Monday, January 25, 2016

Anam Thubten's "The Magic of Awareness": Audiobook Review

I reviewed Anam Thubten's companion collection of talks, also read by Frank Stella,  No Self, No Problem. This addressed those with a familiarity with Buddhism, but who (reading between the lines) seemed to have become frustrated with their lack of progress towards "perfection." Thubten directs practitioners away from this false hope.

These talks continue this path, grounded in meditation and in cultivating awareness. For convenience given the format on audiobook, I will copy and paste my Audible guided review

"Laying down our burden"
What made the experience of listening to The Magic of Awareness the most enjoyable?
Frank Stella's earnest, emphatic, but calm narration is well matched to Anam Thubten's insistent message that urges the listener to abandon the ego's defenses to find bliss within.

Who was your favorite character and why?
Not applicable. This is aimed at Buddhist meditators and practitioners. I reckon it's too advanced for those without some experience with the teachings and the path. It may encourage, like his other book "No Self, No Problem," those who have hit a dry spell.

What does Fred Stella bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Buddhist teachers convey their instruction by personal conferences and talks so the oral nature of this medium makes it well-suited. His steady voice deepens the ambiance.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
No, as it is too much to take in. Even four hours at twenty minutes or so a chapter concentrates a lot to ponder. The oral presentation may reward revisiting and rewinding. My one improvement would have been an introduction, as the chapters feel more discrete and the unifying approach taken by Thubten needs more attention and effort to be grasped, especially given the audiobook. The words are often simple but the intentions are profound.

Any additional comments?
Thubten's theme is that the dharma tells us to "lay down our mental burden," the constructions of the mind that prevent it from seeing the "groundless ground" and the Tibetan concept of "luminous mind" that transcends by "prajna" our thoughts and concepts. He wants us to abandon our "spiritual library" accumulated of concepts learned but not experienced. This "prison of duality" prevents the ego from dying and ultimate truth emerging. "Oneness-emptiness" cannot be found by speculation but by direct encounter. (6-27-15 to Amazon US)

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