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Buddhadharma : Spring 2015
spring 2 0 1 5 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 79 by rory lindsay book briefs ◗ the golden lands (JF Publishing 2014) is the first volume of Vikram Lall’s new Architecture of the Buddhist World series. Aimed at showcasing the architectural feats of Buddhists worldwide, the series begins with the structures of Cambo- dia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. Lall combines photography, illustra- tions, and analysis to demonstrate the defining characteristics of each country’s Buddhist archi- tectural styles and couches this within historical narratives about the development of Buddhism and its buildings in each nation. A fascinating look at the history of Buddhist architecture in Southeast Asia. ◗ Beverley Foulks McGuire’s living karma: the religious practices of ouyi zhixu (Columbia 2014) highlights the diversity of views on karma that have emerged in China, focusing on the innovations of the understudied master Ouyi Zhixu (1599–1655). Ouyi’s concep- tion of karma was substantially different from that of his peers. While the majority of Bud- dhists in his day believed that karma’s results were inescapable, Ouyi claimed that karma was malleable and subject to willful modification. Repentance rituals, vows, divination, and ascetic practices, such as copying out Buddhist sutras with one’s own blood and burning one’s head and arms with incense, were all believed to have the power to eliminate negative karma and ensure a better future. For Ouyi, karma became “a mechanism of changing one’s fate through religious practice,” an idea that would greatly influ- ence Chinese Bud- dhists in the centuries that followed. u t Maitreya (detail) Tibet, 15th century Collection of Rubin Museum of Art HAR# 664 himalayanart.org Architectural models of Ananda Temple (below) in Pagan, Myanmar The result of a massive collaborative effort by the Dharmachakra Transla- tion Committee, the ornament of the great vehicle sutras (Snow Lion 2014) offers in translation the Indian Buddhist classic the Mahayanasutralam- kara together with commentary by the influ- ential eastern Tibetan masters Khenpo Shenga (1871–1927) and Ju Mipham (1846–1912). Over 1,000 pages in length, this tome charts the Mahayana path in fine detail, combining theory and practice to offer a complete course for the reader. Throughout we find pithy gems, ranging from powerful insights into emptiness to advice on how to move forward as a practitioner. Mipham, for example, gives advice on finding the right teacher, noting that any good teacher avoids favoritism (how else would they show their transcendence of “I” and “mine”?), while on the topic of freedom, the root text suggests that liberation is nothing more than “the ces- sation of a mere mistake.” This is an essential book for practitioners and scholars alike.