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Lions Roar : January 2019
REVIEWS I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S NOT BUDDHA! What Fake Buddha Quotes Can Teach Us About Buddhism By Bodhipaksa Parallax Press 2018; 144 pp., $11.95 (paper) Did you ever hear or read that famous Buddha quote, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear?” Well, the Buddha didn’t say it. This quote can actually be traced back to theosophist Mabel Collins, who claimed to be psychically channeling an Eastern “master.” In I Can’t Believe It’s Not Buddha! Bodhipaksa offers tips on how to sniff out fake Buddha quotes and takes us through twenty-five quotes that are widely and incorrectly attributed to Siddhartha. He also provides a commentary for each quote, explaining who really said it, how it got misattributed, and the ways in which each quote is either consistent or out of synch with the Buddha’s actual teachings. The book wraps up with twenty-five quotes that the Buddha really did say and a list of trustworthy Buddhist websites and books. Sutras make for dense, difficult reading, so I appreciate how Bodhipaksa shines a light on ancient texts in a way that’s both informative and engaging. THE PENGUIN BOOK OF HAIKU Translated and edited by Adam L. Kern Penguin Classics 2018; 544 pp., $18 (paper) If you’re looking for poignant poems about autumn moons and spring flowers, you’ll certainly find them in this definitive collection of more than one thousand haiku. But there are also many mischievous surprises on these pages, and this, Adam L. Kern explains, is due to haiku’s surpris- ing history. The haiku as it’s understood today—a standalone utterance by a single poet—wasn’t devised until the end of the nineteenth century, two hundred years after the death of haiku master Basho. Haiku’s poetic precursor was haikai no renga, a collaborative literary word game that often veered into raunchy humor. According to Kern, the haiku tradition was deliberately formulated—its origins sanitized and elevated—as part of a Japanese nationalistic movement. Whatever its origins, haiku has undoubtedly touched a chord around the world. What makes it so appealing, Kern suggests, is its paradoxical combi- nation of simplicity of form and the exquisite sophistication of Japanese aesthetics. By Andrea Miller LION’S ROAR | JANUARY 2019 77