cover image Inside Vasubandhu’s Yogacara: A Practitioner’s Guide

Inside Vasubandhu’s Yogacara: A Practitioner’s Guide

Ben Connelly. Wisdom, $16.95 trade paper (248p) ISBN 978-1-61429-284-5

Soto Zen teacher Connelly (Inside the Grass Hut) offers an exploration of Vasubandhu’s Thirty Verses on Consciousness Only, avoiding philosophical analysis while encouraging “compassionate engagement” with the practice-oriented text. Vasubandhu, a fourth-century Indian monk and scholar who integrated the early Buddhist schools of Abhidharma and Mahayana into Yogacara, argued that the main cause of suffering is the delusion that there is a self separate from other things. The Thirty Verses presents a breakdown of the forms, feelings, perceptions, volitions, and consciousnesses involved in creating the sense of a separate “I” and orients practitioners toward nonconceptual meditation to dissolve such barriers to harmonious living with others. Through Connelly’s luminous teaching, some of Yogacara’s most vivid and inspiring innovations come to life. Connelly is careful to remind readers that though Yogacara is the school of “consciousness only,” it is not a solipsistic perspective. Rather, he argues that in Yogacara, consciousness is “merely” a matter of karmic projections and conceptualizations and that one must find peace in the midst of this mindset. His interpretations are lucid considering the density of this Yogacara text, and his ability to impart practical knowledge from such philosophically complex verses is admirable. Newcomers and adherents to this lesser-known Buddhist school alike are lucky to have Connelly as an exceptional guide to the central themes of Yogacara. (Dec.)