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    Books In Brief Winter 2001 Paid Member

    Answers: Discussions with Western BuddhistsThe Dalai LamaTranslated and edited by José CabezónSnow Lion Publications: Ithaca, 2001102 pp.; $12.95 (paper) It has been a long-standing tradition for the Dalai Lama to spend several days each winter in residence at Bodhgaya, answering questions and holding informal discussions and meditations with students of Buddhism from around the world. This book presents a gathering of these exchanges, in which the Dalai Lama offers clear and penetrating insights into the issues most pertinent to Western studentfs. Topics range from psychology, politics, and tantra to debates about particle physics and philosophical discussions of emptiness. More »
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    Books Paid Member

    Americans have never been much for either/or. When presented with choices, and especially when operating as consumers (which is to say, most of the time), we tend to exhibit a hungry kind of both/and pluralism, a desire to cover all the bases. More »
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    THE ZENMOIR Paid Member

    In 1974, when Houghton Mifflin published Janwillem van de Wetering’s The Empty Mirror, the Netherlander’s account of his Zen training in a Kyoto monastery stood virtually alone in its class. In those days, Zen memoirs written by Westerners were as rare as sushi in Peoria. Now all that has changed. Zennists, apparently, are not spared the backward gaze of middle age, nor the impulse to make some narrative sense of it all. Now, with boomers hitting their forties and fifties, spiritual memoirs have boomed also, creating the burgeoning stream of Zen-inspired autobiographies presently coursing through American bookstores. More »
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    Books Paid Member

    In Search of the Medicine Buddha A Himalayan Journey David Crow Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam: New York, 2000 370 pp.; $24.95 (cloth) KATHERINE RUSSELL RICH Books on Asian medicine easily fall prey to the Exotic East problem, causing them too often to resemble those blissful magazine spreads on places like Timphur or Lahore: the details are extraordinary, but suspect in their perfection. With skill and unclouded vision, David Crow does not romanticize the complexities out of his subject, which is what makes… More »
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    Book Reviews Paid Member

    Cleansing the Doors of Perception The Religious Significance of Entheogenic Plants and Chemicals Huston Smith Tarcher/Putnam: New York, 2000 173 pp.; $22.95 (hardcover) Allan Hunt-Badiner At eighty-one, Huston Smith is one of the most respected authorities on world religions. He has devoted his life to the study of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Hinduism. He says he believes in all of them. So it may come as a surprise to some that an issue of great fascination to him over the last forty years of his life has been the spiritual use of drugs. Smith says that, given his age, he may have thought and written more on this subject than anyone else alive. He professes total agreement with Aldous Huxley’s opinion that “nothing is more important than the role mind-altering plants and chemicals have played in human history.” More »
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    Sorrow Mountain Paid Member

    Ani Pachen was born in 1933, the daughter of a powerful local chieftain in the great, wild expanses of eastern Tibet. Soon after her twenty-first birthday, as the Chinese invasion thundered through her countryside, Pachen's father died, leaving her in charge of her family and the freedom fighters he commanded. Overnight, she became one of the few female leaders of the resistance movement until she, her family, and hundreds of her kinsmen and neighbors were finally captured and imprisoned. For more than twenty years she endured relentless torture, enforced labor, and near starvation in Chinese work camps. But Pachen's legacy of grit and defiance, as well as her single-minded devotion to the Buddha's teachings, helped her survive, and, ultimately, to escape to India, where she ordained as a nun and met His Holiness the Dalai Lama. More »