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
Realizing the Profound View
The eighth volume in the Dalai Lama’s definitive and bestselling Library of Wisdom and Compassion series, and the second of three focusing on emptiness.
In Realizing the Profound View the Dalai Lama presents the analysis and meditations necessary to realize the ultimate nature of reality. With attention to Nāgārjuna’s five-point analysis, Candrakīrti’s seven-point examination, and Pāli suttas, the His Holiness leads us to investigate who or what is the person. Are we our body? Our mind? If we are not inherently either of them, how do we exist, and what carries the karma from one life to the next? As we explore these and other fascinating questions, he skillfully guides us along the path avoiding the chasms of absolutism and nihilism and introduces us to dependent arising. We find that although all persons and phenomena lack an inherent essence, they do exist dependently. This nominally imputed mere I carries the karmic seeds. We discover that all phenomena exist by being merely designated by term and concept—they appear as like illusions, unfindable under ultimate analysis but functioning on the conventional level. Furthermore, we come to understand that emptiness dawns as the meaning of dependent arising, and dependent arising dawns as the meaning of emptiness. The ability to posit subtle dependent arisings in the face of realizing emptiness and to establish ultimate and conventional truths as noncontradictory brings us to the culmination of the correct view.
Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics, Vol. 3
Deepen your understanding of meaning and truth with the third volume of the Dalai Lama’s esteemed series Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics.
In this third volume the focus turns to exploring the philosophical schools of India. The practice of presenting the views of various schools of philosophy dates back to the first millennium in India, when proponents of competing traditions would arrange the diverse sets of philosophical positions in a hierarchy culminating in their own school’s superior tenets. Centuries later, relying on the Indian Buddhist treatises, Tibet developed its own tradition of works on tenets (grub mtha’), often centered on the four schools of Buddhist philosophy, using them to demonstrate the philosophical evolution within their own tradition, and within individual practitioners, as they progressed through increasingly more subtle expressions of the true reality.
The present work follows in this venerable tradition, but with a modern twist. Like its predecessors, it presents the views of seven non-Buddhist schools, those of the Samkhya, Vaisesika, Nyaya, Mimamsa, Vedanta, Jaina, and Lokayata, followed by the Buddhist Vaibhasika, Sautrantika, Cittamatra, and Madhyamaka schools, arranging them like steps on a ladder to the profound. But rather than following in the sharply polemical approach of its ancient predecessors, it strives to survey each tradition authentically, relying on and citing the texts sacred to each, allowing the different traditions to speak for themselves. What, it asks, are the basic components of the world we experience? What is the nature of their ultimate reality? And how can we come to experience that for ourselves? See how the rich spiritual traditions of India approached these key questions, where they agreed, and how they evolved through dialogue and debate.
This presentation of philosophical schools is introduced by His Holiness and is accompanied by an extensive introduction and survey by Professor Donald Lopez Jr. of the University of Michigan, who is uniquely qualified to communicate the scope and significance of this literary and spiritual heritage to modern readers.
Stages of the Path and the Oral Transmission
A major contribution to the literature on Buddhist practice according to the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism from its foremost interpreter.
Although it was the last major school to emerge in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the Geluk school has left an indelible mark on Buddhist thought and practice. The intellectual and spiritual brilliance of its founder, the great Tsongkhapa (1357–1419), has inspired generations of scholars and tantric yogis to place him at the heart of their daily meditative practice. The Geluk tradition’s close ties to the Dalai Lamas have also afforded it an outsized influence in all aspects of Tibetan life for centuries. At its peak, its combined monasteries boasted a population in the tens of thousands, and its sway encompassed the religious landscape of Mongolia and much of Central Asia.
This widespread religious activity fostered a rich literary tradition, and fifteen seminal works are featured here representing four genres of that tradition. The first are works on the stages of the path, or lamrim, the genre for which the Geluk is most renowned. Second are works on guru yoga, centered around the core Geluk ritual Offering to the Guru (Lama Chöpa). Third are teachings from the unique oral transmission of Geluk mahāmudrā, meditation on the nature of mind. Fourth are the “guide to the view” (tatri) instructions. The volume features well-known authors like Tsongkhapa, the First Panchen Lama, and the Fifth Dalai Lama, but also important works from lesser-known figures like Gomchen Ngawang Drakpa’s stages of the path in verse and Gyalrong Tsultrim Nyima’s extensive commentary on the Lama Chöpa that interweaves precious explanations from the Ensa Oral Tradition he received from his own teacher.
Your guide to these riches, Thupten Jinpa, maps out their historical context and spiritual significance in his extensive introduction.
Vasubandhu’s “Three Natures”
In this plain-English commentary on Vasubandhu’s classic Treatise on the Three Natures, Ben Connelly shows the power of integrating early Buddhist psychology with the Mahayana emphasis on collective liberation. You’ll discover how wisdom from fourth-century India can be harnessed to heal and transform systems of harm within ourselves and our communities.
The three natures (svabhavas)—the imaginary, dependent, and complete, realized natures—are inherent aspects of all phenomena. The imaginary nature of things is what we think they are. Their dependent nature is that they appear to arise from countless conditions. The complete, realized nature is that they aren’t as we imagine them to be: things that can be grasped or pushed away. The three natures form the backbone of Yogacara philosophy, and by showing us how to see beyond our preconceived notions of ourselves and others, beyond the things that we’re convinced are “true,” they open up a path to personal and communal healing.
Dive into this empowering approach to freedom from suffering, from harmful personal and social patterns, and to finding peace and joyfulness in the present.
The Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s Stages of the Path
Discover His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s advice for finding happiness, helping others, and applying insights from Buddhist thought to everyday life—for a life of greater harmony, meaning, and joy, for ourselves, others, and in our world.
This first volume of The Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s Stages of the Path shares His Holiness’s teachings on specific topics of vital relevance to contemporary life:
– how kindness and compassion are the foundation for individual happiness and world peace;
– how we can solve manmade problems;
– how Buddhism does not conflict with modern science and can actually contribute to its advancement;
– how gender equality is fundamental for a decent and just society;
– and much more.
His Holiness’s messages on these topics will be of value to all readers, Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. These teachings embody the Dalai Lama’s generous warmth and humor, his expertise in presenting important Buddhist ideas, and his ability to inspire us toward greater kindness and happiness.
Freedom through Correct Knowing
Discover a clear and accessible translation with commentary on key parts of Khedrup Jé’s Clearing Mental Darkness.
Composed at the request of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and with a foreword by His Holiness, this translation with commentary on key parts of Khedrup Jé’s Clearing Mental Darkness: An Ornament of Dharmakirti’s “Seven Treatises on Valid Cognition” is intended for all levels of understanding. You’ll learn how a mind realizes its object, which types of consciousness realize their objects, and when a consciousness is considered to be valid in the sense of realizing its object. Having explained valid cognizers, or direct perceivers, which are essential to understanding the four noble truths, Khedrup Jé goes on to brilliantly elucidate this essential teaching of the Buddha and offers a lucid presentation of how to progress on the spiritual paths of liberation and enlightenment, including how to generate yogic perception directly realizing selflessness. With this, one develops an unmistaken realization of the fundamental reality of selflessness of persons and phenomena, which eliminates ignorance, the root cause of all mental afflictions and samsaric suffering.
This is the epic story of an international rescue effort to preserve a culture’s literary history.
Originally a Mormon from Utah, E. Gene Smith, founder of the Buddhist Digital Resource Center, became the unlikely mastermind behind an international effort to rescue, preserve, digitize, and provide free access to the vast Tibetan Buddhist canon, many volumes of which had been lost or destroyed during China’s Cultural Revolution.
Digital Dharma is a stunning visual experience offering a behind-the-scenes look into this unprecedented mission. Through hundreds of photographs taken during Smith’s trip to deliver drives containing the digitized volumes to remote monasteries in South Asia, you’ll gain extraordinary and intimate access to life inside Buddhist monasteries, to the rituals of Tibetan Buddhism, and to the insights of some of the world’s leading lamas and lineage holders. Throughout the journey, you’ll meet monks, local publishers, scholars, and dignitaries involved in the preservation movement to which Smith dedicated his life. With the accompanying historical and cultural background, you’ll develop a deeper and more personal understanding of Tibetan Buddhism and of the achievement of preserving and disseminating its sacred canon.
Gene Smith’s legacy lives on in the organization he founded in 1999, the Buddhist Digital Resource Center. BDRC’s founding mission was to digitally preserve the entirety of Tibetan Buddhist literature in order to secure it from destruction. In 2015, it expanded its mission to include all Buddhist traditions. More than twenty years later, BDRC has digitized and archived millions of pages of Tibetan, Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese, Khmer and Newari literature. BDRC is dedicated to seeking out, preserving, documenting, and disseminating Buddhist literature. With its text preservation programs, free online library, digital tools for researchers, and hard drive distribution programs, BDRC provides lamas, scholars, translators, Buddhist practitioners, and the general public with access to an unparalleled collection of Buddhist texts.
Ornament of Dakpo Kagyü Thought
The Mahāmudrā Aspiration Prayer is one of the most brilliant and popular compositions on mahāmudrā. Written in easygoing nine-meter verse, this heartfelt prayer by Rangjung Dorjé lends itself to chanting and ritualized group prayer and is at the same time intricately organized into the most profound and thorough exposition of mahāmudrā, the pinnacle of practice in the Kagyü school of Tibetan Buddhism. The commentary on the prayer by Mendong Tsampa Rinpoché brilliantly illuminates its subtleties, making it even more accessible for the reader, and students and teachers alike will appreciate the inclusion of the Tibetan script on facing pages of the prayer and commentary.
This is a text for encouraging study, for inspiring practice, and for the awakening of the world.
“In Zen meditation, anything that comes in your mind will eventually leave, because nothing is permanent. A thought is like a cloud moving across the blue sky. Nothing can disturb that all-encompassing vastness. This is the Dharma.”
In a collection of talks and anecdotes, Jakusho Kwong-roshi, a Dharma successor of Shunryu Suzuki-roshi, presents his approach to Buddhist teaching. Containing photos of Kwong-roshi with his teachers, as well as a selection of his vibrant calligraphy, Mind Sky explores the profound beauty of Zen history and practice, nature, and the philosophy of the ancient Zen master Eihei Dōgen.
With an elegant simplicity, Kwong-roshi shows how Zen is experiential rather than intellectual. And with persistent practice, realization is already yours.
The mind can be a potent tool, used to guide extraordinary achievements, inspire good works, and incline your spiritual path toward peace and awakening. But the mind can also produce thoughts that lead to suffering. For many people, thoughts run rampant and seem to oppress or control their lives. Even the Buddha tells us that before his enlightenment, he sometimes found his mind preoccupied by thoughts connected with sensual desire, ill will, and harm. But he figured out how to respond to thoughts skillfully and developed a step-by-step approach to calm the restless mind. Now, Insight Meditation teacher Shaila Catherine offers an accessible approach to training the mind that is guided by the Buddha’s pragmatic instructions on removing distracting thoughts. Drawing on two scriptures in the Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, Shaila shows you how to overcome habitual modes of thinking, develop deeper concentration, and discover the insights into emptiness that are vital for a liberating spiritual path.
Following the Buddha’s pragmatic approach, Shaila guides you through five steps for overcoming distraction and focusing the mind:
- Replace unwholesome thoughts with wholesome thoughts.
- Examine the dangers of distracting thoughts.
- Avoid it, ignore it, forget it.
- Investigate the causes of distraction.
- Apply determination and resolve.
Each chapter includes exercises and reflections to help you cultivate the five steps to deeper concentration. You’ll learn about your mind and develop your ability to direct your attention more skillfully in meditation and daily activities. And ultimately, you’ll discover for yourself how these five steps boil down to one key realization: In the moment you recognize that a thought is just a thought, you will find yourself on the path to a life of remarkable freedom.
Liberation Tibetan Calendar 2022
The Liberation Tibetan Calendar has been produced since 1999 and supports the work of Liberation Prison Project, which helps people in prison around the world to study and practice Buddhism. Each year we give away calendars to inmates worldwide studying with the project.
Liberation Prison Project currently coordinates programs for prisoners through FPMT Dharma centers in Australia, the US, the UK, France, Italy, New Zealand, and Mongolia.
“Whenever we get a chance to go outside where there is grass, and it corresponds to a Tsog offering day on my calendar, I pick fresh flowers and dedicate them to all the Buddhas of the three times and all sangha members,” says Chris Helstowski of Pelican Bay State Prison in California.
A small, elegant calendar with Buddhist images, for desk or altar, Liberation calendar includes Tibetan lunar dates and information about more than thirty kinds of practice days and auspicious and inauspicious days for each month. Each month also features a particular buddha image, mantra, and quote from our lamas.
The calendar is prepared by astrologer Paksam Nawang Thartho based on Men Tsee Khang Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute’s calendar, with additional advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche, spiritual director of FPMT, and Geshe Ngawang Dakpa, astrologer lama of FPMT center Tse Chen Ling in San Francisco.
Ratnakīrti’s Proof of Momentariness by Positive Correlation (Kṣaṇabhaṇgasiddhi Anvayātmikā)
The Kṣaṇabhaṇgasiddhi is a masterpiece of skillful reasoning by the eleventh-century Indian Buddhist philosopher Ratnakīrti. This renowned scholar taught at the great Buddhist University of Vikramaśīla and was a master of almost every classical philosophical school that preceded him.
The present work is informed by centuries of debate between Buddhist advocates of momentariness and archrival Nyāya philosophers who believed that both selves and things endure.
This book is the first published translation of Ratnakīrti’s proof based on positive correlations, and includes a commentary explaining each step of his reasoning.
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
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
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.
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