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Book Reviews

Wisdom Publications

Publishes many books on all branches of Buddhism including the Pali.

www.wisdompubs.org

 


 

Great Disciples of the Buddha: Their Lives, Their Works, Their Legacy

by Nyanaponika Thera and Hellmuth Hecker, edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi
412 pages, ISBN 0-86171-381-8 New Edition: Paperback

Great Disciples is a compilation of twenty-four life stories of the closest and most eminent of the Buddha's personal disciples. These profiles bring to life the colorful background of ancient Indian and illuminate the cultural and religious climate of the early Buddhist world.

Impeccably researched and superbly written, this book has received quite a lot of praise since its original publication in hardcover. Some samples:

"Here are the stories of the Buddha's early disciples, the men and women who studied with him directly, and who can inspire us all to the power and depth of spiritual friendship." - Sharon Salzberg

"A truly unique and excellent addition to the literature from the Pali texts: lucid stories and translations and brilliant scholarship, all visibly crafted with a love of the Dhamma." - Jack Kornfield

"One of the most inspiring books a serious Buddhist practitioner can read." - Jan Chozen Bays, Roshi, Great Vow Zen Monastery

"Scholarly and inspiring, this book brings to life the struggles, practice, and realization of the great disciples of the Buddha. Through it, we begin to connect their spiritual journeys with our own." - Joseph Goldstein

"I am grateful for the publication of this book. I recommend Great Disciples of the Buddha to friends and students alike." - Thich Nhat Hanh

 

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NOTE: Those interested in the stories of the many characters that live in the suttas should check out the Index of Proper Names.

 


 

The Flight Of The Garuda:
The Dzogchen Tradition Of Tibetan Buddhism

Edited and translated by Keith Dowman
240 pages, ISBN 0-86171-367-2

Buddhists of all stripes will find ample sustenance in these lyrical forays into the Dzogchen view. This second edition of Keith Dowman's valuable and lyrical compilation contains translations of five texts - including one by Patrul Rinpoche that was previously unavailable - that are essential to an understanding of Dzogchen.

Dzogchen, which is increasingly studied in the West, brings us into direct communion with the most subtle nature of experience, the unity of samsara and nirvana as experienced within our own consciousness, bringing us face-to-face with the nature of reality. Flight Of The Garuda communicates the essence of the Dzogchen teachings through the songs of one of the most beloved masters of Tibet, the itinerant yogi Shakbar.

Poetic, poignant, and practical, Flight Of The Garuda is a beautiful presentation of the teachings.

Lama Surya Das, author of Awakening the Buddha Within, calls it "A soaring translation of Shabkar's venerated teachings" that he "heartily recommends."

 


 

Becoming The Compassion Buddha:
Tantric Mahamudra for Everyday Life

Lama Yeshe
Edited by Robina Courtin
Foreword by Geshe Lhundub Sopa
224 pages, ISBN 0-86171-343-5

Becoming The Compassion Buddha is the first all-new book of the late Lama Yeshe's teachings to be made available in years. As with his Introduction To Tantra, Lama Yeshe's teachings make Buddhist practices understandable to the general reader, and his direct, friendly talk will inspire and motivate long-term practitioners, too!

Masterfully edited by Ven. Robina Courtin, Becoming The Compassion Buddha is a complete meditation retreat from one of the pioneers of Buddhism in the West. Lama Yeshe guides readers through the tantric practice of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion, basing his instructions on a text written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Lama Yeshe gives special emphasis to mahamudra, the emptiness of one's own mind, and demystifies these esoteric techniques, clearly showing them for what they are: highly developed psychology.

Becoming The Compassion Buddha is already winning high praise. Sogyal Rinpoche, author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, calls it "an intimate book, so clear and compassionate, you know you are listening to the unforgettable voice of Lama Yeshe, one of the great teachers of our time."

"In his colloquial style, Lama Yeshe explains the methods for tantric visualization and emphasizes the importance of bringing meditative awareness into daily activities." — Buddhadharma

 


 

Dependent Arising and Emptiness: A Tibetan Buddhist Interpretation of Madyamika Philosophy

by Elizabeth Napper
868 pages, ISBN 0-86171-364-8

The re-release of Elizabeth Napper's monumental classic on the two essential Buddhist concepts of dependent arising and emptiness. This massive and highly-regarded work, previously available only in hardcover; has been gorgeously repackaged in a more affordable paperback edition.

"This work is academically rigorous and comprehensive, with meticulous attention to the subtleties of the Madhyamika view as formulated in the great tradition of Tsongkhapa. A wonderful resource for scholars and practitioners alike, I recommend it wholeheartedly." — B. Alan Wallace, author of Tibetan Buddhism from the Ground Up

"A must for anyone who is interested in Madhyamaka philosophy." — Thupten Jinpa, principal translator to H.H. the Dalai Lama

"After decades of scholarship on the theory and practice of emptiness in the West, Dr. Napper's work still stands out as a gem." — Jose Ignacio Cabezon, XIVth Dalai Lama Professor of Tibetan Buddhism and Cultural Studies, UCSB

 


 

Psychoanalysis and Buddhism: An Unfolding Dialogue

Edited by Jeremy D. Safran
464 pages, ISBN 0-86171-342-7

Psychoanalysis and Buddhism is a landmark contribution to the dialogue between two of the most prominent healing disciplines of our time and to the cross-fertilization of Buddhist thought and Western psychotherapy as well. It's an unprecedented effort: Nine primary chapters by authors who write about the interface between Buddhism and psychoanalysis, are followed by nine commentaries written by mainstream psychoanalytic thinkers. These are in turn followed by replies written by the authors of the primary chapters.

This is vivid writing from key players. The primary chapters are the work of such seminal figures as Jack Engler, Jeffrey Rubin, Barry Magid and Polly Young-Eisendrath. The responding commentaries are written by notables as well, including Stephen Mitchell, Owen Renik, Charles Spezzano, James Grotstein, Neil Altman, Neville Symington and Stuart Pizer. The result is a fascinating work that raises probing questions about the similarities and differences between Buddhist and psychoanalytic disciplines - and the way in which they complement each other.

Several prominent figures have already previewed Psychoanalysis and Buddhism, including Mark Epstein (author of Going on Being), Joan Halifax (Abbess of the Upaya Zen Center), Dr. Lewis Aron, (Director of NYU's Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis) and others. Their high praise, we're sure you'll agree, confirms that Jeremy Safran's vision for this book has been borne out.

"An engaging collection of essays that offers a window into the cross-pollination of Buddhism with the healing sciences." -- Buddhadharma

"Rewarding ... manages in places to rival the best of comparative commentaries published so far ... The back-and-forth dialogue provides the reader with a gratifying spectacle ... The true centerpiece is the essay by Jack Engler, a reconsideration of the now-famous dictum he uttered some twenty years ago: 'You have to be somebody before you can be nobody.' With impressive subtlety and dazzling insight, Engler artfully teases apart the two notions of self that his statement assumes - the self that therapy endeavors to strengthen and the self that Buddhism, at its radical best, aims to expose as essentially empty. 'The need to reclaim and develop a healthy sense of self and self-esteem, a capacity for intimacy, and a creative way to live in the world with full commitment, cannot and should not be separated from Western spiritual practice.'" - Tricycle

 


 

Where The World Does Not Follow: Buddhist China in Picture and Poem

Translated and introduced by Mike O'Connor ~ Photography by Steven R. Johnson ~ Foreword by William Neill

128 pages, ISBN 0-86171-309-5, $24.95 ($19.96 from wisdompubs.org)

"A handsome collection of stunning photos of China by Steven R. Johnson, matched with Mike O'Connor's fine translations of Tang Dynasty poetry - all related to the world of Chinese Buddhism and of Buddhist and Taoist recluses. Also a real plus for students of Chinese culture: the poems are accompanied by their original Chinese texts." - Zen Notes

 


 

Among Tibetan Texts
History and Literature of the Tibetan Plateau

E. Gene Smith

"Smith is a legendary figure in the history of Tibetan Buddhist studies. He was a field officer for the Library of Congress from 1968-1985 and used that position to salvage and subsequently publish more Tibetan literature than, well, anyone. This volume contains seventeen independent essays and introductions he wrote for some of the published volume. Virtually all of them are seminal in the fields of Tibetan and Buddhist studies, which deserve the new audience this volume will attract. Most of the volume on which Smith comments are not those you will find in your local bookstore, which makes this work especially important. Anyone with an interest in Tibetan Buddhist textuality, literary history, and reading between the lines of Tibetan religion should have this book." - Religious Studies Review

 


 

The Fine Arts Of Relaxation, Concentration, And Meditation
Ancient Skills for Modern Minds

by Joel and Michelle Levey Foreword by Margaret J. Wheatley

"The Leveys offer an inviting and highly practical manual for those who want to enhance 'health and performance, master stress, and deepen their appreciation of life.' Many of the strategies found here are clear, step-by-step procedures; others are scripts suitable to record and play back during a relaxation, concentration, or meditation session. The authors continually emphasize the depth and sacredness associated with these 'inner arts', resulting in a useful handbook that will appeal to a wide range of readers seeking increased tranquility in and mastery over their lives." - Publishers Weekly

"Joel and Michelle Levey share more than 100 ideas, practices, and exercises they have used over the past 30 years to teach stress reduction and personal development to companies, groups, and individuals. . . . Tailor-made for anyone dealing with physical, mental, or emotional stress. " -Spirituality and Health

"By learning how to keep stress from getting the best of us, we can become happier, more creative, and more compassionate. The authors of this handbook for better living provide a host of valuable tools for dealing with everyday stress-inducing challenges." - Body and Soul

 


 

Reason's Traces
Identity and Interpretation of Indian and Tibetan Buddhist Thought

by Matthew T. Kapstein

A beautiful new edition of Sayadaw U Pandita's classic

The latest in Wisdom's 'Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism' Series

"Kapstein brings his unmatched skills to bear in this set of linked essays that together explore with great precision, insight, and masterful scholarship a range of important issues in Indian and Tibetan philosophy, drawing on Western philosophical ideas, texts and techniques where appropriate, and shedding light not only on these philosophical traditions and the problems they address, but also on the study of Buddhist philosophy itself, and the place of this project in philosophy as a whole." - Jay L Garfield, Professor of Philosophy, Smith College

"Kapstein's expositions and critiques of philosophical arguments are just brilliant. So also are his translations of the Sanskrit text. ...Lucidly written, Reason's Traces is a most welcome addition."
— Professor J.N. Mohanty, Temple University

"Kapstein has given us a key to a deeper appreciation of reason as a valid tool for exploring reality." - Piet Hut, Professor of Astrophysics, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ

 


 

In This Very Life
Liberation Teachings of the Buddha

by Sayadaw U Pandita
Foreword by Joseph Goldstein

A new edition of a true classic. The work of masterful author and teacher Sayadaw U Pandita, In This Very Life counts many great authors and teachers among its champions, including Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Mass. (Goldstein also provided a revised introduction for ITVL.) Other endorsees include Daniel Goleman (author of 'Emotional Intelligence') and author Kate Wheeler. Here's how she describes In This Very Life:

"The clearest, most concise and complete meditation manual I know of. It offers guidance and support for beginning, intermediate, and advanced practitioners, and can become an invaluable sourcebook for those who teach. Its wise, clear exposition also sheds light on many of the mental and emotional patterns encountered in ordinary life. It includes basic meditation instruction, ways of recognizing and avoiding pitfalls, remedies for problems, as well as techniques to energize and clarify meditation practice at any level. If you have no teacher, this book can be your teacher."
— Kate Wheeler, author of 'Not Where I Started From'

 


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