The Buddhist and the Ethicist: Conversations on Effective Altruism, Engaged Buddhism, and How to Build a Better World
by Peter Singer and Shih Chao-Hwei
Shambhala Publications, December 2023, 264 pp., $21.95, paper
The Buddhist and the Ethicist is the culmination of a five-year conversation between Peter Singer, a utilitarian ethicist and animal liberation advocate, and Shih Chao-Hwei, an engaged Buddhist nun, academic, and activist who champions gender equality and LGBTQ rights. Ethics is active—something to be done rather than a fixed opinion—and in this fascinating book, Singer and Chao-Hwei explore dynamic topics, including animal welfare, capital punishment, gender equality, and the foundations of both Buddhism and ethics.
The Lost Art of Silence: Reconnecting to the Power and Beauty of Quiet
by Sarah Anderson
Shambhala Publications, December 2023, 304 pp., $21.95, paper
Sarah Anderson, a painter and writer who opened the famed Travel Bookshop in London’s Notting Hill in 1979, provides a thorough meditation on silence: its essentialness and elusiveness, as well as the very human impulse to fill our worlds with “vacuous sound.” The book includes sections on religion and spirituality, the arts, and “darker” silence realms like war and prison. Woven through are histories and anecdotes from great thinkers, artists, contemplatives, and other silence enthusiasts who can inspire our own quest to find silence in the unlikeliest of places.
Buddhism and Loss: Navigating Grief, Adversity and Change
by Diane Esguerra
Mud Pie Books, 2023, 114 pp., $8.95, paper
The first noble truth reminds us that life contains suffering, and Diane Esguerra—a psychotherapist and Soka Gakkai practitioner—very skillfully writes about the many different ways loss comes into our lives, from the deaths of those closest to us, to our youth, to the funds in our bank account. Through Buddhist wisdom and contemporary case studies, Esguerra demonstrates how practice can help us through the losses we’ll inevitably experience, and how mindfully navigating loss can help us better appreciate all aspects of the human experience.
edited by Mega Bryson and Kevin Buckelew
Columbia University Press, September 2023, 352 pp., $35.00, paper
Buddhist literature is full of idealized sacred and mundane physical perfections; often, those aesthetic ideals refer to men. Examining a wide range of Buddhist maleness—from narratives of morally superior monks and demon-taming tantric heroes to depictions of irresistible buddhas and bodhisattvas with sensuous bodies and jeweled smiles—Buddhist Masculinities expands on contemporary gender and intersectionality studies, merging a variety of methodological approaches. This much-needed transdisciplinary book pays critical attention to how ideas of masculinity have embodied, defined, and legitimized power and virtue in diverse Buddhist contexts. A must-read for practitioners and scholars alike.
WHAT WE’RE REREADING
Now approaching its twentieth anniversary, this modern classic by Buddhist teacher and psychologist Tara Brach continues to find new audiences. “Believing that something is wrong with us is a deep and tenacious suffering,” Brach writes, offering readers a path to freedom and fulfillment through the eponymous practice. Utilizing a mix of psychology and Buddhism, the book aims to guide readers out of the strictures we create for ourselves with guided meditations and a discussion of the Jungian shadow self, the repository of our negative emotions.
–Philip Ryan, executive editor