DHARMA, COLOR, AND CULTURE: New Voices in Western Buddhism

Hilda Gutiirrez-Baldoqumn, Editor, Hilda Gutierrez-Baldoquin, Editor . Parallax $16 (240p) ISBN 978-1-888375-42-8

Baldoquín, a Soto Zen priest, amasses a collection of writings by "people of color," primarily American writers of African, Asian, Latino and Native American heritages, who share their experiences with and perspectives on traditional Buddhist teachings. Each of the book's first four sections devote several essays to one of the Four Noble Truths, and a final section explores how some of the writers have "integrated" the teachings "into the realities of their lives." The writers engage the issue of color vis-à-vis Buddhist teachings in different ways and to varying degrees. Some reflect primarily on the power the teachings have to bring personal healing after experiences of dehumanization and violence. Others use Buddhism as a method for recognizing and engaging the historical and political roots of racism and its manifest suffering. Still others, such as Maxine Hong Kingston, all but entirely sublimate issues of color in favor of exploring a tragedy anyone might face—losing a precious item in a fire, for instance. The essays are uneven in their effectiveness. Many are clear, focused and elucidate the topic at hand,but others (including the editor's own) wander off topic, leaving the reader puzzled. While the collection offers welcome voices and challenging perspectives, its loose, patchy approach prevents it from becoming a genuinely compelling, cohesive anthology. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/27/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
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