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 New Book: Evolving Dharma by Jay Michaelson - highly recommended

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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: New Book: Evolving Dharma by Jay Michaelson - highly recommended   Thu Nov 14, 2013 1:56 am

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

Evolving Dharma
is a “next generation” book on meditation, Buddhism, and the path of awakening, published by North Atlantic Books in October, 2013.

The latest book by bestselling author Dr. Jay Michaelson, author of Everything is God and God vs. Gay?, Evolving Dharma tells the story of how meditation has evolved beyond Buddhism, beyond religion, even beyond spirituality — and how one’s own meditation practice can evolve throughout one’s life.  It is, in the words of Deepak Chopra, a “must-read.”

Fearless, unorthodox, and irreverent, scholar and activist Jay Michaelson shows how meditation has moved from ashrams and self-help groups to classrooms, prisons, and corporate boardrooms. Michaelson introduces the reader to maverick brainhackers, postmodern Buddhist monks, and cutting-edge neuroscientists while also sharing his own stories of months-long silent retreats, powerful mystical experiences, and many pitfalls along the way.

Evolving Dharma comes at an exciting, even historic, moment in the spiritual life of the West.  There are one million new meditators each year in the United States.  This is a moment of remarkable opportunity — yet also of a hunger for a more cutting-edge, younger, and plugged-in “dharma book”, which comes from a newer generation and is informed by its values.  How is a new generation, post-hippie, postmodern, and possibly even post-Buddhist, reshaping meditation in the West? How is the practice of happiness informed by cognitive neuroscience? How are newer, Occupy- and Web 2.0-influenced participant communities creating new forms of contemplative communities and perhaps avoiding the scandals that plagued the authority- and guru-based ones of a previous generation?

Evolving Dharma answers these questions.   Written by a longtime meditator who also holds a Ph.D. in religion (and a J.D. from Yale Law School), it combines brutally honest stories from Jay’s own practice with a critical look at the mindfulness craze.   And it includes interviews with Richard Davidson, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Lama Surya Das, Stephen Batchelor, and other leading figures in the mindfulness revolution.

Evolving Dharma on Facebook
Praise for Evolving Dharma

“Jay Michaelson gets it.  His voice is contemporary yet serious,informed yet engaging — and much needed today.” - Daniel Goleman, Author of Emotional Intelligence

“I highly recommend this book. Its scholarship on the past is solid, its review of the present is revealing, and its sense of possibility grounded in both kindness and vision.” ~ Daniel Ingram, author of Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha

“Taking the reader from the banks of the Ganges to the offices of Google, Evolving Dharma shows how meditation is transforming our world.  A must-read!” - Deepak Chopra

“What a fantastic book! Smart, tender, incisive, and visionary. If you only read one dharma book this year, read Evolving Dharma.” ~ Kenneth Folk, teacher, Kenneth Folk Dharma and Buddhist Geeks

“Evolving Dharma tells a story that is changing the world: the mainstreaming of meditation and the democratization of wisdom.  This is not only the best book on contemporary mindfulness; it is the first of its kind.” - Josh Baran, former Zen monk and author of The Tao of Now

“All of us need to Occupy the Dharma, to take meditation and mindfulness back from the spiritual 1% and enliven our lives.  This book demonstrates and instructs us how to do exactly that.  “Evolving Dharma” is essential reading if you’re an aspiring brainhacker, a BuJu, a seeker, or anyone who wants to see the light, lighten up and brighten up on the path from head to heart that is the de-lightful journey of awakening.”  - Lama Surya Das, author of Awakening the Buddha Within
 
Reviews of Evolving Dharma
Read Publishers Weekly’s rave review of Evolving Dharma.
Read the Velveteen Rabbi’s insightful analysis of Evolving Dharma.
Read Terry Patten’s account of his conversation with Jay and his views on Evolving Dharma.
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: New Book: Evolving Dharma by Jay Michaelson - highly recommended   Thu Nov 14, 2013 9:43 am

Sunday, Nov 3, 2013 04:00 PM EST

Meditation isn’t a “hippie indulgence”

The author of "Evolving Dharma" on some of the most common misconceptions about the practice

Jay Michaelson, Religion Dispatches

FILE - In this Sept. 14, 2004 file photo, students practice transcendental meditation at the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment in Fairfield, Iowa. A legal dispute between the Iowa-based nonprofit that has taught transcendental meditation in the United States for decades and Thom Knoles, a former associate who left and built his own group of followers, could decide whether the Maharishi Foundation will continue to control teaching or whether rivals can market similar services and benefits without obtaining a license from the Iowa group.

This article originally appeared on Religion Dispatches.

What inspired you to write Evolving Dharma?
This is really the book I wanted to write right now. I wanted to tell the story of a phenomenon that is rapidly changing the Western world—the mass adoption of meditation—but I also wanted to tell it from a personal point of view, about my own winding road in practice and how it’s impacted my life.

It’s corny but I really do think that contemplative practice may change the world. I don’t know of a better way to help us become better animals than we might otherwise be.

What’s the most important take-home message for readers?

Meditation is not religion, not spirituality—it’s a technology of upgrading the mind that can enrich one’s life, including one’s religious life. We’re used to the idea of physical fitness. Time to get used to the idea of contemplative fitness, and practice at least as diligently.

Is there anything you had to leave out?

I excerpted pieces of my own retreat journals in the book, and had more in there originally. Honestly, though, it was too corny and too mistaken to leave in. Most beginning practitioners go down a lot of blind alleys, filled with mistaken notions about the purpose of practice, the signs it’s going well, and what to do next. At least I know I did. So I cut out a few of the more embarrassing bits. And left others in.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about your topic?

For meditation “outsiders,” it’s that you need to be a hippie to meditate. For meditation “insiders,” it’s that you’re not supposed to make progress in practice. I understand why this idea was once useful, and it’s true that meditation is not really about getting anywhere or accomplishing anything. But, and this is an important but, it is possible to get better at not getting anywhere.

All the Asian contemplative traditions have notions of a path, of development, of a dharma that evolves over the course of one’s practice. Yet in many streams of Western Buddhism, this idea was not just lost but deliberately omitted in translation.


Did you have a specific audience in mind when writing?

The truth is, there are a lot of same-old, same-old Buddhist books out there, aimed at Boomers and festooned with inspirational cover art. There are also a lot of whiz-bang, hype-filled books on neurodharma seemingly aimed at the business-book crowd.

Rather than go for mass market on this one, I wanted to write the book I wanted to write, for my circle of serious-practitioner friends, intelligent skeptics, and pragmatic contemplatives—all of whom are either Gen-X or millennial, and none of whom have any patience for either of those sets of cliches.

Are you hoping to inform readers? Entertain them? [banned term] them off?

I’d love for a smart, cynical reader to say “hmm, I guess meditation isn’t just hippie indulgence after all,” and for that reader to consider doing something that makes the world a better place—starting with their mind.

I also hope that people who have been doing some meditation already read the personal, developmental chapters and decide to go for some more hardcore practice themselves.

What alternative title would you give the book?

It’s funny, this one was called Evolving Dharma from the start, despite the fact that it’s not the catchiest title I’ve ever come up with.  I was thinking about Practical Enlightenment, but that sounds a little pretentious.

How do you feel about the cover?

I’m taking the fifth on this one. The cover art by Cryptik, a California-based street artist, is awesome.

Is there a book out there you wish you had written? Which one? Why?

One of the models for this book is Jack Kornfield’s After the Ecstasy, the Laundry, which is one of the few books to take the developmental path seriously, and which also has an awesome title that is itself a powerful lesson on the dharma.

I also have been rereading Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart which is radical and wise, with not a bromide in sight. People think of Ani Pema as sweet and cuddly, but that book kicks your [banned term].

What’s your next book?

It depends on fate! The book based on my doctoral dissertation, “Jacob Frank: The Great Jewish Heretic,” is under review at an academic press. And a proposal for another more mainstream book on LGBT issues, What is Homosexuality For? is under review as well. Or I may get my poetry manuscript in shape so it jumps ahead of both. I’ve got stuff to keep me busy.
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: New Book: Evolving Dharma by Jay Michaelson - highly recommended   Mon Dec 09, 2013 12:05 pm

Podcast from Buddhist Geeks - with Jay Michaelson

http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2013/12/bg-303-next-generation-enlightenment/
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: New Book: Evolving Dharma by Jay Michaelson - highly recommended   Thu Jan 09, 2014 12:57 am

Podcast / Interview with Jay Michaelson:

http://secularbuddhism.org/2014/01/05/episode-190-jay-michaelson-evolving-dharma-meditation-buddhism-and-the-next-generation-of-enlightenment/#comment-5055
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