Nikko Odiseos

Below is a some of what I shared with the team here at Shambhala Publications for whom Sherab was an absolute treasure: Sherab authored our Awakened One (now published as A Life of the Buddha), co-edited The Buddha and His Teachings (now published as Entering the Stream). And he is the author of our forthcoming Bala Kids book on Padmasambhava. And of course he was a force in editing many of Trungpa Rinpoche's works. He also translated a ton of books for us from German, Dutch, and French: Siddhartha Singapore Dreams Samurai Wisdom Stories Inner Art of Karate Natural Laws of Children True Love You Are Here Miyamoto Musashi Rilke’s Stories of God The Prince and the Zombie A Pleas for the Animals Archetypal Dimensions of the psych Meditation for Kids Anytime Yoga Francoise Cheng’s Empty and Full Ayya Khema’s Give You My Life. And that is just for us – he did occasional work for others too. He also evaluated many books in other languages for us over the years. His Reader’s Reports were eagerly awaited by all of us who sent them his way because they were always a tour de force. I can do little justice to the erudition, wit, and brightness of Sherab. But here are a few snippets from some of his reader’s reports that will give those of you who did not know him a little favor. On a report for another book by Francois Cheng (we decided not to do): "Here he first points out that the universe is not obliged to be beautiful. It could be a purely functional affair, a big meaningless ticktock. In fact, he suggests, this is the view we routinely encounter these days. He rubs our noses in the frigidity of this outlook for few pages, then proceeds to deliver us from it: he discovers a jewel, the French word sens, which has three meanings: sensation, direction, meaning. Greatly simplified, the movement of Cheng’s thought is: We experience the world as sensation. We are not indifferent to sensation, but rather attracted or repulsed. If we are attracted. we move toward our sensations. Once this happens, we have direction. Once we have direction, life has meaning. This natural process, when not denatured by cynicism, is a jewel. The most notable objection to this line of thought accuses it of subjectivism. This objection asks: must we always experience the world from the outside, be moved by it while it remains indifferent to us? Cheng puts this duality-smitten question in its place through an excursus on Chinese painting. We are familiar with Chinese paintings depicting immense landscapes, always with one or several tiny human figures somewhere in the scene. The Western eye is accustomed to paintings where large human figures occupy the foreground and the landscape or other surroundings constitute the background. Thus the little figures in the Chinese paintings appear lost, drowned in the immensity of the landscape. " On the Padmasambhava (adult) book we will publish: “What particularly strikes me as distinctive is [the author's] voice. It is not the voice of a teacher presenting his message nor of an established spokesman of a particular Buddhist orthodoxy... Nor does it go in the other direction—his is not the voice of an academic either. More it is the voice of "one of us" who happens to be well informed. Even in relating to misunderstandings, he avoids the heavy hand. He doesn't schoolmarm you, correct your faults, preach. It's unusual: he explains eye-to-eye, without being chatty or chummy. He doesn't presume to be either your superior or your pal. Interesting.” On Hesse’s Singapore Dreams: “In a certain way, the present book, translated here into English for the first time, conveys Hesse's essential qualities better than his novels do. This is because in these accounts, Hesse himself is the main character. As he travels, we see directly through his eyes rather than those of a fictional character. Inevitably in novels, perceptions are molded and forced by a plot. The character's thoughts are driven by the author's plan. In Out of Asia the writer's pen is free of those constraints. We receive Hesse's immediate impressions, and he does not sugar-coat. The only slight torsion and drive in these narratives comes from the pleasure Hesse gets out of telling a story, expressing authentic experience in an apt and catchy way. He does not falsify, because he is inherently unable. In fact we feel sympathy for the man, for we see that he is helplessly captivated by his experience. His absolute need of authenticity is something for which he often suffered in his life, was often cast into psychological depths. But it was also this inalienable faithfulness of his engagement with things that caused him to keep growing as a man and a writer. And it is that quality, combined with his undeniable gifts as an entertainer, that continues to draw us into his writings today. On a book we did not publish: “These apophatic peregrinations showing what Buddhism is not do not lead to conclusions concerning what Buddhism is. Buddhism continues to escape as a slippery fish that cannot be caught in the net of Western thought. [The author's] approach here is helpful and apt (in my view), save for this flaw: the net in which the slippery fish cannot be caught is not only that of Western thought but of dualistic thought altogether, of which Asians are no more innocent than Westerners. However, concentrating on the Western aspect of the problem here is not inappropriate considering [the author’s] project, and it allows him to play in those fields where he and other European intellectuals love to play, where the names of Aristotle, Plato, Pascal, Schopenhauer, Nietzche, Heidegger, and other philosophers he refers to resound with such significance.” Dave O’Neal [treasured editor at Shambhala Pubs and friend of Sherab, now retired] had the notion that his Reader’s Reports would serve as an extremely readable volume in and of themselves. We look forward to making the Bala Kids book coming out next year on Padmasambhava truly special. When he submitted it to us, he wrote, “My wife and I successfully read The Lord of the Rings to our daughters when they were about 7 and 4. I let Tolkien be my guide in writing the Padmasambhava story for young people in the sense of including everything….. I have trusted them with charnel grounds and demons and some essential Buddhist ideas. I hope you all find that it works and that it's the right stuff.” It is indeed the right stuff. Thank you from all of us Sherab!