In this installment of From the Editor’s Desk, Review Editor Michael Sheehy looks at new books on a Vajrayana vision of the human body, voice, and mind; early Korean Seon poetry; and the role of women teachers in shaping Tibetan Buddhism in the West.
A Lamp to Illuminate the Five Stages
Translated by Gavin Kilty
Gavin Kilty’s translation of Tsongkhapa’s (1357-1419) explanation of the five stages of the Guyhasamaja Tantra is part of the thirty-two volumes selected for inclusion in the Library of Tibetan Classics series. One of the great works on tantra written in Tibet, it presents a Vajrayana vision of the human body, voice, and mind, and how subtle shifts in each are transformative. Though the text is notoriously enigmatic and concealed with interpretive layers of meaning for the reader to unpack, every word is worth reveling over.
Magnolia and Lotus: Selected Poems of Chin’gak Kuksa Hyesim
Translated by Ian Haight and T’ae-yong Ho
White Pine Press
The poet whose works are translated here so elegantly into English is Chin’gak Kuksa Hyesim (1178-1234), the earliest Zen (or Seon) master to write poetry in Korea. Poems included are biographical, philosophical, about the forms of practice, and descriptive of nature. Full of imagery, Hyesim’s verses are equipped with all that a poet needs: a mirror, clouds, boiling tea, peach blossoms, and a still mind. As good Buddhist poetry does, each line brings a surprise.
By Michaela Hass
Snow Lion Publications
One of the extraordinary forces shaping Buddhism in North America and Europe is the teaching and leadership of women. This book profiles 12 (three of them Tibetan) practitioners, consorts, nuns, and heroines whose work and teachings are making an impact on the transmission of Tibetan traditions of Buddhism in the West. The author, Michaela Haas, devotes a chapter to narrating their lives, featuring teachings, and interviewing each.