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Books, reviews, et cetera

Bouanchaud, Bernard. The Essence of Yoga: Reflections on the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali. Sri Satguru Publications: Delhi, 2001. Originally published in French by Editions Agamat, translation by Rosemary Desneux. ISBN: 81-7030-687-6

I really like this book. It’s not a particularly weighty volume but it has a lot packed into it. Each of the sutras are given in Sanskrit along with two English translations — the first is a translation of the entire aphorism into a sentence and a word for word translation of each Sanskrit term. That alone makes it informative. Bouanchaud gives a modern interpretation of the Sutras and weaves in various themes for self-reflection in his commentary. He also provides a series of questions on each Sutra to help us make some of these more abstract commentaries real and personal and relevant.

There are also days when this book makes me totally crazy. There’s a bit of awkwardness when we move from Sanskrit to French to English that takes some getting used to.

This book is unfortunately out of print in North America (English editions anyway). If you buy it from one of the used book sites, they will charge you ridiculous amounts of money for it — it’s good — it’s popular — it’s out of print = let’s soak them. Skip that and go to and buy it from Books from India. Last copy I bought was $6. $12 with shipping — arrived in 3 weeks in pristine condition.

Fontana, David, The Meditation Handbook: The Practical Guide to Eastern and Western Meditation Techniques, Watkins Publishing, London, 1992. ISBN: 978-1-906787-52-3.232 pages, references, index.

This book is definitely my “go to” on the bookshelf whenever I’m working on the topic of ‘meditation’. Dr Fontana is a British psychologist and an experienced meditator. One of the things I enjoy the most about this book is its sheer breadth. Dr Fontana looks at meditation from the perspective of Yoga (hatha, bhakti and jnana), Tai Chi, Zazen, Christian mysticism, Kabbulah, Koan, Shamanism and a few others. It’s really broadened my appreciation of the role meditation plays in other practices and cultures. It has helped me explore the richness of meditation practices.


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