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Buddhadharma : Spring 2015
spring 2 0 1 5 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 81 ◗ Jonathan Gold’s paving the great Way: vasubandhu’s unifying buddhist philosophy (Columbia 2015) has already received accolades in the Buddhist studies world, having been the subject of an entire panel at the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting last November. Beautifully written and cogently argued, this book examines the fourth- or fifth-century Indian savant Vasubandhu’s wide- ranging contributions to the development of Buddhist thought, tracking topics that appear across his diverse writings, including time, the self, Yogacara philosophy, and Buddhist ethics. The result is a superb assessment of one of Bud- dhism’s greatest thinkers. ◗ Now and again you come across superior seekers of genuine quality who are devoting themselves to hidden application and secret practice. As they continue steadily forward, accumulating merit until their efforts achieve a purity that infuses them with strength, their emotions gradually cease to arise altogether, and they find themselves at an impasse, unable to move forward despite the most strenuous application. It is as if they are trapped inside invincible enclosures of adamantine strength, or are sitting in bottles of purest crystal, unable to move forward, unable to retreat—becoming blockheads, utter dunces. To learn more about the fate of superior seek- ers according to Hakuin (1686–1769), one of history’s great Zen masters, check out poison blossoms from a thicket of thorn (Counter- point 2014), translated and introduced by Norman Waddell. ◗ Contemplative psychotherapist and longtime Tibetan Buddhist practitioner Rob Preece offers lucid guidance on working with emotions in his feeling Wisdom (Shambhala 2014). After hearing a number of Tibetan teachers suggest that being in touch with our emotions may be more harmful than productive, Preece felt com- pelled to explore what these teachers meant. Counter to their suggestion, he stresses the importance of emotion in practice, combin- ing Buddhist and Western psychotherapeutic ideas to produce an insightful resource for practitioners. ◗ Originally there is no dust on the old mirror. It is just that people make it dirty and clean it. In 2012 the Seon master Jinje, head of the Korean Jogye order of Buddhism, recounted these lines to a group of disciples who had just finished their summer retreat. He said that any- one who understood what he meant would be finished with their practice and would enjoy the fruits of their efforts forever. While he main- tained that “getting it” was rare, he hoped they would take this teaching to heart and develop a single-mindedness in their practice that “pierces into your bones.” Jinje’s charisma as a teacher shines through in finding the true self (Lotus Lantern 2014), which records lectures from his decades-long teaching career. Many of these talks reflect hwadu practice, which Lewis Lancaster explains in his foreword as “a dia- logue expressing the wisdom of the questioner and the possibility of awakening to this same wisdom in a responder.” Such dialogues take unexpected turns, as in the way Jinje concluded his 2012 talk: What do you think about the final phase of truth? The red fog pierces to the bottom of the ocean, The bright sun wraps around Mt. Sumeru. q Illustration by Tongchic from Finding the True Self