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Thirty pleasant, rambling beginner's lessons in Buddhism by a leading light of the Santa Cruz sangha. Some of the chapters are based on transcriptions from tape-recorded classes taught by Levine at Soledad prison, but they all sound ""live,"" i.e., spontaneous and disconnected. Levine talks in soothing, informal tones about developing mindfulness, about letting go of the thinking and judging self, seeing through the illusion of the separate self, reaching enlightenment by not reaching for it, etc. He spends a little time discussing meditation techniques, postures and so forth, but he mostly skips the mechanics. His message is straightforward and tremendously, perhaps unbelievably, positive: just let the ""unwholesome qualities"" of greed and hatred drop away, and one's ""natural state of loving kindness and generosity"" will stand revealed. From time to time Levine slips into the cliches of psychobabble (""ego trip,"" ""judgmental""), but he snaps back soon enough into readable prose. Sometimes he interrupts the flow of his low-key lecture for a ""guided meditation""--practical exercises recapitulating the previous lessons. What the newcomer to Buddhism will make of all this, of sudden declarations that ""The void is the vastness in which we are occurring, it is the truth itself,"" is hard to say. He might, conceivably, be sufficiently intrigued to seek out formal training in Buddhism, and become a convert. Which is what Levine, in his modest way, is trying to get him to do.

Pub Date: Jan. 26th, 1978
ISBN: 0385262183
Publisher: Anchor/Doubleday