The Heart of Compassion: The Thirty-Seven Verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
What would be the practical implications of caring more about others than about yourself? This is the radical theme of this extraordinary set of instructions, a training manual composed in the 14th century by the Buddhist hermit Ngulchu Thogme, here explained in detail by one of the great Tibetan Buddhist masters of the 20th century, Dilgo Khyentse.
In the Mahayana tradition, those who have the courage to undertake the profound change of attitude required to develop true compassion are called bodhisattvas. Their great resolve - to consider others’ needs as paramount, and thus to attain enlightenment for the sake of all living creatures - carries them beyond the limits imposed by the illusions of “I” and “mine,” culminating in the direct realization of reality, transcending dualistic notions of self and other.
This classic text presents ways that we can work with our own hearts and minds, starting wherever we find ourselves now, to unravel our small-minded preoccupations and discover our own potential for compassion, love, and wisdom. Many generations of Buddhist practitioners have been inspired by these teachings, and the great masters of all traditions have written numerous commentaries.
Dilgo Khyentse’s commentary is probably his most extensive recorded teaching on Mahayana practice.
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|Listening Length||8 hours|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com.au Release Date||28 March 2020|
|Best Sellers Rank|| 16,795 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
40 in Tibetan Buddhism (Books)
48 in Buddhist Rituals & Practice (Books)
74 in Buddhism (Audible Books & Originals)
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The "37 practices", composed by a Tibetan Grand Master in the 14th century A.D., is very compact (37 four line stanzas, in addition to a few introductory and concluding ones). The general reader will often have the impression that the Master starts a stanza by stating some premises, and then proceeds to a conclusion without providing much more than rather elusive hints at the intellectual path between the two (which probably did not matter much for him, since, in Buddhism and especially Tibetan Buddhism, "understanding" is more a matter of experiencing reality than of reasoning your way to it). He takes a lot for granted and assumes that his reader understands what he has in mind, which his Tibetan readers at the time probably did, sharing a cultural background that is largely unfamiliar to us. This even translates into syntactic and morphological short-circuits: sentences without a verb, or missing the equivalent of conjunctions and prepositions supposed to indicate relationships between words and phrases... even words denoting two opposite or complementary concepts contracted into one word (say, to give an idea of what might be an equivalent in English: "negsuff" for "negativity and suffering"). Although the trained reader is expected to fill-in all gaps and elucidate all abstruse formulations, well, most of us are not trained readers by the Master's standards.
The "37 practices" are often used as a textbook for beginning students of classical Tibetan (including your reviewer), and you will hardly be surprised to hear that we find it very hard to understand, let alone translate it. Those who do not know any Tibetan at all may settle directly for a translation, and then, since not everything in any translation of such a rich and compact text is ever likely to be perfectly clear, another translation, only to be left wandering whether a few stanzas are really translations of the same text.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, who has a long experience of teaching Buddhism to Westerners, takes the reader through this text, stanza after stanza, providing not only explanations, but also telling examples and illustrations. Going beyond the text, he gives clear and synthetic definitions, again with examples and illustrations, of basic general Buddhist and specific Mahayana notions: Karma, Bodhisattvas, refuge, the three jewels and the three roots, and many more, to which the poem often refers in an elliptic way (always assuming that, of course, the reader knows all about that).
Dilgo Khyentse's fluent style, often enlivened by a touch of humour, gives a glimpse of a wise and warm-hearted Master, a hallmark of Tibetan Buddhism. "The Heart of Compassion" is a valuable companion to a most fundamental text of Tibetan Buddhism.