This is taken from my review of the paper edition of this book. In the electronic format the book is split into 3 ebooks, volumes 1, 2 and 3, so I have split my review into those 3 parts where possible and placed the relevant comments against vol 2 and 3.
For me, this is a beautiful amazing book distilling all of the experience, teachings and advice of this unique and gifted teacher of Buddhism, now its also available on my iPhone, kindle etc, it really is a book for the 21st Century reader!
The author was born in 1930's Tibet to a poor rural family, raised and studying from the age of 8 in the hundreds of years old monasteries, and following their strict and ancient traditions, study programs and exams. During that time he met his main teacher Trijang Rinpoche, one of the most senior and highly regarded teachers of Buddhism in old Tibet. From this master Geshe Kelsang received a wealth of personal instruction and advice which had been passed down from generations of Buddhist masters dating back to Buddha himself.
After completing his formal training, and successfully passing the monastic exams, he followed his teachers into exile, and settled near Buxar Mussorie in India. There, finding solitude high up in the Himalayan mountains, between the 1950's and 70's he spent over 20 years engaged in solitary retreats with the purpose of fully understanding and internalising all that he had been taught. Contemplating this short biography its easy to understand that the tradition and qualifications embodied by the author are extraordinary.
In 1977 he was requested by his main teacher, Trijang Rinpoche, to go to England and see if there was any benefit in teaching Buddhism there. During his first few years in the West the author has said he struggled to balance the traditional rules about what and how to teach, with the clearly distinct needs and expectations of western people. In a meeting with Trijang Rinpoche shortly before he died, Trijang Rinpoche gave Geshe Kelsang permission to establish a fresh presentation of the teachings - but with the strict instruction, not to change the meaning. This book is to my mind, the crowning achievement of Geshe Kelsang's desire to share Buddhism with modern people and to fulfill the wishes of his teacher.
Volume 1, Sutra - contains practices which everyone regardless of their faith, back ground etc can find much benefit from, dealing with universal themes like what makes our life meaningful, how to use the certainty of death to make the most of our life now and also how to prepare for it, how to transform difficulties, problems, sickness, how to help others and have good relationships, how to relate to others, how to cherish and enjoy others (even if they are difficult characters!). How to understand the causes of unhappiness and problems in ways that help us to keep happy and balanced even in difficult situations.
Volume 2, Tantra, covers the much misunderstood and normally difficult to understand teachings on Buddhist Tantra. However, these parts are written with extreme clarity making the practical purpose abundantly obvious. Before you can fully benefit from these teachings (on Tantra), the reader should have actually received the teachings and blessings directly from a qualified teacher. But, even if this is not the case, the author's achievement of de-mystifying and clarifying Tantra, without losing its profoundly spiritual meaning, should, in my opinion be highly praised. At last even people with busy lives, with no esoteric bone in their body, but needing direct practical tools to make their every day activities (whatever they may be) meaningful can understand and learn how to apply what are often considered to be Buddha's most profound instructions.
Volume 3, Prayers for Daily Practice - includes essential prayers and practices. They are prayers to promote healing (physical, mental and emotional), for developing wisdom and compassion, prayers to help overcome obstacles and difficulties and all are methods to receive inspiration and inner peace by connecting with Buddha's blessings. These can be recited by anyone and whatever their faith, these practices can bring great peace and inspiration. The poetic and succinct words and imagery are also a great framework for getting a deeper understanding of the teachings in the other volumes of the book. Some of these prayers are open to everyone like the Liberating Prayer, Prayers for Meditation, and the Tara and Avalokiteshvara sadhanas. Some of the other practices in Volume 3, require specific Buddhist blessings to be practiced. These must be given by a qualified teacher (as I mentioned in my comments on Volume 2 of the book).
I really can't praise the book highly enough and would also like to acknowledge the kindness of the author in making this book freely available.