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Lions Roar : May 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2006 98 RECALLING CHÖGYAM TRUNGPA Compiled and edited by Fabrice Midal Shambhala Publications, 2005; 481 pp.; $24.95; (paper) Nearly twenty years after his death, there may be enough distance from his charisma and unconventional behavior to evaluate Chögyam Trungpa’s contribution to Buddhism in the West. This anthology—the American edition of a volume commissioned for a French scholarly series—is the first to look not so much at the man, but at his work. Although almost all of the contribu- tors were either his students or peers, they are carefully objective in describing the many unique institutions Chögyam Trungpa established, among them the Kasung (a Buddhist approach to the military), a Buddhist university (Naropa University), and a secular meditation path called Shambhala Training. Trungpa Rinpoche immersed himself in the modern world and adapted his presentation of Buddhism so that Westerners could appreci- ate its essential message. In her introduction, Diana Mukpo says, “My husband did not just teach for one generation.” Whether his institutions survive—and in what form—will depend on those who have inherited his world. CRUNCHY CONS By Rod Dreher Crown Forum, 2006; 259 pp.; $24 (cloth) The fact is that most American Buddhists are political liberals. But why should this be so? Where are the Buddhist Republicans? According to Catholic journalist Rod Dreher, they may be in plain view. “Crunchy cons” is the term he coined to describe a new wave of young Republicans who don’t fit the mold—they are anti- materialist, buy organic vegetables, home-school their kids, and wear Birkenstocks (which sounds like a lot of Buddhists I know.) What defines these unconventional conservatives, says Dreher, is the (Judeo-Christian) religious framework that grounds their life- style. But certainly there are crunchy con Buddhists out there too. ENCOUNTERING THE DHARMA: Daisaku Ikeda, Soka Gakkai, and the Globalization of Buddhist Humanism By Richard Hughes Seager University of California Press, 2006; 270 pp.; 19.95 (paper) Soka Gakkai (Value-Creation Society) often gets short shrift from Western converts to Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana Buddhism. But this popular lay Buddhist movement, founded in 1930 in Japan, is gaining American adherents faster than other schools (the U.S. has somewhere between 100,000 and 300,000 members). Religious scholar Richard Hughes Seager set out on his own East-West encounter, traveling to Japan, Brazil, and Sin- gapore to learn about the history and practices of Soka Gakkai International (SGI). He also met with SGI’s charismatic leader, Daisaku Ikeda, who has been at the organization’s helm since 1960 and has made it an international movement. Seager has a genuine interest in the humanistic values that SGI promotes, and is sympathetic to its methods. There was controversy in the