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Meeting the Buddhas: A Guide to Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Tantric Deities Paperback – 15 Mar 1993

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Product details

  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Windhorse Publications (15 Mar. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0904766535
  • ISBN-13: 978-0904766530
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 192,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born Tony McMahon in London in 1950, and interested in Buddhism and meditation since his teens, Vessantara now has 40 years of Buddhism under his belt. In 1974 he became a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order, founded by Sangharakshita. At that time he was given his Buddhist name, which means 'universe within' and is associated with generosity. He has been mining for jewels in his inner world through meditation and then sharing them with others ever since. The results include several highly-rated books on Buddhism and meditation.

In 1993 he published the very successful 'Meeting the Buddhas', which is still going strong after 20 years, but is now in its latest edition chopped into three 'Guides' - to the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Tantric Deities. Other works include 'Tales of Freedom' a book of Buddhist teaching stories, and two books in Windhorse Publications' series on 'The Art of Meditation'

He lives in Cambridge UK, and spends his time teaching, leading courses and workshops on Buddhism and meditation. You can find a lot more information, articles, and details of his teaching schedule on his website at

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Vidusi on 18 Jun. 2002
Format: Paperback
This is a truly beautiful book, not only has Vessantara made the book visually beautiful by including many colour plates but the descriptions of the different realms and Pure Lands and the visualisation practices speak to something deeper than sheer intellect, they speak directly to that part of us which responds to beauty and to the figures of the Mahayana and Tantra. It is not only a book for scholars but for practitioners too, beginner level to Bodhisattva! Thank You Vessantara.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "coeur-de-leon" on 23 Jan. 2002
Format: Paperback
I started reading this for the visualisation techniques around the Mandala of the Five Buddhas, but soon found there was much more to it than that.
Vessantara demystifies the area of Tantric medidation and visualisation, while making it clear this is no substitute for one-to-one initiation by an adept. This is a bit like having a map for an inhospitable area. A guide/translator is still needed to shepherd one through the various obstacles that may emerge.
Suitable, in my view, for someone who has spent time deepening their solitary meditation and feel they want to spend more time developing the emotional and intellectual connections in their spiritual life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Minkymaid on 13 Jun. 2012
Format: Paperback
This book has been my companion for over ten years. Beautifully written, a wealth of understanding brought vividly to life in Vessantara's exploration of the kindly, wise and inspirational figures of Mahayana and Tibetan Buddhism. Packed with information and imaginative engagement presented in a way not found in many Buddhist books. Suitable for the curious all the way through to the committed.
(This original single book is now available as three volumes - a guide to the Buddhas, a guide to the Boddhisattvas and a guide to the tantric deities - so if you can't find the single original book, look for these)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Meeting the Buddhas: a guide to Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, etc. 9 Jun. 2000
By Linda M. Esler - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book was intended to provide a pathway for the outsider or newcomer to Tibetan Buddhism through the bewildering maze of Tibetan Buddhist iconography. Vessantara is a Westerner who understands the puzzlement of other Westerners. He asks and attempts to answer several questions: Who are these strange-looking creatures? Are they really Buddhist? Why do they seem to switch names, forms, and genders? How does one deal with them in terms of visualization practice, mantras, and symbols. As an outsider, I cannot evaluate the accuracy of the material in this book, but it certainly seems to be complete! After reading it, I have a much clearer sense of the meaning and purpose of Tibetan Buddhist deities and if I encounter an unfamiliar image in another book, I will know where to look for clarification. The author also deserves credit for making it clear that some of the practices described should only be undertaken with the aid of a qualified teacher. He has, happily, resisted the temptation to set himself up as a guru for the uninitiated. This is not an easy book to read, but it is the only one of it's kind that I have ever encountered, and I plan to keep my copy as an invaluable reference tool. It could be recommended to students of Buddhism or even to those planning a visit to a museum of Tibetan art.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A Must Have 10 May 2006
By Thinking - Published on
Format: Paperback
Any serious student of Tibetan Buddhism will want this book in their library for reference and instruction. The color plates alone are worth more than the price of the book -- the beauty and fine details are wonderful meditation tools.

I have a copy of the first edition and am ordering two more: one because the first one has seen heavy usage and I want to protect it; and another for the library of my dharma center.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Accessible introduction to the principles and practices of tantric Buddhism 4 Oct. 2007
By Daiho - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Meeting the Buddhas is an accessible introduction to the principles and practices of tantric Buddhism through an exploration of the visual depictions of its many deities. It is not an introduction or guide to thangka, the iconographic paintings used in tantric visualization practices, though there are plenty of examples of such to be found in this volume.

Those new to the philosophy may not realize that the Buddhist cosmos is populated by hundreds of spiritual super beings, many of which take on different guises - male and female, peaceful and wrathful - in their eternal quest to aid mortals in their search for enlightenment. Subtitled "A Guide to Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Tantric Deities" this books introduces you to some of most common and best known deities and saints, those you are likely to encounter in exploring the art, architecture, and sacred relics of Himalayan Buddhism.

Author Tony McMahon is a member of one of the UK's oldest Buddhist groups, the Western Buddhist Order, and has obviously had plenty of experience explicating these iconic figures and the principles of tantric Buddhism for westerners. Writing under his Buddhist name, Vessantara, he introduces his subjects through the use of personal anecdote or through vignettes from western history and culture, stories that bring these god-like figures down-to-life and show how their experience is our experience. The writing is breezy and conversation-like but peppered with quite a lot of Pali, Sanskrit and Tibetan. A 7-page glossary contains 157 entries. The level of detail is challenging, even for those with some knowledge of the subject, particularly in his chapters on the five Buddhas. What many readers will appreciate, though, are the examples of visualizations, textual descriptions of what the mediator visualizes to affect his awareness of reality. 27 color plates reproducing thangka, as well as 36 line drawings are included. Unfortunately the color reproductions are often washed out and lacking in detail, and on many occasions the author writes at length on a deity in a particular aspect for which no visual is provided.

Despite its imperfections, Meet the Buddhas is still a fine addition to any Buddhist library and a fine reference work on the more common deities, including the Five Buddhas, the Taras, Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara, Vajrapani, Vajrasattva, Padmasambhava, Heruka Charkrasamvara, Vajrayogini, and Mahakala.

Friendly, clear guide to Buddhist imagery and beginning practice 13 Mar. 2014
By stephen d miller - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well written by an expereinced English practitioner and teacher, this guide clearly explains the meaning and use of the images of the major Bodhisattvas of Tibetan Buddhism. He incidentally discusses their use in Japanese branches of Buddhism. It is much more than an art guide or dictionary. It clearly discusses the mantra and imaging practices at the level of the interested general reader or beginning student of Buddhism. the levels of enlightenment are simply and clearly explained. It may be a bit long for some who are looking for a fast introduction, but the length is very worthwhile for the benefit of greater understanding.
Meeting the Buddhas 2 Feb. 2012
By S J. Colkmire-Uthe - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book. Goes into detail concerning how Buddha came about. Gives you a very good description of the different Gods and Goddesses. Would recommend very highly. A must have book if you are into Buddhism.
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