Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg.
I've been meaning to read something by Sharon Salzberg for quite some time. When I was about eight years old, my dad started practicing Buddhism, and it had a profound impact on my world view and spirituality and sense of life. I remember being upset about someone being mean to me, and going to my dad, and chanting with him for just a couple of minutes (seconds? I have no idea), and yes, it was that simple, I felt better. I think a lot about Buddhism, and about what it would be like to be a monk, and about the lessons one would learn and how one would learn them. I had the thought, yesterday, If a monk were being attacked by a wild dog, would he fight back? And the answer is no. I guess my question is if I were a monk and attacked by a wild dog, would I fight back. At this stage in my life, yes, I probably would (I can't imagine being so centred and so sure as to not let instinct take over to save myself).
And then there is that other side of myself - the side that delights in pleasure and sensation and dinners that cost hundreds of dollars (not that I've done that more than once). And that part bought Service Included: Four-star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter, by Phoebe Damrosch. I love food. It is probably my main pleasure and passion and joy in the world. And I love reading about it, though not nearly as much as eating it. I was slightly disappointed when I got home and looked it up on amazon, because it doesn't have the best reviews, although the cover pronounces it to be a New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year. I read the introduction while in the bookstore, and I enjoyed it, so I'm hoping to be one of those people who would give it five stars. I'll let you know.
The best thing about buying books as presents for myself is that when I've finished I can pass them on.
Back to Buddhism for a moment. One of my favourite Buddhists is Tina Turner - she radiates the groundedness and sense of self and joy that I would like to embody. (Is it totally un-Buddhist to have a favourite Buddhist?)