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Modern Buddhism: The Path of Compassion and Wisdom Paperback – 10 Jul 2010
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Geshe Kelsang Gyatso is a highly respected meditation master and scholar of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. --Spirituality & Health
...illuminates the very heart of Buddhist thought and practice. --Booklist
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso has proven to be a popular and accessible authority. --Library Journal
About the Author
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso is a fully accomplished meditation master and internationally renowned teacher of Buddhism who has pioneered the introduction of modern Buddhism into contemporary society. He is the author of 22 highly acclaimed books that perfectly transmit the ancient wisdom of Buddhism to our modern world. He has founded over 1200 Kadampa Buddhist centres and groups throughout the world.
Top customer reviews
I found it rather funny that some reviewers seem to concentrate on the personality of the author or the organisation he has been actively promoting. It may very possibly also be that many of the things in this book were written in other titles of the author. While all these may or may not be true, i try to evaluate this book simply by its own merit, giving no positive or negative weight to the author or organisation behind.
So, my question is simply : does this book offer what it promises, i.e. offer to the people in the western world a complete package of the buddhist path from the beginning (ignorance) to the end (enlightment), without a need to entering years long preliminary practises (ngondro) with hundreds of thousands of repetitions of certain practises or a need to meditating in a cave.
After reading the book, my answer is without a doubt: YES !
Actually i am amazed by the magnificient achievement, that the book really delivers all what it promises in one simple package!
What i am especially impressed is that the book is
1) very crearly written. Always focusing to the point, without much beating around the bush
2) very well balanced: the sutra part was very clear. The generation stage of tantra was extremely finely written, and pointed clearly why there is a need for visualization practises. And then, reading the completion stage of tantra was sheer bliss!
Enjoyable reading experience!
If you read this book with open mind
Maybe I shouldn't say this here, but the author is also offering this book as a free e-book download too. Do a Google search :)
From page one you know exactly what to practice, how and why. I use it as a daily meditation book - working through it section by section with contemplation and meditation every day. It makes me feel that this stuff is not only do-able but I can start doing it now. I find it really alive with the kindness and encouragement of the author and reading it instills in me a real confidence that I can practice, understand and finally experience for myself the happiness and ability to help others which Buddha himself experienced.
To place it in its proper context, I would like to share some back ground, with a short overview of the author and the history culminated in the writing of this book.
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 internalizing 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.
Split into 3 parts, the first, 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.
The second part of the book, 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.
The third part, 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.