Review: ‘Finding the Ox’ on American Buddhist literature

Regular contributor Gary Gach offers us a recent text, with the following introduction:

To celebrate Urthona’s entry into the blogosphere, here’s a book-end to pair up with my latest contribution to the magazine (#25, summer 2008, A BRIEF LONG SPIRAL: The Moment of American Buddhist Art), reprinted from the Fall ’09 issue of Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly.

This is a review of a book which also inaugurates a new series of titles on Buddhism and American culture, forthcoming from SUNY Press (State University of New York), who have for a long time now made continual, significant inroads into academic Buddhist studies.  (Beyond the course and scope of the piece, of course, is Buddhology and academia itself, grist for the mill for some future screed perhaps.)

I hope this offering from the shores of New Albion might bring an inner smile.   Heatwaves shimmer in the garden spiderwebs left from last summer.  May all beings be well.

Gary Gach.


REVIEW – FINDING THE OX: The Emergence of Buddhist American Literature

Edited by John Whalen-Bridge and Gary Storhoff. SUNY Press, 2009. 272 pages, $80 (hardcover). Reviewed by Gary Gach. Reprinted from Fall’09 issue of Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly.

Dharma is everywhere, but sometimes it takes an adroit finger to point it out to us. This is an art, which is one of many possible translations for the Sanskrit term upaya, or skillful means. Consider the ox-herding sequence from twelfth-century China, equally a cultural masterpiece and a timeless tool for teaching dharma. As the Japanese saying goes, “The Buddha Way is no different than the Art Way.” Now comes a groundbreaking anthology of critical writings making vital new connections between buddhadharma and American literature, bringing the ox home… Click here for rest of review

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