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Book Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


Smile at Fear
Awakening the True Heart of Bravery
Chogyam Trungpa
Shambhala 11/09 Hardcover $19.95
ISBN: 9781590306963

Here is another book by Chogyam Trungpa (1940 -1987), the late Tibetan Buddhist meditation teacher who founded Naropa University and an international association of meditation centers known as Shambhala International. His subject is fear, which surrounds most of us like a dark cloud. We are worried about our financial future, about staying employed or finding a job, about keeping our home, and about securing for our children a better and more hopeful future. But the part that is most debilitating, according to Chogyam Trungpa, is being afraid of who we are. He assures us that we possess Buddha in our hearts and that is the starting point for a reassessment of self. Becoming a spiritual warrior involves honestly looking at ourselves and seeing someone who is good and worthy. It also is comprised of planting "the moon in our heart, which contains gentleness, compassion, and wakefulness. Then we plant the sun in our head, which brings further wakefulness and genuineness into the whole situation." Meditation is a training ground for constantly replenishing our friendliness toward self and the world in which we live.

Trungpa teaches the way of the spiritual warrior. He does not need to conquer or slaughter an enemy. His or her weapons are fearlessness and gentleness. Instead of trying to get rid of problems, the spiritual warrior befriends them and works with them. Strength is found not in developing the power to defeat or overcome someone else but in uncovering our own inner strength. These all lead to a fearlessness that does not flinch in the present moment and is energized by trust, appreciation, and mental balance. Finally, Chogyam Trungpa points out that fearlessness leads to a positive state of mind which is filled with joy, delight, and cheerfulness. As usual, Carolyn Rose Gimian has done a wonderful job editing this book and providing key insights into the Shambhala tradition.


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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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