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Buddhadharma : Spring 2019
BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 121 BOOK BRIEFS Lama Zopa Rinpoche has long dreamed of creating a massive statue of Maitreya Buddha in India, a wish that originated with his guru Lama Thubten Yeshe (1935–1984) as a thank-you for India’s acceptance of Tibetan refugees. This vision led to the creation of the Maitreya Project, an international organization responsible for the statue’s construction. Initial efforts to build it in Bodhgaya failed, and when ambitions shifted to a rural area in Kushinagar, a grassroots resistance movement of local Indian farmers fought to halt the project and maintain ownership of their land. In Battling the Buddha of Love: A Cultural Biography of the Greatest Statue Never Built (Cornell 2018), Jessica Marie Falcone draws on fieldwork and her own personal engagement with the resistance to describe the struggle over the creation of what would have been the largest- ever Buddha image. Contrasting the Buddhist goal of creating a karmic connection to Maitreya with the needs of a rural agricultural community, Falcone examines the clash of cultural values that ultimately derailed the Maitreya Project’s original vision. In her debut book The Magnanimous Heart (Wisdom 2019), veteran meditation teacher Narayan Helen Liebenson cautions that “only sitting in meditation is not enough. Only hearing and studying the words of the Buddha are not enough. Only trying to be awake and aware in one’s daily life is not enough. All of these practices have to be undertaken together in an integrated way.” True to this advice, Liebenson presents a rich, balanced approach to working through loss and the “constant squeeze” of suffering in our lives. Exploring the Upajjhatthana Sutta’s five recollections, which address the facts of aging, illness, death, loss, and the consequences of our actions, she takes us from exploring loss and grief to joy and liberation, citing Ajahn Maha Boowa’s definition of nirvana as “enough.” For Liebenson, “enoughness” marks a state that is free from concern about insufficiency, accepting the wholeness of a given moment without expectations for anything more. RORY LINDSAY