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Buddhadharma : Spring 2012
SPRING 2 0 1 2 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 77 participate in funeral rites to commune with ancestors, how they cook and ingest sacred pills in their Zen kitchen, how a family alter operates in a home, and how the women heal through their poetry, calligraphy, and music. The Lovelorn Ghost and the Magical Monk (Columbia 2011) is a study of the pervasiveness of the occult in modern Thai Buddhism. The book focuses on the popular legend of Somdet To, one of the most famous magician monks in Thai his- tory, and the ghost Mae Nak who haunted her husband and killed villagers. Author Justin McDaniel makes a case for how the magical and super- natural are neither obscure nor peripheral to Thai Bud- dhism. Using interviews and observations about Thai texts, rituals, amulets, stories, spirit-medi- ums, astrologers, and imagery he draws into question how Thai Buddhism is typically defined, challenging categorical associations of Thai Bud- dhism with a Vinaya-based Theravada. The out- come hints at the esoteric or “tantric” elements of Buddhism in Thailand. The Lankavatara Sutra (Counterpoint 2012) is a classic Mahayana discourse and one of the core texts of Zen. This eloquent translation by Red Pine, based on the early Chinese transla- tion made by Gunabhadra in the year 443, updates the well-known English transla- tion that D. T. Suzuki did eighty years ago. The sutra is set in Sri Lanka during one of Shakyamuni Buddha’s jour- neys to that southern island. On this occasion, as the dis- course unfolds, the Buddha responds to a series of one hundred and eight questions posed by a bodhisattva named Mahamati. Expounding dictums and riddles on emptiness, the Buddha responds to Mahamati’s inquiries by revealing how, on the one hand, reality is none other than a projection of one’s mind, while on the other, it is an experience that cannot be expressed with ideas. In Chinese Zen, this came to be known as the twofold teaching to “have a cup of tea” and to “taste the tea.” Jamgon Mipam (Shambhala 2011) is an intro- duction to the life and teachings of the Tibetan Nyingma luminary Ju Mipam Namgyal Gyatso (1846–1912). One of the central figures in the nineteenth-century intellec- tual renaissance in eastern Tibet, Mipam was a formi- dable philosopher, mystic, and author. Douglas Duckworth gives historical background to important Buddhist discus- sions in India and Tibet that concerned Mipam, a survey of the philosophical themes that he addressed, and a selection of translations from his impressive array of writings. Though the translations are excerpts from longer works, they are valuable reading for practitioners. Many of the transla- tions are of practical advice on topics such as how to understand emptiness and integrate a view of the illusory nature of reality onto the path, as well as settle into shamatha, work with afflictive emotions, and stabilize Dzogchen medi- tation. As a condensed anthology on Mipam, this book strikes an important balance, explaining the thought of one of Tibet’s great intellectu- als while giving readers handpicked gems from Mipam’s forest of wisdom. The Range of the Bodhisattva (Columbia 2011) is the first translation into English of the Mahayana sutra Bodhisattva-gocara, a key text on the Buddhist ethics of governance and war- fare. This Buddhist canonical work was trans- lated from the Tibetan and introduced by Lozang Jamspal as part of the Treasury of the Buddhist Sciences series. Arranged as a dialogue between a bodhisattva and a king, the important sixth chap- ter of this work on the “Policy of State” details the principles of righteous rule according to Indian Mahayana Buddhism. The bodhisattva expounds to the king the logic of governing: that through the relinquish- ment of internal defilements such as hatred and delusion, a ruler is empowered to main- tain the happiness of the peo- ple, and by attracting the trust and friendship of fellow rulers, the people of the state are protected. A beneficent ruler is explained as one who governs with compassion towards the people, protects them from famine and foreign armies, provides for the poor and punishes the wicked. In bringing the dharma into the worldly domain of politics and statecraft, albeit on a clas- sical Indian model of kingship, this sutra acts as a Buddhist prescription for a tough, lawful, and cautious ruler. ALSO NEW AND NOTEWORTHY: Making Space: Creating a Home Meditation Practice By Thich Nhat Hanh (Parallax) History of the Karmapas By Lama Kunsang, Lama Pemo, and Marie Aubele (Snow Lion) Mirror of the Buddha By David Jackson (Rubin Museum of Art) Living Fully By Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche (New World Library) The Spread of Tibetan Buddhism in China By Dan Smyer Yu (Routledge) Gone Beyond, Vol. II By Karl Brunnholzl (Snow Lion) Wonhyo’s Philosophy of Mind Edited by A. Charles Muller and Cuong Nguyen (Hawaii) Apoha: Buddhist Nominalism and Human Cognition Edited by Mark Siderits, Tom Tillemans, and Arindam Chakrabarti (Columbia) Tibet: Culture on the Edge By Phil Borges (Rizzoli) This-Worldly Nibbana: A Buddhist-Feminist Social Ethic for Peacemaking in the Global Community By Hsiao-Lan Hu (SUNY)