books-in-review-four-nobleThe Four Noble Truths
Geshe Tashi Tsering
Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2005
144 pp.; $14.95 (paper)

In his first sermon, the Buddha famously laid the foundation for all of his teachings to follow with the doctrine of the Four Noble Truths. So it makes sense that the first volume of a six-volume set titled The Foundations of Buddhist Thought should be given the same name. The series is based on a popular course developed by the author, Geshe Tashi Tsering, as a systematic and comprehensive introduction to the core tenets of Buddhism. This volume’s particular strength lies in Tsering’s ability to harmonize the Mahayana and Theravada interpretations of the Four Noble Truths.

The Path of Compassion: The Chinese Brahma’s Net Sutra
Martine Batchelor, translator
New York: AltaMira Press, 2004
144 pp.; $19.95 (paper)

“The Brahma’s Net Sutra,” translator Martine Batchelor explains in the introduction to her new translation, “has been the basic ethical text for Chinese, Korean, and Japanese Buddhists for the last fifteen hundred years.” A veritable handbook for right living, the Brahma’s Net Sutra details the ten major and forty-eight secondary bodhisattva precepts. Its timeless message of compassion and renunciation, composed in China in the fifth century, still resonates today in the West. In addition to providing a fluid translation, Batchelor describes the historical circumstances of the sutra in her thorough introduction.

Alex Grey and Kenji Williams
Magnetic Presence, 2004
$29.95 (DVD/CD)

Worldspirit is not a book, nor is it brief, but it is certainly noteworthy. A multimedia package, this work by visual artist Alex Grey and musician Kenji Williams documents their performance at historic Sweet’s Ballroom in Oakland, California, in 2003. The set includes a DVD, an audio CD, and booklet. Grey’s life-size paintings, projected during the performance, combine traditional Buddhist philosophy and imagery with brilliant and vigorous depictions of human anatomy. His talent for illustrating a modern Western spiritual sensibility is fortified inWorldspirit by Kenji Williams’ cutting-edge musical composition.

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