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Buddhadharma : Winter 2013
WINTER 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 69 Recently, while attending a public teaching by the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Tsoknyi Rinpoche at Wellesley College, I was surprised to hear a term I had only heard within the confines of a long-term cloistered retreat or in the con- text of esoteric tantric manuals: subtle body. Rinpoche was describing the need for Western students to connect with the body as a way of healing emotionally. “To find balance,” he said, “we need to pay more attention to the body, especially the subtle body.” I found this reference in a very public venue refreshing and practical. There are growing indications that the idea of a subtle body, long embedded in the secret teachings of esoteric traditions, is coming out of hiding. The subtle body is the subject of a new anthology edited by anthropologists Geoffrey Samuel and Jay Johnston titled Religion and the Subtle Body in Asia and the West. Samuel and Johnston have drawn together fourteen essays, focused on cultures in Asia and Europe, that take as a theme the cultural construction of an WILLA B. MILLER is the founder of Natural Dharma Fellowship and a visiting lecturer on Buddhist ministry at Harvard Divinity School. Her dissertation, Secrets of the Vajra Body, examines Gyalwa Yangonpa’s work on Tibetan views on the subtle body. REVIEWS RELIGION AND THE SUBTLE BODY IN ASIA AND THE WEST Edited by Geoffrey Samuel and Jay Johnston Routledge, 2013 282 pages; $155 TRAINING THE WISDOM BODY: Buddhist Yogic Exercise By Rose Taylor Goldfield Shambhala Publications, 2013 192 pages; $16.95 INVESTIGATING THE SUBTLE BODY ILLUSTRATIONS | FROM TIBETAN MEDICAL PAINTINGS ABRAMS, NEW YORK Reviewed by Willa B. Miller