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Books from the Shantigar community

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TEA WITH DEMONS: Games of Transformation
by Jean-Claude van Itallie

Games of transformation are playful daily practices that flow like a constant brook over the stubborn stones of our old self-destructive patterns, thus slowly wearing them down and washing them away to reveal the stream bed of our basic good nature. 

AMERICA HURRAH and OTHER PLAYS by Jean-Claude van Itallie


Published by Grove/ Atlantic, NYC, 2001: plays in this volume include War, America Hurrah, The Serpent, Eat Cake, Bag Lady, The Tibetan Book of the Dead or How Not to Do It Again, and The Traveler.


from the introduction by Bill Coco:

“This collection of Jean-Claude van Itallie’s plays represents a generous overview of a twenty-five-year span in the career of one of the foremost and most original American playwrights of the last half century.”

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The ancient Tibetan text adapted by Jean-Claude van Itallie. Photos from La Mama performance by Gerry Vezzuso. Tibetan art illustrations selected by Professor Deborah Klimburg-Salter. Introduction by Judith Lief, former Dean of Naropa Institute. Published by North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA, 1998.

"Jean-Claude van Itallie, one of our most original playwrights and a longtime practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism, has taken Guru Padmasambhava’s 8th century masterpiece, The Great Liberation Through Hearing in the Bardo, or as it’s known in the west, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and rendered its essential brilliance into deeply moving and inspiring poems meant to be read aloud. Its sole intent is to pilot us wandering voyagers through the illusory and superstitious realms we call life and death. With constant reminders to pay attention and watch our minds, the poet urges us to come to our senses and remember our Nobly Born true selves completely beyond all designation, all hope and all tears… merging with the clear light bliss, no center, no circumference, an ocean with no boat… I love this little book. Read it aloud!" -Richard Gere

"Jean-Claude van Itallie’s presentation of this old classic brings us face to face with the radiance and emptiness of our own minds. He has made new a relevant — even urgent — text: A guide for the continually arising moments of choice in our living and in dying." -Diane di Prima

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a sketchbook of grief, by Deb Katz



Deb Katz creates a fresh genre with nearly no words as her offhand but precise drawings capture the savage and singular experience of grief for loss of a dear one.

(Haley's, Athol, April 2014)

ALAN WATTS – HERE AND NOW by Peter J. Columbus


This essay collection explores the intellectual legacy of Alan Watts (1915-1973), a prolific writer and speaker who transformed major aspects of American culture during the latter half of the 20th century. Attuned to the spiritual malaise of the West, Watts offered alternatives that helped shape Beat culture in the 1950s and the 1960s counterculture. He was renowned for introducing Buddhist and Daoist spirituality to Western audiences and also wrote on psychology, mysticism, and psychedelic experience. Watts was both hailed as a guru-mystic and dismissed as a mere popularizer of Asian religions. Both appreciative and critical, the contributors explore how Watts influences current scholarship on psychospiritual transformation, Buddhism and psychotherapy, humanistic and transpersonal psychology, mysticism, and ecofeminism, among many areas. 


“Every essay throws new light on the relevance of Watts’ ideas for today and offers fascinating historical tidbits. I enthusiastically recommend this book.” 

— Jeffrey J. Kripal, author of Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion


Peter J. Columbus is Administrator of the Shantigar Foundation in Rowe, MA. Donadrian L. Rice is Professor of Psychology at the University of West Georgia. Columbus and Rice are also co-editors of Psychology of the Martial Arts.

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What do we long for as we carry the traumas of our past and look into the future with guarded hope? In Longing: Poems of a Life, acclaimed poet Merle Feld tells her intensely personal story while naming profound human experience. Feld opens forbidden doors and long-shuttered windows, peering through the lattices of memory at moments of anguish, breaking, blessing, surviving. We accompany her through early family violence, isolation, the discovery of community and love; we witness her climb from the loss of possibility to the assertion of self-worth and purpose. Threading through the years are conversations with a mother long gone-"a slip of a girl" whose misplaced loyalty and endless capacity for loving are both cautionary tale and guidepost. Deeply Jewish yet universal, these gripping poems will stay with you.

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by Elaine Colandrea and Rori Smith

Elaine Colandrea has led many Continuum workshops at Shantigar and returns this May with her co-leaders Megan Bathory-Peeler and Melanie Gambino. With this guidebook by Elaine and her co-author Rori Smith, you will learn how the four elements essential to life – Air, Earth, Fire and Water – weave together within your body and your environment. Beauty, movement, nature, and art are completely enmeshed in this journey. Through explorations from the somatic practice Continuum, you will investigate movement, breath, sound, and creativity, fostering inquiry in all aspects of your being and awakening you to kinship with the natural world and artistry in all life.

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The challenges of the 21st century—climate crisis, economic inequality, and political instability—call on us to imagine new ways of living together. Richard McCarthy, an activist instrumental in the growth of farmers' markets, has thought long and hard about these ideas. Discovering the work of Tsuyoshi Sekihara, founder of the Kuni movement, he found an exciting model that integrates urban and rural communities. Kuni is the Japanese word for nation, but its meaning is being reimagined by citizens committed to egalitarian principles, environmental stewardship, circular economies, and a holistic view of social organization.

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THE PATH IS THE GOAL by Chogyam Trungpa


The Buddha taught meditation as the essential spiritual practice. Nothing else is more important. These classic teachings on the outlook and technique of meditation provide the foundation that every practitioner needs to awaken as the Buddha did. Chögyam Trungpa here reveals how the deliberate practice of mindfulness develops into awareness, insight, and openness. He also guides us away from the ego's trap: the urge to make meditation serve our ambition. 

LIFE ON LAND by Emily Conrad


Emilie Conrad’s approach to movement education, health, and healing is as varied and deeply textured as her life story. In Life on Land, she interweaves the story of her Brooklyn childhood and discovery of dance with the psychic and physical collapse that led to the development of Continuum, her groundbreaking movement and self-realization technique. Readable, poignant, and ultimately triumphant, the book melds Conrad’s unique theories of the body-mind frontier with fearless discussions of Jewish heritage, sexuality, female identity, and social pressures.

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CHEKHOV: THE MAJOR PLAYS adapted by Jean-Claude van Itallie


Applause Books, NYC, 1995. Jean-Claude van Itallie’s much acclaimed English versions of Anton Chekhov’s The Sea Gull, The Cherry Orchard, Three Sisters and Uncle Vanya.​


"...The advantage of using major playwrights to Anglicize foreign classics are obvious. Occasionally they may slip into the pit of primal creativity, but for most of the time, indeed for virtually all of the time they are renewing language rather than translating it. … Mr. van Itallie’s Sea Gull is idiomatic, but it has the overtones of now and then. It is a real past – translation does have its advantages when the right person is translating the right playwright. There is here the soft trampoline of a subtext that original language productions can never aspire to without the risk of desecration of a national monument." -Clive Barnes, New York Times.

THE PLAYWRIGHT’S WORKBOOK by Jean-Claude van Itallie

       This Workbook provides writing exercises for playwrights in the way that acting schools provide acting exercises for actors... Elements covered by the Workbook include creating characters, developing story or plot and writing in the natural rhythms of human speech.

      Along with theory, the Workbook develops the practice of playwriting through a series of exercises. Most of the exercises are executed with writing implements. But the practice and understanding of theater is also a physical and emotional affair.

"Jean-Claude is the only playwriting teacher I ever had." -Tony Kushner.​


"The first book ever to allow students to go beyond the well-made play into the heart and soul of the twentieth century…. An incomparable contribution to the field." -Howard Stein, head, Dramatic Writing Programs, Yale Drama, Columbia.​

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THE WALKERS by Josh Adler


A collection of dreams, discourse, poems, caricatures, and attainments, written during a 10-day silent meditation retreat. 

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Combines mindfulness with the Focusing technique made popular by Eugene Gendlin to tap into your body's subtle wisdom for dealing with all life's challenges.


     Your body has an answer to just about any question or challenge that arises. It's simply a matter of learning to recognize and listen to the subtle physical signal that comes from someplace inside you other than your mind. This "felt sense" was first made widely known by the psychologist Eugene Gendlin, whose book on learning to use your felt sense, Focusing, has sold millions of copies since it was first published in 1978. Certified Focusing teacher David Rome here enhances the traditional Focusing techniques with mindfulness and other Buddhist principles learned from his teacher Chögyam Trungpa to provide remarkably effective techniques for learning to access your felt sense--and not only for applying it to problem solving and dealing with challenges, but for kick-starting the creative process in oneself. With its short, accessible chapters and its abundant practical exercises, this may be the most compact and accessible guide to Focusing yet published.

MEDITATION IN ACTION by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

This classic teaching by a Tibetan master continues to inspire both beginners and long-time practitioners of Buddhist meditation. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche shows that meditation extends beyond the formal practice of sitting to build the foundation for compassion, awareness, and creativity in all aspects of life.

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AWAKENING THE SPINE by Vanda Scaravelli

A revolutionary new method of yoga for overall fitness that teaches "if it hurts, it's wrong'"--from a vibrant 83-year-old master.


The Modern Book of Feng Shui is the ultimate tool for employing Feng Shui, or the ancient Chinese art of placement, to enrich your life. Whether in the workplace or in the home, this guide is the perfect first step in establishing harmony with the energy, or chi, through additions and awareness of your surroundings.

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