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The Bodhisattva’s Embrace: Dispatches from Engaged Buddhism’s Front Lines (Clear View Press, 2010, 244 pp., paper, $15) is a collection of personal essays written by Alan Senauke over the last twenty years. Senauke, former director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and advisor to the International Network of Engaged Buddhists, is a Zen priest who writes with authority on the topic of engaged Buddhism, from Israel and Palestine to the streets of Burma. He takes on difficult subjects to invite readers to “bear witness” to them, holding the belief that the deep suffering of the world naturally inspires compassionate action. Throughout his essays, Senuake’s words are like rocks: simple and strong. It’s a no-nonsense, sober approach to the truth of suffering, and Senuake’s message is clear: we’re all in this together, so let’s help each other out. Despite the spare writing and Senauke’s unsentimental attitude, The Bodhisattva’s Embrace still manages to speak to the heart. When we see the world as it is, we can’t help but see its beauty.
This review ran in the Books in Brief section of the Spring 2011 issue of Tricycle.