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Entries in Book Briefs (33)

Tuesday
Aug122014

Book Briefs

Zen Master Sengai (Scheidegger & Spiess 2014) showcases the paintings of Sengai Gibon (1750–1837), the famous abbot of Shofukuji, Japan’s first Zen temple. Peter Jaeger’s John Cage and Buddhist Ecopoetics (Bloomsbury 2013) explores the ecological and Eastern dimensions of the work of the late American composer, writer, and artist John Cage (1912–1992). Himalayan passages (Wisdom 2014), edited by Benjamin Bogin and Andrew Quintman, presents papers written in honor of Hubert Decleer. Ian Harris’s Buddhism in a Dark Age: Cambodian Monks Under Pol Pot (Hawaii 2013) investigates the fate of Cambodian Buddhism under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Check out Sangyes Nyenpa’s Tilopa’s Mahamudra Upadesha (Snow Lion 2014), translated and introduced by David Molk. The Senjusho (Kanji Press 2014) is a collection of Buddhist stories from early medieval Japan dealing with questions of impermanence, karma, and renunciation of secular life. In The Backward Step (Whitlock 2014), Ben Howard incorporates fiction, poetry, social media, snow shoveling, and U.S. politics into his reflections on Zen practice, offering short and perceptive essays that are a pleasure to read.

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Tuesday
May132014

Book Briefs

  • Grains of Gold: Tales of a Cosmopolitan Traveler by Donald Lopez Jr. and Thupten Jinpa
  • Zen Anarchism by Fabio Rambelli
  • Family Matters in Indian Buddhist Monasticisms by Shayne Clarke
  • Buddhist Nuns and Gendered Practice by Nirmala Salgado
  • The Life of Longchenpa: The Omniscient Dharma King of the Vast Expanse by Jampa Mackenzie Stewart
  • Perspectives on Satipatthana by Analayo
  • The Illuminated Life of the Great Yolmowa by Benjamin Bogin
  • Eminent Buddhist Women edited by Karma Lekshe Tsomo
  • The Nirvana Sutra, Volume 1 by Mark Blum

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Tuesday
Feb182014

Book Briefs

  • The Tibetan Yoga of Breath by Allison Choying Zangmo and Anyen Rinpoche
  • The Shin Buddhist Classical Tradition: A Reader in Pure Land Teaching, Volume 1 by Alfred Bloom.
  • Most Intimate: A Zen Approach to Life’s Challenges by Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara
  • Stillness, Insight & Emptiness by Lama Dudjom Dorjee
  • Middle Way translated by Mark Siderits and Shoryu Katsura’s Nagarjuna
  • Tibetan Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction by Matthew Kapstein
  • Wake Up and Laugh by Daehaeng Kun Sunim
  • The Forerunner of All Things by Maria Heim
  • Death and Reincarnation in Tibetan Buddhism by Tanya Zivkovic

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Tuesday
Nov122013

Book Briefs

  • Like Cats and Dogs by Steven Heine
  • Padmakara Translation Group’s Treasury of Precious Qualities, Book Two: Vajrayana and the Great Perfection by Jigme Lingpa
  • Kakurenbo: Or the Whereabouts of Zen Priest Ryokan by Soto Zen teacher Eido Frances Carney
  • The Buddhist Schools of the Small Vehicle by André Bareau, translated by Sara Boin-Webb
  • Three Steps to Awakening by Larry Rosenberg
  • Great Treatise on the Stages of Mantra by Tsongkhapa, translated by Thomas Freeman Yarnall
  • Record of Miraculous Events in Japan by Burton Watson
  • What the Buddha Never Taught by Tim Ward
  • The Easy Path edited by Lorne Ladner

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Tuesday
Aug202013

Book Briefs

Although movies and hype about Zen martial arts abound, there are very few good books available on the disciplines. Sword of Zen (Hawaii 2013) transcends cliché musings about Zen swordplay and introduces us to the world of one of Japan’s most renowned Zen sword mas­ters, Takuan Soho (1573–1645). Along with an informative introduction and biographical sketch of Master Takuan, the book includes translations of two of his most important works on Zen swordsmanship. Author and translator Peter Haskell describes the texts in translation as “user manuals” for the Zen mind. Written to illuminate the principles of Zen through the warrior’s art, they guide the practitioner through combat situ­ations as well as daily life. For instance, Master Takuan demonstrates how a swordsman must move swiftly through a succession of attacks in battle without getting stuck on any one attacker or interrupting the flow of nonthought, and how this exemplifies the spontaneity and responsive­ness that is embodied by the Zen mind.

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Monday
May202013

Book Briefs

by Michael Sheehy

The Heart is Noble
by The Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje (Shambhala)

Heart of the Shin Buddhist Path
by Takamaro Shigaraki (Wisdom)

The Tibetan Book of the Dead: Awakening Upon Dying
Translated by Elio Guarisco and Nancy Simmons (Shambhala)

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Thursday
Feb142013

Book Briefs

by Michael Sheehy 

How we have received and continue to interpret Buddhism through European lenses is the subject of The Cult of Emptiness (University Media 2012), which presents us with a glimpse into the European discovery of Buddhism. The author, Urs App, explores and narrates this history, beginning with sixteenth-century Jesuit and Christian missionaries who encountered Zen Buddhists in Japan. App looks at how these encounters shaped the invention of a unified “Oriental philosophy,” an atheistic doctrine of nothingness that was attributed to the Buddha and thought to originate in Egypt. Bringing to light new sources for the study of these encounters, we see how the history of Buddhism was rewritten by the Church. The story of what was known about Buddhism and how that knowledge was manipulated, not to mention how it informs our perceptions of Buddhism today, makes for a fascinating read. 

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Thursday
Nov082012

Book Briefs

by Michael Sheehy

Sky Above, Great Wind (Shambhala 2012)

Insight into Emptiness (Wisdom 2012)

One Monk, Many Masters (Parami 2012)

Ties that Bind (Oxford 2012)

The Essential Journey of Life and Death (Dharma Samudra 2012)

The Ceasing of Notions (Wisdom 2013)

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Saturday
Jul282012

Book Briefs

by Michael Sheehy

Norman Waddell translates the letters of the seventeenth-century Japanese Zen master and revitalizer of the Rinzai tradition, Hakuin Ekaku (1685–1786), in his new book, Beating the Cloth Drum (Shambhala 2012). The letters are Hakuin’s personal correspondence with monks and lay practitioners, as well as his dharma heirs. Described by one of his chief disciples as having the gaze of a tiger who moved like an ox, Hakuin was likely an intimidating character. However, what becomes evident through reading his letters is the extreme care and concern he expressed toward his community.

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Tuesday
May152012

Book Briefs

by Michael Sheehy

What’s striking about Tsoknyi Rinpoche’s new book, Open Heart, Open Mind (Harmony Books 2012), is that it’s so personal. It’s unusual for a lama to open up about his own vulnerabilities and fears, particularly in print, and Tsoknyi Rinpoche does so in a way that is both touching and reassuring for practitioners. He writes about being a father, husband, and Dzogchen teacher, and growing up among some of the legendary Tibetan meditation masters of the previous generation.

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