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Buddhadharma : Winter 2015
winter 2 0 1 5 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 81 by rory lindsay book brieFs ◗ the buddha on Wall street (Windhorse 2015) by Vaddhaka Linn gives a timely assess- ment of the dangers of neoliberal capitalism, drawing on Buddhist ideas to suggest correc- tives to the unchecked greed driving crises around the world. While self-transformation is a critical ingredient, Linn argues that becoming more educated in economics and engaging in politics and the education of one’s community are also essential to a Buddhist plan of action, as are thinking through alternative approaches to work, business, and even one’s choice of diet. ◗ the all-pervading melodious drumbeat (Penguin 2015) tells the story of Ra Lotsawa Dorje Drak, the accomplished eleventh-century yogin and translator who “compassionately” killed people with his ritual powers. Written by Tibet’s landscape and religious sites have long fascinated seekers and scholars, yet good (or even basic) geographical knowledge of the Tibetan cultural area remains some- thing of a rarity. This in part has been due to a lack of good resources, which Karl e. Ryavec’s a historical atlas of tibet (Chicago 2015) goes to great lengths to correct. In this beauti- ful full-color volume, twenty years in the mak- ing, Ryavec maps Tibet from Palaeolithic times to the present day, producing an exceptional resource for understanding Tibet’s history from the ground up. ◗ Christopher Beckwith’s Greek buddha: pyrrho’s encounter with early buddhism in central asia (Princeton 2015) is one of the boldest books on Buddhism I’ve read. A highly accomplished scholar, Beckwith attempts to dismantle a number of beliefs about the his- torical Buddha, arguing, for instance, that the Buddha was not born in present-day Nepal to a “Shakya clan” but rather was a Scythian—a nomadic ethnic group that Indians called the “Sakas.” The Buddha was therefore a foreigner known by the title “Sakamuni,” or “the Sage of Scythians.” Beckwith also suggests that the Buddha may have been the first person to pop- ularize wandering asceticism in India, and that his ideas were developed in response to Zoro- astrianism. Alongside these and other fascinat- ing claims, Beckwith attempts to show how the Greek philosopher Pyrrho, who travelled to India with Alexander the Great, developed his philosophy after encountering Buddhism, suggesting that Buddhism exerted considerable influence on the development of philosophy in the West. (top) Lhasa’s main urban square in 1904. (Above) View of Kyichu valley from Drak Yerpa, an historic complex of cave shrines. (right) Map of tibet and the region of tibetan culture.