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Buddhadharma : Spring 2018
BOOK BRIEFS 121 theRavaDa buDDhist encounteRs with MoDeRnity (Routledge 2017), edited by Juliane Schober and Steven Collins, presents some of the latest scholarship on the study of Theravada Buddhism in the modern era. Collins argues in his opening essay that we have very little reliable information on Theravada’s early history. The earliest articulations of Theravada as a distinct form of practice appear in the fifth century, and our knowledge of it in the subsequent centuries leading up to the modern period is scant. Collins reasons that our understanding of Theravada is rooted in modernity, and that we should seek to understand it in this present context rather than fix ate on an inaccessible and mythologized past. Most Englishlanguage books on Zen practice are written from the Soto Zen perspective, but in the Rinzai zen way: a guiDe to pRactice (Shambhala 2018), Meido Moore presents a beginner’s guide based on what he calls the “unique energy of Rinzai Zen.” Moore begins with a Rinzaiinspired critique of Buddhist sectarian ism, framing Buddhist vehicles as stages that all practitioners experi ence as they make progress on the path. He then turns to a set of questions that he describes as fundamental to Zen: “Who (what, where) am I, really?” Such questions drive the various practices that Moore outlines in words and in photographic illustrations, which, taken together, offer clear and precise guidance on Rinzai meth ods for releasing fixations, getting our posture just right while in seated meditation, breathing properly, and chanting Buddhist texts, a practice that Moore suggests can transform ourselves and our environment. The inimitable fourteenthcentury Tibetan master Longchenpa is widely regarded as the foremost author on Dzogchen. In FinDing Rest in the natuRe oF the MinD (the tRiLogy oF Rest, voL. i) (Shambhala 2018), Longchenpa’s poetic brilliance and insight come clearly into view. Translated by Helena Blankleder and Wulstan Fletcher of the Padmakara Translation Group, this first of three volumes features a portion of Longchenpa’s root text and selections from his autocommentary. Rather than keep a scholarly distance from the subjects under discussion, Longchenpa draws directly from his own experiences of realization. On recognizing the nature of mind, for example, he writes: “So it is that I have come to the expanse of the nature of my mind. Apprehending thoughts are puri fied in the primordial ground like clouds that melt away in the sky. My body, speech, and mind rest in a state of openness and freedom without any effort on my part. Is it possible, therefore, for anyone to perceive the state in which I am?”