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Buddhadharma : Summer 2012
SUMMER 2 0 1 2 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 73 mortality as well as multiple rebirths, and how they have shifted our interpersonal relationships, reminding us of the possibility that our adversar- ies were once our lovers (and vice versa). Consid- ered whispered teachings of bodhisattvas, these verses were initially kept secret and restricted to advanced practitioners, but today these essen- tial contemplations on uprooting self-cherishing through exchanging yourself with others have emerged as widely taught instructions in the Tibetan tradition. The Magic of Awareness (Snow Lion 2012) brings together the creative presentation and playful teaching style of Anam Thubten. Born in eastern Tibet, and now living in the Bay Area, Anam Thubten represents a young generation of emerging dharma teachers in America. Like his first book, No Self, No Problem, this is a collec- tion of edited transcripts from dharma talks on a variety of subjects relevant to modern-day prac- titioners. He presents his teachings in ordinary language, full of imagery and analogies, such as playing the mind like a computer game. One of the themes repeated throughout his teachings is craving—how there is no end to wanting more. He discusses craving in emotional and exis- tential terms, talking about what it is to be without anything and feel like nobody, and how melting into love is the essence of spirituality. The book is fun and helpful, full of neologisms and pop phrases like spiritual ego, unselfing, and crazy love (defined as “relief from that inner burning”). In Living by Vow (Wisdom 2012), Zen priest Shohaku Okumura explains eight liturgies that are chanted daily in Zen centers throughout North America. The liturgies, from the Soto Zen headquarter’s official sutra handbook published in English, include The Verse of the Three Refuges, The Heart Sutra, and The Meal Chant. Okumura offers his own perpective on different interpretations of these texts, giving detailed analyis of key Japanese words in order to illuminate unseen meanings. In doing so, he shares his personal experiences of these practices, lifting these texts out of their familiar ceremonial settings and bringing them into conversation with the Zen practitioner. The book goes beyond an explication of spe- cific chants and rituals to reveal that the unify- ing practice of Zen is living by the bodhisattva’s vow. Okumura discusses how this vow is an indispensable practice, and how persisting with the vow erodes habits of mind, like raindrops abrade rock. In Dreaming Yourself Awake (Shambhala 2012), author Alan Wallace contrasts contem- porary science on lucid states of consciousness during sleep with Tibetan understandings of how to yogically utilize dreams. He offers guided exercises on lucid dreaming and dream yoga, along with theoretical discussions that elucidate the practices. As suggested by its title, the undercurrent of the book is the Buddhist dictum that non-buddhas are caught in a dream-like world, thinking they are awake. The basic practice, therefore, is to wake up from the dream. Wallace presents instructions on how to train oneself in recognizing the dream state, as a complementary practice of shamatha meditation, and compares the real-time effects of dream yoga with recent findings in sleep research. An undercurrent of the book is the author’s view that the science of lucid dreaming supports and complements techniques of Tibetan dream yoga. Speaking for Buddhas (Columbia 2011) is a critical study of the act of composing Buddhist commentaries on sutra texts. The author, Rich- ard Nance, explores how Indian Buddhist schol- ars understood and elaborated on buddhavacana, the “words of the Buddha,” through their explanatory writings on what the Buddha taught. The book provides a fascinating glimpse into the processes of how the early Indian Buddhist tradition standardized norms for communicat- ing the dharma and ensuring its durability. Of likely interest to practitioners is the chapter on traditional models of Buddhist teachers, which explores how teachers are voices of the dharma, what is expected from an ideal dharma teacher, how teachers possessed by maras, or demons, are not teachers of the dharma, and how the dharma itself is not reliant on a person. This is particularly instructive for Buddhists who find themselves in these early stages of receiving and interpreting the dharma in the West. ALSO NEW AND NOTEWORTHY: Journey to Certainty: The Quintessence of the Dzogchen View by Anyen Rinpoche (Wisdom) Path of Compassion: Stories from the Buddha’s Life by Thich Nhat Hanh (Parallax) Running with the Mind of Meditation by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche (Harmony Books) A Clear Mirror: The Visionary Autobiography of a Tibetan Master by Traktung Dudjom Lingpa; translated by Chonyi Drolma (Rangjung Yeshe) The Face of Jizo by Hank Glassman (Hawaii) Studying Buddhism in Practice edited by John S. Harding (Routledge) The Dharma Master Chongsan of Won Buddhism translated by Bongkil Chung (SUNY) Alan Watts—Here and Now edited by Peter Columbus and Donadrian Rice (SUNY) Tantric Temples by Peter Levenda (Ibis) Visions of Unity by Yaroslav Komarovski (SUNY)