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September 26, 2009

Book review: Smile At Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery (Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche)

I always enjoy reading anything by Chogyam Trungpa, particularly because it was his book Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior that started me on my path into Buddhism.  In this newest posthumous work, the controversial Trungpa offers his brand of eminently approachable teaching, this time focusing on fear and the control we have over it (or lack thereof). 

As always, Rinpoche’s teachings are straightforward, yet the subtle complexities and challenges behind his words play out once one puts those teachings into daily practice.  Once again Rinpoche utilizes the metaphor of the warrior at battle with himself, urging the reader to conquer fear not through suppression or macho posturing, but instead through embracing and understanding fear and its sources, which is the real battle.

Editor Carolyn Rose Gimian relies on several sources for this book, including several previously unpublished seminars, articles, and teachings by Rinpoche, with only a few updates (Dairy Queen as a social spot becomes Starbucks, for example) added to keep the book timely (the teachings are always relevant).  Smile At Fear is a book that should be included in nearly every Buddhist’s library of teachings.  From Shambhala Publications and available from your local, independent bookstore.  (Shop local, shop independent, and tell ’em you saw it on Elephant Journal!)

Todd Mayville

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