Filed in Books & Media

Books in Brief

Awakening to Zen
The Teachings of Roshi Philip Kapleau
Edited by Polly Young-Eisendrath and Rafe Martin
Scribner: New York, 1997
256 pp., $22 (cloth)

brief books spring 1998

A compilation of never-before-published teachings, given over the course of thirty-two years, from one of the first American Zen Buddhists and the author of The Three Pillars of Zen. Roshi Philip Kapleau’s style is consistently humorous and touching, and bears the stamp of his own teachers Harada Roshi and Yasutani Roshi. This book is a gift from a master to his students at the close of an illustrious career.

The Mandala: Sacred Circle in Tibetan Buddhism
Martin Brauen
Shambhala: Boston, 1997
152 pp., $45 (cloth)

Mandala: The Architecture of Enlightenment
Denise Patry Leidy and Robert A. F. Thurman
Asia Society Galleries: New York, 1997
Tibet House: New York, 1997
Shambhala: Boston, 1997
176 pp., $25 (paper)

Two oversized illustrated books about the imagery, allegory, and usages of the Buddhist mandala. The Leidy/Thurman cataloge was produced in conjunction with the Asia Society exhibition on mandalas. Brauen’s volume contains superb photography and scholarship ona variety of mandalas and describes the intricate Tantric Buddhist worldview with the aid of computer-generated models. A must-have for anyone interested in Tibetan Buddhism, tantra, or more generally, ethnography.

A Heart As Large As the World
Living with Mindfulness, Wisdom, and Compassion
Sharon Salzberg
Shambhala: Boston, 1997
160 pp., $18.00 cloth

Salzberg, a founder of the Insight Meditation Society and a renowned teacher of vipassana meditation, has produced her second inspiring book. Peppered with anecdotes and teaching stories, Heart is a down-to-earth manual on integrating meditation with everyday life and reaping our inherent gifts of compassion, lovingkindness, and wisdom.

Buddhist Ethics
Hammalawa Saddhatissa
Introduction by Charles Hallisey
Wisdom Publications: Boston, 1997
200 pp., $14.95 (paper)

A guide for Westerners to the contemporary moral implications of traditional Buddhist precepts. This classic text, by the late Ven. Dr. Saddhatissa, a revered Sri Lankan monk and scholar, examines notions of ethics in both Eastern and Western traditions and includes advice on how best to follow the Buddha way.

Western Buddhism
Kulananda
Thorsons: San Francisco, 1997
240 pp., $19 (paper)

The son of a Buddhist and a leading member of the Britain-based Western Buddhist Order, Kulananda chronicles the evolution of Buddhism in the West and its relationships to European and North American culture. He includes a rundown of the traditions and major Buddhist organizations that have taken root in the West.

Being Bodies: Buddhist Women on the Paradox of Enlightenment
Edited by Lenore Friedman and Susan Moon
Shambhala: Boston, 1997
208 pp., $14 (paper)

An anthology of writings by Buddhist women on the fraught relationship between body and mind. Contributors include Charlotte Joko Beck, Pema Chodron, Rita M. Gross, China Galland, Susan Griffin, Toni Packer, Bobby Rhodes, and Joan Tollifson.

I Don’t Bow to Buddhas
Selected Poems of Yuan Mei
Translated from the Chinese,
Introduction by J. P. Seaton
Copper Canyon Press: Washington, 1997
128 pp., $14 (paper)

Yuan Mei, who lived during the Ch’ing Dynasty, had an irreverent and self-effacing wit; he also had a thing for taboo subjects and wrote on homosexuality and in support of women poets. His poems, laced with Taoism, have been some of the most popular in the history of Chinese classical poetry.

Unforgotten Dreams: Poems by the Zen Monk Shotetsu
Translated by Steven D. Carter
Columbia University Press: New York, 1997
264 pp., $16.50 (paper)

Monk Shotetsu (1381-1459) viewed his poetry as a religious calling, and answered it with prolific activity: his body of work comprises 11,000 poems. A master of the classical uta tradition, Shotetsu understood the first Noble Truth: 30,000 of his poems were destroyed in a fire, his estate was confiscated by an angry shogun, and rivals blocked his work from appearing in the only imperially commissioned anthology of his time. Unforgotten Dreams is the first major collection of his work in English.

Bodhisattva Archetypes:
Classic Buddhist Guides to Awakening and their Modern Expression
Taigen Daniel Leighton
Penguin Arkana: New York, 1997
384 pp., $14.95 (paper)

An examination of the psychological importance of bodhisattvic practice. A Zen Buddhist priest, Taigen Daniel Leighton, identifies seven archetypal bodhisattvas and explains their iconography, history, and sacred sites. He also offers familiar modern personages who have embodied aspects of the bodhisattvic ideal, from Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi to Bob Dylan and Gloria Steinem.

Uji: Beung-Time
Dogen Zenji
Annotated by Eido Shimano Roshi and Charles Vacher
Zen Studies Society: New York, 1997
$20.00 (paper)

In Uji, a portion of his opus Shobogenzo, Zen Master Dogen laid out his realization that existence is synonymous with time, and to understand that means to understand ultimate reality. This exquisite, small book contains English and French translations and Japanese calligraphy of the work, and a comprehensive introduction by Rinzai master Edo Roshi.

The Posture of Meditation:
A Practical Manual for Meditators of All Ages
Will Johnson
Shambala: Boston, 1997
100 pp., $9.00 (paper)

Many people are drawn to Buddhism by theory and ideas—in short, by the mind. But on the cushion, we soon come face to face with the body and the very physical nature of practice. Will Johnson's book offers an excellent explanation of the function of the body in meditation, with exercises and tips that help promote the alert-yet-relaxed posture that is vital to most meditation techniques.

The First Discourse of the Buddha
Dr. Rewata Dhamma
Wisdom Publications: Boston, 1997
128 pp., $14.95 (paper)

The Buddha's first discourse, known as "Turning the Wheel of Dharma," contains the foundational teachings of all Buddhism. Citing his own scholarly and meditative experience, the Ven. Dr. Dhamma, a Theravadin teacher from Burma, explains how the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path function as a nonsectarian guide to practice.

The Autobiography of a Tibetan Monk
Palden Gyatso
Foreword by the Dalai Lama
Grove Press: New York, 1997
256 pp., $24 (cloth)

An account of the thirty-three years Palden Gyatso spent in Chinese labor camps and prisons in Tibet. It was Palden Gyatso who testified before the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, bringing Chinese torture of Tibetan monks to international attention.

Our Journey from Tibet
Laurie Dolphin
Photographs by Nancy Jo Johnson
With a Letter from His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Afterword by Rinchen K. Choegyal
Dutton: New York, 1997
40 pp., $15.99 (cloth)

A story to introduce children to the plight of Tibet, Our Journey is a little girl's account of her flight from Tibet through the Himalayas. Because Chinese law prohibits Tibetans from receiving a traditional education, nine-year-old Sonam, at her family's behest, makes the treacherous, clandestine journey to India with a group of other children.

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