buddhist books summer 2022

The Sakya Jetsunmas: The Hidden World of Tibetan Female Lamas
by Elisabeth A. Benard
Snow Lion, March 2022, $29.95, 320 pp., paper

Buddhist texts in translation are often lacking in women Buddhist exemplars, which makes Elisabeth A. Benard’s The Sakya Jetsunmas an especially powerful addition to the conversation. For more than a thousand years, the Sakya Khon family has supported its daughters’ educational and spiritual progress, giving each the title Jetsunma (“venerable woman”) at birth and offering equal access to all training to their sons and daughters. This extensive multigenerational collection of biographies, which includes oral histories and archival research, will enlighten practitioners about this rich tradition and the Sakya Khon lamas.

A Year of Buddha’s Wisdom: Daily Meditations and Mantras to Stay Calm and Self-Aware
by Bodhipaksa
Rockridge Press, January 2022, $19.99, 264 pp., paper

Spend a year exploring the Buddha’s teachings with Bodhipaksa, a Scottish Buddhist author, teacher, and member of the Triratna Buddhist Order, as your guide. A Year of Buddha’s Wisdom includes an entry for each day of the year, and on each day, Bodhipaksa offers a meditation, mantra, and phrase to reflect on. These meditations and other exercises are designed to provide a minimum of 10 minutes of practice a day and to get straight to the point of the Buddha’s simple, powerful, and accessible wisdom.

The Path to Peace: A Buddhist Guide to Cultivating Loving-Kindness
by Ayya Khema
Shambhala Publications, July 2022, $18.95, 176 pp., paper

The late Buddhist nun Ayya Khema (1923–1997) dedicated her life to the practice of metta, usually translated as “lovingkindness.” Ayya Khema believed that “unconditional love” was a better way to describe this practice, which not only helps cultivate love for oneself and others but also helps to calm and brighten the mind. This book is based on a series of talks she gave in the 1990s, and was edited by her student Leigh Brasington. The second part of the book includes further discussion about metta practice, as well as ten visualizations that offer an alternative to the traditional metta phrases.


Illustration by Ben Wiseman

Scholar’s Corner

A Global History of Buddhism and Medicine
by C. Pierce Salguero
Columbia University Press, February 2022, $35.00, 272 pp., paper

Buddhism has offered the world of medicine much more than meditation to heal the mind, and this relationship has, throughout the last two and a half millennia, taken on many forms. C. Pierce Salguero, associate professor of Asian history and religious studies at Pennsylvania State University’s Abington College, provides the first comprehensive scholarly resource in English on the global history of Buddhist medicine and healing practices. From the Buddha’s care for a sick monk to worldwide chanting and prayer to address the COVID-19 pandemic, Salguero shows how the dharma has been a “source of healing knowledge” throughout history.


WHAT WE’RE REREADING

Making Friends with Death: A Buddhist Guide to Encountering Mortality
by Judith L. Lief

An unimaginable number of people have died from COVID-19. Death, however, remains a subject we usually don’t feel comfortable thinking or talking about until the very end—if at all. But death, writes Buddhist teacher Judith L. Lief, is our “constant companion,” and if we can get more comfortable contemplating our eventual demise, we can also “break free from the extremes of avoidance and fascination” surrounding it. Lief offers short exercises, including meditations and slogans, aimed at preparing us for our own deaths and supporting others at the end of life. No one is expecting you to become BFFs with death, but with practice, we can begin to see all the ways change is present in our daily lives, and continue letting go and letting go until we’re gone.

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