The Essence of the Heart Sutra: The Dalai Lama's Heart of Wisdom Teachings

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9780861712847: The Essence of the Heart Sutra: The Dalai Lama's Heart of Wisdom Teachings
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For more than two thousand years, the Heart Sutra has been part of the daily life of millions of Buddhists. This concise text, so rich and laden with meaning, concentrates the very heart of Buddhism into a powerful and evocative teaching on the interdependence of all reality.

In Essence of the Heart Sutra, the Dalai Lama masterfully unpacks the Heart Sutra so that any reader can benefit from its teachings - teachings meant to help us release ourselves from suffering and live with true compassion. Comprised of his "Heart of Wisdom" talks, originally delivered to thousands of listeners in 2001, the book offers the Dalai Lama's commentary as well as his easy-to-follow overview of Buddhist philosophy that places the sutra within its historical and philosophical context. With additional contributions by scholar and translator Thupten Jinpa, Essence of the Heart Sutra is the authoritative presentation of a text seminal to the world's religious heritage.

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Review:

In Essence of the Heart Sutra, the Dalai Lama translates and interprets a central teaching of Buddhism with his trademark precision and straight talk. In the Heart Sutra, the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara describes how to train in the perfection of wisdom by seeing through the illusions of all things. The Dalai Lama goes through the text passage by passage, after an extensive introduction to the basics of Buddhism and the Mahayana tradition's emphasis on emptiness. This doesn't take long, as the entire sutra covers all of three pages, but the Dalai Lama shows how understanding emptiness is a key to happiness and liberation from suffering. Although Essence of the Heart Sutra does not differ significantly in overall message from previous offerings such as The Meaning of Life and An Open Heart, in this book the Dalai Lama stays focused on the relevance of the Heart Sutra, and who better to explain it than the man reported to be the present-day incarnation of Avalokiteshvara himself. --Brian Bruya

About the Author:

Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. He frequently describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk. Born in northeastern Tibet in 1935, he was as a toddler recognized as the incarnation of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and brought to Tibet's capital, Lhasa. In 1950, Mao Zedong's Communist forces made their first incursions into eastern Tibet, shortly after which the young Dalai Lama assumed the political leadership of his country. He passed his scholastic examinations with honors at the Great Prayer Festival in Lhasa in 1959, the same year Chinese forces occupied the city, forcing His Holiness to escape to India. There he set up the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, working to secure the welfare of the more than 100,000 Tibetan exiles and prevent the destruction of Tibetan culture. In his capacity as a spiritual and political leader, he has traveled to more than sixty-two countries on six continents and met with presidents, popes, and leading scientists to foster dialogue and create a better world. In recognition of his tireless work for the nonviolent liberation of Tibet, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. In 2012, he relinquished political authority in his exile government and turned it over to democratically elected representatives.

His Holiness frequently states that his life is guided by three major commitments: the promotion of basic human values or secular ethics in the interest of human happiness, the fostering of interreligious harmony, and securing the welfare of the Tibetan people, focusing on the survival of their identity, culture, and religion. As a superior scholar trained in the classical texts of the Nalanda tradition of Indian Buddhism, he is able to distill the central tenets of Buddhist philosophy in clear and inspiring language, his gift for pedagogy imbued with his infectious joy. Connecting scientists with Buddhist scholars, he helps unite contemplative and modern modes of investigation, bringing ancient tools and insights to bear on the acute problems facing the contemporary world. His efforts to foster dialogue among leaders of the world's faiths envision a future where people of different beliefs can share the planet in harmony. Wisdom Publications is proud to be the premier publisher of the Dalai Lama's more serious and in-depth works.

Thupten Jinpa Langri was educated in the classical Tibetan monastic academia and received the highest academic degree of Geshe Lharam (equivalent to a doctorate in divinity). Jinpa also holds a BA in philosophy and a PhD in religious studies, both from the University of Cambridge, England. Since 1985, he has been the principal translator to the Dalai Lama, accompanying him to the United States, Canada, and Europe. He has translated and edited many books by the Dalai Lama, including The World of Tibetan Buddhism, Essence of the Heart Sutra, and the New York Times bestseller Ethics for the New Millennium.

Jinpa has published scholarly articles on various aspects of Tibetan culture, Buddhism, and philosophy, and books such as Songs of Spiritual Experience: Tibetan Poems of Awakening and Insight (co-authored) and Self, Reality and Reason in Tibetan Thought. He serves on the advisory board of numerous educational and cultural organizations in North America, Europe, and India. He is currently the president and the editor-in-chief of the Institute of Tibetan Classics, a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to translating key Tibetan classics into contemporary languages. He also currently chairs the Mind and Life Institute.

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