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Buddhadharma : Fall 2018
BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 117 BOOK BRIEFS A jahn Jayasaro’s stillness flowing: the life and teaChings of ajahn Chah (Abhayagiri 2017) is a remarkable testa- ment to the legacy of the Thai Buddhist teacher Ajahn Chah (1918–1992). Over eight hundred pages in length, the book begins with Ajahn Chah’s death in Ubon Ratchathani in Northeast Thailand, which prompted over a million people (yes, a million) to travel to his monastery and bow before his body in the year between his death and cremation. This fact alone gives us a sense of Ajahn Chah’s impact on Buddhism in Thailand, and thanks to his num- erous Western disciples, his Forest Tradition has now spread well beyond Thailand’s borders. One striking feature of Ajahn Chah’s approach is that he did not espouse any specific meditation tech- nique. Jayasaro explains that his teacher accepted any method “that incorporated the cultivation of mindfulness, alertness, and appro- priate effort; that served to take a meditator beyond the hindrances; and that led to a samadhi which could provide a foundation for insight into ‘the way things are.’” For Ajahn Chah, the most import- ant question to ask about a given method of mind training was sim- ply, what results does it give? The Tibetan Buddhist master Chögyal Phagpa (1235–1280) spent his formative years living among Mongol elites and became a treas- ured teacher of the powerful ruler Kublai Khan (1215–1294). In his diverse collected writings, we find a series of letters he wrote to Kub- lai and other prominent leaders explaining Buddhist teachings in the most accessible way that he could. freeing the heart and mind: Chögyal phagpa on the Buddhist path (Wisdom 2018) provides two of these missives in translation, complete with commentary by the Sakya Trichen. Though accessible, this book dives deep into meditative theory and practice, succinctly bringing it all back to the mind: “If you realize the nature of mind, that is nirvana. If you do not realize the nature of mind, that is samsara.... So what we must do is begin to examine this mind.” RORY LINDSAY