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Buddhadharma : Spring 2016
spring 2016 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 81 highly respected Theravadin nunnery in a nation wit- nessing a massive boom in ordained women. Heading west, Toomey then inter- views American nuns such as Thubten Chodron, who argues that her abbey— which admits women and men—reflects the different sort of experience available to Buddhist nuns in West- ern countries, being “more collaborative, with gender equality and with seniority based on years of experience and knowledge.” Seamlessly narrated, this book reveals the varied paths available to women seeking to dedicate their lives to Buddhist practice. ◗ In compassion and emptiness in early buddhist meditation (Windhorse 2015), pro- lific Theravadin monk–scholar Analayo focuses on works from the Pali Canon and parallel passages in other languages, revealing how these two ideas that are so often linked with the Mahayana are in fact important for numerous Buddhist traditions and their practices, including Theravada. What stands out about this book is that although Analayo focuses on ancient texts, he consistently addresses the needs of contempo- rary practitioners, making it a welcome addition to any serious meditator’s library. ◗ Erik J. Hammerstrom’s the science of chinese buddhism (Columbia 2015) exam- ines early twentieth-century Chinese Buddhist responses to science. This book is not an assess- ment of Buddhism’s compatibility or incompat- ibility with science but rather a careful look at how Buddhists in China tried to reconcile their traditions—including belief in supernormal abilities—with empiricism. By offering glimpses into how Chinese Buddhist intellectuals faced the authority of science, Hammerstrom gives us much to think about as we watch leading West- ern Buddhists pursuing comparable projects today. ◗ There are many versions of the Buddha’s life story, each with its own embellishments, twists, additions, and subtractions. In the life of the buddha (Penguin 2015), written by the eighteenth-century Bhutanese author Tenzin Chogyel and introduced and translated by Kurtis Schaeffer, we find one of the most acces- sible versions available, free of excess detail and scholastic detours. As Schaeffer observes in his introduction, Tenzin Chogyel’s retelling also has remarkable emotional depth, as seen in the Buddha’s last conversation with his son Rahula: Rahula approaches his father sobbing, and the dying Buddha comforts him by saying they have been good to each other as father and son and that in nirvana they will be free from suffering. But he also acknowledges they will never share such a relationship again, adding a poignant and human touch to a transcendent scene. ◗ Christine Toomey’s in search of buddha’s daughters (The Experiment 2016) takes us on a worldwide trek to meet some of Bud- dhism’s most dedicated women. Relating a two-year, 60,000-mile journey, Toomey recalls her encounters with women such as the famous nun/singer Ani Choying Drolma, whose early experiences of abuse prompted her to seek refuge in a nunnery high in the hills of the Kathmandu valley. In Burma, Toomey finds a mother–daughter duo running a strict and photo (top) | rom srinivasan Buddhist nuns in Burma, one of the countries where Christine Toomey traveled to research In Search of Buddha’s Daughters.