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Buddhadharma : Fall 2016
fall 2016 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 75 the meditator’s dilemma (Shamb- hala 2016), Morgan begins by addressing common experiences of frustration before presenting new tech- niques for facing such challenges. He reasons that traditional forms of meditation arose in a radically different context and suggests that “setting the stage” for meditation, a step that he describes here in detail, is critical for making your practice work. Prolific writer and researcher Sam van Schaik’s the spirit of tibetan buddhism (Yale 2016) combines selections from clas- sic Tibetan works to create a rich primer for the Tibetan Buddhist path. Van Schaik has arranged his selections chronologically to give us a sense of Tibetan Buddhism’s historical development while also choosing works that reflect some of its key elements, including basic ethics, mind training, the philosophy of the Middle Way, tantra, and the role of prayer. Highly useful for both beginners and experts, this volume charts a vast territory in a clear and accessible way. behavior to their own husbands’ delinquencies. This collection is consistently fascinating and a major contribution to the study of Buddhist narrative. The first two installments of Bernard Faure’s multivolume Gods of medieval Japan (Hawaii 2016) represent a milestone in the study of Japanese esoteric Buddhism. Faure writes in his preface to volume one that scholars of Japanese Buddhism have often neglected gods in their research, perhaps influenced by the modern (and deeply flawed) assumption that Buddhism is an atheistic tradition. He insists that anyone claiming to respect other people’s beliefs “should begin by taking those people’s gods seriously” and goes on to do exactly that, examining gods in Japanese Buddhist literature, ritual, and iconographic traditions. One of the things I find most compelling about Faure’s work is his consistent focus on Japanese art- works (hundreds of which are presented here in full color), a move that greatly enhances our understanding of the dizzying number of deities under discussion in ways that textual analysis alone could never do. Lama Migmar Tseten’s arya tara practice manual (Mangalamkosha 2015) provides com- plete sadhana instructions for all twenty-one forms of Tara according to traditional Tibetan sources. For each sadhana, Lama Migmar also gives a condensed version in case completing a full session isn’t possible. With color visual- ization aids and detailed instructions on how to perform related practices such as the Tara puja and Tara feast offering, this book is a great resource for any serious Tibetan Buddhist practitioner. Have you ever felt disappointed in your meditation efforts? Perhaps you felt motivated ahead of a session but then deflated afterward? Do you find it hard to maintain a regular prac- tice? Interviewing numerous Western medita- tors during his initial research over two decades ago, psychotherapist and meditation teacher Bill Morgan found that everyone he spoke to struggled in these ways. He himself had gone on retreat prior to investigating these issues and had hoped to experience some sense of progress, only to discover that what had felt like a breakthrough led to a place that was “equally dry and humorless.” In his new book, Amaterasu from Bernard Faure’s multivolume Gods of Medieval Japan (Hawaii 2016)