cycle of readings of the Revised Common Lectionary and reveal the vibrancies of both tradition and the present era. It’s a wonderful collection of devotional material that can be used by communities or individuals.

Book review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat



A Book of Uncommon Prayer 100 Celebrations of the Miracle & Muddle of the Ordinary – Brian Doyle

Brian Doyle is a talented Catholic writer and storyteller who has great enthusiasm for life. We have reviewedquite a number of his books, and he always gives us some fresh approaches to everyday spirituality where wonder, imagination, and joy thrive.

This collection of 100 prayers rides into our hearts and consciousness on Doyle’s God-given gift of creativity. The prayers express Doyle’s fertile imagination and spur us to think more seriously about our own informal prayers and how we can spice them up so as to keep both ourselves and the Holy One from dozing off.

Doyle mines both the miracle and the muddle when he writes prayer about: Suntan Lotion, Port-A-Potties, Decent Shoes, Proofreaders, and the Girl Scouts of America. He offers a “Prayer on Seeing Yet Another Egregious Parade of Muddy Paw Prints on the Floor” celebrating a dog as a “companion of endless eager cheer and amiability.”

One of our favorites is a paean of praise to nurses. We’re going to take this prayer with us the next time we visit a hospital:

A Prayer of Awed Thanks for Nurses

“Witnesses, attendants, bringers of peace; brilliant technical machinists; selfless cleaners of all liquids no matter how horrifying; deft finders of veins when no veins seem available; soothers and calmers and amusers; tireless and patient and tender souls; brisk and efficient when those are the tools to keep despair at bay; those with prayers in their mouths as their patients slide gently through the mysterious gate, never to return in a form like the shriveled still one in the bed; feeders and teasers, mercies and singers; they who miss nothing with their eyes and ears and fingers and hearts; they who are not saluted and celebrated and worshipped as they ought to be; they who are the true administrators of hospitals and clinics, for it is they who have their holy hands on the brows and bruises of the broken and frightened; they who carry the new infants to their sobbing exhausted thrilled mothers; they who must carry the news of damage and death to the family in the waiting room; they whom You know, each and every one, glorious and lovely in their greens and blues and rainbow clothing; they who are You in every tender touch and quiet friendly gentle murmured remark; they who are the best of us; bless them always and always, Mercy; for they are the clan of calm and the tribe of tender, and I bow in thanks for them. And so: amen.”

Anyone who has ever been in a hospital will join in this prayerful tribute to “the clan of the calm and the tribe of the tender.” Poem prayers like this one should be read aloud on the hospital channels or used by chaplains visiting patients.

By the time we finished A Book of Uncommon Prayer,we were ready to create our own informal prayers for use in any and every situation.

Book review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat



The Buddha Walks into the Office A Guide to Livelihood For a New Generation – Lodro Rinzler

Lodro Rinzler is a teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage and founder of the Institute for Passionate Leadership. He has an advice column appearing regularly on the Huffington Post. He is the author ofThe Buddha Walks into a Bar and Walk Like a Buddha.In this practical work, Rinzler takes on the challenge of right livelihood in times when work is scarce and the future belongs to those who are resilient lifelong learners. The author delivers wise advice in four sections: Live with Purpose, On-the-Job Compassion, Six Tools for Compassionate Leadership, Be Awake for Each Moment.

Those familiar with Rinzler’s previous books know his special talent for practical spirituality. Here you will find thought-provoking material on setting an intention at work, monitoring your speech, five slogans for changing how you view your job, mentors and virtue, five slogans for empathy and compassion, benevolence, equanimity, fearlessness and much more.

The following practice can be used when trying to cope with an irritating person: “If you are at work and someone is giving you a hard time, it might be helpful to take out a mala and silently recite and contemplate the word patience 108 times. With each recitation, you can reflect on what the word means to you and what it means in this context. In taking the time to do that, you are slicing through the story line that surrounds your frustration and instead turning your attention to a quality you want to cultivate.”

The Buddha Walks into the Office is a top-notch resource for those who are serious about doing spiritual practice on the job.

Book review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


Zen Encounters with Loneliness Terrance Keenan

Terrance Keenan is an Irish artist, writer, and Zen Buddhist monk. He was formally a university lecturer, independent bookseller, special collections librarian, and senior monk at the Zen Center of Syracuse. He has published four books of poems.

As you can discern from Keenan’s varied job description, he is a very versatile Buddhist who has created an unusual Zen approach to life and experience. Two additional bits of information are that he went into rehab 12 years ago and has been working at recovery ever since. And he has Graves’ Disease, a hyperthyroid condition rare in men.

In a series of meditative essays interspersed with his poems, Keenan muses on anger, the end of linear certainties, the fantasy of perfection, giving up the intellect as home, living in stardust, and arriving in the irreligious dark.

There are so many glints of wisdom in this book. Here are just a few.

• A woman counselor tells Keenan to sit a while with “No Blame.” That means you can’t blame your parents, your past, him or her, sex, addiction, or bad luck. Take blame out of the equation and things seem better.

• “In Japan there is a custom called Osaki-ni. It is a kind of deep courtesy in which one apologizes for the grief one can cause another. It is especially so in cases over which we have no control, such as death. You know your parting will cause others sorrow, and you thus express your sorrow at having to be the first to go. In it blame vanishes.”

• “What is the Zen life? When Huston Smith asked this question of a Rinsai Zen master in Japan, after a week-long arduous sesshin, anxious to discover why one would work so hard at practice, he was told: the Zen life is infinite gratitude for all that is past; infinite service toward all that is present; and infinite responsibility toward all that is in the future.”

We heartedly recommend to you Terrence Keenan’s Zen approach to everyday life. The snatches from his trials and tribulations and his pensive poems are added value.

Book review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


Buddhism One Teacher, Many Traditions His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Thubten Chodron – Book review

Book Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

In this excellent primer on the essentials of Buddhism, His Holiness the Dalai Lama teams up with American-born Buddhist nun Thubten Chodron, founder and abbess of Stravasti Abbey, a monastery in Eastern Washington State. As the subtitle reveals, in this world religion, there is one teacher and many diverse traditions to savor. Reading this book we begin to sense how huge and diverse the Buddhist family is. A common bond which connects all Buddhist practitioners is their being messengers of peace.

In 15 chapters from the opening one on ” Origin and Spread of the Buddha’s Doctrine” to the closing one on “Tantra,” His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Thubten Chodron explain some of the more complex teachings on selflessness, emptiness, dependent arising, and the higher training in ethical conduct and wisdom. We appreciated the clear and cogent explanations of the Four Immeasurables (love, compassion, joy, and equanimity). Each of these virtues has a “near enemy” and a “far enemy” and the goal is to be free of both of them. After finishing Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions you will have a deeper appreciation of this path.


Book Review – Don’t Kill Him by Ma Anand Sheela

Read the book “Dont Kill Him” authored by Ma Anand Sheela . At the outset, I felt happy that a close associate & disciple (The cover page!) of “Osho” has brought in her experience with her master to the humanity.

The book depicts the journey she had with a realized master in a language simple to read and understand. She has penned how she carried the administration work and how she has completed all the tasks she has been assigned. Being (myself) a disciple of a realized master, I can draw a parallel how we all must give our heart and soul for a master’s thoughts and words. Thanks for that.

Having said that, I thought to bring up these points as well.

Being with a realized master, everyone will change completely across all fronts and I am she would have tasted the truth so many times. What I feel is that she has not brought out the truth (as she has tasted) or her spiritual experiences or the essence of him in her. 

Also she indicates that he also has all the qualities like any other human. I am sure though he has the qualities, he cannot be associated with any of that. Though “Osho” acts, you can never associate any of it with him because it is existence which is acting through him. This as well is not brought out clearly in the book.

Probably she has consciously avoided or there is a plausibility that she has not felt the change he has  created in her. If so, at least, she could have mentioned the same in the book. 

 Concluding this, I feel that the book is not up to the mark for such a class and a close disciple like her.

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