A Holiday Stroll Through the Buddhaverse

Here’s a wondrously beautiful view from a micro-moment on this morning’s walk along the shore of Lake Superior as we wrapped up a couple day trip over the holiday.

Lounging around, I strolled some through the new Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism by Robert E. Buswell Jr. and Donald S. Lopez Donald Jr.

I bought the Kindle version for iPad and had great fun browsing entries and then following links, wandering through the Buddhaverse at the finger touch – at least some of the 5,000 entries and small percentage of the one million words in the Dictionary.

One of the take-a ways is how we’re just scratching the surface on what we have translated into English. I almost regret the decision I made about 25 years ago not to shift my focus from training to learning languages so I could be a Buddhist scholar.

Particularly, I was struck by how little I know about the Korean tradition! Except for Buswell’s work, there’s still very little translated into English, as far as I know. For instance, here’s a book that really MUST be translated and a selection of the description in the Dictionary:

Sŏnmun yŏmsong chip. (禪門拈頌集). In Korean, “Collection of Analyses and Verses on of the Sŏn School,” the first and largest indigenous Korean kongan (C. GONG’AN, J. kōan; public case) anthology, compiled in thirty rolls by CHIN’GAK HYESIM (1178–1234) in 1226. The collection covers 1,463 kongan, along with annotations (yŏm), verses (song), and variant explanations, such as responding on behalf of a figure who does not answer during the kongan exchange (tae, lit. on his behalf), responding in a different way from the response given in the kongan exchange (pyŏl, lit. differently), and inquiring about the exchange (ch’ŏng, lit. soliciting, or verifying).

The Korean tradition also was powerfully impacted by the “key-phrase” (wato) koan method of Dahui but seems to have taken it in quite a different direction than the Japanese Rinzai sequential curriculum.

If some Buddhist studies PhD out there just happens to have this translated and sitting around in a box in the basement, well, please dust it off and send it my way. I’d love to give it a read!

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