A Call for Revolution: A Vision for the Future by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Sofia Stril-Rever. William Morrow, November 2018, $18.99, 128 pp., cloth. 

a call for revolution, winter 2018 buddhist books

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has spoken: it’s time for a compassion revolution, and the responsibility lies with the young people of the world. The beloved “simple Buddhist monk” speaks directly to his “dear young friends” in this slim manifesto, calling upon them to replace selfishness with compassion, greed with generosity, bigotry with tolerance, injustice with justice, and violence with nonviolence as a prescription to heal our incredibly divisive age.

Touching Ground: Devotion and Demons Along the Path to Enlightenment by Tim Testu. Wisdom Publications, November 2018, $17.95, 216 pp., paper.

touching ground, winter 2018 buddhist books

Follow Tim Testu (Bhikshu Heng Ju), one of the first American Chan monastics, from Catholic school to a nuclear submarine to a hippie commune—and finally to a 10-month bowing pilgrimage from San Francisco to Seattle. Alcohol and drugs are never far behind in this posthumous memoir, which casts light on the challenging realities of practice and the power of the dharma to meet us wherever we are.

Read an excerpt from Touching Ground: After the Monastery

When One Religion Isn’t Enough: The Lives of Spiritually Fluid People by Duane R. Bidwell. Beacon Press, November 2018, $25.95, 200 pp., cloth.

when one religion isn't enough, winter 2018 buddhist books

In an age when so many subscribe to being “spiritual but not religious,” this book takes a fascinating turn by examining the often complicated experiences of people who practice two or more religions simultaneously. Written by a Presbyterian minister who is also a longtime Vipassana practitioner, When One Religion Isn’t Enough includes firsthand accounts by the “spiritually fluid” and discusses the factors that have contributed to multifaceted spiritual lives, such as colonialism, immigration, and interfaith marriages.

–Eliza Rockefeller

buddha with glasses, winter 2018 buddhist books


In The Golden Age of Indian Buddhist Philosophy (Oxford University Press, July 2018, $40, 352 pp., cloth), professor of religion and theology Jan Westerhoff examines a period from the first to sixth centuries CE, when key systems of philosophy developed from Buddhism’s earliest teachings that would influence the tradition for centuries to come.

And in A Lullaby to Awaken the Heart: The Aspiration Prayer of Samantabhadra and its Tibetan Commentaries (Wisdom Publications, November 2018, $34.95, 504 pp., cloth), translator Karl Brunnhölzl offers three versions of a key Dzogchen text and commentaries that outline a meditative path to one’s original nature.

Gabriel Lefferts


A #MeToo pioneer’s work on sex in the forbidden zone

sex in the forbidden zone, winter 2018 buddhist books

The fact that the #MeToo movement has now reached multiple Buddhist communities calls for a return to the seminal book Sex in the Forbidden Zone: When Men in Power—Therapists, Doctors, Clergy, Teachers, and Others—Betray Women’s Trust by psychiatrist and Jungian analyst Peter Rutter, first published to both controversy and acclaim in 1989. Rutter exposes the psychological forces that drive women and men in exploitative sexual relationships that are shaped as much by our culture as by personal background. And while our culture has changed in the last 30 years, it hasn’t changed that much. So Rutter’s insights into consent, power differentials, and the secrecy around such relationships hold up to a remarkable degree. He successfully plumbs the depths of human psychology without infantilizing or demonizing. It’s a work marked by exceptional openness, compassion, and faith in the possibility of healing— without backing away from accountability for those who trespass boundaries.

—Emma Varvaloucas