From the Editors / Giveaways / Ocean of Dharma

Kindling the Teachings

I love books. I love the weight of them, the smell of them, all the words in them. I love having them on my bookshelves, cozying up to read one in the evening, sharing a book with a friend. I love books. (I’m a little less crazy about all the trees that are killed for paper to make books, but I have some hope that we’ll soon be using bamboo for paper, or another renewable resource.)

But I also love my Kindle! And, here’s why: I frequently go away to a remote cabin to work on editing the teachings of Chögyam Trungpa. I don’t like lugging all the books I need to have with me, not at all. Sometimes, they fill a whole suitcase. Really. A small suitcase, but a suitcase nonetheless. I drive my car to my retreat house, and then I have to unpack all the books—as well as the food, clothes, computer paraphernalia, etc. The older I get, the more arduous it is. I wonder if e-food will be coming out soon. Could be great!

So I love having most of Chögyam Trungpa’s books on my Kindle. Love it, love it, love it. Last night, I snuggled into my retreat bed with Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism on my Kindle. Maybe snuggling is not the right word when it comes to that book, but it was fairly cozy. I decided to start from the beginning and reread the chapter on “Spiritual Materialism.” Trungpa Rinpoche was saying:

When you receive spiritual instruction from the hands of another, you do not take it uncritically, but you burn it, you hammer it, you beat it, until the bright, dignified color of gold appears. Then you craft it into an ornament, whatever design you like, and you put it on. Therefore dharma is applicable to every age, to every person. It has a living quality.

Yes, I’m thinking. You can even Kindle the dharma and it can still feel fresh and alive!

Then, without getting out of bed, I could switch to The Myth of Freedom to read a short teaching on “Working with Negativity,” or I could open up Smile at Fear to learn all about the education of the Shambhala warrior, who is dedicated to peace rather than aggression.

For that matter, the next time I get on an airplane, I can bring twenty-two volumes of Chögyam Trungpa’s teachings with me, as well most of Pema Chödrön’s books, and books by many other authors—all in this one little device that fits in my purse. (And if I should stray from the path of dharma and want to read a mystery novel on the plane, well, there’s a place for that on my Kindle too. But don’t tell anyone.) I love my Kindle.

So with all this in mind, here’s the latest contest from Shambhala Publications and Ocean of Dharma Quotes of the Week: Tell us what you like or don’t like about eBooks, and you’ll be entered in the contest to win a Kindle loaded with a selection of eBooks by Chögyam Trungpa.

The Kindle contest is now closed. The randomly selected winner, Number 508, is Eman F. Thanks to everyone who wrote in. There were a lot of interesting and helpful comments about the pros and cons of eBooks.


678 thoughts on “Kindling the Teachings

  1. While I love the experience of holding a book and turning the pages, of having many books open in front of me when I do research, the smell and feel of paper, I know it is time to let the trees be and move on to the e-world. I like the compact nature of the kindle and it’s portability. Also, the ability to carry many books around at once!

  2. Having been a bookworm since age 8, the idea of being able to carry around some 3000 books in one slim package is a dream come true, all the better if some of those titles are Rinpoche’s works.

  3. Kindles and such are great. I want a couple. But I’ll always love a book and besides you can throw a book and it will usually survive!

  4. I am usually slow to adopt new technologies, and ebooks are no exception to that rule. I love books, I love bookcovers, I love judging books by their covers. I like to underline and mark up books when a passage moves me and return to it later when I need a reminder of what has moved me, and perhaps to go off in a direction in my own writing following that lead. But as I get older I feel the increasing need to lighten up, to shed some of the things, including a lifetime of accumulated books, that I sometimes feel buried under. The idea of vast worlds of imagination and spirit contained in a tiny, miraculous machine is appealing, a happy way to lighten up.

  5. I can relate to all the (+)s & (-)s you brought up about both “real” books and e-books. I too would love to have this handy tool to have easy access to the dharma teachings.

  6. I don’t have a kindle and while reading on an airplane might be useful. I don’t much like airlines anymore … I do love Books .I still have lots of books . I have purchased some Buddhism books more than once to read them . It would be ok to get one as a gift especially if it was free… I have so enjoyed reading the writings on line … AGAIN

  7. Even with a Kindle
    My love of hardcopy books would not dwindle
    My book shelf in some ways
    is a reflection of myself
    With a Kindle however
    My whole bookshelf could travel with me where-ever
    I happened to travel – to work for example
    my Kindle would have resources ample
    It could assist my teaching
    My students reaching
    🙂

  8. The anti-tech and book-loving part of myself thought I would have great aversion to ebooks. However, I have found the opposite to be true. Having to travel quite a bit lately, growing older, sustaining injuries etc etc etc, the ease of kindle is a true gift.

  9. i love reading, i love my books, especially learning and deepening my understanding of self and the universe – it is a part of my life and daily practice to find the pieces of myself and mirrored by other’s understanding and perceptions. My books are scattered around my bed at night, they sleep with me as i unfold into dream consciousness like a security blanket that reminds me of who i am. i travel a lot and can see how the Kindle can hold the books i cannot carry or when i teach i can find the information that i am always look back to to find – i guess i can sleep with my Kindle and hold Chogyam Trungpa close to my heart.

  10. E-books save the environment by not needing trees for paper and by not using fossil fuels to transport and store books in climate controlled warehouses and stores. They are less expensive for consumers and are less expensive for publishers to produce and sell (no printing, transporting or storage of books). E-book readers such as Kindle are easy to learn to use and are not terribly expensive. What’s not to love about this? I truly wish all publishers would see the immense ecological benefit of e-books! I have put a personal moratorium on purchasing any more paper books due to the ecological distress on the planet — distress that can be reduced with e-books.

  11. A Kindle appeals to be because of its compact nature. I’ve looked at both the IPad and Kindle and the Kindle’s size is better for toting around. Any device that cuts down on waste is pretty great too. I do love our trees. Thank you for the opportunity to win one!

  12. I also love that I can travel and have teachings at my finger tips. Next I would prefer all my liturgies and chants and practice manuals also loaded on my device, then I would have all my practices handy as well. Then throw in some video clips to demonstrate a shrine setup or punctuate a point. Consider where computers were 40 years ago, and I presume in forty years hence these devices will store so much that the entire video archives of the Vidhyadhara might well travel with us into retreat, indexed by topic and term. May that help spread the dharma wide and far.

  13. While I love books, as I age I realize that not only do I no longer need to “own” everything that I like and want to read, but that I no longer want to create more for my daughter to dispose of. While I still buy some books, much of my reading now is obtained from the library unless it will be a reference book such as a cookbook. I have very eclectic reading tastes and love to read on trips, which being retired, I do fairly frequently, so an e-reader is the perfect solution for carrying many books in a convenient and compact form with me. It would also be very handy for being with me as I move about each day, encouraging moments of reading while waiting in various situations.

  14. As someone recovering from Guillain-Barre Syndrome, where initially I was functionally a quadriplegic, I have a new appreciation for ebooks. Whatever hardware you are using to read them, they are generally easier to hold with weak hands and arms, can be read in a dark hospital room (so you don’t keep your neighbours awake), and you can have as many books as you need to help you through the long hours of therapy and rehabilitation. Thank you for making one of these available with the dharma to help anyone, in whatever situation they find themselves in.

  15. I have been in love with books since I learned to read in grade 1 (yes, ‘Dick and Jane’, 1964). I don’t know yet what I think about ebooks and ereaders, whether I fall on the yes or no side. I think I’m more on the middle side. I love the compactness (is there such a word?) of the ereaders, but I also love the physical feel of a book in hand. I love that trees are being saved but I hate that the ereaders run on batteries (solar ereaders anyone?). So I have a runnning argument going in my head. As Buddhism has taught me, everything is interconnected and I cannot imagine all the ripples caused by a choice I make. I just have to make the best choice I can with the information I have at hand. So, ereader when I am travelling, book when I am at home. Yes, firmly on the middle side.

  16. At first I was horrified—the Vidyadhara on Kindle? Quelle idée! Then I read Carolyn’s description of going on retreat with all the Vidyadhara’s books—or at least lots of them—on a Kindle instead of having to lug cases of books.

    That set me thinking. Suddenly all I saw on the tube (this is London) were ebooks, being read by interesting-looking people. I even started up a conversation (not something one does lightly on the tube in England) with one, who was delighted to praise his ebook to the skies.

    So now I want one too. To take on the tube. To take to bed—imagine the joy of being able to dip in and out of a dozen of the Vidyadhara’s books in cosy safety—without losing any amongst the covers, or under the bed, or balanced precariously on the water-glass, or on teettering piles on the bedside table!

  17. I don’t have a kindle, but what’s not to like could include the worry/the possibility of it diminishing the book industry (it might just help it); addiction problems, if it’s as good as they say (but it will also be helping me by getting me off my computer in the evenings); not getting the smell of new and old books might be a disadvantage.

  18. I can’t get behind the kindle or other online readers.

    The fact is that bookstores are one of my favorite things on earth – they are energetic and physical vectors for creative thought and connection.

    A digital device store just won’t ever compare.

  19. As a writer, editor and former bookstore employee, I have a difficult time letting go of my passion for physical books. At the same time, though, I realize that this too is an attachment. For environmental reasons, it does make sense to consider ebooks as a way to lessen the impact of the publishing world on the environment. I appreciate Ms. Gimian’s comments, and look forward to spending more time trying to learn to love–or even like–ebooks.

  20. As a writer, I’ve struggled with every technological change that’s come creeping into my professional world: laying out a newspaper on a computer rather than the old light table; creating “content” online; shifting to reading my newspapers and magazines on my laptop and, of course, the rise of ebooks. In each case I eventually accepted the new without abandoning the old.

    The question of whether a book or a kindle better serves us can easily become a question of our identification with the impermanent world outside of us. I think its important to focus instead on what impacts our choices have not just on ourselves but all life around us. That’s far from easy since all technology cuts both ways.

    If we focus on making sure the vessel we choose in our hunt for wisdom causes the least suffering – either inherently or by action on our part – we will find that wisdom more quickly whether its is found in ink on paper or in the dance of energy within computer circuitry.

  21. Thank you for your wise words on the abundance of energy within passion–the ego-less place we all seek seems somehow attainable after reading your post. Please continue to send and keep me on your list. Thank you. And happy heart day! K.

  22. I would be very happy to receive a copy of Work, Sex, & Money! I’m a fiber artist looking for tips on how to sustain myself financially in this economy! Thank You, Laura

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