About one thousand years ago, the great Indian pandit and yogi, Dipamkara Shrijnana (Atisha), was invited to Tibet to re-establish the Buddhadharma, which had been suppressed and corrupted for almost two centuries. One of Atisha's main accomplishments in Tibet was his writing of the seminal text, A Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, in which he extracted the essence of all 84,000 teachings of the Buddha and organized them into a clear, step-like arrangement that makes it easy for any individual practitioner to understand and practice the Dharma. This genre of teachings is known as lam-rim, or steps of the path, and forms an essential part of every school of Tibetan Buddhism.
In this book, His Holiness the Dalai Lama gives a commentary to not only Atisha's revolutionary work but also to Lines of Experience, a short text written by Lama Tsongkhapa, who was perhaps the greatest of all Tibetan lam-rim authors. In bringing together Atisha, Lama Tsongkhapa and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, this book offers readers one of the clearest and most authoritative expositions of the Tibetan Buddhist path ever published, and it is recommended for those at the beginning of the path, the middle and the end.
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In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, devotion to one's guru or spiritual master is considered to be of the utmost importance in spiritual practice. The instructions of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, based upon the teachings of the great eighteenth-century saint and visionary Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa, focus on the devotional practices of Guru Yoga, "Merging with the Mind of the Guru."
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche inspired Matthieu Ricard to create this anthology by telling him that “when we come to appreciate the depth of the view of the eight great traditions [of Tibetan Buddhism] and also see that they all lead to the same goal without contradicting each other, we think, ‘Only ignorance can lead us to adopt a sectarian view.’” Ricard has selected and translated some of the most profound and inspiring teachings from across these traditions.The selected teachings are taken from the sources of the traditions, including the Buddha himself, Nagarjuna, Guru Rinpoche, Atisha, Shantideva, and Asanga; from great masters of the past, including Thogme Zangpo, the Fifth Dalai Lama, Milarepa, Longchenpa, and Sakya Pandita; and from contemporary masters, including the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and Mingyur Rinpoche. They address such topics as the nature of the mind; the foundations of taking refuge, generating altruistic compassion, acquiring merit, and following a teacher; view, meditation, and action; and how to remove obstacles and make progress on the path.