Archive for the ‘East Asian Buddhism’ Category

A groundbreaking translation of the most important work by the founder of a major living Buddhist tradition.

“ This work is of inestimable value in understanding Honen’s seminal teaching in his own words. Atone and Hayashi’s translation is readable and clear. This book gives the spectrum of Honen’s thought, making evident the Pure Land tradition’s popular appeal. It will be of great benefit to scholars, students, and religious practitioners as well.” —Alfred Bloom, professor emeritus, University of Hawaii

“ Spreading to Japan from China, the Pure Land tradition is a form of Buddhism that can easily be understood and used by lay people. Atone and Hayashi’s English translation gives readers a chance to learn about the very first Pure Land teachings taught in Japan and still practiced there today. A key aspect of this Pure Land practice is nembutsu, a chant-like intonation of the name of Amida Buddha. Honen offers extensive testimony to the value of nembutsu in everyday life, and Dr. Atone places the practice in historical and doctrinal perspective. I am pleased to recommend this truly remarkable book.” —Glenn T. Webb, professor emeritus, Pepperdine University

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New from Wisdom:

How Much is Enough?

Buddhism, Consumerism, and the Human Environment

The massive outpouring of consumer products available to most people living in the West today might alone lead one to ask “How much is enough?” But at the same time, if we allow ourselves to see the social, political, economic and environmental consequences of the system that produces such a mass of “goods,” then the question is not simply a matter of one’s own personal choice, but points to the profound interconnectedness of our day to day decisions about “How much is enough?” The ease with which we can acquire massive quantities of food, clothing, kitchenware, and various electronic goods directly connects each of us with not only environmental degradation caused by strip mining in West Virginia, and with sweat shops and child labor in India or Africa, but also with the ongoing financial volatility of Western capitalist economies, and the increasing discrepancies of wealth in all countries.

This interconnectedness is the human environment, a phrase intended to point toward the deep interconnection between the immediacy of our own lives, including the question of “How much is enough?,” and both the social and natural worlds around us. This collection brings together essays from an international conference jointly sponsored by Ryukoku University, Kyoto, and the Institute of Buddhist Studies, Berkeley. The effects of our own decisions and actions on the human environment is examined from several different perspectives, all informed by Buddhist thought. The contributors are all simultaneously Buddhist scholars, practitioners and activists—thus the collection is not simply a conversation between these differing perspectives, but rather demonstrates the integral unity of theory and practice for Buddhism.

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In this lovely meditation on ikebana-the Japanese art of flower arranging-Joan Stamm shows us how her twin paths of Buddhist practice and artistic endeavor converge and indeed become thoroughly intertwined.

“This is a gentle book, beautiful and meditative, that goes right to the heart of ikebana. It is a book that I will recommend to my students to take their understanding to a different plane.”—Diane Norman, author of Ikebana: A Fresh Look at Japanese Flower Arranging

“In this subtle arrangement of real life and ancient teachings, Joan Stamm shows how attention to a single flower reveals ageless wisdom. A loving tribute to a living art.”—Karen Maezen Miller, author of Momma Zen

“The author shapes stem, leaf, and blossom into a dharma of living beauty.”—Lin Jensen, author of Bad Dog! and Together Under One Roof

Get your copy here.

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Buddhist Teaching in India by Johannes Bronkhorst

“Bronkhorst provides an overview of the power of Buddhist ideas within the larger Indian intellectual and religious milieu spanning more than a thousand years after the Buddha. He tracks the development of Buddhist teachings both within the larger Indian context and among Buddhism’s many schools, and sheds light on the sources and trajectory of such ideas as dharma theory, emptiness, the bodhisattva ideal, buddha nature, formal logic, and idealism. Bronkhorst is one of the most distinguished scholars of ancient and medieval Indian Buddhism as well as the yoga tradition. This book is a delight for those wanting to make themselves familiar with the Indian background of Buddhist teachings.”

Zen Women: Beyond Tea Ladies, Iron Maidens, and Macho Masters by Grace Schireson

“This book is a delightful introduction to the growing literature about the role of women practitioners and teachers in Buddhism. While Schireson’s collection of stories deals primarily with women in the Zen traditions of China, Japan, and Korea, its broader concerns seek to reclaim the contributions made by women practitioners in the larger Buddhist tradition. Appropriately, Schireson keeps reminding the reader that all of these stories are intimately connected to the lives of women practicing in various Buddhist traditions today.”

To learn more about the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies visit their website.

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From Marcus’ Journal

Just as most people who grow up in the west become familiar with the stories and sayings of the Bible, whether or not they ever sit down to read it, so the tales and language of the Lotus Sutra infuse the culture and thinking of East Asia. And for anyone coming to Buddhism from outside, it doesn’t take long before they reach a level of familiarity with the Sutra’s stories and parables that they might not even initially be aware of.

Through countless conversations, Dharma talks, and book references, Buddhists will hear the stories of the father enticing his children out of a burning house, the Buddhist tale of the Prodigal Son, the parable of the hidden gem, and the simile of the phantom city long before one ever actually opens the pages of the Sutra. These teachings, first translated from Sanskrit to Chinese in 255 CE, are still very much alive for all Buddhists today.

It is also, of course, a central and essential text, an object of devotion itself in Tendai and Nichiren, and of huge importance in Zen, Pure Land and other schools. And chapter 25, often used independently of the rest of the Sutra, is the most important scriptural basis for popular and widespread devotion to the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. It was to this chapter that I first turned when looking at this new translation by Gene Reeves.

Read it all here.

Order your copy here.

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Wisdom friend and blogger-extraordinaire Danny Fisher from his blog.

“I was devastated to read today in The Irrawaddy of the ruling military junta’s efforts to ban recitation of the Metta Sutta in Burma. This past Wednesday was “Metta Sutta Day” in the country, and monks at the Myat Saw Nyi Naung Pagoda (and perhaps elsewhere) were explicitly warned by local authorities not to hold ceremonies to chant the text.

    Similar ceremonies are normally held throughout the country on this day. However, since a brutal crackdown on the monk-led protests of 2007, which featured marching monks reciting the Metta Sutta, most monasteries have been wary of publicly chanting the sutra.

As a show of support for the monastics and others in Burma, I have recorded myself reciting the Metta Sutta. You can watch that below.

Though I try not to give myself over to flights of messianic fancy, something occurred to me as I prepared to record this video: this is a simple act that Buddhists and other Burma supporters anywhere and everywhere can do to show solidarity with the oppressed there. It could be an effective awareness-raising viral campaign. So, if you have a digital camera or audio recording device and access to YouTube, go for it! You can find copies of the Metta Sutta (in English) here. (And please let us know about it in the comments if you make your own video or audio recording.)”

Check out Danny’s excellent blog to see the video.

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Jeff Wilson started his walk on the Buddha’s Path as a Zen practitioner-taking up a tradition of vigorous self-effort, intensive meditation, and meticulous attention to rectitude in every action. But in Jeff’s case, rather than freeing him from his suffering, he found those Zen practices made him nothing short of insufferable. And so he turned to Shin Buddhism-a path that is easily the most popular in Zen’s native land of Japan but is largely unknown in the West.Shin emphasizes an “entrusting heart,” a heart that is able to receive with gratitude every moment of our mistake-filled and busy lives. Moreover, through walking the Shin path, Jeff comes see that each of us (himself especially included) are truly “foolish beings,” people so filled with endlessly arising “blind passions” and ingrained habits that we so easily cause harm even with our best intentions. And even so, Shin holds out the tantalizing possibly that by truly entrusting our foolish selves to the compassionate universe, we can learn to see how this foolish life, just as it is, is nonetheless also a life of grace.

“A much needed introduction to a tradition little understood in the West. Jeff Wilson’s illuminating account of his practice as a Shin Buddhist describes a path founded on humility, trust, and wonder, a way of life that celebrates a wise acceptance of human imperfection rather than a longing to overcome it.” -Stephen Batchelor, author of Buddhism without Beliefs

Click here to find out more and order your copy.

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Our friend Jeff Wilson at The Tricycle Blog has just posted about Gene Reeves’ new Wisdom book, The Lotus Sutra: A Contemporary Translation of a Buddhist Classic.

An excerpt: “The Lotus Sutra is certainly the single most important scripture in East Asian Buddhism, rivaled only by the Heart of Perfect Wisdom and Larger Bliss Realm Adornment Sutras…. For readers who are not familiar with the Lotus Sutra, this is an excellent opportunity to acquaint oneself with a bedrock Mahayana text. Dr. Reeves brings a welcome perspective of both scholarship and sympathy to the text, which is extremely multifaceted and requires flexibility to fully represent its fascinating–and at times somewhat frustrating–elements.  This new version is also particularly important because it includes the rarely translated Sutra of Innumerable Meanings and the Sutra of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, which are traditionally considered to be the preface and appendix of the main text and hold an important place in the liturgy and study of the Lotus Sutra.  And Dr. Reeves has made a strong effort to make the text truly accessible to anyone, including non-Buddhists and non-specialists.”

You can read the whole Tricycle review here. (Thanks, Jeff!) And to order your copy of Dr. Reeves’ book — at our standard discount — just click here.

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