IN THE PRESENCE OF MASTERS: Wisdom from 30 Contemporary Tibetan Masters

Reginald A. Ray, Author, Reginald A. Ray, Editor . Shambhala $14.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-57062-849-8

This dialogic anthology can function for novices as a primer on Buddhism or be used as a springboard to meditation for more advanced practitioners. Ray, a professor of Buddhist Studies at Naropa University, gathers thoughts from modern Tibetan Buddhist teachers like Chögyam Trungpa, Sogyal Rinpoche and the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa—all of whom are familiar with Western sensibilities and are experienced at adapting Buddhist dharma for Euro-American students. The format is simple: Ray introduces a topic and then allows these venerable teachers to hold forth, building their thoughts upon one another as if they were in an actual conversation. The book is divided into three basic sections, dealing with Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism; before each section, Ray offers an accessible introduction in which he outlines the main issues facing each major Buddhist division. The section on Vajrayana, the most esoteric and tantric tradition, gives the lamas the opportunity to talk about the importance of lineage and tradition, while the section on Mahayana opens the floor for discussion of compassion. Occasionally, a contributor's thought seems out of place or out of context, but for the most part the artificial-dialogue format works remarkably well. A concluding section offers the lamas' thoughts on the feasibility of the transmission of the dharma to the West. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/10/2004
Release date: 06/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Discover what to read next