Buddhadharma Book Reviews February 2013: From the Editor’s Desk

In this instalment of From the Editor’s Desk, Review Editor Michael Sheehy looks at the art of the 10th Karmapa, Buddhist trees, and more.

Michael Sheehy
1 February 2013

In this instalment of From the Editor’s Desk, Review Editor Michael Sheehy looks at the art of the 10th Karmapa, Buddhist trees, and early Sakya visions of tantra.

The Black Hat Eccentric: Artistic Visions of the Tenth Karmapa
Karl Debreczeny
University of Washington Press 2012

Because Tibetan artists were often anonymous, what makes this book exceptional is that it brings us artwork distinguished by the hand of a master artist, the Tenth Karmapa, Choying Dorje (1604–1674). The catalog includes an impressive array of images of his paintings and sculptures from collections now found around the world. Essays highlight the dramatic life of the Karmapa, who lived in exile during a turbulent period in central Tibet; the Chinese style of painting that he adopted; and the influences of far-removed early western Tibetan art on his work.

The Ordination of a Tree: The Thai Buddhist Environmental Movement
Susan M. Darlington
SUNY Press 2012

Can a tree be Buddhist? Why would you want to ordain a tree? The ritual of wrapping trees in the orange robes of a Theravada monk has become more than a symbol—it is a provovative civic act in Thailand. For the past few decades, Thai monk activists have used these “ordained trees” to send a message to their society, and it has grown into a resistance movement against deforestation. This book details this engaged Buddhist environmental movement, how it is a response to larger issues of consumerism and capitalism, and how this movement has taken shape on the ground in Thailand.

The Yogini’s Eye: Comprehensive Introduction to Buddhist Tantra
Volume 1: Systemization and Interpretation
By Sonam Tsemo; Translated by Ngor Thartse Khenpo Sonam Gyatso and Wayne Verrill
Xlibris 2012

With this translation of the twelfth century master Sonam Tsemo’s (1142-1182) seminal work, we have an incredible new source for the study of Tibetan Buddhist tantra in English. The text itself is among the earliest introductory texts on the study and practice of tantra in Tibet, written by one of the founding figures of the Sakya tradition. It came to be one of the core curricular textbooks for the Sakya. The work gives a systematic presentation of tantra, how to interpret its esoteric meanings, and methods for approaching the study and practice of this profound subject.

Michael Sheehy

Michael Sheehy

Michael Sheehy, PhD is a scholar of Tibetan Buddhism and contemplative studies. He is the director of scholarship at the Contemplative Sciences Center and faculty in religious studies at the University of Virginia.