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Buddhadharma : Fall 2017
fall 2017 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 87 by rory lindsay book brieFs T he Japanese Zen master Yamada Koun Roshi (1907–89), fearing that Zen was dying out in Japan, held out hope that it might live on as a tradition within the Catholic Church. Yes, you read that right. But why the Catholic Church? Richard Bryan McDaniel’s Catholicism and Zen (Sumeru 2017) traces the connections, looking to early Catholic encounters with Zen and contempo- rary Catholics invested in Zen practice. One such practitioner is Elaine MacInnes, a Catho- lic nun who was the first Canadian to receive authorization to teach Zen. She defines Zen practice as “responding to God’s presence at all times, in all circumstances.” He also speaks with Father Kevin Hunt, a Trappist monk who is the primary Zen teacher of the Day Star Sangha in Massachusetts, and whose early attempts at cross-legged sitting got him kicked out of his Trappist community’s main chapel by superiors who thought he was crazy. Thought- ful and perceptive, this book reveals some of the fascinating ways that practitioners have operated with a foot in each tradition. Kyabje Ling Rinpoche (1903–1983) was a luminary of the Geluk tradition and the senior tutor of the Dalai Lama. In The Life of My Teacher (Wisdom 2017), composed in Tibetan by the Dalai Lama himself and translated by Gavin Kilty, the stories of this figure come brilliantly to life. We learn of his humility, his mastery of the vast Geluk curriculum, and his dramatic experiences escaping Tibet and foster- ing one of the world’s great spiritual leaders. We also hear of his constant concern for others: when rushing to flee Lhasa, he asked that his beloved dog Dolma be well taken care of, and while escaping with the Dalai Lama over the Himalayas, he made jokes to keep the young leader laughing. We see these qualities today in the Dalai Lama, who refers to Ling Rinpoche (Below) Conference of all Tibetan Buddhist traditions, 1963. In the front row, from left to right are Dudjom Rinpoche, the Sixteenth Karmapa, the Sakya Trizin, the Dalai Lama, Ling Rinpoche, Trijang Rinpoche, and Bakula Rinpoche. ©homaivyaraWalla