Reviewed by Alexander Gardner.
Living This Life Fully (Shambhala 2010) by Mirka Knaster
Taiwan’s Buddhist Nuns (SUNY 2010) by Elise Anne DeVido
Jesuit on the Roof of the World (Oxford 2010) by Trent Pomplin
Mission to Tibet (Wisdom 2010), translated by Michael Sweet
Niguma, Lady of Illusion (Snow Lion 2010) by Sarah Harding
Jataka Tales of the Buddha (Buddhist Publication Society 2009) by Ken and Visakha Kawasaki
Gone Beyond (Snow Lion 2010), translated by Karl Brunnholzl
Sacred Geographies (Columbia 2010) by Michael Walsh
Living This Life Fully (Shambhala 2010) is a curiously effective narrative portrait of Anagarika Sri Munindra, the Bengali Vipassana master who has had an enormous influence on the contemporary Western Vipassana community. Author Mirka Knaster patched together recollections and reflections from Munindra’s many students, using a manuscript autobiography he came across in Burma as a narrative framework, along with occasional passages from a few of Munindra’s recorded teachings and interviews. (Antioch professor Robert Pryor contributes a brief biographical sketch that opens the book.) Born in Bengal in 1915, Munindra worked with the Mahabodhi Society in India for several decades before training with Mahasi Sayadaw in Burma. Back in Bodhgaya in the early 1960s, he taught many of today’s Western Vipassana teachers, frequently traveling in North America and Europe until his death in 2003. Although he was a passionate scholar, Munindra wrote no books, and thus Knaster’s volume, with each of its sixteen chapters dedicated to a particular Buddhist virtue, provides an especially valuable record of this influential teacher.
Alexander Gardner is the Associate Director of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation in New York. He has a Ph.D in Buddhist Studies from the University of Michigan.