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Making Sense of Mind Only: Why Yogacara Buddhism Matters
by William S. Waldron
Wisdom Publications, November 2023, 192 pp., $29.95, paper

The teachings of the Yogacara school are notoriously hard to explain. The influence of the Yogacarins, known for their deep meditative practices and thorough exploration of the dharmic understanding of  consciousness, cannot be overstated. Middlebury College professor William Waldron untangles the complex web of the Yogacara teachings with humor, insight, and a comprehension of the school’s importance and contemporary relevance. The Buddha paid particular attention to how our senses influence our perception of reality, and this book contributes to grasping his intention.


Three Years on the Great Mountain: A Memoir of Zen and Fearlessnessbuddhist books summer 2024 2
by Cristina Moon
Shambhala Publications, August 2024, 304 pp., $15.95, paper

Cristina Moon’s action-packed memoir opens with her coolly considering the possibility of torture or imprisonment as she plans another trip into Burma on behalf of the Free Burma movement. She later engages in Zen training and kendo, the way of the sword, at Honolulu’s Daihonzan Chozen-ji, a temple emphasizing embodied practice and the “great mountain” of the title. Moon’s narrative moves briskly through the varied rigors of monastic life, with training sessions that sometimes last all night. But it’s not all action: her account is also a thoughtful examination of race in American Buddhism.


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The Essential Buddhadhamma
by Bhikkhu P. A. Payutto, edited and translated by Bruce Evans
Shambhala Publications., June 2024, 800 pp., $39.95, paper

Originally written in Thai, this Buddhist masterpiece comes to life in English thanks to translator Bruce Evans’s thirty-plus years spent with the text. Scriptural knowledge, inner-tradition wisdom, and practical life advice merge seamlessly over the course of 800 pages to form an expansive guide to the teachings of Theravada Buddhism. The Pali canon is delivered through accessible prose, with Ven. Payutto navigating topics such as the five aggregates, nibbanna, and the Middle Way. Readers of all experience levels will appreciate this manual, which will remain a classic for years to come.




Illustration by Ben Wiseman

Scholar’s Corner

The Buddha: A Storied Life
edited by Vanessa R. Sasson and Kristin Scheible
Oxford University Press, December 2024, 548 pp., $49.95, paper

An homage to the recently retired eminent scholar John S. Strong, this volume offers an accessible deep dive into the stories of the Buddha’s life. What we often imagine as a man’s solo journey on a spiritual path is anything but. Dependent on a host of human and divine characters karmically bound through endless lives, these essays about the Buddha lay bare our biases toward individualism in imagining the mythic Buddha’s heroic quest for enlightenment. The Buddha may have reached enlightenment, but he got there with a lot of help.



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Taking the Path of Zen
By Robert Aitken

This classic Zen training manual from 1980—only 132 pages including the appendix—comprises a complete instruction guide for Zen students by the American Buddhist pioneer Robert Aitken (1917–2010). Taking the Path of Zen is both a handbook for students new and old and an explication of Aitken’s ideas on proper Zen practice, which he described as “a matter of change from ignorance of Buddha-nature to its realization.” No detail is left out: students are advised on how to dress, what to say to teachers and one another, and how to live outside the zendo. Each chapter ends with instructions on breath meditation that become more challenging as the book progresses.



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