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Reviewed by: Christine Oka, Research & Instruction, Northeastern University Libraries, Boston, MA
Lion’s Roar has been known under three names. Each title change has reflected an expansion of Buddhism through all parts of the world. The magazine started as Vajradhatu Sun, the community publication of the late Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. The publication later became Shambhala Sun: Buddhist Wisdom for Our Time, and over the next twenty-five years was “the leading voice of Buddhism in the West, winning awards for its quality and beauty, and the top newsstand magazine in the spirituality category.” In its latest incarnation as the Lion’s Roar, the publication takes its title from The Buddha, “The proclamation of the truth is as fearless as a lion’s roar.” This metaphor reflects the magazine’s aim to be a strong voice for Buddhism for an increasingly diverse society. This aspiration is reflected in the cover photo of the premiere issue, “The New Face of Buddhism,” introducing fourteen leading Buddhist teachers in a multiracial and multi-generational group portrait. The second issue illustrates how Buddhist thought appears in everyday life and in popular culture. A cover article, “Big Screen Buddhism” has a mixed group of “insiders” talking about their favorite films. Seth Greenland, a playwright, screenwriter and author, describes the film, Double Indemnity, as a Buddhist parable. Perfect Sense, a movie about a world pandemic that causes people to lose one sense at a time, was chosen by Krista Tippett, the creator of the public radio show and podcast On Being. She admits, “I have no reason to believe that the makers of this movie were Buddhist, but the absolute attention to presence in all its nuance--and the healing in and through suffering --seems to me a reflection of Buddhist psychology and humanity at its best.” Comedies also are represented with filmmaker Mickey Lemle selecting Groundhog Day and Jeff Bridges, actor and activist, picking The Big Lebowski.
Other articles examine Buddhism in the Age of #BlackLivesMatter, and the need to update the traditional story of the Buddha’s life “for oppressed people who know suffering all too well.” In “The False Comfort of the Familiar,” Zen teacher Jules Shuzen Harris writes, “Being with people like us feels comfortable and secure--and it’s a big reason why communities aren’t more diverse.” There’s also the Beginner’s Mind section which answers basic questions, such as suffering in Buddhism, what is karma? Or explains the garment known as the Rakusu, worn by Zen priests and some lay practitioners. Reviews for a wide range of books for all reading levels are included: starting with a children’s coloring book to a book on meditation by the Dalai Lama. The magazine is published bimonthly by the Lion’s Roar Foundation, an independent, non-profit dedicated to making Buddhist teachings, or dharma, accessible to all. Along with the bimonthly Lion’s Roar magazine, the Foundation publishes Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly. Selected content from the print editions of Lion’s Roar magazine as well as news, advice, commentary and Buddhist teachings are accessible from LionsRoar.com as well as through Facebook, twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. With interesting and accessible articles, the Lion’s Roar is accomplishing its mission.