This book was incredibly frustrating and disappointing to me. Ngakpa Yeshe Dorje, the Dalai Lama's weather-maker, always seemed such a colorful characThis book was incredibly frustrating and disappointing to me. Ngakpa Yeshe Dorje, the Dalai Lama's weather-maker, always seemed such a colorful character that I was quite excited to get my hands on a biography. That excitement did not last long.
Not that he isn't still colorful. The main body of the text is essentially a translation of Rinpoche's own life story, recorded by the principle author. Unfortunately, neither of the authors appear to have invested any real effort to understand any of the underlying concepts that render the Tibetan system(s) unique in the Buddhist World, nor to enlist the aid of a qualified editor. As a result, the book is riddled with factual and contextual errors ranging from the infuriating to the ridiculous. My personal favorite describes the Phurba—the three-sided ritual dagger (Sanskrit: Kila, "nail" "tent-peg") key to the practice of the unmentioned tantric deity Vajrakilaya, often applied to the "lower activity" of weather control—as a "sceptre," which even a cursory search of the literature would show to be not even close.
Thus, while I am glad this book exists, and that I had the opportunity to read it, I cannot rate it highly, nor recommend it either as an introduction to Tibetan practice, nor even as a representative example of Lama biography. Many better such books are available on a range of figures from the last several generations. Almost the only positive thing I can say is that the authors were too unfamiliar with the traditional forms to turn this into the sort of legendary hagiography that plagues the literature of the notable figures of prior centuries. ...more