2009:The Best Buddhist Book I Read This Year

Best Of Inquiring Mind: 25 Years Of Dharma, Drama, and Uncommon Insight

The Inquiring Mind magazine had been around for 25 years now.   While it came out of the Theravada tradition and particularly Vipassana in North America,  the publication itself has been very inclusive and broad based not only in terms of the various Buddhist schools but with presenting the views of people from various cultural backgrounds as well.

There are numerous articles available on-line from past issues and previous issues can be ordered for the cost of postage. They place their readership numbers at 30,000 which is a comparable to some of the glossies. And they don’t have outside advertising on the website.

Another  interesting thing to note about Inquiring Mind is it’s subscription policy:

Inquiring Mind is available, without a set subscription fee, to anyone who wishes to be placed on our mailing list. While the journal is freely distributed, almost all of the funding to produce and publish Inquiring Mind comes from donations by our readers. This is in accordance with the Buddhist tradition of dana, or generosity—the means by which the teachings of the Dharma have been offered for nearly 2,500 years.

That a publication could survive for 25 years with this kind of policy gives one pause in the consumer oriented world of Dharma-for-dollars. Perhaps it has something to do with quality.

This current anthology of some of the previous work that has appeared in the magazine attempts to cover quite a spectrum of views.

There are familiar names from America such as Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, Joseph Goldstein, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Noah Levine,  Gary Snyder and Robert Thurman. As well there are some writers you may not have encountered before such as:

  • Jarvis Jay Masters who is a death row inmate at San Quentin and a widely published African American Buddhist writer.
  • Lorain Fox Davis of the Cree and Blackfoot nations and Eduardo Duran of the Apache and Tewa nations who provide a perspective of Buddhism from the aboriginal point of view. The latter is the author of the book Buddha in Redface
  • Tsultrim Allione was ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist nun in 1970 and was one of the first American women to do so
  • Edward Espe Brown, a student of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi for many years and who is the author of the well known Tassajara Bread Book

From outside America there is quite a selection as well.

  • Australia has representation with Sydney based Susan Murphy Roshi and artist Ma Deva Padma from Melbourne
  • Canadian born Ajahn Passano ordained in Thailand over thirty years ago
  • From Europe Ajahn Amero and Ajahn Sundara are among several contributors.
  • India’s most prominent representative in this collection is Kiran Bedi. She became a high ranking police administrator with the Indian government and introduced the concept of prison reform to the system there. She also brought Vipassana into prisons and has won the Ramon Magsaysay Award which is often dubbed “the Asian Nobel Prize”. As well contributions of interviews with Dipa Ma Barua of Calcutta and Hari Lal Poonja of the Punjab are included.
  • S.N. Goenka of Burma contributes an interview as does Tsoknyi Rinpoche of Nepal.

Many of the contributors have spent significant amounts of time in countries other than those of their birth. The breadth of cross-cultural experience among these contributors is quite large.

Tenzin Palmo of “Cave in the Snow” renown, who started a nunnery in Himanchal state in northern India is probably the most recognizable name. But others have spent many years in such diverse places as Thailand, Japan, India, Burma, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Brazil and Tanzania.

These inclusions reflect a wider perspective of the world than many other anthologies of Buddhist writing currently available.

And the subject matter is more diverse as well. From interviews with intriguing figures, reflections on practice by ordinary practitioners and the piece Buddhist Humor Practice:It Hurts So I Laugh by Rev. Heng Sure to travel tales and the Buddha’s awakening story written in the style of Dashiell Hammett, this is an interesting and often entertaining collection. And certainly not your ordinary Buddhist anthology.

There will be lots in here for most people to enjoy and think about.

5 comments on “2009:The Best Buddhist Book I Read This Year

  1. Pingback: Which Buddhist Magazine is Best? « Sweep the dust, Push the dirt

  2. Mine was Padmasambhava’s ‘Treasures From Juniper Ridge’; that, and maybe ‘The Book of Kadam’.

  3. Pingback: The Worstest Buddhist Magazine | elephant journal

  4. Pingback: The Worstest Buddhist Magazine. ~ John Pappas | Kurs Finance - World News, Financial News, Breaking US & International News

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