buddhist books winter 2020The Deepest Peace: Contemplations from a Season of Stillness
by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel
Parallax Press, December 2020, $15.95, 192 pp., paper

“Orchids in pots along the windowsill bloomed weeks ago. Air seeps into the bedroom. The blossoms dance. I yearn for heat. A hot spring running alongside the house would be perfect. Tea will do.” With vivid imagery like this, Zenju Sensei, a Zen priest, invites the reader into her quiet life in the New Mexican desert to explore her experiences and practice, places she has lived, and her heritage through these contemplative stories and poetry. Even as anger, grief, and other difficult emotions arise, Zenju’s approach makes it seem that peace is within reach for all of us.

The Posture of Meditation: A Practical Manual for Meditators of All Traditions, 2nd ed.
by Will Johnson
Shambhala Publications, August 2020, $15.95, 176 pp., paper

This nonsectarian guide is appropriate for involuntary slouchers of all traditions and seat styles. Meditation is often thought of as something we do with our minds, but as meditation teacher Will Johnson explains in this revised 25th anniversary edition of his classic, the body and mind support each other. A well-constructed foundation enhances our practice, allowing the “wisdom realms of the dharma [to] come naturally into view,” while a faulty base leads to physical pain, tension, and mental discomfort and difficulties.

The Zen Priestess and the Snake: A Woman’s Path of Transformation and Healing Through Rediscovery of the Great Mother Tradition
by Roshi Ilia Shinko Perez
Sumeru Press Inc., June 2020, $27.95, 172 pp., paper

The Zen Priestess and the Snake is part memoir and part practice guide. In it Roshi Ilia Shinko Perez describes her personal experiences with supernatural visits and visions that started when she was 5 1⁄2 years old and living in Puerto Rico. Perez’s book is an illuminating account of her experiences of nonduality and enlightenment, and the second part contains her Goddess Practices, which are instructions, exercises, and chants suitable for any practitioner seeking health, wisdom, and love.

Illustration by Ben Wiseman

Scholar’s Corner

Reading the Buddha’s Discourses in Pali: A Practical Guide to the Language of the Ancient Buddhist Canon
by Bhikkhu Bodhi
Wisdom Publications, December 2020, $49.95, 548 pp., cloth

Reading the Buddha’s Discourses in Pali is not “Pali 101.” Based on a weekly Pali class taught by the Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi at Chuang Yen Monastery, where he lives in New York’s Hudson Valley, this book is for either those who already know the basics of Pali or those who don’t want to learn Pali but would like to better understand the “language and idiom” of the texts that are central to the Theravada tradition. The suttas discussed in the book are given in Pali, each followed by a direct English translation, a “natural English translation,” and Bhikkhu Bodhi’s commentary.


Buddhist Religions: A Historical Introduction

First published in 1970, written by Professor Richard Robinson and revised by Willard Johnson, Sandra Ann Wawrytko, and Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Buddhist Religions is now in its fifth edition (with the plural “religions” signifying the “vast array of social and cultural phenomena” that have contributed to the modern and Western concept of Buddhism as a religion). Tricycle’s editorial staff has been reading, or rereading, this classic introductory text and holding twice-monthly discussions as one way to stay connected while COVID-19 keeps us working from home. Buddhist Religions is a comprehensive survey of what the Buddha taught and how Buddhist traditions developed and spread around the world.