Zen Master Who? A Guide to the People and Stories of Zen
James Ishmael Ford
Wisdom Publications, 2006
280 pp.; $15.95 (paper)

Ford, a Soto Zen priest and Unitarian Universalist minister, has put together a rich and eminently readable resource on Zen in the West. He begins with an overview of the history of Zen, then thoroughly covers the teachers who first came West, the traditions and practices they brought with them, the schools they founded, and their many successors. Ford’s engaging portraits of the many personalities that make up Western Zen today are especially interesting and can be read straight through or dipped into here and there for a satisfying taste of any one of the diverse forms the tradition is taking today.


The Practice of Lojong: Cultivating Compassion through Training the Mind
Traleg Kyabgon
Foreword by Ken Wilber
Shambhala Publications, 2007
304 pp.; $18.95 (paper)

“Drive all blames into one.” “Don’t expect gratitude.” “Don’t turn gods into demons.” Pithy phrases like these are the basis of Tibetan lojong, or “mind training” practice, first popularized in the West by Chögyam Trungpa. As “the essence of the essence,” the lojong slogans are intended bring the most profound truths of Buddhism into one’s spiritual path without requiring an understanding of the complexities of Buddhist logic and philosophy. Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche—a popular teacher who has centers in Australia and New York State—approaches the subject with the insight of a teacher who knows his Western audience.


Jake Fades
David Guy
Trumpeter, 2007
224 pp.; $19.95 (cloth)

The list of genuinely “Buddhist” novels is a short one, but there may be a place on it for this entertaining and touching tale of a Zen teacher, Jake, losing his mind to Alzheimer’s, and the student he asks to succeed him, Hank. Guy (a Tricycle contributing editor) skillfully folds the dharma into Hank’s struggle to come to grips with this challenge, avoiding any heavy-handedness or didacticism. Set in Maine and funky Central Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the novel’s colorful cast of characters supplies plenty of engaging dialogue, and the fading Jake is appealing to no end.