Steven Batchelor, author of Buddhism without Beliefs, has recently released a new book called Living With the Devil: A Meditation on Good and Evil. Here's the Publisher's Weekly's synopsis:
The author of Buddhism Without Beliefs and a former monk in the Tibetan and Zen traditions, Batchelor works to reconcile the fears, desires, and compulsions of the ego (the devil or Mara) with the certainty of death. Drawing on a rich variety of literature, religious tradition and history, Batchelor demonstrates how the anguish associated with the transient nature of life has preoccupied humans for centuries: Job wrestles with his fate; Pascal's writings reflect his dread at being expelled from the universe when his existence would eventually come to a close. Surveying responses to this intractable problem, Batchelor concludes that mankind has always relied on the temptations of the devil to still anxiety and create an aura of permanence. Compulsive activities, lustful behavior and behaving violently and destructively to others are all evils that stem from Mara. Overcoming these feelings and pursuing the way of love and compassion, for Batchelor, rests on one's ability to make peace with the devil and nourish one's "Buddha nature." Although he explores a number of philosophies, Batchelor's focus is on the path to nirvana (a cessation of desires) forged by Siddhartha Gautama, an Indian prince and the historical Buddha, whose life and thinking are presented in some detail. Some of the references will be obscure to neophytes, but Batchelor's genuine concern and desire for a better world come through clearly.
I'm currently reading Lama Surya Das's Awakening the Buddha Within: Tibetan Wisdom for the Western World. This has already proven to be a very important book for me as I venture along the beginning phases of my Buddhist journey.
Here's a wonderful excerpt from the Dhammapada (sayings of the Buddha):
The thought manifests the word;
The word manifests the deed;
The deed manifests the habit;
And habit hardens the character;
So watch the thought and its ways with care,
And let it spring from love
Born out of conern for all beings...
As the shadow follows the body,
as we think, so we become.