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Buddhadharma : Spring 2009
75 spring 2 00 9 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly Relative Truth, Ultimate Truth and The Awakening Mind (Wisdom Publications, 2008) by Geshe Tashi Tsering are the second and fourth books, respectively, in a series of six that cover the basic doctrines of Tibetan Buddhism (the series begins with the four noble truths and will end with tantra). Although coming in the form of a very traditional Gelugpa presentation of the Buddhist path, the books are written for a modern Western audi- ence, and therefore “happiness” is presented as a principle goal, alongside the more traditional goal of enlightenment. The first book is a much- needed presentation of the two truths, a central topic of Tibetan philosophical inquiry, in a lan- guage that is accessible to nonacademic readers. The Awakening Mind deals with bodhichitta, the Mahayana doctrine of enlightening compas- sion. This is a topic that is equal parts ethics, philosophy, and practice, and Geshe Tashi Tser- ing covers all three with remarkable ease. The author’s personal tone and his fluent language, combined with his obvious mastery of the mate- rial (he is a Lharampa Geshe, the highest degree awarded to Tibetan scholars) help to make the series a tremendously valuable resource for the study of basic Buddhist teachings from a Tibetan perspective. The Record of Linji (University of Hawaii, 2008) is one of the foundational texts for Chan/ Zen, both for the tradition itself and for any- one who struggles to understand its history and teachings—particularly its koan practice. Osten- sibly the recorded sayings of Linji, the patriarch of Linji Chan (known as Rinzai Zen in Japan), the text is a collection of often cryptic statements, sermons, and stories. Starting in the early 1950s, a team headed by Ruth Fuller Sasaki worked on the translation until Fuller Sasaki’s untimely death in 1967. The translation was published in 1975, but without the hundreds of annotations the team had pro- duced; these have now been restored through the painstak- ing effort of scholar Thomas Yuho Kirchner. The resulting book is a masterpiece of schol- arship not only on Linji Chan, but also on Chinese Buddhist language and history—the annotations, which constitute almost two-thirds of the book, explain in astonishing detail the meanings, references, and grammar of each line of text. The edition preserves the excellent historical introduction, and includes a lengthy glossary, index, and table of names. In Gathering Leaves and Lifting Words (Uni- versity of Washington, 2008), Justin McDaniel sets out to understand how Buddhists in Laos and Thailand “teach Buddhists to be Buddhists.” With this book, McDaniel, a gifted textual scholar, has produced the first systematic study of how monks have been educated in Southeast Asia over the last five hundred years. He does this primarily through tracing the development of teaching manuals and the ways they are used in the curricula. Perhaps the most surprising discovery for readers will be that monks do not study the Pali Canon, nor have they done so tradition- ally; instead, teachers long ago “lifted” words from the Pali sources and explained them orally, teaching through exten- sive glosses on Pali words. These lectures, having been written down as guides for later teachers, became canonical in themselves, and thus are core texts of the monastic curricula. McDaniel’s study of this material allows him to see the continuities and change in Southeast Asian presentations of the Buddhist teaching. Tibetan Logic (Snow Lion, 2008) by Kather- ine Manchester Rogers is the latest attempt to make this exceedingly dense and difficult topic comprehensible to a Western audience. And as with previ- ous attempts, this one meets with varying success. Roger’s book is a study and transla- tion of a nineteenth-century logic manual that is widely used in Gelug monastic col- leges. As Rogers takes the reader through the text, by the thirteenth Dalai Lama’s primary tutor, Purbu Jok Champa Gyatso (1825–1901), she makes note of alternate posi- tions also taken by the tradition, making the important point that even the Gelug should not be thought of as monolithic in their doctrinal positions. The book is not a casual read by any stretch, but for those with a strong background in Tibetan epistemology, or in need of an Eng- lish guide when studying the original Tibetan, it could be quite useful. but without the hundreds of annotations the team had pro- duced; these have now been restored through the painstak- ing effort of scholar Thomas Yuho Kirchner. The resulting book is a masterpiece of schol- arship not only on Linji Chan, but also on Chinese Buddhist the basic doctrines of Tibetan Buddhism (the series begins with the four noble truths and will end with tantra). Although coming in the form of a very traditional Gelugpa presentation of the Buddhist path, the books are written for a modern Western audi- in the curricula. Perhaps the most surprising discovery for readers will be that monks do not study the Pali Canon, nor have they done so tradition- ally; instead, teachers long ago sources and explained them orally, teaching through exten- comprehensible to a Western audience. And as with previ- ous attempts, this one meets with varying success. Roger’s book is a study and transla- tion of a nineteenth-century logic manual that is widely used in Gelug monastic col- leges. As Rogers takes the aLso new anD noTeworTHY: The Lotus Sutra: A Contemporary Translation of a Buddhist Classic, by Gene Reeves (Wisdom Publications) Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations, 2nd Edition, by Paul Williams (Routledge) True Perception: The Path of Dharma Art, Revised Edition, by Chögyam Trungpa, edited by Judith L. Lief (Shambhala) The Four Great Temples: Buddhist Art, Archaeology, and Icons of Seventh-Century Japan, by Donald F. McCallum (University of Hawaii Press) The Tibetan Art of Parenting: From Before Conception Through Early Childhood, by Anne Maiden Brown, Edie Farwell, and Dickey Nyerongsha (Wisdom Publications) The Living Buddha: An Interpretive Biography, by Daisaku Ikeda, translated by Burton Watson (Middleway Press) Breathe, You Are Alive! Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing, 20th Anniversary Edition, by Thich Nhat Hanh (Parallax Press) Where is Your Buddha Nature? Stories to Instruct & Inspire, by Master Hsing Yun (Buddha’s Light Publishing)