Books In Brief Winter 2001

© H. H. The Dalai LamaAnswers:
Discussions with Western Buddhists
The Dalai Lama
Translated and edited by José Cabezón
Snow Lion Publications: Ithaca, 2001
102 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.

© Dujon RinpocheCounsels From My Heart:
Dudjom Rinpoche
Translated by Padmakara Translation Group
Shambhala Publications: Boston, 2001
112 pp.;$19.95 (cloth)

Renowned Tibetan Buddhist master H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche offers dharma teachings drawn from an array of subjects. Sharp, forthright, direct—this work is a treasure of heart advice. Some of these teachings find expression as beautiful poems. In the chapter “An Introduction to the Three Jewels,” Dudjom Rinpoche says, “We must understand that we are all disciples of the Buddha and all followers of the one teaching that is his, and on this basis we should practice the tradition to which we are drawn. We must refrain from criticizing other traditions and schools, and stop entertaining wrong notions about them.”

© Thich Nhat HanhAnger:
Wisdom for Cooling the Flames
Thich Nhat Hanh
Riverhead Books: New York, 2001
208 pp.; $23.95 (cloth)

Have you ever considered “taking good care of your anger”? As one of the three primary sources of unhappiness in Buddhism, anger can wield extraordinary power over our life, health, and spiritual development. Thich Nhat Hanh likens anger to a crying baby, which we must treat with the same attention, examination, and gentle care. With his characteristic simplicity, Thich Nhat Hanh offers compassionate yet concrete instructions for facing this destructive emotion and transforming it into peace.

© Nga-la Rig'dzin DorjeDangerous Friend:
The Teacher-Student Relationship in Vajrayana Buddhism
Nga-la Rig’dzin Dorje
Shambhala Publications: Boston, 2001
144 pp.; $15.95 (paper)

A vibrant, provocative work regarding the teacher-student relationship. Paramount in the Vajrayana tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, this relationship has been clouded in the West by confusion, controversy, and misunderstanding. Here, a Western practitioner explores this profound bond of trust, and its inherent responsibility. “In the Vajrayana,” the author says, “the emphasis is on an inner commitment, not an outer one; one uses one’s awareness of the teacher from moment to moment.”

© Nawang GehlekGood Life, Good Death:
Tibetan Wisdom on Reincarnation
Rimpoche Nawang Gehlek
Riverhead Books: New York, 2001
192 pp.; $23.95 (cloth)

Rimpoche Nawang Gehlek offers a practical guide to living a good life and achieving a good death by overcoming the negative emotions of anger, hatred, jealousy, and attachment, which arise from fear and ignorance. Good Life, Good Death also provides a vivid description of the dying process and how one can prepare oneself for the inevitable journey.

© Philip KapleauStraight to the Heart of Zen:
Eleven Classic Koans & Their Inner Meanings
Philip Kapleau
Shambhala Publications: Boston, 2001
192 pp.; $15.95 (paper)

Fresh from the zendo, here is a collection of previously unpublished talks about koans by one of the pioneers of Western Zen. Under Roshi Kapleau’s direction, koans shed their esoteric stigma and reveal themselves as familiar and relevant to fundamental issues of spiritual life. The book is arranged in three sections—Koans of the Buddha, Koans of the Great Lay Practitioners, and Koans of Our Lives—designed to reflect the path of a maturing koan practice.

© Philip ZaleskiThe Best Spiritual Writing 2001
Edited by Philip Zaleski
HarperSanFrancisco, 2001
320 pp.; $16.00 (paper)

For those who didn’t have time to comb through every spiritual publication in 2001, here is the fourth annual offering of the “best” of spiritual literature. Gleaned from established, as well as less known, sources, the collection represents a variety of faiths and includes emerging writers alongside the big names (including Robert Pinsky, Thomas Moore, Bret Lott, and Terry Tempest Williams). Together, the authors address the profound and everyday aspects of spirituality in an ecumenical scope of formats and voices.

© Dakpo Tashi NamgyalClarifying the Natural State
Dakpo Tashi Namgyal; Translated by Erik Pema Kunsang
Rangjung Yeshe Publications; Hong Kong, Boudhanath & Esby, 2001
107 pp.; $18.00 (paper)

Directly from his personal experience, a sixteenth-century Tibetan Buddhist master offers practical instruction on the path of awakening. “Ordinary mind,” says Dakpo Tashi Namgyal, “simply means your mind’s natural state. When you try to correct it by judging, accepting, or rejecting, it will no longer be your ordinary mind.” Eminently clear, precise, and psychologically astute, this guide for the profound teachings of Mahamudra is “indispensable,” says Kagyu master Thrangu Rinpoche.

© Geshe Kelsang GyatsoTransform Your Life:
A Blissful Journey
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
Tharpa Publications: Glen Spey, NY, 2001
424 pp.; $22.95 (cloth), $18.95 (paper)

What is the meaning of life? How do we find the source of happiness, solve our daily problems, and accomplish our ultimate goal? Geshe Kelsang Gyatso provides advice on these matters in this handbook for “serious seekers of happiness.” It is possible, he says, to transform our lives and, through this process, to find everlasting joy and peace.

© Reginald RaySecret of the Vajra World:
The Tantric Buddhism of Tibet
Reginald Ray
Shambhala Publications: Boston, 2001
524 pp.; $29.95 (cloth)

An accessible, far-ranging guidebook to Vajrayana Buddhism. Ray explores the foundations and early spread of Vajrayana from India to Tibet, the tantric view of human nature, and such subjects as the profound importance of the teacher, who “introduces us to the mystery, the power, and the magic of the phenomenal world.” Woven throughout are inspiring stories and quotations from many great teachers through the centuries. An affecting portrait of life in long-term retreat rounds out this valuable work.

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