Category Archives: Announcement

Oxford Bibliographies in Buddhism: “Buddhism and Modern Literature”

buddhismI am very proud to announce the publication of my Oxford Bibliographies in Buddhism article “Buddhism and Modern Literature.” It came online yesterday and I am excited to see how it develops over the next few years, since I am sure I will have to add to it as Buddhism continues to intersect with modern literature in a multitude of forms and ways. The citations cover Buddhism in modern fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, autobiography and biography from around the globe. Have a look here: Buddhism and Modern Literature.

And I am particularly fond of a reference under the heading “Literary Fiction” that our readers might remember from the Buddhist Fiction Blog:

Beal, Chris. “An Interview with Ruth Ozeki about Her New Novel: A Tale for the Time Being.” Buddhist Fiction Blog (10 April 2013).        This engaging interview reveals the Zen aspects, influences, and nuances of Ozeki’s award-winning novel A Tale for the Time Being (2013). Beal’s well-honed questions solicit deep and provocative answers about Zen Buddhism, fiction, and philosophy.

Another reference that might interest Buddhist Fiction Blog readers can be found under the heading “Cross-Genre Fiction”:

Beek, Kimberly. “Telling Tales Out of School: The Fiction of Buddhism.” In Buddhism beyond Borders: New Perspectives on Buddhism in the United States. Edited by Mitchell Scott and Quli Natalie, 125–142. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2015.     Beek examines the reception of Buddhist stories narrated inside and outside of Asian contexts by comparing the different reflections of Buddhism in Amy Tan’s Asian American novel The Kitchen God’s Wife (1991) and Keith Kachtick’s Buddhist-infused novel Hungry Ghost (2004), suggesting the emergence of Buddhist fiction.

The whole bibliographic article contains over 80 citations to general overviews, anthologies, primary works, articles, dissertations, web sites, etc. that outline the depth and breadth of Buddhism and Modern Literature. If you cannot access the entire article directly from the Oxford Bibliographies web site, you can probably access it through an institutional library. Happy perusing!!

Sumeru Press Looking for Contributors to “The Little Book of Buddhist Humor”

The call for contributions to The Little Book of Buddhist Humor went out on the Sumeru web site in November of 2013 and I am just now getting to post about it. The post by Yönten (John Negru) at the blog link reads:

“Dear Dharma friends and colleagues:

Sumeru Books is collecting a series of anecdotal stories for inclusion in a book we are editing with Charles Prebish, called “The Little Book of Buddhist Humor.” In difficult times, we feel that the Buddhist world has the opportunity to contribute to and inject some happy, Buddhist-inspired humor into our everyday lives.

As such, we’re inviting any of you who have clever, funny, silly, and laughable stories that you have experienced in your personal and/or professional work and practice in Buddhism to submit these short episodes to us for possible inclusion. We are looking for stories from Buddhist teachers, scholars and sangha members. Maybe something really funny happened to you at a Buddhist center, or something humorous occurred while attending a professional conference, or a personal communication involving Buddhism brought a silly smile to your face. We’ll collect the best of those stories submitted and publish them in our book.

Please make sure the stories are no more than three pages long, remain in good taste, and represent anecdotes that you are comfortable sharing. They may be submitted to Charles Prebish (charles.prebish@usu.edu) or to me (john@sumeru-books.com), and should be submitted by Wesak 2014 (May 14).

We truly hope to make this a FUN project that will bring smiles to people worldwide, and we’ll be so grateful for any stories you may provide that will help us achieve our goal.

P.S. If you don’t have a story to share, you can still help out by spreading the word (click the buttons below to share this on social media or email it to friends/sanghas/etc).”

There is still plenty of time to contribute to this worthwhile project! Yönten’s post started me thinking about humorous episodes in works of Buddhist fiction. There are many novels and short stories with scenes that have made me chortle or laugh out loud. How about you, dear reader? Have you any favourite, humorous passages from works of Buddhist fiction? I would like to hear about them, or perhaps you can go to the link above and suggest something be added to The Little Book of Buddhist Humor. At the very least, please smile and share the request for contribution 🙂

Cloud Atlas the Movie

David Mitchell’s novel Cloud Atlas is listed on this web site as a work of Buddhist fiction because it has been suggested as such by readers and reviewers. Now it’s a major motion picture in almost every theater in North America, except for the cinema in the small Canadian city in which I live. Since I am unable to see the movie at this time, I thought I would write a quick post to highlight this review of Cloud Atlas from the Buddhist website wildmind.org: http://www.wildmind.org/blogs/book-reviews/drops-in-the-ocean

The reviewer Danayama states directly that “Though Cloud Atlas is not a Buddhist book, I found certain Dharmic themes reflected in the prose. The strongest of these is the Three Characteristics of Conditioned Existence (impermanence, non-substantiality and unsatisfactoriness), which seem woven throughout the narratives.” This review really made me think about what, in fact, is Buddhist and what is not. I haven’t come to any clear conclusions yet but if any readers out there have answers to this question I would really appreciate reading your thoughts.

Belated Happy New Year

Happy New Year 2012 and Lunar New Year of the Dragon! I hope this post finds everyone healthy, happy, and reading something enlightening. I am excited about this year for many reasons, not the least of which is this blog. I hope to be more consistent with posts this year as well as better organize the material pertinent to Buddhist fiction. Here’s what’s coming:

To begin, I would like to welcome Chris Beal to the Buddhist Fiction Blog. She is a thoughtful writer and insightful reviewer who will be posting here about works of Buddhist fiction from time to time. Chris has provided previous comments on this blog and coined the phrase “novels of enlightenment” which I quite like. I feel so fortunate to have “met” her through our mutual interest at the intersection of Buddhism and fiction.

I am happy to have Chris’ help with posts about particular works of Buddhist fiction because this frees me up to write selfish posts. Yes, I said selfish – not selfless – on a post for a blog related to Buddhism. As I proceed with my dissertation writing and research, I will use this blog to flesh out ideas for parts of my dissertation, so many of my posts will revolve around connections between works of Buddhist fiction and different forms and aspects of Buddhism as they are currently developing (mostly in Canada and the U.S.). So this year, you could say I am being selfish with this blog, but I like to think of it as a form of concurrent activity – keeping my head in the dissertation while asking other Buddhist fiction readers to join the discussion.

To this end, I want to start a monthly series of posts under the title “Currently Reading . . .” Either Chris or I will be writing these posts, since we both enjoy reading Buddhist fiction and want to extend the discussion to all readers of this blog and other readers of Buddhist fiction. These posts will include novels from the last two decades or so, but they will not be book reviews per se. Rather, they may provide a short summary or the publisher’s review of the work and then ask questions about the novel that are most important to this blog, including, but not limited to: “what is ‘Buddhist’ about this novel?” I will try to post announcements about upcoming “Currently Reading” posts a few weeks beforehand so that anyone who has read or who wishes to read the material can join in on the discussion. Once this gets going, I hope to get the occasional author involved in the discussion as well. And of course, “Currently Reading” will be an archive category so that you can find all of these types of posts.

Another category of posts coming to this blog will be entitled “Announcing New Buddhist Fiction.” I have had some very kind requests from authors to review their novels on this blog. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to do this while I am still in the midst of my dissertation process. What I am willing to do, however, is announce recently published works of Buddhist. If you are an author who has recently published a novel of Buddhist fiction (i.e. within the last 6 months of your request), I will gladly announce the publication if you provide all the pertinent ISBN information along with a quick write-up about your work.

Lastly, I will be using this blog to ask for participation in my research under the post title “Research Participation Request“. I am still working on the set up for this, but as my fieldwork travel comes to an end, I am turning to the internet for different perspectives. During my multi-sited fieldwork travels I have spoken with so many wonderful people who have graciously given me their time and opinions about Buddhist fiction, however, most of the participants had not heard of Buddhist fiction or even considered that Buddhism might be intersecting with fiction in the West. Once my fieldwork travel comes to an end in February 2012, I hope to convince a few people who actually read Buddhist fiction to participate in my research. So you are forewarned – pleas for participation are coming your way. I promise that the pleas won’t become overbearing or take over the blog, and if anyone wishes to help me by participating, everything will be done confidentially (i.e. not on this blog).

So that’s what to expect from the Buddhist Fiction Blog in 2012. I will leave you with some beautiful words from Lao Tzu: “There are many paths to enlightenment. Be sure to take one with heart.”

Canadian Buddhism Survey

In this post I am passing along a message to Canadian readers from Sumeru Press publisher Karma Yonten Gyatso. This is an important message about participating in a Canadian Buddhism survey. The survey itself can be accessed here under the highlighted title NEW Canadian Buddhism Interactive Survey Package.

Karma Yonten Gyatso writes:

Dear Canadian Sangha Leader

The Sumeru Press is currently updating our directory of Canadian Buddhist organizations for www.canadianbuddhism.info and we are asking for your participation. More than 15,000 people a year turn to this website and its sister news site, www.sumeru-books.com, for information about where to practice and learn about Buddhism in Canada. We want to make sure that the information they find is as accurate and current as possible.

To this end, we have embarked on a new project in association with the Department for the Study of Religion, at the University of Toronto – to create Canada’s first printed guide to Canadian Buddhist organizations, including not just their contact information such as address, phone number and website, but also information about teachers, programs and related activities. Our goal is to publish in the summer of 2012.

Accompanying this letter, you will find a survey form to complete and return if you would like expanded information about your organization to be included in the directory. It is entirely voluntary.

You will notice that the survey has two parts. The first part contains questions about your organization that are important for potential members of, and visitors to, your group. In the second part, we are gathering sociological information about the state of Buddhist organizational development in Canada. No study like this has ever been done before. The data we hope to collect will be extremely valuable to benchmark your activities and place them within the larger context of Sangha in Canada.

The second part of the survey is also entirely voluntary, and all of the data we collect will be presented in a way that does not identify any individual organization specifically. In other words, your responses to part two of the survey will remain entirely anonymous.

The survey is presented in an interactive digital document – you can type your answers right into the form and save it. If you would prefer a printed version of the survey, let us know and we would be happy to send you one.

There are more than 500 Canadian Buddhist organizations to be included in this project. In order to keep our project on track for publication in 2012, your prompt response would be greatly appreciated. We realize this is not a simple five-minute activity, and will require a bit more commitment on your part, but we hope you will share our vision of the importance of this work and will give it the attention it needs. However, keep in mind that whatever you do complete and send to us, even if you don’t answer every question, is in itself a valuable contribution to building strong Buddhist communities across the country.

This research has been formally approved by the Department for the Study of Religion and the Office of Research Ethics at the University of Toronto. If you have any questions or concerns, you may contact me, or Dr. Frances Garrett, Associate Chair, Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto (frances.garrett@utoronto.ca or 416-978-1020).

Thank you for your participation, and for all you do each day to make Canada a better place.

Please send us back your completed survey via e-mail to buddhismsurvey@sumeru-books.com. If you prefer, you can print it out, fill it out and mail it to us via regular post.

If you have received duplicate copies of the survey because your centre maintains multiple e-mail addresses, we apologize.
If you are a Buddhist scholar in Canada, we’ve also sent you a copy of the survey because we thought you’d be interested.

Best wishes,

John

Karma Yonten Gyatso
Publisher

If you are not a Canadian Sangha Leader, please pass this information along to any Canadian sangha leaders you may know. Buddhism in Canada is an under studied area and Karma Yonten Gyatso, through what was the Canadian Buddhism web site and now Sumeru, has done remarkable work. This survey will provide valuable information for anyone interested in Buddhism in Canada.