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The Crystal and the Way of Light: Sutra, Tantra and Dzogchen (Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy) Paperback – 1 Apr 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Snow Lion Publications; New edition edition (1 April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559391359
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559391351
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.4 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 301,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Within Tibetan Buddhism, there is a little-known discipline called Dzogchen, the turbo path to liberation. In some traditions, the path to liberation extends over lifetimes of diligent practice, but Dzogchen is an accelerated way to self-perfection. After many years of formal study, Chogyal Namkhai Norbu was initiated into this less formal practice, which is one of the highest, and yet most accessible, of Tibetan Buddhist teachings. Namkhai Norbu eventually made his way to Italy to teach, where John Shane transcribed and translated Namkhai Norbu's lectures, putting together what is now one of the most popular books on Dzogchen. Namkhai Norbu makes it clear that these teachings are not a handbook for practice but are instead an overview of dzogchen, notably, its three divisions--the base, the path and the fruit. The ultimate and immediate goal is to achieve the primordial state of non-dual awareness, the one taste, and to maintain it. With colourful anecdotes from his own experience (finding an ancient text manifest from a dream, for example, and visiting eccentric cave yogis), Namkhai Norbu's talks illustrate that dzogchen is not just theory but the way to a new, and almost incomprehensible, way of being. --Brian Bruya


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Format: Paperback
This is a well-written, well-organized book. It appears to be an attempt to make Dzogchen teaching more accessible, for example, via the episodes from early in Namkhai Norbu's life.

Direct, written teachings of Dzogchen seem to be highly concentrated and mind-blowing, for example "Self-Liberation through Seeing with Naked Awareness", an old text translated by John M. Reynolds and Norbu's own "The Mirror". Each of these texts is accompanied by less terse commentary. It seems to be the expectation that any student of Dzogchen would also receive instruction ("transmission") from a Dzogchen teacher, to account for individual differences between students and, presumably, to help clear up whatever confusion the written texts may have led to. Dzogchen seems to be a substantial challenge, said in not too many words but not unlikely leading to a wealth of questions. A book like this one, "The Crystal and the Way of Light", probably functions to lessen the intensity and make the teaching more comfortable, at least until one is ready to face the challenge of the core teaching.

Despite the formidable challenge of Dzogchen, it is a teaching that emphasizes relaxation and acceptance. I've had no personal instruction in Dzogchen and it may be for those who do it seems substantially less confusing and overwhelming than it has for me. Judging from the number of books by him and in which he has supplied commentary, Norbu seems to be doing a great deal to make Dzogchen more accessible. His Dzogchen Community has chapters around the world.

This book seems a good introduction to Dzogchen, which is a curious and perhaps contradictory mix of mindfulness (to the extreme) and magic (e.g. the rainbow body). The teaching seems well-packaged, with an emphasis on amazement.
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I think this book is a very helpful introduction to Dzogchen which provides, at the same time an insightful biograhical account of Chogyal Namkhai Norbu's own experience as reicarnate with two incredible uncle practitioners.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x94601378) out of 5 stars 22 reviews
41 of 47 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x94723a20) out of 5 stars Good, but no where near his best 30 Dec. 2004
By Neal J. Pollock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
There aren't that many good Dzogchen books available. One of the most prolific writers on the subject is Namkhai Norbu (I've read 9 of his books). His books are very readable and include important descriptions, insights, etc. They serve as, perhaps, the best introductory books (except for the wonderful "Supreme Source" which is more advanced). I also prefer "The Mirror" and "The Cycle of Day and Night" to "The Crystal and the Way of Light." Other books of his of similar value to this one include: "Dream Yoga & the Practice of Natural Light," "Dzogchen and Zen," "Dzogchen: the Self-Perfected State," "The Small Collection of Hidden Precepts" (Manjusrimitra), "and "Teachings of Chogyal Namkhai Norbu." However, I would also recommend the books of Tulku Urgyen which seem a bit more advanced than most of these (e.g. "Rainbow Painting" and "As It Is"). Also, the works of Tulku Urgyen's sons, Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche ("The Union of Mahamudra and Dzogchen" and "Present Fresh Wakefulness") and Drubwang Tsoknyi Rinpoche ("Fearless Simplicity" and "Carefree Dignity"). Also, try some Kagyu Mahamudra books such as Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche's or the wonderful commentaries on Karma Chagme's "The Union of Mahamudra and Dzogchen" (one is listed above) such as "Naked Awareness."
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x947239d8) out of 5 stars An accessible work of genius 19 Nov. 2006
By Pema Chödzin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As a practitioner of Dzogchen, following the traditional way of guidance and personal practice under a master of that practice, I found this book to be a tremendous help to me. With its concise presentation of the Buddhist paths of Sutra, Tantra, and Dzogchen and the similarities and differences between them, plus wonderfully helpful advice and explanations that will be extremely valuable to someone already having some experience with Dzogchen practice, this book is the best overview I've found yet. Dzogchen is a teaching that is neither magic nor mysticism nor within the domain of scholars - it is simply a teaching to show one how to discover one's true condition, which is the state of Dzogchen, or Great Perfection, itself from the very beginning. Our job is simply to apprehend that state and then, through the use of methods introduced to us by a master, remain in that condition until it is fully and permanently revealed. So, if you would like to know a little at least about what this Dzogchen business is even about, this book will give you a brilliantly concise-yet-thorough and accessible presentation of the most fundamental things you'd need to know before going any further, but its true import can only ever really be comprehended after receiving introduction, in person, from a master. Once you've had some personal experience and the ideas in this book are no longer just ideas, that's when the book's preciousness is actually evident. The Dzogchen path is a vastly profound yet very relaxed, lighthearted, vibrant, and non-dogmatic path concerned with actual experience above all, and Namkhai Norbu is a perfect embodiment of that.
33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x991df414) out of 5 stars Dzogchen as it is! 29 Oct. 2000
By Svyatoslav Uvarov - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I recommend this book to anyone sincerely interested in Dzogchen teaching. The author, Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, is a worlwide renouned teacher, scholar and above all a Dzogchen practitioner. Not only he expounds the theoretical basis of the teaching, he gives us a lot of examples from his own life of practice. WARNING: THIS BOOK IS DANGEROUS FOR YOUR EGO!!!
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x94720ae0) out of 5 stars An inspiring and welcome contribution to Buddhist Studies. 4 Jun. 2000
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
John Shane compiles and edits The Crystal And The Way Of Light, considering the spiritual path from the viewpoint of Dzogchen. From the foundations of Dzogchen practices and the author's familiarity with its philosophy and spirituality to symbols of Tibetan meditation and photos of Buddhist masters, this is filled with insights.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x949dd840) out of 5 stars Outstanding introduction to Dzogchen 19 April 2009
By Aro Gar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A brilliant introduction to Dharma from the perspective of Dzogchen - the path of self-liberation - and one that is indispensable to anyone exploring Aro. Chögyal Namkhai Norbu discusses the base, path and result of Dzogchen practice in simple direct language. This book is an ideal first, second and third step in exploring the teachings of Dzogchen. It could easily be read annually and would offer more with each reading - if one immersed oneself in the initial practises discussed.

The teachings are interwoven with delightful stories from the life of Norbu Rinpoche - his upbringing, education, relationship with his teachers, and events which occurred to him in later years. The stories give a flavour of the nature of transmission between Lama and disciple and encourage us to step outside of our conceptual boxes in which spirituality only occurs in a formal ritual context. The power of these stories lies in their ability to set Dzogchen in its traditional context, and yet allow it to be completely relevant to our lives today.

Readers familiar with the various standard phonetic methods for transcribing Tibetan terms will need to accustom themselves to the different spellings found in The Crystal and the Way of Light; however this should not discourage anyone from reading this excellent book.
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