Evolving Dharma is a next-generation book about meditation, Buddhism, and the contemplative path. It explores how the dharma (the path, the way, the teachings of the Buddha) has evolved in astonishing ways and how dharma practice evolves in one's own life. Instead of approaching the dharma as spirituality, therapy, or self-help, scholar and practicing Buddhist Jay Michaelson presents it as a set of technologies for upgrading the brain, for physically enhancing its capacity for wisdom and compassion.
In the last twenty years, Buddhism has exploded well beyond its former boundaries. Meditation is being taught to prisoners, cancer patients, and children. It is being practiced online--by geeks, hipsters, and punks; by atheists, Christians, and Jews; by people who are not "spiritual." It's not even "Buddhism" anymore, having evolved out of its original religious context and into dozens of new ones. Evolving Dharma is the first book to take stock of these trends, and to speak in real-life terms about how they affect the practice of meditation and the path to upgrading the mind.
Michaelson is fearless, unorthodox, and irreverent, yet his book is also based on his decade of meditation practice and teaching as well as his ten years of work as an LGBT activist. Including forays into neuroscience and cultural criticism as well as the author’s personal stories of his five months spent in silent retreat, life-changing realizations, pain, joy, and insight, this engaging, honest, and often humorous book is a must-read for younger practitioners in any Buddhist or secular tradition, as well as novice or experienced meditators interested in learning about how meditation has evolved in the last several decades.
Chapter titles include "The Dharma Evolves By Disappearing," "The Evolution of Enlightenment," and "When Every Mystical State You've Ever Wanted Isn't Enough."
Praise for Evolving Dharma
“Evolving Dharma tells a story that is changing the world: the mainstreaming of meditation and the democratization of wisdom. This is not only the best book on contemporary mindfulness; it is the first of its kind.”
—Josh Baran, former Zen monk and author of The Tao of Now
"I highly recommend this book. Its scholarship on the past is solid, its review of the present is revealing, and its sense of possibility grounded in both kindness and vision.”
—Daniel Ingram, author of Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha
“What a fantastic book! Smart, tender, incisive, and visionary. If you only read one dharma book this year, read Evolving Dharma.”
—Kenneth Folk, teacher, Kenneth Folk Dharma and Buddhist Geeks
Praise for other books by Jay Michaelson
“What an amazing book this is! Jay Michaelson—in a voice that is informed, authoritative and sweetly accessible—has presented every aspect of our physical lives as yet another opportunity to experience … how the ordinary becomes miraculous.”
—Sylvia Boorstein, author of Happiness is an Inside Job
“The simplicity of being fully present in the body and the depth of Judaic spiritual tradition find beautiful companionship in this book.”
—Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness