Beacons of Dharma (Book Review)

Beacons of Dharma: Spiritual Exemplars of the Modern Age

Edited by Christopher P. Miller, Michael Reading, and Jeffery D. Long | Review by Ross O’Brien

Beacons of Dharma: Spiritual Exemplars of the Modern Age (hereinafter, Beacons) is a collation of essays from some of the world’s foremost scholar-practitioners in the field of Indic traditions. The collective work is part of a larger series entitled Explorations in Indic Traditions: Theological, Ethical, and Philosophical which is also edited by Dr. Jeffery D. Long. 

Beacons is divided into three parts: (1) Service, Compassion, and Humanitarianism, (2) Ecology and Environmental Activism, and (3) Peace, Knowledge, and Social Justice. Any categorical delineations are fated to inadequately contain the depth, breadth, and intersection of the innumerable contributions made by the figures detailed in Beacons. Yet the book’s structure acts as an indispensable adhesive that binds together life events, achievements, and legacies spanning almost an entire millennia. In his essay on the Tibetan Buddhist monk Chatral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche, Westin Harris aptly captures the thematic diffusion and intersectionality woven through this collection of essays when he summates that, “dharma beacons…who have operated fluidly across borders and dichotomies (traditional/modern, eremetic/socially engaged, local/global, alive/dead, personal/interpersonal) challenge us to expand our very presuppositions of what it means to be socially engaged,” (Miller, Reading, and Long, 132).

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