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Buddhadharma : Spring 2018
118 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER'S QUARTERLY BOOK BRIEFS Should Vajrayana practitioners eat meat? Tibetans have long wrestled with this question, as Geoffrey Barstow elucidates in FooD oF sinFuL DeMons: Meat, vegetaRi- anisM, anD the LiMits oF buDDhisM in tibet (Colum bia 2017). In their discussions of ethical eating, Tibetan commentators observe that while the monastic rules permit meat’s consumption, the bodhisattva vow, with its emphasis on compassion, does not. Meanwhile, tantric Buddhist commitments mandate the consumption of the five meats during a tantric feast, but this injunc tion need not extend to one’s daily diet. As a result, most Tibetan Buddhists would admit that meat ideally should be avoided, but this has not stopped them from eating it daily. Barstow identifies some of the reasons for this, including the view that eating meat is critical to one’s health, as well as certain cultural concerns such as the belief that consuming meat demonstrates one’s masculinity and affluence. In response, many Tibetan Buddhist masters have forcefully pushed back against these attitudes, extolling the virtues of vegetarianism for anyone engaged in Vajrayana practice. The longawaited second volume of Andy Rotman’s Divine sto- Ries: DivyavaDana (Wisdom 2017) offers beautiful translations from the Divyavadana, a collection of early South Asian Buddhist narra tives. As Rotman notes in his foreword, despite the collection’s title, these stories are “deeply human, recording the trials and successes of ordinary people as they struggle to live good lives.” In one story, we find a Buddhist king named Candraprabha, who is hellbent on giving away everything in his possession, causing everyone in his kingdom to become wealthy and prosperous. He is so generous that the people become worried that he will go too far, and indeed one day a brahman comes asking for his head. To everyone’s shock, the king obliges—an unthinkable demonstration of selflessness and impermanence that delivers onlookers to higher realms of existence. Exploring themes of ethics, sacrifice, karma, and reincarnation, these narratives open a window to the rich literary heritage of ancient Indian Buddhism while highlighting the concerns of early Buddhists, both monastic and lay. How have Zen traditions changed in recent decades? What makes Zen art “Zen”? Does contemporary Zen transcend nationality, by Rory Lindsay