It can be hard for those of us living in the 21st century to see how 14th-century Buddhist teachings still apply. When you’re trying to figure out which cell phone plan to buy or brooding about something someone wrote about you on Facebook, lines like "While the enemy of your own anger is unsubdued, though you conquer external foes, they will only increase" can seem a little obscure. Thubten Chodron’s illuminating explication of Togmay Zangpo’s revered text, The Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas, doesn’t just explain its profound meaning; in dozens of passages she lets her students and colleagues share first-person stories of the ways that its teachings have changed their lives. Some bear witness to dramatic transformations - making friends with an enemy prisoner-of-war, finding peace after the murder of a loved one - while others tell of smaller lessons, like waiting for something to happen or coping with a minor injury.
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Not what I expected...
The author seems to think there's only one way to do everything -- one way to meditate, one way to sit while meditating, one way to learn Buddhism, etc. -- and they're very biased and dismissive of other methods. Having meditated for twenty years, not in a way recommended by the author, I've benefitted in deep and lasting ways, and I can say from experience that this author is mistaken in their judgments. Frankly, I'm not sure I even understand what the thought is behind dismissing other ways of doing things. Why not respect our differences? If someone can run twelve miles and feel at peace and also examine their thoughts and find greater peace all at the same time, why would you want to argue with that? I also found it odd that the author said that you can only learn properly from having a teacher physically in front of you. The Buddha was said to be the first enlightened being, so there was no one to teach him enlightenment. He learned on his own and found enlightenment anyway. Why would following that example and learning on one's own be such a terrible thing? -- And how could it possibly be the wrong way of doing things? After a while, I found the very judgmental, dismissive tone of the author to be unfriendly, unpleasant, and I couldn't connect to what they were saying, nor did I find it useful in practice. I think a more accepting and respectful attitude to one's students would be a lot more appropriate, especially from a practitioner of Buddhism.
I have no interest in listening to anything by this author again, they fell short in too many areas.
I felt like he enunciated well so it wasn't difficult to understand what he was reading. Sometimes I have to turn the audio up really high to make out what readers are saying, but this wasn't the case for this book.
No, I couldn't even finish it -- I stopped after several chapters.
The author wrote this book in English and it got distributed, at the very least, to the entire United States. Many of us listen to audiobooks in our car, at the gym, when going for runs or walks, or while on the bus/subway. Our meditation may be anything from sitting quietly in our room before eating breakfast and getting showered/dressed, to meditating while we run or do some other sport. Many of us don't have the time or money to go to a Buddhist teacher regularly -- not just because of how overworked many of us are, but because Buddhist centers aren't nearby where most of us live and work. This is a large part of the audience that this book is going to. So, to criticize and dismiss the ways we try to add spirituality, religion, and meditation to our lives wherever we can really doesn't make sense to me. This is who we are, so why not try to work with us for who we are, rather than putting our lifestyles down? I'm sure if most of us could work less and spend more time going to Buddhist teachers, and still manage to keep our jobs, our place of residence, and take care of our children, we would. -- I think a bit more tolerance and understanding is in order, in that respect.
- J.D. "J.D."