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The Oakroom Talks on Buddhism

By Phiroz Mehta
Foreword by Sylvia Swain

Cover of The Oakroom Talks on Buddhism

About this book

Format Paperback
Pages 134
Publisher The Trust
Published 1988


A series of informal, wise and compassionate talks on Buddhism which explain the theme of mindfulness by drawing not only on scripture but on the author’s own long experience of spiritual practice.

From the review by David Lorimer in Network

The name Phiroz Mehta will be well known to anyone who has long associations with the Buddhist Society. He was a regular speaker there, and at the Summer School, which is where these talks were recorded.

At first sight, this is just another book about Buddhism in general. But as you look deeper, it becomes clear that here is something different. It is hard to pin down in words, for here is a speaker for whom words flow easily, deeply and often poetically, but in reading it I found myself thinking of the PLBF Statement.

For Phiroz Mehta, the heart of Buddhism is meditation, but not just the forms of meditation. Anyone who has read his great work, The Heart of Religion, will realise that here was someone who was not bound by forms. At times he reminds us of Krishnamurti, but he had a respect for all religions that enabled him truly to see to their heart. He is at once a mystic, scholar, poet, and someone who truly loves the Buddha and his teaching.

These talks were given in 1973, but they read as freshly as when they were first given. If there is a criticism it is that they were edited too literally, which often leads to long paragraphs. But the inspirational quality is such that it seems that you are listening to the words rather than reading.

To give an example of the script of this book is hard, because the words and the ideas flow into one another. The following on Purification of the Mind may give an insight as to why I found this book so inspiring, and felt it would also be useful to Pure Land Buddhists, even though it doesn’t specifically mention Pure Land Buddhism.

He has been talking about various ways of meditation or contemplation, and he goes on to say:

Let the mind come to the here and now gradually. Remain still and silent for a few moments. You may find emerging out of your own mind some significant idea, some seminal idea of thought, which is a message from the depths of your own innermost consciousness, which comes up to the surface as a light to guide, or nothing may happen…

And he implies, if nothing happens, that's all right too.  He goes on:

Perhaps some of you will now see why the Buddha time and again, after a discourse said to the bhikkhus, ‘Do not give yourselves cause for remorse, here are trees, sit and meditate, sit and be in communion.’

Being in communion is surely what Pure Land Buddhism is all about.

From the review by Jim Pym in Pure Land Notes