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Essential Tibetan Buddhism

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  572 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
An accessible introduction to this rich spiritual tradition through its own vibrant literature, much of it only recently available in the West. Here are teachings about the Buddha, subsequent Buddhas, and our Buddhist nature; prayer texts and meditation techniques; the stories of hermits and yogis; the lessons of ancient monks and modern nuns—all centered around profoundly ...more
Hardcover, 317 pages
Published March 31st 1998 by Booksales (first published 1995)
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Chris Lemig
Mar 12, 2008 Chris Lemig rated it really liked it
Robert Thurman is the preeminent American authority on Tibetan Buddhism. He was the first westerner to ever be officially ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk and looks to the Dalai Lama as his personal mentor. (He's also Uma Thurman's dad!)

I've seen a couple of lecture videos by him and I just love his enthusiasm and passion for the subject of Tibetan Buddhism. He's also super-funny in a very geeky sort of way.

I didn't read through this entire book. It's a collection of ancient Tibetan writings
Eric Villalobos
Mar 02, 2014 Eric Villalobos rated it really liked it
Shelves: buddhism
I think I will have to agree with another review that I read on this book: the book is way too dense at some points. A little past the halfway point, there's just this huge block of texts that you have to muddle through and at the end, you ask yourself "What did I learn?" and you can't really pinpoint an answer (which would be okay if it allowed you to experience Tibetan Buddhist culture or something of that sort, but I feel as if that could have been expressed with texts that are less dense). ...more
This was a really dense read, esp. since I had zero experience with Buddhism prior to reading this book. Probably not the best place to start for someone curious about Buddhism. Otherwise, interesting stuff.
Sep 13, 2010 Malcolm rated it liked it
Shelves: reading-slowly
Interesting but rather heavy going in places. Sadly No index but contains a wealth of information about this subject.
Will Redd
Oct 14, 2013 Will Redd rated it liked it
This book took a long time to get through. Several times I had to stop and take a brief hiatus from reading it because the text was a bit dense and required some time to consider before moving on. One reason for this is the author's call to leave his explanations of the selected writings for the Notes section at the very end. While I understand wanting the selected writings to speak for themselves, for someone who is looking to understand Tibetan Buddhism (like the majority of readers who find ...more
Josh Axelrad
Mar 13, 2010 Josh Axelrad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
Thurman's 50-page condensed introductory history of Buddhism in Tibet is what I bought this for, in retrospect. That man can write a condensed introductory history of Buddhism in Tibet. The bulk of the remainder is texts (poems, narrative, commentary) from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, which as a note to myself comes off rather religiously, when you look at it.

Noteworthy: Tse Chokling Yongdzin Yeshe Gyaltsen's telling of the story of the Buddha's life and Enlightenment is ornate, gothically b
Jim Parker
May 17, 2014 Jim Parker rated it it was amazing
Took me forever to read but this book is no lightweight. The notes at the end of the book are invaluable. The content is at times very difficult reading but this book is essential for anyone from the west who wants to be even a semi-serious student of Tibetan Buddhism. When not just presenting translations of classic text, Robert Thurman is extremely accessible, his understanding of Tibetan Buddhism opens the doors to understanding.
Cy Winther-Tamaki
Aug 14, 2016 Cy Winther-Tamaki rated it liked it
The introduction and first few chapters were highly informative, they provided the history of Buddhism in Tibet, and the story of the Buddha himself. the second half of the book is primarily prose depicting the various deities, and there's little context provided for it. While beautiful, I didn't get too much out of this part. The notes section in the back does provide some context, but not enough to understand what it's about.
May 11, 2010 Patrick is currently reading it
A good overview of the fundamental beliefs of the Mahayana traditions emanating from Tibet. Whilst setting out the 'mythology' of Buddhism which is not unlike that of the Christian tradition, not for a moment is there any expectation that the reader will be expected to accept the mythology in a literal sense. Rather these stories are presented in a rich tapestry of symbolism. So far I am enjoying this work immensely.
Nov 28, 2011 Corey rated it really liked it
Informative, but tough going. A lot of the texts are presented without any explanation, which can be difficult for someone not oriented in the Tibetan cosmology to understand (and often Thurman leaves off further explication for the sake of brevity). Still, there is a lot to recommend this, such as the excerpts from Milarepa, Shantideva and the 14th Dalai Lama.
Jun 10, 2014 Lori rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The beginning is great in that it explains the history of how Tibetan Buddhism came about, but the rest of the book is not what I was expecting at all. It's incredibly dense, and definitely not for beginners. Given the title, I thought it would be more of an intro-style book, but it is not. I think it will be well worth coming back to later, when I have more knowledge/understanding.
Sep 18, 2015 Kristen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Yet another fabulous book that I will never truly be "done" with. A lot of history in a short amount of space, my only complaint was that the typeface was so tiny. I loved reading about the history of the traditions I practice, and I strongly recommend this book to any Buddhist to help them understand the difference between Tibetan Buddhism and other traditions.
David Melbie
Dec 11, 2010 David Melbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Seekers
Recommended to David by: Picked myself
This is a source book for all things Tibetan Buddhism. . . very useful. --From A Reader's Journal, by d r melbie.
Mary Louise
Jun 28, 2010 Mary Louise rated it it was amazing
My husband and I watched the video version of his lectures about Tibet, and I am re-reading his terrific book again.
Kathryn Drennan
Jun 12, 2015 Kathryn Drennan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, it did grow tiring in a few points. It was a useful reference while traveling in Bhutan.
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Tenzin Robert Thurman is the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University, holding the first endowed chair of Buddhist Studies in the United States. He is the author of the bestseller Inner Revolution, as well as Anger, Infinite Life, and other popular books. He is also a translator of Tibetan texts. He serves as co-founder and president of Tibet House US, a no ...more
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