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The Buddhism of Tibet: The Dalai Lama

by Jeffrey Hopkins

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The Buddhism of Tibet consists of four texts, the first two written by the fourteenth Dalai Lama himself and the remaining two chosen by him for Western readers: The Buddhism of Tibet explains the principal topics and central practices of Buddhism. The Key to the Middle Way leads the student to the discovery of the true meaning of emptiness. The Precious Garland by Nagarjuna is famous for its descriptions of the Bodhisattva path of compassion and for its clear, concise analysis of the Buddha's teaching on emptiness. The Song of the Four Mindfulnesses contains all the essentials of sutra and tantra. It is to be used as a basis for meditations on mindfulness of the guru, altruism, deity yoga and emptiness.

As Tibetan Buddhism matures in the West, the release of more substantive and esoteric literature becomes timely. With this intermediate audience in mind, and with the hope that "even a few people for a short period could have some internal peace," the Dalai Lama here offers two of his original writings alongside two ancient texts. His works "The Buddhism of Tibet" and "The Key to the Middle Way" comprise roughly half of the book. They reveal some of the secondary and more cerebral layers of Tibetan Buddhist study, going well beyond the primary embrace of the Four Noble Truths. Emptiness, "the final mode of being of all phenomena," is a recurring motif throughout the volume. The second half includes "Precious Garland of Advice for the King," 500 quatrains written by Nagarjuna, who lived 400 years after the Buddha. Written to advise the Indian king Satavahana, it has specific counsel on ruling, plus more general material on emptiness and compassion. Although theoretically softened by a caveat of application to both sexes, the prohibition against desiring women, who are partially described as "a source of excrement, urine and vomit," among other similar vitriolic phrases, will be hard to stomach for many. The book concludes with an exposition of a relatively short poem, "Song of the Four Mindfulnesses" by Kaysang Gyatso, the Seventh Dalai Lama. No doubt a book of merit, this volume is most appropriate for serious students who are ready to wade through fairly heavy intellectual currents.

Midwest Book Review:

The Buddhism of Tibet consists of four texts that the Dalai Lama specially wrote or chose for Western readers: The Buddhism of Tibet is a concise introduction to the principle topics and central practices of Buddhism. The Key to the Middle Way is an acute and precise presentation of the nature of emptiness. The Precious Garland by Nagarjuna is a description of the bodhisattva path of compassion and a clear, concise analysis of the Buddha's teaching on emptiness. The Song of the Four... read more --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.





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Title: The Buddhism of Tibet: The Dalai Lama
Author(s): Jeffrey Hopkins
Language: English
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