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Faces of Compassion

Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and Their Modern Expression — An Introduction to Mahayana Buddhism

Foreword by Joan Halifax Roshi

Faces of Compassion introduces us to enlightened beings, the bodhisattvas of Buddhist lore. They're not otherworldly gods with superhuman qualities but shining examples of our own highest potential. Archetypes of wisdom and compassion, the bodhisattvas of Buddhism are powerful and compelling images of awakening. Scholar and Zen teacher Taigen Dan Leighton engagingly explores the imagery and lore of the seven most important of these archetypal figures, bringing them alive as psychological and spiritual wellsprings.

Emphasizing the universality of spiritual ideas, Leighton finds aspects of bodhisattvas expressed in a variety of familiar modern personages - from Muhammad Ali to Mahatma Gandhi, from Bob Dylan to Henry Thoreau, and from Gertrude Stein to Mother Teresa. This edition contains a revised and expanded introduction that frames the book as a exciting and broad-scoped view of Mahayana Buddhism. It's updated throughout to make it of more use to scholars and a perfect companion to survey courses of world religions or a 200-level course on Buddhism.

Taigen Dan Leighton, Soto Zen priest and successor in the Suzuki Roshi lineage, received Dharma Transmission in 2000 from Reb Anderson Roshi and is Dharma Teacher at Ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago. After residing for years at San Francisco Zen Center and Tassajara monastery, Taigen also practiced for two years in Kyoto, Japan. Taigen is author of Zen Questions: Zazen, Dogen, and the Spirit of Creative Inquiry, Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and Their Modern Expression, and Visions of Awakening Space and Time: Dogen and the Lotus Sutra. He has edited and co-translated several Zen texts including: Dogen's Extensive Record: A Translation of Eihei Koroku, Cultivating the Empty Field: The Silent Illumination of Zen Master Hongzhi, Dogen's Pure Standards for the Zen Community, and The Wholehearted Way, and has contributed to many other books and journals. Taigen teaches online at Berkeley Graduate Theological Union, from where he has a PhD. He has taught at other universities including Saint Mary's College, the California Institute of Integral Studies, and in Chicago at Meadville Lombard Theological Seminary and Loyola University Chicago. Taigen has long been active in social justice programs, including Peace and Environmental Activism.

"Faces of Compassion captures the poignant truth that that a bodhisattva may appear in the form of a pirate or a spiritual leader and modernizes it, bringing the bodhisattva ideal into the present."

– Tricycle

"In his wonderful book Leighton animates the history of Buddhism and offers insight into human nature and contemporary culture."

– Turning Wheel

"What Leighton offers is the living tradition of Mahayana Buddhism: diverse, mysterious, vibrant, real."

– Journal of Buddhist Ethics

"Edifying and imaginative..A modern spiritual classic."

– Spirituality and Health

"Faces of Compassion is a wonderful resource and source of guidance and teaching…an invaluable companion to our lives."

– Joan Halifax Roshi, Head Teacher, Upaya Institute

"The lay reader will take from the book an appreciation for the complexity of Buddhist doctrine as well as a sense that bodhisattvas may well be living amongst us."

– Foreword magazine

"Vigorous and inspiring, Faces of Compassion guides the reader into the awakening life within our contemporary world. An informative, useful, exhilarating work."

– Jane Hirshfield, author of Women in Praise of the Sacred

"A clear-as-a-bell introduction to Buddhist thought."

– Zoketsu Norman Fischer, Senior Dharma Teacher of San Francisco Zen Center and author of Benedict's Dharma

"Taigen Dan Leighton has lovingly illumined still another dimension of the human condition."

– John Daishin Buksbazen, author of Zen Meditation in Plain English

"This is useful as a fine axe...the perfect antidote to today's spiritual materialism."

– Peter Coyote, actor and author of Sleeping Where I Fall

More books from this author: Taigen Dan Leighton