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Buddhadharma : Winter 2013
WINTER 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 75 mixture of traditional medi- tative techniques. In his new book, Three Steps to Awaken- ing (Shambhala 2013), writ- ten with Laura Zimmerman, Rosenberg distills decades of experience into three essential meditation practices designed to aid in any life situation. Reading it is like being with Rosenberg in per- son, and the clarity with which he details each practice makes it an exceptional companion for the aspiring meditator. The Tibetan polymath Tsongkhapa (1357– 1419) tackled many subjects during his remark- able literary career. Yet while much has been written about his contributions to Madhyamaka, surprisingly little has been published about his works on Buddhist tantra. In Great Treatise on the Stages of Mantra (AIBS/Columbia 2013), Thomas Freeman Yarnall has narrowed this gap with his translation of two key chap- ters from Tsongkhapa’s text by that name, along with an insightful and accessible intro- duction. Yarnall guides us through Tsongkhapa’s posi- tions on particularly knotty issues, including what distinguishes the tantric path from other forms of Buddhist practice and how the conceptual creation stage of tantric med- itation leads to nonconceptual buddhahood. Yar- nall’s companion volume, The Emptiness That Is Form, is due out next year. Burton Watson’s Record of Miraculous Events in Japan (Columbia 2013) offers in translation anecdotal literature of Japan’s early encounters with Buddhism. Compiled by the Buddhist priest Kyokai in around 822, these short stories—116 in total—reveal how storytelling priests used the doctrine of karma to convert the masses. Many of the stories describe miraculous rewards reaped by practicing Buddhists, such as the tale of a monk who was spared from drowning by reciting a Mahayana sutra. Others warn of the disaster awaiting those who oppose the dharma, including the story of an evil prince who hit a monk and immediately died of illness and that of a man who spoke ill of a woman copying the Lotus Sutra and suffered the torture of a “twisted mouth.” Since its original release in 1990, Tim Ward’s travelogue, What the Buddha Never Taught, has been published in seven countries and five languages, including Chinese. In it he recounts his 1985 dive into Thai Buddhist monastic life, spotlighting the complications that renunciation has to offer. The continuing popularity of Ward’s book no doubt stems from his talent for address- ing important issues for modern Buddhists, includ- ing the relevance of monastic commitments for spiritual development. In the new twentieth-anniversary edi- tion (Changemakers Books 2013), Ward describes his shock when, after the book’s initial publication, he attempted to interview a group of Western monks in Bangkok. After real- izing he was the author of this “exposé” of the sangha, they refused to talk with him; yet later some of those same monks approached him indi- vidually to tell him they believed books like his are important. In The Easy Path (Wisdom 2013), edited by Lorne Ladner, we find in translation the presenta- tion of the stages of the path by the First Panchen Lama (1570–1662) alongside commentary by the contemporary Tibetan teacher Gyumed Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Jampa. From the preliminar- ies to the bodhisattva vow to calm abiding and special insight meditation, Rinpoche’s comments consistently light up the Panchen Lama’s lines, adding accessible vitality to a classic framework. Appended for the busy practitioner is the “extremely brief prelimi- nary practice,” which can be performed before medita- tion on any of the topics the Panchen Lama and Rinpoche address, inviting immediate engagement with their teachings in a traditional mode. Also included are biographies of the First Panchen Lama, a fascinating figure who worked as a peacemaker in unstable times and identi- fied and taught the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, and Khensur Rinpoche, who was born near Lhasa in 1939 and fled Tibet in 1959, pursuing inten- sive study in India before becoming the resident teacher at the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition’s Guhyasamaja Center in Washington, D.C. ALSO NEW AND NOTEWORTHY The Wind from Vulture Peak by Stephen D. Miller and Patrick Donnelly (Hawaii) The Art of Communication by Thich Nhat Hanh (Harper One) Family in Buddhism edited by Liz Wilson (SUNY) Distinguishing Phenomena from Their Intrinsic Nature with commentaries by Ju Mipham and Khenpo Shenga (Snow Lion) The Buddha and Religious Diversity by J. Abraham Velez de Cea (Routledge) Illuminating the Life of the Buddha by Appleton, Shaw, and Unebe (Bodleian Library) Vajra Wisdom: Deity Practice in Tibetan Buddhism by Kunkyen Tenpe Nyima and Shechen Gyaltsap IV (Snow Lion) Siddhas of Ga by Lama Karma Drodhul (KTD) A Classical Tibetan Reader by Yael Bentor (Wisdom) Feeding the Dead by Matthew Sayers (Oxford)