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Lions Roar : Nov 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2007 93 BY A NDREA MCQUILLIN BOOKS IN BRIEF BASIC TEACHINGS OF THE BUDDHA By Glenn Wallis Modern Library Classics, 2007; 181 pp.; $19.95 (paper) Basic Teachings of the Buddha is “serious” Buddhism, both in its conception and its execution. Buddhist scholar and translator Glenn Wallis has rigorously selected, translated, introduced, and parsed sixteen essential discourses from the Pali canon, a vast collection of literature that is generally accepted as the complete record of Gautama Buddha’s forty-five-year teaching career. In his introductory essay—itself worth the $15 price tag—Wallis touches on the cross-cultural dimensions and sectarian nuances of modern Buddhism. He makes clear, though, that his primary loyalty is to the original text and to training people to be bet- ter Buddhist readers by providing “a doctrinally responsible ba- sis for further pursuing the study and practice of the Buddha’s teachings.” Employing a clever framework, Wallis presents trans- lations of texts representing core teachings of the Buddha that are common to all sects and traditions, and then shows us the way to an in-depth reading of each. Refraining from interpreta- tion, Wallis leaves the reader to “refine the material with the grit of daily life.” The result of Wallis’s careful efforts is a short primer that is a must-have for serious students of Buddhism. NOTHING TO DO, NOWHERE TO GO Reflections on the Teachings of Zen Master Lin Chi By Thich Nhat Hanh Parallax Press, 2007; 140 pp.; $12.95 (paper) THE ART OF POWER By Thich Nhat Hanh HarperOne, 2007; 240 pp.; $24.95 (cloth) These two titles illustrate the differences between the approaches that mainstream and specialty publishers take with a bankable Buddhist author. Parallax Press has a long history with Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, and Nothing to Do, Nowhere to Go reflects that mature relationship. Here we have an accepted author- ity speaking to a dedicated audience on a subject of mutual interest: teachings of the 9th-century Zen master Linji, who, even by Zen standards, is commanding and direct. Linji’s teachings are “strong medicine,” says Thich Nhat Hanh, “not a vitamin, but a laxative.” Those who like robust Zen will enjoy both Linji’s bluntness and Thich Nhat Hanh’s candor in commenting on the master’s work. The Art of Power, in the tradition of bestsellers such as the Dalai Lama’s The Art of Happiness, is Buddhism aimed at the broad- est possible audience. Title notwithstanding, the book largely focuses on the Buddhist view of “true happiness” and the con- templative practices that support its realization. With its “art of ” title and a marketing campaign that will appeal to householders and businesspeople of all types, The Art of Power will win new converts to one of Western Buddhism’s leading lights. THE SUTRAS OF ABU GHRAIB Notes from a Conscientious Objector in Iraq By Aidan Delgado Beacon Press, 2007; 228 pp.; $24.95 (cloth) The Sutras of Abu Ghraib is not so much a Buddhist story as a morality tale. Bored at college, Aidan Dalgado signed up in 2001 for the Army Reserve and served a year in Iraq as a specialist (a truck mechanic), first in Nasiriyah and then at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison. Three months into his tour, Dalgado had serious doubts— fueled by his growing interest in Buddhism—about his role as a sol- dier. At that point he set in motion an 18-month process to be hon- orably discharged as a conscientious objector. (For the remainder of his service in Iraq, he was weaponless and denied standard-issue body armor or regular leave). This is a fascinating story about the mundane struggles of modern military service, the dehumanizing effects of war, and the courage of one young man to live by his con- science: “I began to see my tiny fragment of war service as part of a structure comprising thousands of individual soldiers, each secure in the knowledge that what they were personally doing wasn’t wrong. I looked at the truth of the [Abu Ghraib] prisoners’ experience and then I looked at my stated life, and it felt false, right to the core.” THE MINDFUL LEADER Ten Principles for Bringing Out the Best in Ourselves and Others By Michael Carroll Trumpeter/Shambhala Publications, 2007; 224 pp.; $23.95 (cloth) For most of us, work is unavoidable. So if we want to live our lives fully and completely, says Michael Carroll in his second book on bringing Buddhist wisdom (i.e., “awake mind”) to the workplace, we’re going to have to practice doing that during the daily nine to NOV 78-103.indd 93 NOV 78-103.indd 93 8/29/07 2:24:12 PM 8/29/07 2:24:12 PM