Evolving Dharma: Meditation, Buddhism, and the Next Generation of Enlightenment

Jay Michaelson. North Atlantic/Evolver (Random House, dist.), $17.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-58394-714-2
Since Buddhism was transplanted to America by counterculture movements in the 20th century, the gulf has widened between those who see the practice as a spiritual/religious endeavor and those who regard it as a secular phenomenon. Michaelson (God vs. Gay?) tackles difficult questions about Buddhism’s evolution in Western culture, as mindfulness practice grows slowly but steadily as a popular secular activity. He examines the history of postmodern Buddhism, describes the path of practice and enlightenment through his own personal accounts of bliss and darkness, and considers future directions. Working from the foundational idea that meditation has become a set of tools for the refinement and improvement of the human mind, the author addresses the pitfalls and benefits of the more traditional spiritual/religious approach and its counterpart, the rational and scientific Western worldview. He is fortunately unafraid to come to grips with the darker sides of the tradition (for example, sexual and power abuses by teachers and gurus) in his discussions about Buddhism’s future and its ethical obligations to the world and to itself. Serious practitioners—secular or religious—and curious individuals alike would benefit greatly from reading Michaelson’s intelligent and compassionate examination of mindfulness practice. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/12/2013
Release date: 10/15/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 170 pages - 978-1-58394-715-9
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