Jan Willis is Professor Emerita of Religion at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. Born in Docena, Alabama, in 1948 and profoundly affected by the Civil Rights movement, she majored in philosophy at Cornell University and met Buddhism while traveling in Asia in the 1970s. She went on to earn her PhD in Buddhist Studies at Columbia University and has studied with Tibetan Buddhists in India, Nepal, Switzerland, and the U.S. for over four decades. The author of several books and numerous articles and essays on Buddhist philosophy and history, meditation, women and Buddhism and Buddhism and race, her memoir Dreaming Me: Black, Baptist, and Buddhist was first published in 2001. In December of 2000, Time named Willis one of six “spiritual innovators for the new millennium.” In 2003, she was a recipient of Wesleyan University’s Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching. In September of 2005, Newsweek’s “Spirituality in America” issue included a profile of her and, in its May 2007 edition, Ebony magazine named Willis one of its “Power 150” most influential African Americans.
“This collection of essays by Jan Willis, penned over thirty years of study, teaching, and practice, is destined to become an authoritative resource in Buddhist scholarship and thought. Willis challenges many of our preconceptions, but asks no more and no less than what the Buddha asked: come, see, and experience for yourselves.”—Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Happiness
“From Birmingham to Bodhgaya, Jan bridges worlds like no other. Her essays are treasures of wisdom born from a remarkable life richly lived.”—Matthew T. Kapstein, author of Reason’s Traces: Identity and Interpretation in Indian and Tibetan Buddhist Thought
“This book is a blessing for us all—across cultures, across genders, across traditions.”—Larry Yang, author of Awakening Together: The Spiritual Practice of Inclusivity and Community
Women, Race, and Tantra
Jan Willis was among the first Westerners to encounter exiled Tibetan teachers abroad in the late sixties, instantly finding her spiritual and academic home. TIME Magazine named her one of six “spiritual innovators for the new millennium,” both for her considerable academic accomplishments and for her cultural relevance. Her writing engages head-on with issues current to Buddhist practitioners in America, including dual-faith practitioners and those from marginalized groups.
This collection of eighteen scholarly and popular essays spans a lifetime of reflection and teaching by Willis. Grouped in four sections—Women and Buddhism, Buddhism and Race, Tantric Buddhism and Saints’ Lives, and Buddhist-Christian Reflections—the essays provide timeless wisdom for all who are interested in contemporary Buddhism and its interface with ancient tradition.
- 368 pages
- ISBN 9781614295938
- 368 pages, 6 x 9 inches
- ISBN 9781614295686
A Peaceful Piggy’s Guide to Sickness and Death, Sadness and Love
When someone we love gets sick, we little piggies worry! It can feel scary when a person we care about is sick or in a hospital. Luckily, there is one good thing we peaceful piggies can do: meditate.
This is a story about love.
Experiencing a loved one’s illness or death is challenging for both children and their grownups. With three distinct sections to choose from—when someone we love is sick, dying, or has died—this guide will help you easily find soothing and practical mindfulness activities focused on what your young one needs in order to guide them through their big emotions and questions. These practices will help calm and empower children—and their grownups—as they discover they can still be with their loved ones through their heart connection, no matter where they are.
Liberation from Samsara
Coming soon! This book will be available in March of 2022. Enter your name and email below to be notified when this book is available for purchase.
This rare teaching by Rinpoché is a uniquely concise volume of the teachings of the path to liberation that is authentic, authoritative, and complete.
In Liberation from Samsara, the Fourth Kyabjé Dodrupchen Rinpoché presents the Longchen Nyingthik preliminary teachings, with a special focus on guru yoga. These teachings, from the innermost secret instruction of Dzogchen, constitute a complete path to enlightenment.
After discussing the ways to turn our mind toward Dharma and the trainings, Rinpoché provides guru yoga instruction as he turns to the main tantric practice: meditations on unifying one’s mind with Guru Rinpoché’s wisdom mind. This rare teaching by Rinpoché, though intentionally succinct to accommodate the needs of contemporary Western practitioners, presents a complete path to enlightenment. It contrasts three different paths to liberation: Shravakayana (the way of the disciple), Pratyekabuddhayana (the way of the self-enlightened buddha), and Mahāyāna (the way of the bodhisattva), which is our way, our boundless intention to seek refuge in order to free all sentient beings from samsaric suffering.
The Power of Mantra
Coming soon! This book will be available in February of 2022. Enter your name and email below to be notified when this book is available for purchase.
Energize your practice with the potent energy of mantra.
In this book, beloved teacher Lama Zopa Rinpoche guides us through the most popular mantras in Tibetan Buddhism: Shakyamuni Buddha, Chenrezig, Manjushri, Tara, Medicine Buddha, Vajrasattva, and more.
A mantra—literally “that which protects the mind”—is a series of Sanskrit syllables that evoke the energy of a particular buddha or bodhisattva. It works as a sacred sound that brings blessings to ourself and others, and as a tool to transform our mind into one that is more compassionate and wise.
In clear and succinct teachings, Lama Zopa shows us why we need different mantras and how each mantra works. He also explains their importance and power, giving specific instructions for practicing them. The exquisite, full-color illustrations of the deities that accompany the text make this book a beautiful guide, one suitable for both beginners and experienced practitioners.
The Wisdom Culture Series, published under the guidance of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, features translations of key works by masters of the Geluk tradition. Also available in the Wisdom Culture Series, Tsongkhapa’s Middle-Length Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment.
The Universal Vehicle Discourse Literature (Mahāyānasūtrālaṁkāra)
The Universal Vehicle Discourse Literature (Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra) was transmitted from the bodhisattva Maitreyanātha to Āryā Āsaṅga, the fourth-century Indian Buddhist scholar-adept. The most foundational of the set of the famous Five Teachings of Maitreya, the Discourse Literature is considered the wellspring of what the Tibetans call the “magnificent deeds trend of the path,” the compassion side, which balances the “profound view trend of the path,” the wisdom side. The Discourse Literature is also considered to be metaphysically aligned with and foundational for the Idealist (Vijñānavādin) school of Mahāyāna thought. Translated from Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Chinese by Lobsang Jamspal, Robert Thurman, and the AIBS team, the present work contains a fully annotated, critical English rendition of the Discourse Literature along with its commentary (bhāṣya) by Āsaṅga’s brother, Vasubandhu. It also includes an introduction covering essential historical and philosophical topics, a bibliography, and a detailed index. This long-awaited work is the founding cornerstone of the AIBS Treasury of the Buddhist Sciences series.
Sounds of Innate Freedom, Volume 4
Sounds of Innate Freedom: The Indian Texts of Mahāmudrā are historic volumes containing many of the first English translations of classic mahamudra literature. The texts and songs in these volumes constitute the large compendium called The Indian Texts of the Mahāmudrā of Definitive Meaning, compiled by the Seventh Karmapa, Chötra Gyatso (1456–1539). The collection offers a brilliant window into the richness of the vast ocean of Indian mahamudra texts cherished in all Tibetan lineages, particularly in the Kagyü tradition, giving us a clear view of the sources of one of the world’s great contemplative traditions.
Besides the individual dohās (couplets), vajragītis (vajra songs), and caryāgītis (conduct songs) in this second volume in publication, the three extensive commentaries it contains brilliantly unravel enigmas and bring clarity not only to the specific songs they comment on but to many other, often cryptic, songs of realization in this collection. These expressive songs of the inexpressible offer readers a feast of profound and powerful pith instructions uttered by numerous male and female mahāsiddhas, yogis, and ḍākinīs, often in the context of ritual gaṇacakras and initially kept in their secret treasury. Displaying a vast range of themes, styles, and metaphors, they all point to the single true nature of the mind—mahāmudrā—in inspiring ways and from different angles, using a dazzling array of skillful means to penetrate the sole vital point of buddhahood being found nowhere but within our own mind. Reading and singing these songs of mystical wonder, bliss, and ecstatic freedom, and contemplating their meaning, will open doors to spiritual experience for us today just as it has for countless practitioners in the past.
In Vimalakīrti’s House
Over the course of nearly half a century, Robert A. F. Thurman has left an indelible mark on numerous fields of study, including Buddhist literature, Tantric Buddhism, Tibetan studies, and the comparative sciences of mind. To celebrate his seventieth birthday, Thurman’s students and colleagues have come together to pay tribute to these contributions and to Thurman’s ongoing leadership in these fields by assembling a collection of essays of their own that extend and supplement his groundbreaking research.
In Vimalakīrti’s House is the result of this collaboration and represents a broad spectrum of cutting edge studies in areas central to Thurman’s own scholarly project. The resulting volume is itself a kind of “treasury of the Buddhist sciences,” insofar as its authors explore wide-ranging problems in art, literature, epistemology, history, ritual, buddhology, and lexicography.
Great Treatise on the Stages of Mantra (Sngags rim chen mo)
Tsong Khapa’s Great Treatise on the Stages of Mantra (Sngags rim chen mo)—considered by the present Dalai Lama to be one of Tsong Khapa’s two most important books (along with his Lam rim chen mo)—is his masterful synthesis of the principles and practices of all four classes of Tantra, which formed the basis of his innovation in creating the esoteric “Tantric College” institution and curriculum in the early fifteenth century. With detailed reference to hundreds of works from the Tibetan Kangyur and Tengyur, the chapters presented and studied in this volume concern his treatment of the creation stage (bskyed rim) meditations of Unexcelled Yoga Tantra. This includes a detailed analysis emphasizing how and why such creation stage practices—utilizing deity yoga to transform death, the between, and life into the three bodies of buddhahood are indispensible to creating a foundation for successfully entering the culminal yogic practices of the perfection stage. (A subsequent volume will present the perfection stage chapters of this essential masterwork.)
An important work for both scholars and practitioners, this annotated translation is supplemented with extensive support materials.
The Adamantine Songs (Vajragīti)
Presented here in English for the first time is a set of three of Saraha’s “Adamantine Songs” (Skt. Vajragīti; Tib. rdo rje’i glu), poetic works that play a central role in the Great Seal (mahāmudrā) tantric tradition of both India and Tibet. The tantric adept (siddha) Saraha was among the most notable figures from India’s late first millennium, a time of rich religious and literary activity. His influence on Buddhist practice and poetry extended beyond the Indian subcontinent into Tibet, where it continues to affect every tradition that engages the practice and philosophy of the esoteric Great Seal.
In these songs, Saraha’s views on the nature of mind are presented as both evocative poetry and theoretical exegesis. These songs offer a new perspective on the religious life of Buddhist India and the figure of one of its most famous adepts.
Braitstein opens the door to this important set of texts by Saraha through her elegant translation, critical edition of the Tibetan texts, and in-depth analysis of the three poems. She situates Saraha and his work both in the Tibetan Buddhist sphere and in a broader South Asian literary and religious context, closely treating the central themes in Saraha’s poems, highlighting the specific siddha worldview espoused in his oeuvre, and at the same time unpacking the cryptic references contained in the songs’ individual verses. With this book, Braitstein substantially increases the amount of Saraha’s poetry available to an English-speaking audience and contributes to the ever-increasing movement to explore the culture of the tantric adepts.
Nāgārjuna’s Reason Sixty (Yuktiṣaṣṭikā)
The Reason Sixty is the most concise philosophical work by the second-century Indian Buddhist philosopher Nāgārjuna. It is one of that master’s works most often cited by Centrist (Madhyamaka) commentators, and it is included in the Sixfold Canon of Reason (rigs tshogs drug) which forms the textual basis for Centrist studies in the Tibetan philosophical curriculum. Standing midway between his other masterpieces on philosophy and religion, in the Reason Sixty Nāgārjuna describes the central thrust of his therapeutic philosophy of language—the elimination of cognitive bias and affective resistances to the gradual cultivation of nondualistic wisdom and compassion.
The seventh-century Centrist master Chandrakīrti, concerned with applying his language therapeutic method to define the social epistemology of Centrism, likewise links the critical hermeneutic-pedagogy and the practical therapeutic-anthropology of his other works in his acclaimed Reason Sixty Commentary.
Includes detailed introductory essays, annotated translations, critical Tibetan editions, trilingual glossary, intellectual-historical and biographical tables, bibliography, and index.
What I Don’t Know about Death
In the winter of 2020 a renowned scholar of Asian religions, lifelong meditator, and novelist accustomed to vigorous health received a terminal diagnosis. By summer his cancer had run its course. In the short time in between, C. W. “Sandy” Huntington faced his own impending death, leading him to reconsider the teachings and practices, as well as philosophy and literature, he had spent a lifetime pursuing. In this, his last book, you’ll join Sandy as he traverses the gap between knowledge and true wisdom.
“Sandy Huntington urges his readers to face up to life’s fragility as well as its many gifts. Written with elegance and verve, What I Don’t Know about Death is a deep meditation on what it means both to wake up to and to let go of life. Drawing on his lifelong engagement with Buddhism, Huntington remains a consummate teacher who demands intellectual honesty, humility, and compassion from his readers no less than from himself. This book is an intellectual and spiritual offering to Huntington’s students, past and future.”
—Leora Batnitzky, Ronald O. Perelman Professor of Jewish Studies and professor of religion, Princeton University
“What I Don’t Know about Death is a deeply personal, intellectually rigorous, and philosophically profound exploration of death, and in particular of Sandy’s own death, which he faced with exemplary grace, honesty, and clarity as he wrote this book. This is a gift of remarkable beauty that can open our hearts and minds to this most difficult topic. Read it and weep, with tears of grief, gratitude, and illumination.”
—Jay L. Garfield, Smith College and the Harvard Divinity School
The Mindful Menopause Workbook
The Mindful Menopause Workbook will help you bring mindfulness into your day-to-day activities during menopause. The teachings, exercises, and meditations will show you how to recognize and achieve a more balanced, peaceful, and joyful orientation to whatever you experience at menopause and beyond.
A year’s worth of daily teachings will offer you micro-moments of self-care and self-development—mentally, physically, and spiritually. Following each teaching is space for you to journal whatever thoughts, emotions, or sensations arise. The exercise section includes an illustrated guide to yoga postures and outlines sequential poses that foster greater ease and awareness of the body, while the guided meditations and breath exercises promote body-mind unity through expanded peaceful awareness. The book addresses issues common to women during menopause sensitively and gives recommendations for dealing with common complaints such as insomnia, fatigue, low energy and libido, anxiety, depression, hot flashes, physical discomfort, poor digestion, and weight gain.
Together, these teachings, exercises, and reflections will help you approach menopause mindfully, and joyfully, as you deepen your practice and transition into a new stage of life.
“The Mindful Menopause Workbook is an ideal companion for navigating the transitional tidal waves of feminine growth. It is a great resource to rejuvenate the heart, mind, and body as you step into the next phase of life with renewed hope, confidence, and wisdom. Francesca Dupraz-Brossard has mapped out exciting pathways for women to appreciate and connect with their heart, mind, and body with love, compassion, joy, and equanimity, and to rediscover the beauty of their lives.”
—Dr. Charika Marasinghe, PhD, trustee, Vishva Niketan International Peace Centre
Discover ancient Tibetan yogic practices that integrate body, breath, and mind on the journey to personal cultivation and enlightenment.
Tibetan Yoga offers accessible instructions for performing the ancient yogic techniques of Tibet’s Bön religion. This is Tibetan yoga, or trul khor, a deeply authentic yogic practice. Drawing on thirty years of training with Bön’s most senior masters as well as advanced academic study, Dr. Alejandro Chaoul offers expert guidance on practices that were first developed by Bön masters over a millennia ago, framing them according to the needs of contemporary yoga practitioners and meditators.
No matter their level of experience, dedicated practitioners of Tibetan yoga will discover their ability to clear away obstacles and give rise to meditative states of mind. In Tibetan Yoga, you’ll learn what it means to practice for the benefit of all beings and to experience your body as a mandala, from center to periphery. These movements help you live in a more interconnected mind-breath-body experience, with benefits including better focus, stress reduction, the elimination of intrusive thoughts, better sleep, and general well-being.
“Alejandro Chaoul offers the gift of his lifelong passion for studying the ancient tradition of Tibetan Yoga so that we may all benefit from these practices. Whether you are looking to heal your heart, body, or mind, this book sets forth a clear path to aid in your journey toward wholeness.”
—Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Change
Save 20% on the Tibetan Yoga online course when you buy this book! Your discount code is at the end of the book.
Awake Where You Are
“Embodied awareness is the way back home—intimacy with where and how we are right now, with what is happening and how we are meeting it. This book will lead you into the heart of your life, into your body, where everything happens—with quality of listening rather than knowledge, of feeling rather than reaction. Practicing in this way is radically transformative.”
Pulled around by desires and distractions, we’re so easily disconnected from ourselves. Life is happening right in front of us, and within us—but still, we manage to miss so much of it.
Awake Where You Are provides the antidote, inviting us to go deep into our own bodies, to inhabit our sensory experience carefully; to learn the art of living from the inside out, and in the process to find ease, clarity, and an authentic, unshakeable freedom.
The practices in the book literally bring us back into our skin, where we can reconnect with a more rich, meaningful, and peaceful life. Aylward writes with sophisticated subtlety, as well as the heart-opening simplicity and clarity born of deep experience.
More than a meditation guide, this book is a guide to living an embodied life. You’ll learn about the following areas and practices:
- Understanding and liberating our primal human drives.
- Integrating psychological understanding with meditative practice.
- Investigating the nuances of love.
“Martin is a marvelous teacher and offers us the refreshing wisdom of an embodied life.”
—Jack Kornfield, author of No Time Like the Present
“This book is a treasure of subtle revelation.”
—Bonnie Nadzam, Lion’s Roar
The view is the wisdom of being empty
Meditation is luminosity without fixation
Conduct is a continual flow free of attachment
Fruition is nakedness bare of any stain
This is the first stanza of Milarepa’s Ultimate View, Meditation, Conduct, and Fruition: pith instructions originally sang to the great yogi Rechungpa, Milarepa’s disciple. These teachings are Milarepa’s direct offering to his disciple of his own profound realization, gained after many years of dedicated practice. Karl Brunnhölzl, acclaimed translator and senior teacher at the Nalandabodhi community of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, calls this hard-earned understanding “kungfu”: “Gong means ‘skillful work,’ ‘hard training,’ or ‘endeavor,’ and fu means ‘time spent…’ The term refers to Milarepa’s diligent and skillful training in the techniques to realize the nature of his mind and benefit countless sentient beings.”
Ultimate View, Meditation, Conduct, and Fruition is a work of remarkable depth and clarity. In just five verses, Milarepa gives incisive instructions for progressing and for avoiding pitfalls in the stages of practice:
- View: the basis or ground from which the proper meditation, conduct, and fruition of mahāmudrā can arise
- Meditation: the training in or the familiarization with that view
- Conduct: the natural outflow of having familiarized with the view in meditation
- Fruition: the final outcome of having fully assimilated and realized the view, whose essence is not different from it
Milarepa dedicates one verse to each stage, and Karl dedicates one chapter to each verse, weaving in wisdom from other Milarepa songs, comments by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyatso and from Karl’s own insight. Readers can thus fully immerse themselves in each point of Milarepa’s extraordinary teaching.
Tibetan Art Calendar 2022
The Tibetan Art Calendar is a beautiful, affordable way to enjoy authentic, meaningful, and deeply inspiring works of sacred art, year-round.
This calendar features the artwork of Tibetan artist Tashi Dhargyal, who paints traditional subjects in the classical style, from goddesses of compassion to fierce protectors of the Buddha’s teachings. Tashi trained with master painter Venerable Sangye Yeshi at a school established at the behest of the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India. For five years he was the artist-in-residence at Ganden Jangtse Monastery before coming to the United States to continue his craftsmanship. This calendar features his most striking and powerful pieces, which will be enjoyed by Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.
The Extraordinary Life of His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama
One of the most revered spiritual figures of our time—His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama—tells the story of his life in this intimate, timeless, and approachable book. Featuring luminous illustrations from world-renowned artist Rima Fujita and some never-before-shared details, it’s the perfect way to explore the life of the Dalai Lama. This simple yet powerful text combined with stunning artwork will captivate readers of all ages—and will take you on a mystical journey you won’t soon forget.
“With my diagnosis of grade IV brain cancer, I no longer observe the truth of impermanence from a critical, analytical distance. I am crashing into it, or it into me.”
Facing a terminal cancer diagnosis, Karen Derris—professor, mother, and Buddhist practitioner—instinctually turned to books. By rereading ancient Buddhist stories with fresh questions and a new purpose in mind, she discovered evolving ways to make them immediate and real. Storied Companions interweaves Karen’s memoir of her lived experiences of trauma and terminal illness with stories from Buddhist literary traditions, sharing with the reader how she found ways to live fully even with the reality that she won’t live as long as she needs—or wants.
Using her knowledge, practice, and imagination, Karen illustrates how placing yourself within narratives can turn them from distant and static sources into companions, and from companions into guides. Reading along with her, you’ll realize how this practice of reading and these ancient narratives can help us come to terms with impermanence, develop empathy and compassion, and realize our own interconnectedness.
Honest, powerful, and insightful, Storied Companions itself becomes an invaluable companion, guiding the reader to discover new ways of facing and experiencing life, death, and impermanence.
Courageous Compassion, the sixth volume of the Library of Wisdom and Compassion, continues the Dalai Lama’s teachings on the path to awakening. The previous volume, In Praise of Great Compassion, focused on opening our hearts with love and compassion for all living beings, and the present volume explains how to embody compassion and wisdom in our daily lives. Here we enter a fascinating exploration of bodhisattvas’ activities across multiple Buddhist traditions—Tibetan, Theravāda, and Chinese Buddhism.
After explaining the ten perfections according to the Pāli and Sanskrit traditions, the Dalai Lama presents the sophisticated schema of the four paths and fruits for śrāvakas and solitary realizers and the five paths for bodhisattvas. Learning about the practices mastered by these exalted practitioners inspires us with knowledge of our minds’ potential. His Holiness also describes buddha bodies, what buddhas perceive, and buddhas’ awakening activities.
Courageous Compassion offers an in-depth look at bodhicitta, arhatship, and buddhahood that you can continuously refer to as you progress on the path to full awakening.
For half a century this wise professor-scholar, conscious feminist, deeply dedicated practitioner, and icon of genuine diversity has taught Buddha Dharma. The beautiful fruit of her work is visible here.
Jack Kornfield, PhD, author of A Path with Heart
In Dharma Matters, Dr. Willis weaves together personal, historical, cultural, religious, and universal wisdom, eloquently and tenderly offering a textured tapestry of intelligence and transformation. In this heartwarming and sagacious book, we are invited to recognize the green and golden threads of women and race wrapped in the warmth and timeless wisdom of the Dharma.
Ruth King, author of Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out
Jan Willis has practiced, reflected, and taught at one of the most important crossroads of American Buddhist life—the intersection of the activism of the Civil Rights movement and feminism, of Buddhist meditation with authentic Tibetan masters, and of the academic translation of Buddhism. This collection of her pioneering essays reveals her at once as a brilliant visionary, a pristine scholar, a heartfelt Vajrayāna practitioner, and an incisive social commentator in the twenty-first century. What ties these together is her wise heart.
Judith Simmer-Brown, Distinguished Professor of Contemplative and Religious Studies, Naropa University, and author of Dakini’s Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism
This new book by Dr. Jan Willis is not only a must-read for all Buddhists interested in an unbiased inside look at gender issues in Buddhism; it is a delightful read that jumps off the page. It is a clear window into the many great contributions to the legacy of enlightenment made by Buddhist women in India and Tibet over the centuries, as well as some of the challenges that these women faced because of their gender. Put ten copies on your shopping list, and share the gentle wisdom of this African American female sage.
Glenn Mullin, author of 25 books on Tibetan Buddhism
It is rare for a professor’s mastery of teaching to shine through their scholarship so vividly as in this welcome collection of Jan Willis’s work. Accessible, insightful, and warmly engaging, this volume demonstrates the range of her unique academic contributions while exemplifying her commitments to teaching, self-exploration, and self-discovery, which brightened the minds of countless students and inspired a whole new crop of professional Buddhologists to emerge from among them.
Daniel A. Hirshberg, PhD, University of Mary Washington
A dip-into book that reveals gems of erudition and fascination in the historical development of Buddhism. Whether your interest is gender, race, tantra, or insight into Dr. Jan Willis’s own spiritual journey from a black Southern Baptist to a Tibetan Buddhist, you will be greeted by a rich fare of well-researched information.
Vicki Mackenzie, author of Cave in the Snow, The Revolutionary Life of Freda Bedi, and other titles
For longtime fans of Jan Willis such as myself, it is a treat to have these essays gathered in one place. Her style of fine scholarship coupled with her unique personal touch and lifelong experiences will also delight new readers. There are important and even urgent issues discussed in these pages; the section on Buddhism and race is a rare contribution to a field with far too few resources for concerned practitioners and researchers. I would definitely assign the whole book if I still taught at a university. I hope others will.
Sarah Harding, Tibetan translator and author of Machik’s Complete Explanation
People (mainly professors) write books about philosophy, religion, race, and feminism. The best of them impart knowledge, but in a book by Jan Willis, she shares herself and her wisdom as well as her knowledge. It is a rare and rewarding experience.
Allen Wood, Indiana University Bloomington
This wonderful collection of essays and studies testifies not only to Professor Willis’s achievements as a scholar with multiple interests but also, in the more personal essays, to her dedication to teaching and her role as a pioneering African American Buddhist whose call for greater inclusiveness in American Buddhism is always enfolded in love, compassion, and plain human decency.
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, translator and scholar
This volume of essays exemplifies the life and work of Prof. Jan Willis, a scholar-practitioner and teacher extraordinaire. The essays express her heartfelt and insightful reflections on a lifelong journey from the Jim Crow South of her childhood, into the contemporary and historical worlds of Buddhist South Asia, and back to an emerging American Buddhism. Though based on intrepid and innovative research, it is Willis’s gift for storytelling that transports the reader into the ‘lived worlds,’ the human dimensions, of her varied subjects—be they contemporary African American Buddhists (or ‘Baptist-Buddhists’ such as herself), Buddhist women both ancient and modern, or Tantric Buddhist practitioners whose contemporary or exemplary lives (rnam thar) she has illuminated with empathic understanding.
William Waldron, Middlebury College
This collection of essays reflects the extraordinary range of Jan Willis’s scholarly voice and her authentic quest to make studies of Buddhism significant to students and a variety of academic audiences. She writes to underline the large, often neglected role of women in Buddhist history and to bring the Dharma into discussions of the original American sin of racism. Her scholarship on biographical literature highlights an important popular genre in Tibetan tradition, using prominent examples, and the discussions of Buddhist-Christian dialogue are rich in pedagogical and autobiographical insights. Hers is an authentic personal voice informed by scholarly acumen, lifelong meditative praxis, and deep engagement with her subjects. Jan Willis’s essays unfailing invite creative (re)thinking of why Buddhism matters, from scholars to practitioners.
Todd T. Lewis, Distinguished Professor of Arts and Humanities, College of the Holy Cross
In Dharma Matters, beloved teacher Jan Willis blends warm, masterful storytelling with rigorous research and deep wisdom. The result is an educational, inspirational book that gives voice to a unique, academic-practitioner, Buddhist-Baptist perspective on the pressing cultural and spiritual issues of our time—women, gender, race, truth, freedom, and love.
Pamela Weiss, author of A Bigger Sky: Awakening a Fierce Feminine Buddhism
Few Western Buddhist scholar-teachers of the past half-century have bridged so many worlds, and so successfully, as Jan Willis. She has helped pioneer the study of such key topics as Indian Buddhist understandings of reality, the nature of Tibetan biography, and Vajrayāna meditation. She also has delved deeply into current conversations surrounding such difficult issues as Buddhism’s relation to race, gender, and interreligious relations. Dharma Matters brings together some of Willis’s most notable essays on all these topics, and whether written thirty years ago or just recently, each one sparkles with her inimitable voice—full of clarity, passion, intelligence, and self-awareness. No one interested in contemporary Buddhism—or its interface with older traditions—should be without this fine collection.
Roger R. Jackson, author of Mind Seeing Mind: Mahāmudrā and the Geluk Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism
Dharma Matters offers us the depth and breadth of Jan Willis’s work in over thirty-five years in the academy. With forewords by the African American Buddhist and National Book Award–winning writer Charles Johnson and by the renowned Buddhist studies scholar Janet Gyatso, this volume includes Willis’s essays on Buddhist nuns, on African American and American Buddhism, on the role of love as a Baptist-Buddhist, and on teaching Buddhism. This collection is incredibly valuable for Buddhist studies, African American studies, and Religious studies.
Carolyn Jones Medine, University of Georgia
In Tibet it is customary to gather together the collected works of prominent lamas. It is fitting that we should do something similar to honor Jan Willis, one of our own great teachers whose work has benefited so many. This volume is a testament to the depth and breadth of Willis’s engagement with Tibetan Buddhism and with issues of race, gender, and identity.
Brandon Dotson, McKenna Chair of Buddhist Studies, Georgetown University
As a black feminist scholar-practitioner, Jan Willis has been a unique voice in American Buddhism. This collection provides a welcome overview of her important contributions in many different areas.
David R. Loy, author of Ecodharma: Buddhist Teachings for the Ecological Crisis
Dr. Jan Willis is a remarkable practitioner-academic whose work is easily accessible and responsive to both practitioners and academics. This collection allows us to join her inquiry of Buddhist practice and faith and the various intersections that have often been ignored. It is a treasure reflecting a deep knowledge and respect for the fact that without faith, practice, and study, Buddhism would cease to exist.
Bishop Myokei Caine-Barrett, Nichiren Shu Order of North America
Wisdom flows from every page of Jan Willis’s Dharma Matters. Her clarity of thought and insight remarkably expands the academic discourse of Buddhism into sacred conversations about gender, Buddhism, and race. Her art of storytelling and her voice bring Buddhism to life in a new way that offers hope for the present day and keeps the tradition alive for practitioners across the planet. Her scholarship sings with a deep resonance that rocks the soul and awakens the heart-mind. This powerful collection of essays is a cherished gift reflective of an incredible life of scholarship, spiritual activism, and devoted practice.
Melanie L. Harris, American Council of Education Fellow and Professor of Religion and Ethics at Texas Christian University, author of Gifts of Virtue, Alice Walker, and Womanist Ethics
Insightful and reflective, covering not only her personal journey into Buddhist studies over the past fifty years but also topics central to the field as a whole, Willis’s collection of essays are as relevant and engaging today as they were when she first composed them, speaking with a voice that inspires readers to reflect on a wide range of issues in both society and their own personal lives.
Paul G. Hackett, Columbia University
Jan Willis—beloved teacher, learned scholar, pioneering practitioner-translator, cultural activist—is a national living treasure. With magisterial grace, wit, insight, wisdom, and compassion, she ranges in these eighteen diverse essays over vitally important topics of gender, Dharma, race, tantra, and liberation. In a rare yet inclusive achievement, she has kept faith with all her ancestors.
Gaylon Ferguson, PhD, Acharya and Core Faculty in Religious Studies, Naropa University
Dr. Jan Willis is a pioneering voice gently cutting through superficiality in both traditional and popular notions of scholarship. In this collection, you will find each essay to be a precious jewel shining light on the engaging topics of women and Buddhism, Buddhism and race, Tantric Buddhism and Buddhist saints’ lives, and Buddhist-Christian comparative reflections. This book is a compelling, socially grounded witness to embodied and engaged spirituality, to the intersectionality of human suffering, and to the transcendent healing power of looking deeply into topics that matter.
Dr. Willis first came to my attention while completing my doctorate in Religious studies with an emphasis on Buddhism. As both a Baptist minister and Buddhist Dharma teacher, I yearn for such essays as these offered by Dr. Willis, which are offered with joyful wisdom. If you desire an uplifting companion on your life journey, Dharma Matters is a worthy guide. Do not miss this book.
Larry Ward, PhD, director of the Lotus Institute, coauthor of Love’s Garden: A Guide to Mindful Relationships