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Buddhadharma : Spring 2019
122 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY BOOK BRIEFS 123 Callahan offers a complete translation of Dakpo Tashi Namgyal’s text together with a portion of the Ninth Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje’s (1556–1603) Mahamudra Trilogy. At over eight hundred pages, this volume offers extensive detail on the necessary steps for making progress in Mahamudra practice, from Dakpo Tashi Namgyal’s discussions of the common forms of shamatha and vipashyana, to the four yogas of Mahamudra, up to Wangchuk Dorje’s powerful characterizations of Mahamudra that override any final attempts at articulating it. Jules Shuzen Harris offers a new approach to Zen practice in Zen beyond Mindfulness (Shambhala 2018). Harris combines Abhidharma philosophy with Stanley Block’s theory of the I-System, which describes the psychological mechanisms that create our sense of self. According to this theory, we imagine ourselves to be damaged and thus generate “requirements”—statements about how we and others ought to be. We also brood over “fixers” (for example, “If I were more outgoing, I’d be happier”) and “depressors” (“I’ll never make friends”), which intensify our suffering. The solution, Harris argues, is to recognize that we are not actually damaged, a view that corresponds with the Soto Zen position that everything has buddhanature. Understanding this requires becoming more attentive to our immediate experiences and less preoccupied with self-oriented delusions that have no real bearing on the present. But Harris notes that this is only a first step: genuine freedom arises when we enter the full experience of zazen, in which we drop everything—including our understandings of the nature of our problems. Matteo Pistono’s Roar: Sulak Sivaraksa and the Path of Socially Engaged Buddhism (North Atlantic Books 2019) narrates the remarkable life of the Thai Buddhist author and activist Sulak Sivaraksa. John Ralston Saul writes in his foreword that Sulak’s “deeply ethical” approach to activism and Buddhist practice make him “a rare breed” and a model for others: “Whenever I write about ethics I think of Sulak Sivaraksa.” Sulak’s fierce criticism of the Thai royalty, government, and sangha have made him a controversial hero—beloved by many, hated by some, but influential nonetheless, even beyond Thailand’s borders. Sulak gained greater visibility in the West for his creation of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB), which he established in 1989 with the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Maha Ghosananda. Consistently engaging, Pistono’s book provides a template for Buddhist activism at a time when bold voices like Sulak’s are so desperately needed.