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Buddhadharma : Summer 2018
BOOK BRIEFS 121 Zen teachings and the work of Western writers and artists, but her take on these sources feels powerful and fresh. I was particularly struck by this summation of her efforts: “My practice has gradually taught me the truth that each moment has its own realization, and whatever it is, it is enough, not because I am satisfied always with the taste of that moment, but because it just is. The meaning of each event depends on how fully present we are.” Lama Tsultrim Allione’s wisdom rising (Enliven 2018) is an intimate autobiographical introduction to Tibetan Buddhist visualizations focused on dakinis, or enlightened female Buddhist deities. Allione recounts her early experiences with Buddhism, her ordination as one of the first Western Tibetan Buddhist nuns, her eventual decision to disrobe, and the loss of one of her children to sudden infant death syndrome. This tragedy drove her to seek inspiration from female figures in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, which then led her to a deeper engagement with the dakini meditations that she teaches in this book. One of the most compelling aspects of Allione’s approach is her seamless integration of detailed meditation instructions with stories about how she and her students have experienced these practices. She describes one student who used meditations on the Mandala of the Five Dakinis to work through unhealthy approaches to romantic relationships and marriage, and another who took up these practices to develop a more balanced approach to career and family, highlighting some of the immediate benefits that can emerge from these meditations. The Japanese Zen master Shodo Harada Roshi expounds on the Platform Sutra in not one single thing (Wisdom 2018). Compiled from teachings he gave at Tahoma monastery on Whidbey Island, Washington, this book isn’t a line-by-line commentary on the root text but rather “a parallel text, to be read alongside the sutra itself.” The Platform Sutra is famous for the story of Eno (or Huineng in Chinese), an illiterate laborer who dictates a poem of realization for the Fifth Chan Patriarch and becomes his successor. The message here, of course, is that book learning and even literacy are unnecessary for awakening. For Shodo Harada, the beauty of the Platform Sutra is precisely its simplicity: “There is nothing complex or conceptual in it. Without any struggle or difficulty, we can know the patriarchs’ truth.” Harada insists that we can quickly gain insight based on the efforts of those who came before us, which for him raises an important question: What’s holding us back?