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
- add to cart Paperback $29.95
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, 6 x 9 inches
- ISBN 9781614295686
How to Be Sick: Your Pocket Companion
New release—coming in May!
You won’t be alone when you have this pocket-sized treasure of transformative practices, written by beloved bestselling author Toni Bernhard.
In 2001, Toni got sick and never recovered. As she faced the confusion, frustration, and despair of a life that was suddenly severely limited, Toni had to learn how to be sick.
In this easy-to-use, easy-to-carry book, Toni shares practices from her bestselling classic How to Be Sick and also offers new suggestions and strategies for coping with a life impacted by chronic pain and illness. Because the book is organized by specific challenges, you can immediately find practices that can help when they’re needed most.
With this book in hand, you will discover the experiential wisdom that has helped Toni live a life of equanimity, compassion, and joy, despite her physical and energetic restrictions—and, sometimes, because of them. In the pages of this loyal companion, you’ll find help, solace, and inspiration, no matter what life challenge you’re facing.
The Tārā Tantra
New release—coming in May!
This volume contains an English translation of the “root text” of the Tārā-mūla-kalpa, a scripture-ritual compendium that captures an important Buddhist tantric tradition in mid-formation. In this regard it is utterly unique and unlike any other text in the Buddhist canon. Its contents document the emergence of the quintessential female Buddha Tārā in seventh-century India. As her popularity grew, her cult spread throughout Southeast Asia, as well as Tibet, where she became revered as the “Mother” of the Tibetan people. Tārā is worshiped for a variety of reasons, from health and long life, to wealth, protection from enemies, and ultimately, the mind of enlightenment. Her presence pervades the evolution of Buddhism in Tibet, including within royal circles, as well as mentor and guide to many important Buddhist scholars, practitioners, and lineage holders.
Freeing the Heart and Mind
Collected from teachings by His Holiness, this book is a warm and comprehensive introduction to the Buddhist path as told by the patriarch of the Sakya order. His Holiness offers explanations of the philosophical tenets of the Mahayana path and in particular the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism—giving down-to-earth advice for practicing in the world today, including
- the principles of tantra,
- the value of retreat,
- the history of the Sakya lineage,
- ecology from a Buddhist perspective,
- biographies of great women practitioners,
- and other fascinating topics.
This is a must-read for anyone interested in following a Buddhist spiritual path.
Creating a Life of Integrity
Creating a Life of Integrity is our personal trainer for strengthening our integrity muscles.
When we don’t speak or act from our own sense of integrity, we feel lousy. Find out how you can live with more integrity—and subsequently more joy—as you follow these lively conversations between Joseph Goldstein, a founder of the modern mindfulness movement, and Gail Stark, a businesswoman and his student and friend of twenty-five years.
As Joseph and Gail unpack the components of integrity—generosity, virtue, renunciation, wisdom, courage, patience, truthfulness, resoluteness, loving-kindness, and equanimity—we discover each is a step on a path that transports us to an empowered place of clarity, commitment, and, consequently, more joy. As we strengthen and weave these qualities into our daily lives they become our trusted first response in a world that needs our integrity now.
The Buddha’s Single Intention
This book presents an influential and extraordinary teaching of the Kagyü tradition of Tibetan Buddhism known as the Single Intention by the master Drigung Jikten Sumgön (1143–1217), along with its chief commentaries, principally the Light of the Sun by Rikzin Chökyi Drakpa (1595–1659).
Early in the history of the Kagyü school, the teachings of Jikten Sumgön were condensed into 150 core formulations called vajra statements. These pithy, revelatory statements comprise the Single Intention (Dgongs gcig), which presents the thought of the Buddha and the nature of the ineffable (brjod du med pa) in concise and direct expression. The Single Intention weaves the thread of ineffable mahāmudrā through the entire fabric of Buddhism. It presents mahāmudrā as pervading disciplined conduct, meditative concentration, and discriminative knowledge; ground, path, and result; view, practice, and conduct; and the “three vows” of prātimokṣa, of the bodhisattvas, and of mantra. Jikten Sumgön teaches how the fundamental values and insights revealed by the Buddha are woven into reality and therefore accessible to all.
Jan-Ulrich Sobisch manages to convey the unity of the Buddha’s message both in its particulars and in its scope. His deep and authoritative skill makes this the definitive presentation of one of the most unique and compelling works of classical Tibetan literature.
Self-Arisen Vidya Tantra (vol 1) ebook
“If one knows the Self-Arisen Vidya Tantra, the Self-Liberated Vidya Tantra, and the Tantra Without Syllables, one will have command over the general meaning of the tantras, like a king who has command over his subjects.”—Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle
The eleventh-century Seventeen Tantras are the most important texts in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of the Great Perfection. This first volume of the new series from Malcolm Smith is the only complete English translation of the Rigpa Rangshar, which is the major commentary tantra on all aspects of the doctrine of the Great Perfection.
Malcolm Smith also offers a comprehensive introduction. Two vital appendices and a rich index for both volumes can be found in volume 2, The Self-Liberated Vidya Tantra, available in ebook form here.
This is vital reading for any student of Dzogchen.
Sometimes forgiveness can feel unfathomable, unreachable, or even just plain wrong. Inspiring Forgiveness throws wide open the doors of possibility within the human heart with the wise words of philosophers, writers, poets, and great thinkers from across centuries and continents. Each offering can serve as a guidepost along the path to bringing greater forgiveness into our lives. This book also tells the stories of real-world people—from the Dalai Lama to Congressman John Lewis and more—whose lives were changed forever by forgiveness, including for themselves. Just bearing witness to these experiences can itself be transformative.
One wise teacher quoted in this book, Pema Chödrön, offers a simple practice for cultivating forgiveness: “First we acknowledge what we feel—shame, revenge, embarrassment, remorse. Then we forgive ourselves for being human. Each moment is an opportunity to make a fresh start.” This book is a collection of those moments.
Inspiring Forgiveness consists of twelve true stories of people who have endured great pain at the hands of others and have found a way to open themselves to forgiveness in its many forms. Each story is followed by extraordinary poems that speak to forgiveness, and the book contains a collection of over 100 inspiring quotations.
The Six Perfections
The six perfections are the actions of the bodhisattvas—holy beings who have transcended selfless concerns. But they’re also skills we can and should develop right now, in our messy, ordinary lives.
In this clear, comprehensive guide to the backbone of Mahayana Buddhist practice, Lama Zopa Rinpoche walks us through each of the six perfections:
As he carefully describes each perfection, he not only reveals the depth of its meaning and how it intertwines with each other perfection, but he also explains how to practice it fully in our everyday lives—offering concrete ways for us to be more generous, more patient, more wise. With the guidance he gives us, we can progress in our practice of the perfections until we, like the bodhisattvas, learn to cherish others above ourselves.
“The perfections are the practices of bodhisattvas, holy beings who have completely renounced the self; they have transcended selfish concerns and cherish only others. Each perfection is perfect, flawless. Each arises from bodhichitta and is supported by the other perfections, including the wisdom of emptiness. Because of that, a bodhisattva generates infinite merit every moment, whether outwardly engaged in working for others or not. A bodhisattva’s bodhichitta never stops.”
—Lama Zopa Rinpoche
The Rice Seedling Sutra
One of Tibet’s great scholars presents the Buddha’s profound teachings on the laws of karma and dependent arising.
In the Rice Seedling Sutra, the Buddha unpacks the law of cause and effect. He notes how in the natural world, a seed becomes a sprout, which produces a flower, which bears fruit. A seed has no intention to sprout; when the right conditions are assembled the fruit arises. Similarly, when our senses encounter an object, a sense consciousness arises naturally, without our intending it. This, says the Buddha, is also how karma works and how actions performed out of ignorance create suffering, whether we want it or not. And this same law of causality also governs enlightenment—when the right conditions are assembled, awakening is assured.
In many sutras like this one, the Buddha explains that to understand his Dharma is to understand dependent arising. Geshe Yeshe Thabkhe explores dependent arising, and the corollary teaching of emptiness, through this sutra and others. Commenting on the works of Indian masters such as Śāntarakṣita, he shows how belief in a creator god is incompatible with dependent arising, and by illuminating the teachings of Nāgārjuna and Candrakīrti, he shows how we do—and do not—exist.
Geshe Yeshe Thabkhe was among the last generation of scholars to be trained in Tibet before the Chinese occupation. He has been teaching Westerners for decades, having worked with top scholars in the United States, and he is especially familiar with this sutra, having translated the commentary by Kamalaśīla into Hindi. Here his deep familiarity, combined with his extensive command of the Buddhist scriptures, allows him to present the Buddha’s words in a rich and authoritative context.
Self-Liberated Vidya Tantra (vol 2) ebook
“If one knows the Self-Arisen Vidya Tantra, the Self-Liberated Vidya Tantra, and the Tantra Without Syllables, one will have command over the general meaning of the tantras, like a king who has command over his subjects.”—Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle
The eleventh-century Seventeen Tantras are the most important texts in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of the Great Perfection. The Self-Liberated Vidyā Tantra, a translation of the Rigpa Rangdrol, outlines the structure of Dzogchen tantras in general and also provides a detailed outline of the Self-Arisen Vidyā Tantra, available here as an ebook. This volume also includes a brief historical account and survey of the Seventeen Tantras, an examination of the themes of the Seventeen Tantras, translated from the commentary to the String of Pearls Tantra, and an exhaustive index that encompasses both the Self-Arisen Vidya Tantra and the Self-Liberated Vidya Tantra.
This is vital reading for any student of Dzogchen.
Beyond Tranquility is an invitation to inner experience. In these pages, one of Buddhism’s most respected scholar-sages creatively distills decades of practice, reflection, and teaching into essential truths. Touching on the full scope of core Buddhist philosophical and meditation traditions, Charles Genoud draws on ancient Buddhist suttas, masters like Nagarjuna and Dogen, and even seers and philosophers such as Eckhart, Nietzsche, and Sartre, as well as the great innovators of the modern novel and modern dance. Weaving together the wisdom of these great minds in a poetic style uniquely his own, Genoud invites you into the heart of Buddhist meditation and practice. Here, with the immediacy and wry humor of haiku, he proves an astute and subtle guide to the pitfalls and paradoxes that eventually confront every meditator, and to the most skillful ways through them.
Genoud’s powerful, experiential language transmits the meditative experience rather than merely describing it—and his style will resonate with the teachings of Zen and Dzogchen, the writings of contemplative philosophers, and with dancers and other artists whose work is built upon a “body of presence.”
What, Why, How
Everything you ever wanted to know but never had a chance to ask about meditation and Buddhist spiritual practice, from one of the greatest mindfulness teachers of our time.
How can I fit meditation into my busy life?
How should I understand karma and rebirth?
Is enlightenment even possible for me?
Sound familiar? If you’ve ever meditated or studied Buddhism, you may have found yourself asking these questions—and many more! Here’s the good news: there are answers, and you’ll find them all in this book. Imagine that you could sit down with one of Buddhism’s most accomplished and plainspoken teachers—and imagine that he patiently agreed to answer any question you had about meditation, living mindfully, and key Buddhist concepts—even the myriad brilliant questions you’ve never thought to ask! What, Why, How condenses into one volume a half-century of Bhante G.’s wise answers to common questions about the Buddha’s core teachings on meditation and spiritual practice. With his kind and clear guidance, you’ll gain simple yet powerful insights and practices to end unhealthy patterns and habits so that you can transform your experience of the world—from your own mind to your relationships, your job, and beyond.
Presented here for the first time in English is a collection of dohās, or songs of realization, carefully and thoughtfully selected and translated from the large compendium the Indian Texts of the Mahāmudrā of Definitive Meaning, which was compiled by the Seventh Karmapa and drawn primarily from the Tengyur.
Beautiful, profound, and often outrageous, these verses were frequently composed spontaneously and thus have a moving sense of freedom, openness, and bliss. They range from summaries of the entire path of Mahāmudrā to pithy four-liners that point directly to the buddha within us. The authors include famous masters such as Saraha and Nāropā, ḍākinīs, kings, and also courtesans and cobblers—showing that realization is accessible to all of us, right here in our lives.
The Zen of R2-D2
Did you ever wonder why R2-D2 is
- always calm and cool under pressure,
- the key to the rebellion’s survival, and
- the one who never fails to save the day?
Could it be because he’s secretly a Zen master?
Discover your inner R2—and the truth about who you really are!
This delightful and illuminating romp unfolds in the form of a fictional dialogue between the author—a die-hard Star Wars devotee with a deep connection to Zen—and two cosplayers dressed as C-3PO and R2-D2 who insist on being called by their character names. Along the way, you’ll come to see what everyone’s favorite astromech can teach us about peace, happiness, and life’s true meaning.
The Death of You
If you might someday die,
if you know someone who will . . .
Join Miguel Chen for a wild ride where we get real about death—and even have a few laughs at its expense. In plainspoken, kind, and encouraging language, Miguel will show you how to transform your relationship with death—and in doing so, get to know your life in a whole new way. Today is the perfect day to start. Don’t wait . . . you’re not gonna live forever.
The Essence of the Vast and Profound
The Essence of the Vast and Profound will soon find its place as one of the greatest lamrim commentaries ever given.
Drawn from teachings by Pabongkha Rinpoche, which were given over the course of thirty-six days in 1934 in Tibet’s capital city of Lhasa, The Essence of the Vast and Profound masterfully weaves together Tsongkhapa’s Middle-Length Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, the Second Panchen Lama’s Swift Path, and the Third Dalai Lama’s Essence of Refined Gold. Rinpoche offers wise and compassionate guidance on such crucial subjects as how to rely on a spiritual teacher, how to develop certainty on the path, what it means to take refuge, how to understand karma, and the importance of compassion—explaining the entire spectrum of the Buddhist path, and also inspiring the reader to follow it.
The definitive history of Sera Monastery, one of the great monastic universities of Tibet, from its founding to the present.
Founded in 1419, Sera Monastery was one of the three densas, the great seats of learning of the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism. With over 9,000 monks in residence in 1959, it was the second largest monastery in the world. Throughout its history, Sera has produced some of Tibet’s most important saints, scholars, and political leaders.
The scholars José Cabezón and Penpa Dorjee begin Sera Monastery with the history of monasticism from the time of the Buddha through its early development in Tibet and then tell the 600-year story of Sera from its founding to the present. They recount how the monastery grew and evolved during the centuries, how it has fared under Chinese rule, and how it was transplanted in the Tibetan refugee camps of South India. We are introduced to some of Sera’s most important lamas and hermits, as well as its curriculum, yearly calendar, the daily life of scholar monks, and the role Sera monks played in the political history of Tibet.
Former Sera monks themselves, Cabezón and Dorjee demonstrate their firsthand knowledge of the monastery, its traditions, and daily life on every page. Scrupulously researched over decades, Sera Monastery is the most comprehensive history of a Tibetan monastery ever written in a Western language.
Creativity, Spirituality, and Making a Buck
“How do I make a living doing what I love?”
“Am I a sellout as an artist if I want to be successful?”
“How do I integrate my spiritual principles with the art of running a business? And actually, um, how do I run a business?”
Are you struggling to reconcile your calling with your need to make a living wage? Are you wondering what to do once your art starts selling, or how to achieve success in your field, or what it even means to be successful?
In Creativity, Spirituality, and Making a Buck, David Nichtern—a beloved Buddhist teacher and successful musician, composer, and producer who has worked with the likes of Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Jerry Garcia, and Lana Del Rey—offers his lived, learned experience as an entrepreneur, musician, and Buddhist teacher to first help you figure out what “success” means to you and then show you how to get there. If you’re trying to align your spiritual, creative, and financial pursuits and discover what it means to truly live well, this book is for you.
“Everybody has a hungry heart. We are hungry for so many different kinds of food. The table is set and the meal is laid out for us…but how do we put that food into our mouths and TASTE IT? In this book, David Nichtern guides us with wisdom, joy, and humor to make our whole lives a tasty meal to be enjoyed and shared with others.”—Krishna Das, author of Chants of a Lifetime and Grammy-nominated kirtan artist
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