19 December 2007

Very helpful introduction to Vajrayana Buddhist meditation

Meditation: Advice to Beginners
Bokar Rinpoche
Clearpoint Press, 1993

This slim volume, a collection of talks given by Bokar Rinpoche to his students in France, is a wonderful resource for beginning (and not so beginning) Vajrayana Buddhist meditators. As another reviewer has noted, the book abounds with contemporary analogies, yet the material is firmly grounded in the traditional Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. The book includes a brief section on the preliminary practices (i.e., the Four Reminders and ngondro), and it also provides detailed descriptions of proper meditation posture. As well, Rinpoche gives lengthy explanations of the two basic forms of meditation in the Kagyu tradition---shinay (shamatha, "calm abiding") and lhatong (vipashyana, "superior vision")---and also describes different methods of each for the reader/student to put into practice. Finally, and most importantly to this reviewer, Rinpoche continually stresses that diligence in practice is far more important than "good" or "successful" meditation; for me, it is so easy to become discouraged in meditation because of my goal-oriented, perfectionist nature, so these reminders to "just do it" are simply indispensible.

(This review was originally written on June 7, 2006.)

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