There are not many publicly-available books on Chöd practice, so from that perspective this book is an invaluable resource no matter which tradition o...moreThere are not many publicly-available books on Chöd practice, so from that perspective this book is an invaluable resource no matter which tradition one practices. Also, there are obviously many common elements running through the various Chöd traditions, and this speaks well to those underpinnings.
That said, this is a distinctly Gelug approach, and as a Nyingma practitioner myself I found a very few elements either jarring or simply inapplicable. Easy enough to ignore those. Also, like most tantric practices, one must really learn from a qualified teacher; texts are a supplement to, not a replacement for, direct instruction. This is particularly obvious in this case: while the notes regarding melodies for specific segments of the practice may be useful for those who have been instructed, I see no way anyone could possibly construct them properly from the text sound-unheard. (Supposedly, there are CD recordings available from this tradition, I have not looked into those.)
Bottom line: if you're not overly sectarian in your approach, and you've had some Chöd transmission and instruction, this is a very worthwhile supplement to your studies. If you are curious about the practice and want to see if you might be interested without a large investment, this might do the trick. Otherwise: move along, nothing to see here.(less)
This is a reasonable overview of the basic philosophical underpinnings of the Buddhist path (i.e., abhidharma) from the Tibetan point of view. Based o...moreThis is a reasonable overview of the basic philosophical underpinnings of the Buddhist path (i.e., abhidharma) from the Tibetan point of view. Based on a text by Ju Mipham, this lengthy work draws heavily on the sutras, including such Mayahana texts as the Lalitavistara Sutra, as well as the standard works of Nāgārjuna and Candrakīrti, and especially the Abhidharmakośabhāṣya of Vasubandhu. Technical terms mostly are given somewhat beginner-level explanations, and are covered in English along with transliterated Sanskrit and Tibetan, but no Tibetan script, U-chen or otherwise.
As a result, I found this book useful, and yet a little frustrating. Having studied various streams of Buddhist thought for some 20 years—thought seeking a fuller understanding of the varying doctrines on Śūnyatā (generally translated as "emptiness")—I have difficulty knowing if this is really a good book for beginners. So much of it struck me as "yes yes, I've covered this before, thanks for the reminder," but I cannot really tell if someone new to the information would find it as simple. I suspect not. Some concepts that were relatively new to me did not seem to be explained thoroughly enough to really give me a sense of what they mean and why they're important, so I suspect the same could be true of the rest if one does not already have some grounding in the material.
My understanding is that this volume, like many of the Buddhist Studies titles from Dharma Pubs, was intended to be a textbook of sorts for classes at the Nyingma Institute. It is possible that the lack I felt represents a gap that would be filled in by lectures or the opportunity to ask questions. I would therefore say, in general, unless this book has been assigned to you, or you intend to use it as a handy reference/primer for abhidharma studies in other sources, this is probably not the book you want.(less)
I found this at random in a local used bookstore which I do not frequent, and it seemed like one of those "buy now or never see again" opportunities....moreI found this at random in a local used bookstore which I do not frequent, and it seemed like one of those "buy now or never see again" opportunities. I am extremely glad I listened to that inner voice.
This book is the most comprehensive, thorough, and unbiased overview of the satipaṭṭhāna practices of meditation I have ever encountered, and I rather doubt that anyone will be able to do better. The author takes as his sources not only his traditions translation of the Satipaṭṭhānasutta itself, but various redactions such as the Tibetan and those recently recovered from Tung-huang, along with ancient and modern commentarial literature of many traditions and schools. The bibliography alone runs 21 pages.
All of this information is synthesized and analyzed in the context of the teachings of contemporary Buddhists as well as the suttapiṭaka as a whole, using the Buddha's other teachings to elucidate elements of the Sanskrit & Pali "originals" where the translation has become confused or controversial over the millennia since they were committed to writing. As the fruit of the author's Ph.D. research, it is suitably academic for those inclined to that view, without becoming bogged down with unnecessary detail in the text itself, reserving technical asides for the footnotes. My only complaint is that the pagination of the notes is somewhat odd, perhaps reflecting a European or Indo-Asian styleguide rather than the American & British conventions with which I am more familiar.
Both the outline and depth of coverage have proved extremely useful to my own practice, as well as directly informing several meditation classes I have taught since. It is, in my opinion, an indispensable guide. Which, for my friends, sadly means "no, you cannot borrow it."(less)