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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Lovely
Published 6 months ago by Alan Bethel

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27 of 49 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Some critical remarks on 'The Essential Practices of Kadampa Buddhism'
I feel the publisher notes are quite misleading and don't give clarity what the book is all about.

First Part of the Book:
The book deals in the first part with the practice of the Guru-Yoga of Je Tsongkhapa (tib. Ganden Lha Gyema) especially how to practice the Migtsema prayer. It explains certain types of meditations or visualisations with respect to...
Published on 19 May 2006 by M. Jaeckel


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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 29 Jun 2014
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17 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A reply to Losang Tashi's review, 25 Mar 2003
By 
Steve Rogers (Totnes, Devon, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
I understand that using the ancient name "Kadampa Buddhism" may be confusing from a Tibetan point of view. But surely after a decent interval an old trade mark can be re-used? For the vast majority, "Kadampa" is simply and unambiguously the name of Geshe Kelsang's tradition, which does follow most of the Kadampa practices (Guru yoga of Buddha Shakyamuni, Lam Rim, Tara, Avalokiteshvara, and Lojong) and is based on deep veneration for Je Tsongkhapa, who also felt it appropriate to re-use the name Kadampa. Apart from Je Phabonkhapa's Vajrayogini sadhana and the Dharmapala Dorje Shugdän, almost everything taught by Geshe Kelsang comes from Je Tsongkhapa.

As to the differences between Dharma Protector traditions - well, the Old Kadampas practiced Miyume, Je Tsongkhapa practiced Kalarupa... Dharma Protectors change over time according to Lamas' views as to the appropriate karma of their disciples, so which Protector one practices isn't eternally fixed. There is no eternally right or wrong answer.

Turning to the book itself, as Losang Tashi says it is the essential (i.e. daily or default) practice for disciples of Geshe Kelsang, and is intended for New Kadampa Tradition practitioners. Those wishing to learn a more general form of meditation practice from Geshe Kelsang should instead get his New Meditation Handbook, which is pure Lam Rim as practiced in the NKT's open (General Programme) meditation classes in many towns throughout the world.

My advice to the beginner would be to leave Heart Jewel on the shelf, unless and until you choose Geshe Kelsang as your root Guru.

4 stars not 5, because I have a strong connection with Dorje Shugdän and would have liked to know more about him from those who have venerated him in the past.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, 13 Dec 2008
This review is from: Heart Jewel: The Essential Practices of Kadampa Buddhism (Hardcover)
Quite an amazing explanation of the practice of Je Tsongkapa, as well as the Dharma protector Dorje Shugden. Very clear and precise explanation of how to use this practice to gain spiritual insights.
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27 of 49 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Some critical remarks on 'The Essential Practices of Kadampa Buddhism', 19 May 2006
By 
M. Jaeckel - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I feel the publisher notes are quite misleading and don't give clarity what the book is all about.

First Part of the Book:
The book deals in the first part with the practice of the Guru-Yoga of Je Tsongkhapa (tib. Ganden Lha Gyema) especially how to practice the Migtsema prayer. It explains certain types of meditations or visualisations with respect to this. These meditations are helpful and sometimes important tantric practices for those practising 'Guru Yoga' within the Gelug order of Tibetan Buddhism.

However, the book is in no way an essential practice of the Kadampa school of the Indian master Atisha. Unlike the Gelug school, the old Kadampas were very restrained with respect to tantric practices and emphasized the Sutras. The Guru Yoga of Je Tsongkhapa didn't exist at the time of the Kadampa school.

Those who are interested in the Essential Practices and Texts of the Kadampas, I can recommend these two excellent translations of Kadam core teachings:
- The Book of Kadam: The Core Texts (Library of Tibetan Classics)
- Mind Training: The Great Collection (Library of Tibetan Classics)

Second Part of the Book:
The second part of the book includes the very controversial Dorje Shugden practice.

Background to the Second Part of the Book:
Although the Dorje Shugden practice became quite popular in the Gelug school - due to the influence of the charismatic teachers Pabongkha Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche (the latter is one of the main teachers of the author) - many Buddhist authorities, like HH the Dalai Lama, Namkai Norbu Rinpoche and almost all Kagyue and Nyingma masters see it as a destructive - rather non-Buddhist - practice, and warn about its demerits. The practice of Dorje Shugden did not even exist at the time of the old Kadampa school of Atisha, and it did not exist at the time of Je Tsongkhapa; it appeared at the time of the Great 5th Dalai Lama.

Although Dorje Shugden was practised as a lower mundane deity by some Sakyas, it disappeared almost completely in the Sakya school due to the warnings about the demerits of the practice by influential Sakya lamas.

However, details may be a point of discussion and one has to accept different views on it.

Some Confusion:
What confuses me is the misleading claim of the publisher, Tharpa Publications, that the book would content "The Essential Practices of Kadampa Buddhism", because the old Kadampa Tradition never practised Shugden or the Tsongkhapa-Guru-Yoga. Also the old Kadampa School of Atisha does not exist any more, it absorbed into the Tibetan Buddhist lineages.

So, for what purpose Tharpa Publications, the exclusive publisher of the author, uses the words "Kadampa Buddhism" indicating to present something the author and his organisation do not present?

There is no such thing as "Kadampa Buddhism" nowadays - at least not in the sense of a Buddhist school representing the continuation of the old Kadam School of Atisha. What exist is the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT-IKBU) founded by the author 1991 in England as a split from the Gelug school (Tibetan Buddhism), and the New Kadampa Tradition's essential practices are summarized in this book.

It would be fine if the Publisher could avoid such misleading statements for the sake of the reader in future editions. It would be far more fair and in accordance with the facts to write:

"Heart Jewel: The Essential Practices of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT)" and "New Kadampa Tradition is becoming increasingly popular..."

I guess the publisher - or the organisation - wish to use a well established and a well known Buddhist brand name for marketing purposes and it would probably be contrary to marketing strategies to tell the reader the plain truth, that the book contains merely what the New Kadamapa Tradition (NKT-IKBU) views to be 'essential practices' within their organisation.

However, for (NKT-IKBU) followers the book is a must and inspiring, I think.

Summery for Buddhist Newcomers:
For those new to Buddhism, this book is not recommendable, because it belongs to the rather difficult to fathom tantric teachings which are not recommended for beginners and the practice of Dorje Shugden is so much controversial that it is better to get informed beforehand. To get informed one could read or consult academic research or different respected Buddhist teachers. This will allow oneself to put that practice into perspective based on a broad and correct knowledge, and to decide beforehand if one wishes to practice it and needs this manual for practice.

Further Information and Readings:
For those readers interested in the background of New Kadampa Tradition and Dorje Shugden Controversy, there is a BBC documentary "An Unholy Row" with interviews and statements by HH the Dalai Lama, Kelsang Gyatso, Geshe Tashi Tsering, and others which includes a precise analyse by Stephen Batchalor.

For those preferring a scholarly approach to get informed, I can recommend:

- 'The Tulkus and the Shugden Controversy' (2001) by Prof. Dr. Michael von Brück, Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies, in Charisma and Canon: Essays on the Religious History of the Indian Subcontinent, published by Oxford University Press
- 'This turbulent Priest - Contesting religious rights and the state in the Tibetan Shugden Controversy' (2003) by Prof. Dr. Martin A. Mills, Senior Lecturer in the Anthropology of Religion, in Human Rights in Global Perspective: Anthropological Studies of Rights, Claims and Entitlements by Routledge
- 'Oracles and Demons of Tibet: The Cult and Iconography of the Tibetan Protective Deities' (1996) by Rene De Nebesky-Wojkowitz
- 'Himalayan Dialogue : Tibetan Lamas and Gurung Shamans in Nepal' (1989) by Stan Royal Mumford

For scholarly papers about the New Kadampa Tradition (and Dorje Shugden) see:

- Kay, David N. (2004) 'Tibetan and Zen Buddhism in Britain' by Routledge (Critical Studies in Buddhism)
- Bluck, Robert (2006), British Buddhism, London: Routledge

For an authentic presentation of the Tibetan Buddhist schools and their history, including Gelug, Kadampas and many more see:
- The Ri-me Philosophy of Jamgon Kongtrul the Great: A Study of the Buddhist Lineages of Tibet by Ringu Tulku
or
- 'Civilized Shamans: Buddhism in Tibetan Societies' (1993) by Geoffrey Samuel
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Heart Jewel: The Essential Practices of Kadampa Buddhism
Heart Jewel: The Essential Practices of Kadampa Buddhism by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (Hardcover - 1 April 1991)
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