Presence: The Art of Being at Home in Yourself
buddhist books spring 2024 1by Tracy Cochran
Shambhala Publications, April 2024, 256 pp., $18.95, paper

Presence opens with a broken-down VW bus on a secluded highway in the Midwest. Tracy Cochran—then a new college graduate, today an author and meditation teacher—found herself at this moment disconnected, daydreaming about the thwarted possibility of meeting a Tibetan Buddhist teacher in Boulder, followed by an insight that what she was seeking was “not out there” but “right here, right now.” Drawing on personal experiences—being mugged in New York City in the eighties; the joys and challenges of being on retreat with her 7-year-old daughter—this collection of short essays shows the depth that mindfulness can add to our own lives’ stories. 

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Noble Truths, Noble Path: The Heart Essence of the Buddha’s Original Teachingsbuddhist books spring 2024 2
by Bhikkhu Bodhi
Wisdom Publications, February 2023, 200 pp., $19.95, paper

The latest anthology from Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi, a Theravada Buddhist monk and distinguished translator, zeroes in on the Buddha’s teachings on nibbana (“liberation”) in the Samyutta Nikaya (“Connected Discourses”). If you’ve been interested in Bodhi’s translations but were intimidated by linguistic discussion, this “reader-friendly” version was created with you in mind. Bodhi writes that the Samyutta Nikaya, if rearranged, “provides a systematic overview of the Dhamma that mirrors the pattern of the four noble truths.” This “underlying blueprint” provides a direct and clear understanding for students of early Budd

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Footprints on the Journey: One Year Following the Path of Dzogchen Master Khenpo Sodargye
by Khenpo Sordargye, translated by Sally Yuanghong
Wisdom Publications, March 2024, 344 pp., $29.95, paper

Khenpo Sodargye, a Tibetan Dzogchen master and scholar from Tibet’s Larung Gar Buddhist Academy, shares his impressions of daily life as a Buddhist monk in this collection, which was forgotten about in a drawer and then edited after the death of his teacher, Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche. Footprints is more than a record of day-to-day activities; there are musings on altruism and devotion, anecdotes on saving local yaks from slaughter, pith instructions, and much more. Short chapters that can be read on their own make this book a timeless practice companion.

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Illustration by Ben Wiseman

Scholar’s Corner

Esoteric Pure Land Buddhism
by Aaron P. Proffitt
University of Hawaii Press, 2024, 445 pp., $35.00, paper

Scholar Aaron Proffitt’s compelling and rigorous exploration confronts long-held Western misconceptions about Buddhist practices centered on Amitabha’s Pure Land and its importance within the Japanese and pan-Asian Buddhist traditions, challenging us to reimagine Buddhism as we know it. Diving into Japanese Pure Land’s esoteric aspects and providing never-before-translated texts, he masterfully dispels the notion of Pure Land Buddhism as merely devotional while showcasing its vital place within Buddhist thought and practice at large. This book will have you rethinking preconceptions and appreciating the tradition’s nuanced, transformative potential. It’s a must-read for scholars and serious practitioners alike.

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WHAT WE’RE REREADING

The Heart of Buddhist Meditation

by Nyanaponika Thera

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In this modernist masterpiece, renowned Theravada monk, author, and cofounder of the Buddhist Publication Society Nyanaponika Thera (1901–1994) delves into the depth of Buddhist practice through an elucidation of the Satipatthana Sutta. Exploring the foundation of meditation and providing guidance on various techniques and their applications, Thera demonstrates a sound understanding through his insightful prose; and through the fundamental tenets of Buddhist philosophy, he illuminates a path toward awakening. This book is a powerful tool for self-discovery, and it remains an invaluable resource for seekers looking for the heart of Buddhist meditation.

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