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Buddhadharma : Winter 2011
83 WINTER 2 01 1 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 2011) is an anthology of important guidance texts from the Dakpo Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Brought to us through the Library of Tibetan Classics series, selected for inclusion by the eminent Tibetan scholar Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, and flu- idly translated by Peter Alan Roberts, these core Kagyu instructions give us essential reading on how to engage the body and mind in meditation. With an informative introduction and supplemen- tary materials, the translator brings the reader into conversation with the texts. Translations include dharma talks delivered by Milarepa’s famed disciple Gampopa (1079–1153) to his own community, as well as practical instructions on Mahamudra and the six dharmas of Naropa that include esoteric yogic techniques for stimulat- ing mystic heat within the body, acting lucidly in dreamtime, and transferring one’s consciousness at the moment of death. Zen Questions (Wisdom 2011) is a collection of dharma talks compiled over sixteen years by the American Zen priest Taigen Dan Leighton. In the spirit of inquiry, the essays, thematically arranged, touch on a variety of topics that include zazen as ritual enactment, consumerism and the climate crises, the nonpassivity of Zen, patriotism, democratic values, and nature poetry. Though inspiration is derived from figures such as Rumi, Thomas Jeffer- son, Bob Dylan, and Gary Snyder, two of the five sections of the book are writings based on Leigh- ton’s work translating and editing the Japanese writings of the Zen master Dogen (1200–1253). These reflections and commentaries stand in con- trast to the other essays, giving readers an inti- mate first-person feel for how Leighton worked to unpack the subtleties of Dogen’s Zen language and bring his writings into common English. Among the forerunners to reintroduce the Buddha’s teachings to Indians in the last century was the social activist and scholar B.R. Ambedkar. The Buddha and His Dhamma (Oxford 2011) is an annotated reissue of his final and most celebrated pub- lication. Originally published in 1957 after the author’s death, the work is a retelling of the Buddha’s life that draws inspira- tion from Ashvagosha’s classic Buddhacharita— the epic poem that narrates the Buddha’s dramatic acts. Ambedkar however does not simply retell this narrative for the sake of its retelling, but to reclaim the humanity of the Buddha and situate him as India’s most masterful social revolution- ary. This is part of Ambedkar’s broader politi- cal project aimed at the untouchables of Indian caste, the Dalits, millions of whom he lifted out of poverty through converting them to Buddhism. Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche’s latest book, Tibetan Yogas of Body, Speech, and Mind (Snow Lion 2011), gives readers prac- tical exercises from the Tibetan Bön tradition for working with and transforming what he calls “pain body,” “pain speech,” and “pain mind.” Treating each of these distinct domains of the individual as a whole, the author introduces practices of physical movement for the body, healing sounds and mantra for the speech, and visualizations and breathing techniques for the mind. This is done with a delicate balance of Bön Dzogchen techni- cal terms such as the “body of light” and “nine pranas” juxtaposed with the author’s anecdotes and analogies. For instance, Tenzin Wangyal writes how Micky Rourke’s character Randy “The Ram” in the film The Wrestler exempli- fies someone characterized by the “pain body.” The book contains numerous instructive photos, tables and figures. Principles of Buddhist Tantra (Wisdom 2011) is an explanation of the stages of the tantric path of transformation according to the four classifi- cations of tantra, with special attention given to Geluk inter- pretations of the Guhyasamaja Tantra and the Kalachakra Tantra. The book is based on a nineteenth-century work by a Mongolian lama titled, Illumination of the Tantric Tradition with commentary on the text by the Tibetan scholar Kirti Tsenshap Rinpoche (1926–2006). Giving systematic and meticulous explanation on the finer points of tantra, Kirti Tsenshap Rinpoche brings esoteric practice points to the foreground. This is especially evident in his discussion of the sixfold yoga in the Kalachakra Tantra. ALSO NEW AND NOTEWORTHY: Compassion NOW! By H.H. Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje (KTD) Meditating Selflessly: Practical Neural Zen By James Austin (MIT) Jamgon Mipam: His Life and Teachings By Jamgon Mipam and Douglas Duckworth (Shambhala) Buddhist Fury By Michael Jerryson (Oxford) A Torch Lighting the Way to Freedom By Dudjom Rinpoche (Shambhala) Visions of Unity By Yaroslav Komarovski (SUNY) The American Dhammapada Translated by Matthew Meghaprasara (Forward-Thinking Press) Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way Translated by Gudo Wafu Nishijima (Monkfish) An American Buddhist Life By Charles Prebish (Sumeru) A Clear Mirror: The Visionary Autobiography of a Tibetan Master By Traktung Dudjom Lingpa (Rangjung Yeshe)