December 9, 2008

Book review: The Wisdom of the Buddhist Masters: Common and Uncommon Sense (Robert Sachs)

Add this book to the list of Top 20 Books to Give As Gifts This Holiday Season.  Yeah, I know, that makes it a Top 21 list, but hey, I’m allowed to do that… right?  Robert Sachs’ The Wisdom of the Buddhist Masters is a collection of responses to a questionnaire given to nine different Buddhist thinkers, including Joan Halifax, Robert Thurman, Ajahn Amaro, Thubten Chodron and others.  For many of us, the questions are ones that perhaps we would like to ask a Buddhist master, yet for whatever reason, do not or cannot. The questions cover some of the most important topics of our time: war, terrorism, global warming, fundamentalism, and so forth.  Each of the respondents was asked to “go on record” giving their own unique perspective and thoughts on each of these situations.  The answers are thought provoking and candid, and sometimes a bit incisive and surprising.  Interestingly, in spite of the title, Sachs puts forth that the book is not exclusively about Buddhism or specifically for Buddhists, pointing out that (according to Lama Ole) those terms simply do not exist, that instead there are simply just people who follow the dharma and there are those who do not.  If anything, Sachs sees Buddhism not simply as a set of beliefs, but as a form of social activism, and these interviews serve to illustrate his point.  From Sterling Publishing and available from your local, independent bookseller. (Tell them you saw it on ElephantJournal.com!)

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