Journey - Website - Marian Zaunbrecher
The author of Blessed Relief has been an Episcopal priest for thirty years and found himself drawn to Buddhist spirituality.
Through a time of illness he was drawn to Christian contemplative practices and was enriched by Buddhist teaching. Buddhism is not a religion so much as a philosophy. As such the believer can draw on its deep understanding of life, suffering, pain and conflict. I have found that this continues to draw us back to Jesus and the rich history of Christianity.
Blessed Relief is inspiring, instructive and useful to those interested in prayer. I loved this book. It is easy to read, full of narrative stories and each chapter finishes with simple practices to experience "blessed relief." The concept of mindfulness reminded me of Jesus' teaching as recorded in Matthew 6. Questioning our thoughts is at the heart of Buddhist practice. The chapters cover awareness, ambition, conflict, being an instrument of peace, beginning anew, dying and compassion.
I especially loved the chapter on non-violent communication, a practice that would enrich our personal relationships as well as our communications within the communities of faith of which we are a part. Non-violent communication would assist in conflict resolution and mediation in church conflicts. Mr. Peerman's writings will not appeal to everybody, but as one who believes we can learn a lot from our believing sisters and brothers of other faiths, I found it instructional.
In reading Blessed Relief I was led repeatedly back to the Christ and the unconditional love that is intrinsic to both Christian and Buddhist teachings.
Nashville Scene - Faye Jones
GORDON PEERMANThe Colbert Report recently featured a preacher exhorting his Christian God to use the presidential election to prove His superiority over "Hindu, Buddha and Allah." It would be funny if it weren't so sad. In such an environment, Gordon Peerman's new book, Blessed Relief: What Christians Can Learn From Buddhists About Suffering (Skylight Paths, 182 pp., $16.99), is a welcome reminder that religion at its best isn't about divisiveness. It's about providing solace and promoting peace without regard for labels.
An Episcopal priest and psychotherapist, as well as an adjunct faculty member at Vanderbilt, Peerman has studied Buddhist practice for decades. He gently demonstrates how our own expectations cause much of our suffering, and how we allow event the smallest annoyances to destroy our equanimity. And he doesn't exempt himself: At one retreat, a roommate with sleep apnea drives him to near-murderous thoughts: "After two nights of no sleep, I found myself toying with the hope that, in the long silences between snores, my roommate might actually have died. Alas, he snored on."
What Blessed Relief does best is to remind us that true faith builds bridges of kindness and compassion, whatever religion it happens to spring from. After his son causes an auto accident, Peerman uses Buddhist practice to overcome his irritation about the cost and inconvenience involved. When he calls the other boy's mother, her response is equally telling: "We're Christians," she says, "and we believe that blame never helps and that understanding and forgiveness do." Two people using their faith to communicate with each other instead of doing battlesurely, the world would be a little better if everyone could follow their example.
Gordon Peerman discusses and signs Blessed Relief: What Christians Can Learn From Buddhists About Suffering at Davis- Kidd Booksellers Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. FAYE JONES BLESSED
Spirituality & Practice - Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Gordon Peerman is an Episcopal priest and psychotherapist in private practice and an adjunct faculty member at Vanderbilt Divinity School, where he teaches seminars in Buddhist-Christian dialogue. He also teaches Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction at the Vanderbilt Center for Integrative Health.
For over 2,000 years, Buddhists have studied and dealt with the challenges and benefits of human suffering. In the process, they have also explored happiness, generosity, kindness, equanimity, and compassion. Peerman has spent 25 years in what he calls a "dual citizenship" in Christianity and Buddhism. In this enlightening book, he opens the door of freedom for us so we can leave fear and all its companion stories behind. Peerman shares many of his retreat experiences and presents nine practices that address the problem of human suffering:
• The Three-Minute Breathing Space
• The Work
• The Practice of Inquiry
• The Sacred Breath
• Working with RAIN
• Nonviolent Communication (NVC)
• The Practice of Beginning Anew
• The Five Remembrances
• Compassion Practice
On a contemplative kayaking retreat in the wilderness of southern Alaska, Peerman confronts the grasping of his small mind, organized around "me and mine," and revels in the openness of the big mind which knows the truth of impermanence. In his probes on suffering, he comes to see that it is a waste of time to try to find out the cause of suffering better to focus on a way to follow when suffering comes.
The Buddhist wisdom teachers proclaim that it is our resistance to what is that is the source of all our problems. Peerman does a fine job of explaining how the Work of Byron Katie is helpful in questioning our thoughts and stories about reality. Further explication comes with his comments on the ten believed thoughts that lead to suffering identified by Tara Bennett-Goleman. In an interesting chapter on "Quiet Ambition," the author examines his external need to be seen and recognized as special, one who is immensely accomplished, along with his internal fears of not being good enough. Peerman holds this tension in his awareness and comes to a deeper realization of his reactivity. He brings the same mindfulness to anger and the option of transforming it into compassion and peace.
On another retreat, Peerman deals with his own spiritual edge through the process of Nonviolent Communication espoused by Marshall Rosenberg. He uses the Beginning Anew ceremony developed by Thich Nhat Hanh with his wife and deals with his grief over the death of his father by bowing to the moment. Peerman closes with his involvement in a Mobile Loaves and Fishes project which enables him to practice compassion. He calls it a softening of the heart: "Our work, our inner work, is to transform anger into justice, hurt into compassion, suffering into wisdom."
From the Publisher
"A spiritual banquet ... to heal our psyches and awaken our hearts. Helps us open to the unconditional love that is intrinsic to both Christianity and Buddhism."
Tara Brach, clinical psychologist; author, Radical Acceptance
"Both a moving personal story and a source of valuable insight for all those who are wrestling with questions of suffering in their lives. It is a serious book that is also fun to read."
Phillip Moffitt, founder and president of the Life Balance Institute; author, Dancing With Life
“Meets our contemporary struggles with refreshing clarity and power. Peerman's understated humor in relating ordinary life encounters frequently had me weeping with the laughter of self-recognition.”
Marjorie J. Thompson, author, Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life
“Exceptional…. With uncommon vulnerability, engaging humor, and sure-footed counsel, Gordon Peerman invites us to hear and make our own a far vaster story arising from deep sources of wisdom East and West, whose language conveys the liberating spaciousness of being truly awake, aware and alive.”
John S. Mogabgab, editor, Weavings Journal
“A guide to freedom from fear, filled with stories to make us laugh, sigh, cry, and wake up to compassion for ourselves and all the world.”
Margaret McGee, author, Sacred Attention: A Spiritual Practice for Finding God in the Moment
“Remarkable. A spiritual exploration that unites centuries of Buddhist teachings with Christian wisdom. [The] approach is not only inspired, but also eminently practical … yet profoundly powerful.”
Derek Lin, translator/annotator, Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained