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Buddhadharma : Summer 2008
77 summer 2 00 8 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly Book Briefs by alexander gardner In the early twentieth century, the great scholar Ju Mipham collected stories from the sutras and tantras about the eight great bodhisattvas: Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri, Vajrapani, Mai- treya, Akashagarbha, Kshitigarbha, Samanta- bhadra, and Sarvanivaranavishkambhin. Now that collection has been translated into English by the exceptionally skilled Yeshe Gyamtso in A Garland of Jewels: The Eight Great Bodhisatt- vas (KTD Publications, 2008). The stories gener- ally follow a familiar pattern: someone, usually another bodhisattva, asks the Buddha who such and such is, and what his origin is, and the Bud- dha then explains, in florid and expansive detail and praise. Which is to say, one will not find any historical information here about the develop- ment of the bodhisattvas. Not surprisingly, given Mipham’s personal devotion to Manjushri, sto- ries about that bodhisattva occupy more than half the book, while the lesser-known bodhisat- tvas receive only a few pages. During the Renaissance, European thinkers famously bifurcated the world into physical and mental realms, charging science with investigat- ing the physical world, and leaving religion to deal with mental phenomena. In Embracing Mind: The Common Ground of Science and Spirituality (Shambhala, 2008), B. Alan Wal- lace continues his tireless effort to bridge this gap. The book begins with a lengthy critique of Western science, exposing many of the irra- tional assumptions of the scientific world and pointing out the perspective that has long been missing: attention to the mind. Wallace goes on to offer a quick survey of religious (mostly, but not exclusively, Buddhist) theories of mind and a discussion of some of the recent conversa- tions between scientists and religious leaders. The final section, “Tools and Technologies of a Buddhist Science of Contemplation,” is a strong statement that the mind is a perfectly reasonable subject for scientific inquiry. In 1989 the government of China released, in English, a small booklet about Tibet titled 100 Questions. The booklet was meant to pro- vide Westerners with what the Chinese consid- ered an accurate presentation of the history and contemporary status of Tibet, but it was largely dismissed as propaganda. Authenticating Tibet: Answers to China’s “100 Questions” (Univer- sity of California, 2008), edited by Anne-Marie Blondeau and Katia Buf- fetrille, attempts to set the record straight. In this English update of the 2002 French original, a number of interna- tional experts respond to each of the Chinese government’s 100 statements. Many of the Chinese assertions are easily dispatched with factual corrections, but on some issues there are no easy answers, and the scholars respond with careful non-ideological analysis. The subtlety of the essays will inevitably disturb partisans in both Dharamsala and Beijing, even though the obvious conclusion of the book is that Tibetans have endured grave injustices at the hands of the Chinese. This book is a must read for anyone paying attention to recent events in Tibet. In Focused and Fearless (Wisdom Publica- tions, 2008), longtime practitioner Shaila Cath- erine presents an insightful instruction manual on shamatha, based on the traditional teachings on the eight jhanas, or stages of con- centration, through which a practitioner of shamatha progresses. Catherine focuses on the first four concentra- tions, which produce states sity of California, 2008), edited by Anne-Marie Blondeau and Katia Buf- fetrille, attempts to set the record straight. In this English update of the 2002 French original, a number of interna- tional experts respond to each of the Chinese government’s Chinese assertions are easily dispatched with erine presents an insightful instruction manual on shamatha, based on the traditional teachings on the eight jhanas, or stages of con- centration, through which a practitioner of shamatha progresses. Catherine focuses on the first four concentra- tions, which produce states