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Reviews from Buddhist Authors

“The essential teachings in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition are found in the Heart Sutra. It is recited daily in Buddhist temples around the world. This commentary by Rev. Yoo is simple, powerful and accessible, opening the gateway to a deeper understanding of buddhadharma and enriching both our practice and daily lives. Thunderous Silence is a welcome and valuable resource in achieving realization of one’s true self through the Heart Sutra. I cannot recommend it highly enough.”

– His Holiness, Venerable Chwasan, the previous Head Dharma Master of Won Buddhism

“The notion of ’emptiness’ is the essence of The Heart Sutra and a seminal concept in both Mahayana Buddhism and the Korean Won-Buddhist tradition. Rev. Dosung Yoo’s practical guide to The Heart Sutra uses concrete examples drawn from everyday life to help the reader understand and embrace the concept of emptiness. Rev. Yoo’s accessible commentary will deepen one’s understanding and practice of Buddhism.”

– Robert E. Buswell, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Buddhist Studies, UCLA

“Wonderful and welcome. Dosung Yoo brings a keenly felt contemplative understanding of this core text and a strong , clear voice. He is as well-ground in classical Mahayana teachings as in the folk narratives of Korean Buddhism. A valuable contribution!”

– Mu Seong: resident dharma teacher at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies and author of Heart of the Universe

“Thunderous Silence: A Practical Guide to the Heart Sutra is by the Won Buddhist teacher Dosung Yoo. A twentieth-century form of Korean Son (Zen) Buddhism, Won Buddhism now has a strong presence in the U.S., and Rev. Yoo is one of its most eloquent proponents.
The Korean Buddhist tradition strikes me as admirably simple and clear, and this text shines brightly in those qualities. Like many other commentaries, it goes through the text line by line and in the process discusses basic Buddhist teachings thoroughly, with a delightful ease and lightness expressive of the emptiness teachings themselves. It features a wealth of charmingly told Korean folk stories and old Buddhist tales. Using such tales to illustrate, with humor and magical realism, the potentially abstract and philosophical teaching of the sutra is one of the strongest features of the Korean tradition, and of this book.”

Shambhala Sun, article by Norman Fisher: Soto Zen Roshi, poet and Buddhist author

“The vital Buddhist Heart Sutra is a slight two page text, but it somehow encapsulates a vast storehouse of wisdom and guidance. Despite its brevity, the principles have proven to be impenetrable to many. In an accessible and charming exploration, Dosung Yoo seeks to take readers to the heart of this teaching. In this simple revealing, yet still comprehensive analysis of the Heart Sutra, Reverend Yoo effectively draws analogies with a vast range of other learning. This volume is approachable and welcoming to the curious newcomer to Buddhism while offering advanced practitioners extensive knowledge and much reflection with which they can further refine their practices—and their lives.”

– ForeWord magazine, book review by Seamus Mullarkey: writer, editor, and translator

“Thunderous Silence is a new kind of dharma book. It brings to the reader the flavor and inspiration of experiencing directly Rev. Dosung Yoo’s well-known and beautiful dharma talks and lectures. His humor, and his popular illustrative stories and lively examples, bring the meaning of the Heart Sutra to life in unforgettable ways. These chapters address the everyday, real-life concerns of every human being in terms that appeal to the heart and invite us to try their simple advice. Although the Heart Sutra is a basic text for Buddhist practitioners, understanding its true meaning for our practice can be challenging. This book has been prepared with love and concern by the author, who strongly believes that every one of us needs this message and will benefit from it. I recommend it to all who wish to follow the path.”

– Carole Craven, Professor of Won Buddhism, Won Institute of Graduate Studies

“Thunderous Silence is a lively and accessible exposition of the Heart Sutra, throwing new light on this essential Buddhist text through step-by-step analysis and an easy, conversational voice. Dosung Yoo examines the sutra phrase by phrase, using rich explanations and metaphors drawn from Korean folklore, quantum physics, Charles Dickens, and everything in between to clarify subtle concepts for the reader. This book invites us to examine the fundamentals of Buddhism—the Four Noble Truths, emptiness, enlightenment—through the prism of the Heart Sutra. Both those new to Buddhism and longtime practitioners looking to revisit a core text from a fresh perspective will find this work appealing.”

– Laura Cunningham, editor at Wisdom Publications


Reader Reviews

“So far I love this book and can’t put it down. It’s written in clear concise English. I strongly suggest you buy it.”

– Allen Zebrowski, San Francisco, CA

“The deep study of the Heart Sutra is a transformative journey. The fruit of this labor is an understanding of how its wisdom can be put into action, day by day, moment by moment. The readers of Thunderous Silence will find Dosung Yoo taking them by the hand and guiding them through his journey, so they, too, can engage the wisdom of the Heart Sutra in their daily life.”

– Joel Ostroff, Secretary, Board of Trustees, Won Institute of Graduate Studies

One of the best Buddhist books I have read
“This book is so clear and complete. It not only does an excellent job teaching the Heart Sutra, but also covers a lot a ground in basic buddhist concepts. Thank you for your work. I am terribly busy with so many things, as soon as I have time I will look over the website that you made for me.”

– Michael Macklin, Chapel Hill, NC

Beautifully written
“Like a skilled professor, Rev. Dosung Yoo doesn’t just introduce us to the Heart Sutra and the Four Noble Truths; he explains them to us in magnificent detail, giving us a clearly illuminated path for following the teachings of the Buddha. Rev. Yoo’s style of writing makes for an absorbing book, and I found it difficult to put down. Using references as diverse as Isaac Newton, Mother Theresa, the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, the First Law of Thermodynamics, Jesus, the founder of Won Buddhism, and quantum physics, the narrative flows effortlessly and thoughtfully. Most importantly, the author presents his knowledge in a way which allows the book to compliment the practice of anyone interested in Buddhist philosophy, from beginners to experienced practitioners alike. It both reinforced my existing knowledge and introduced me to a new and exciting depth I had never been to before. I look forward to more from Rev. Yoo.”

– Steve Roat, Glenside, PA

Seeking health and happiness
“Seeking truth and finding health, joy and fulfillment in my daily life has been my religious search. Thunderous Silence has taken me closer to my goals. Rev. Yoo has shaken my Christian, Western knowledge to add new meaningful dimensions from Korea. The Heart Sutra is explained and narrated to be understood in stories as metaphor and as experience. The Heart Sutra’s relevance to human nature and contemporary life styles ushers us into a clearer understanding of universal reality, a happier life and a hopeful future.”

– Raeph Sanderson, Hillsdale, NY

Grateful for the Dharma teaching
“Though I have only read a couple chapters, it is clear that Rev. Yoo’s new book Thunderous Silence presents a master-teacher explicating profound truths, that is simple and accessible that teaches to different levels — the Buddhist-curious, the new Buddhist, and the “experienced” Buddhist. It is clear that the Heart Sutra is not just a subject for Rev. Yoo. It is part of him, part of his own heart, and he teaches from that foundation. And using simple, poignant and memorable stories and teachings from a wide variety of material, from Christian scripture to Korean folk stories to Western and Eastern philosophy, Rev. Yoo is able to point to the heart of the Heart Sutra and to the practice of the mind, which as he reminds us is in the end (and the beginning) the same as his and all our hearts. It has already helped me to remember why we are here. As a hospice chaplain who needs such reminders on a regular basis, I am deeply grateful! ”

– Don Erickson, Hospice Chaplain, MI

“This book is full of a great deal of information supported by many sources from many philosophies, religions and faith traditions. It is a deep exploration of the Heart Sutra and its relationship to the many other sutras that comprise Buddhist scripture. The amount of information is bottomless. It is a must for anyone who is interested in exploring the concept of emptiness more deeply and how study and focus on the Heart Sutra help one realize enlightenment.”

– Diana Sarah, DBA Wellness Center

Easy to understand and pragmatic view of Emptiness
“Dosung Yoo has finally made an exceeding difficult subject easy to understand and accessible to Buddhist practitioners of any level. His clear language and willingness to draw on the wisdom and classical illustration of many different Buddhist traditions as well as his personal insights brings one face to face with the nature of the ultimate realty (Enlightenment). The text covers the basic Buddhist principals of the three poisons, the 4 noble truths and the 12 links that are contained in the Heart sutra. He shows not only how they relate to one another conventionally but that they too are empty of inherent existence and the implication of this in ending suffering for ourselves and others. This book offers a line by line explanation of the sutra and demonstrates how this understanding can be applied to our daily lives.”

– Cliff Wallshein, Manhattan, NY


Reader Reviews

“This book would be a great addition to any college philosophy or religious class. It is clear, informative and inspiring!”

– Won Woon, Philadelphia, PA

“Thunderous Silence, by Dosung Yoo, brings warmth and clarity to Buddhist concepts that can sometimes seem out of reach. Dosung Yoo weaves ancient stories into his personal experiences with humor and simplicity.
Dosung Yoo speaks of how to develop a selfless and compassionate heart and mind that is calm and peaceful. “Wisdom and compassion cannot be separated: they are said to be the two wings of a bird. With these two wings one can fly to nirvana.” (p. 22) Dosung Yoo provides sound direction on a spiritual path that can take many turns. Be prepared to be engrossed.”

– Leslie Tapsak, Ghent, NY

The gift of silence
“Thunderous Silence is informative and a real joy to read. It is not a list of do’s and don’ts but rather gives us human and fantastical stories that allow us to come closer to the meaning and substance of the Heart Sutra that informs Buddhism. This is Buddhism as a philosophy for and of life, not a religion. Rev. Dosung Yoo suggests and leads us to envision a life lived in the moment, in the here and now. He will take you down a road to finding companionship with your inner nature, a nature hard to envision in the hustle of daily life. His ideas as expressed in this highly intelligent and engaging book are worth contemplating even if we are not fully successful in bringing them into our lives. It is the journey that matters; give it a try.”

– Anna Winand, NY

“For me every page of this book is thought provoking and sends me in search of treasure. Especially I am in agreement with the sections about taking vows. Those pages are so powerful and I have to make copious notes when I come across something like this. The vow seals my commitment like rolling a great stone across the entrance of a cave protecting the treasure (commitment) within. The quote from the Buddha on page 36 the title page of chapter three (Emptiness of Self), causes me to suspend my reading and search, shake my head in agreement and smile. This quote reminds me of the koan I am working with in my meditation: “Who am I?””

– Marty Wolfson, Willow Grove, PA

Grateful for the teaching
“Dosung Yoo, clarifies Heart Sutra to readers, and illustrate hidden context behind the formula. “Thunderous Silence” opened my eyes and brought me closer to the truth. In my opinion, if you are looking for deeper understanding of Heart Sutra, you will enjoy reading this book.”

– Meer Musa

A wonderful exposition on Buddhist teachings!
“I am thoroughly enjoying this book. This is kind of wisdom that you do not jug, but you sip page by page. I read a page or two before bed and then sit back and contemplate the concepts in a kind of lying meditation before going to sleep. Just a sip from his book holds profound wisdom that can be applicable in daily life. I deeply recommend this book to those who desire an accessible avenue to understanding Buddhism deeply and actualizing it in their life.”

– Deasun

Highly Recommended
“I highly recommend “Thunderous Silence” to everyone who is searching for an end to suffering. This book is so meaningful and a pleasure to read. Reverend Dosung Yoo has written a fabulous, joyful book. You will be inspired to read it again and again.”

– IBA, Philadelphia PA

Excellent book
“This wonderful book by Dosung yoo keeps me returning again and again to this explanation of the Heart Sutra. It has expanded my understanding of the sutra, and also of basic Buddhist tenets in language I totally understand. I do not want the book to end. He talks about Buddhism so clearly for me, a Westerner who has read many other books on Buddhism, but finds this one really outstanding.”

– SusieQ


Reader Reviews

“Yoo’s commentary on the Heart Sutra is like reading several books folded into one with the recipe for ending suffering.
Thunderous Silence presents fully the Heart Sutra explaining it line-by-line, sometimes even word-by-word while interlacing selected passages from the Diamond Sutra. The selections from the Diamond Sutra are not only helpful in understanding the Heart Sutra but also provide more insight into the Diamond Sutra itself. The fundamentals of Buddhism are also presented allowing for a deeper understanding of these as well.
In this detailed commentary, Yoo presents unforgettable and quite entertaining and informative stories and vignettes from old and contemporary times, across continents, including various religions (e.g., Christianity, Islam) and even several “schools” of Buddhism (e.g., Won, Zen) resulting in a book that is relatable to most every reader. As a professor of psychology, I highly recommend “Thunderous Silence” for personal transcendence and expansion as well as a complement to the study of various psychological constructs and theories in the classroom.”

– LRene

Raising the koan, “Who am I?”
“For me every page of this book is thought provoking and sends me in search of treasure. Especially I am in agreement with the sections about taking vows. Those pages are so powerful and I have to make copious notes when I come across something like this. The vow seals my commitment like rolling a great stone across the entrance of a cave protecting the treasure (commitment) within. The quote from the Buddha on page 36 the title page of chapter three (Emptiness of Self), causes me to suspend my reading and search, shake my head in agreement and smile. This quote reminds me of the koan I am working with in my meditation: “Who am I?””

– Harbinger

“Reading this book takes me back to Reverend Yoo’s classes at the Won Institute in Glenside, PA. He is a wise and spirited teacher who makes Buddhism and its gifts accessible and useful. I’ll always remember the little smile that comes to his face when he’s giving a talk, letting you know that another of his great stories is to come. And he tells many of those stories in his book. I’ll leave it to the reader to imagine that smile.
I highly recommend this book to those who’ve studied Buddhism before, and newcomers to this wonderful way of life.

– Lisa, PA

“The circular image in the meditation hall of the Won Buddhist temple, and the passage in The Heart Sutra, “Form is emptiness, emptiness is form” have been my koans for a long time. When I look at the circle, what do I focus on? A circumference or the space, or the form or formlessness? I realized the center of the circle is equanimity, the heart of the dharma. Circles within circles, form and formless, comprise the whole circle, which symbolizes the emptiness.
Rev. Dosung Yoo clearly presented this essential view of the Buddha’s teachings, the emptiness in Thunderous Silence.

– J.J.Voulo, Cairo, NY