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Buddhadharma : Fall 2007
buddhadharma| 59 |fall 2007 in on the inside, which involves changing one’s fundamental ways of relating to the world. Doing physics forces them to deal with ideas that they cannot convey in a simplified way without losing something. reed malcolm: I think this is a good analogy. Can you truly write a “popular book” about empti- ness? robert sharf: Just as popular physics books are meant for an audience of lay readers who don’t really understand physics, so too there are a lot of books trying to present Buddhism in a popu- lar manner, and they inevitably lose something of the larger context of Buddhism. The result is often a Buddhism in which ritual and institutions and history don’t really matter. It is a kind of Buddhism that purports to float above all that. buddhadharma: Can we make a distinction between purely popular books that promise some kind of instant happiness and introductory books that serve a real purpose? Perhaps some distortion takes place, but maybe such simplifying can be beneficial. amy hertz: Yes, it is a necessary part of the transi- tion of Buddhism into North America. reed malcolm: I would agree that it’s necessary to make the material accessible, although that word implies distortion to some people. tim mcneill: I don’t think making material acces- sible necessarily distorts Buddhism at all. There is a wider problem of people oversimplifying what you present. They may think that having read one introductory book, Buddhism is all summed up for them. amy hertz: People are going to think whatever they’re going to think after you put out a book, and a publisher doesn’t have a lot of control over that. Your job is to give them as much choice as possible. tim mcneill: That is certainly an issue. There isn’t near the amount of choice that there could be, which has lot to with the nature of the book-selling business these days. buddhadharma: Is the marketing of Buddhism, which takes place largely through books, helpful to Buddhism or ultimately damaging? amy hertz: Honestly, I’ve seen both sides of this. Marketing and selling Buddhism through popular books is definitely beneficial. It raises awareness, and many of the books are genuinely helpful to people. But a problem did arise when the publish- ing industry got the idea that Buddhism would be a real profitable area. People who didn’t You Should Read... We asked ten Buddhist teachers, scholars, and writers to recommend an important Buddhist book published in the West. Here are their top picks. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, by shunryu suzuki Recommended by Sharon Salzberg: “I read this book soon after it came out in 1973, during my time of dedicated practice in India. It was the book I continu- ally returned to for years to help me remember that we practice not to attain buddhanature, but rather to express it. The book changed my motivation for practice and my entire sense of right effort.” Peaks and Lamas, by Marco pallis Recommended by Gary Snyder: “I started reading it for the mountaineering section, at seventeen, and got drawn into the Tibetan Buddhist section as well. I found my spiritual home there, even before discovering Zen.” Life of the Buddha, by bhikkhu Ñanamoli Recommended by Ajahn Amaro: “Through his expert translations and flawless feel for the wisdom and wit of the ancient texts, Bhikkhu Ñanamoli succeeds in drawing the reader into the dusty paths of India and into the presence of the Buddha himself.” Moon in Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen, edited by Kaz tanahashi Recommended by Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara: “This translation of essential writings of Dogen has been a vital book for me. Kaz Tanahashi’s insightful and transpar- ent renderings of Dogen’s texts changed my experience of Zen from a supportive practice to a transformational one. I am so grateful to have the opportunity, as an English speaker, to study and practice with these profound teachings.” Mind in Comfort and Ease, by the dalai lama Recommended by B. Alan Wallace: “This is an outstanding introduction to the Great Perfection tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, and it includes His Holiness’s oral commentary on a major text by Longchen Rabjam. His Holiness places the Great Perfection within the broader context of Buddhism as a whole and also elucidates areas of inquiry that are relevant to science and Buddhism.” Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Awakening, by analayo Recommended by Joseph Goldstein: “This is an engaging and thorough presen- tation of the Buddha’s teachings on the four foundations of mindfulness. Ven. Analayo offers an in-depth analysis of this essential text, including a range of interpretations on different points of controversy. His work inspired my own more careful investigation of the depth and breadth of this extraordinary discourse.” Meditation on Emptiness, by Jeffrey hopkins Recommended by Georges Dreyfus: “It brought for the first time a sophisticated account of Tibetan interpretations of Madhyamaka, which was an enormous resource for those interested in Buddhist philosophy.” Cultivating the Empty Field: The Silent Illumination of Master Hongzhi, translated by taigen dan leighton and yi Wu Recommended by Sojun Mel Weitsman: “This is a work of outstanding inspira- tion. I never get tired of reading it.” Words of My Perfect Teacher, by patrul rinpoche, translated by the padmakara translation Group Recommended by Anne Carolyn Klein: “Almost every teacher I’ve studied with has taught or cited this text, finding within it places of rest and wisdom. Its many famous stories are mini-movies that frame and support the practice of sutra, tantra, and Dzogchen. Straight from the expansive heart of Heart Essence traditions.” Lankavatara Sutra, by d.t. suzuki Recommended by Jeffrey Hopkins: “It presents in grand detail the horizons of Mind-only and Middle Way thought.”