An unexpected book arrived in the mail the other day. A gift from my friend’s at Wisdom Publications. Zen Master Raven: The Teachings of a Wise Old Bird. by Zen Master human form, Robert Aitken. Here the koans are told by and to animals of the forest: raven, porcupine, owl, woodpecker, badger, black bear, and […]
We had to wait ten years and now the wait is over. Following her bestselling book, Radical Acceptance, Tara has written True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart. True Refuge starts on a highly personal note and continues in that vein. She tells the story of how she became disabled by a rare disease that limits her mobility, preventing her from exercise and other activities. This radical change in her life presented a crisis and challenge. Faced with this unexpected and unwelcome adversity, she struggles to, “Love her life no matter what.” To get there is the supreme challenge we all face. We have to cut through layer after layer of conditioning, sift through a lifetime of expectations, and reckon with the reality that is here right now.
To love our life no matter what is the path to awakening. We can’t awaken with some agenda based on certain conditions being met. If we can love life no matter what we can also be happy for no reason. We can be free from contingencies, conditions, and limiting rules. It is hard to be non-contigent–supremely hard–and to endeavor on this path we need some help. True Refuge can provide this help.
This book is full of grit, honesty, and clarity. She presents three concepts that guide and organize the book: Awareness, Truth, and Love. And when the ideas are presented in a conceptual form where they can seem to pass through your fingers like water. Then they are followed by anecdotes, either personal or from people Tara has worked with over the years to bring the teaching home. Coming home is what the book is all about–coming home into the present moment, loving our lives no matter what, and accepting ourselves in all of our imperfections.
I had the honor and pleasure of meeting Tara a few years ago. I took her Radical Acceptance workshop at Kripalu. I was impressed by her polished and fluid style. She was a consummate presenter and had probably given that workshop dozens of times. Afterwards, I cued up in the book signing line and had Tara sign my tattered and old copy of Radical Acceptance and I also gave her a copy of my book, Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness (which she graciously read and endorsed). Meeting her face to face outside the role of workshop leader was a different experience. She was awareness, truth, and love embodied. He warmth radiated and her genuineness spoke for itself.
That genuineness speaks through the pages of True Refuge. This book is an undertaking and one that can change your life if you embrace it. It is heartfelt and practical. Tara has a wonderful way of translating the Buddha’s teachings into an accessible form through description, metaphors (close to my heart), and stories. She has an incredible memory for detail, which I think reveals the depth she is paying attention to people when they share with her.
As a clinician working with people with trauma, I found the chapter on trauma particularly helpful for my psychotherapy practice. Whether you are a professional or layperson, this book has much to offer you. It is written in a universal language that we all share–the wish to be free from suffering. Since we are all in the grips of suffering to some extent, this book will help you to identify and work through this suffering to place of greater freedom.
True Refuge is bound to be another classic bestseller because it speaks to a deeply felt need in all of us to be whole, loved, and connected. True Refuge is available now wherever books are solid. Here is a brief video of Tara talking about her experience: