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Buddhadharma : Summer 2005
summer 2005| 80 |buddhadharma The Hundred Verses of Advice (Shambhala Publications, 2005), consists of an English translation of the Indian master Padampa Sangye’s verses of advice for the residents of the Tibetan town of Tingri. Together with the commentary of the late Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, the verses fill a slim book with pithy and poetic teachings on impermanence, the precious opportunity of human life, and mindfulness. The second new title from Padma- kara is The Adornment of the Middle Wa y (Shambhala Publications, 2005), which is a translation of a brilliant but difficult work of Mahayana philosophy, Shantarakshita’s Madhyamakalankara, together with an extensive commentary by the Tibetan master Jamgön Mipham. From the time of the introduction of Bud- dhism to Tibet, this eighth-century Indian treatise provided the foundation for the study of philosophy until it was eclipsed by the popularity of new translations of Chandrakirti’s Prasangika-Madhyamaka works. Nineteenth-century masters of the Rimé movement (such as Jamgön Mip- ham) revived interest in Shantarakshita’s Yogachara-Madhyamaka philosophy. Now, the philosophical colleges of the Nyingma and Kagyü schools emphasize the study of this classic as an essential step towards understanding the subtleties of Madhyamaka. Padmakara has again succeeded in presenting a difficult original text in an accessible and accurate trans- lation. The translators benefited from the guidance of Khenchen Pema Sherab, one of the most renowned living experts in the tradition of Jamgön Mipham. A forty-seven-page introduction helps ori- ent the reader through discussions of the Svatantrika-Prasangika distinction, the role and precise nature of the Yogachara aspect of Shantarakshita’s system, and the text’s relationship to the logical and epistemological tradition of Dharmakirti. Buddha Mind in Contemporary Art (Uni- versity of California Press, 2004), a beau- tifully designed and lavishly illustrated anthology edited by Jacquelynn Baas and Mary Jane Jacob, grew out of a two-year national consortium on Buddhism and contemporary art that included artists, curators, psychiatrists, meditators, edu- cators, and others. Laurie Anderson leads the reader on a delightful contemplation of time, sound, and performance that mean- ders from the Parthenon to the Manhat- tan art gallery where Marina Abramovic lived on a shelf for twelve days. Bill Viola reflects thoughtfully on Zen monastic ritual, and art historian Tosi Lee argues that Marcel Duchamp’s cross-dressing as Rose Sélavy was, in fact, a deliberate (and playfully disguised) performance as the bodhisattva Kuan Yin. The eclectic mix in this book will provide some moments of insight and some moments of exasper- ation for most readers. Many contributors reflect thoughtfully on the link between Buddhist meditative traditions and the creation and reception of art. At times, though, the correspondence of life with art, and art with Buddhism, leads to a vague muddle where each term loses any recognizable meaning. Among the three branches of the Bud- dhist canon, the Vinaya (devoted to the rules governing the conduct of monks and nuns) is often considered the most boring and the least relevant to contemporary concerns. The essays collected in Going Forth: Visions of Buddhist Vinaya (Uni- versity of Hawai’i Press, 2005), edited by William Bodiford, challenge this con- ception by demonstrating the vitality of vinaya development in China and Japan. This excellent volume is dedicated to Stanley Weinstein, the Yale professor whose profound impact on the study of East Asian Buddhism is reflected by the fact that he trained all of the book’s eleven contributors. T.H. Barrett’s examination of an early ninth-century ordination scan- dal highlights the relevance of the entire volume by showing the importance of the vinaya to East Asian civilization in general. Most of the other essays, such as Nobuyoshi Yamabe’s reflections on visionary elements in bodhisattva ordi- nation, Paul Groner’s discussion of the establishment of a new monastic order in medieval Japan, and Richard Jaffe’s account of Japanese debates on meat-eat- ing, explore the dynamic interplay of con- servatism and creativity that shaped the vinaya in East Asia. In 1972, when the Venerable Geshe Wangyal told his students in New Jersey to undertake the translation of the whole Tanjur, a Tibetan canon of over three thousand texts, many might have been tempted to consider the enormous com- mand a joke. The publication of The Uni- versal Vehicle Discourse Literature (AIBS/ Columbia, 2004), the first volume in this initiative, shows the dedication of his stu- dents. This is the first English translation of the Mahayana-sutra-alamkara, one of the famous Five Teachings of Maitreya transmit- ted to Arya Asanga and commented upon by his brother Vasubhandu in the fourth century. It bears the distinctive translation style of editor-in-chief, Professor Robert Thurman, and is based upon the Sanskrit original, as well as Chinese, Tibetan, and French translations. The publication of this essential Buddhist text in English her- alds the beginning of an important and ambitious project.