DAWNING OF CLEAR LIGHT: A Western Approach to Tibetan Dark Retreat Meditation

Martin Lowenthal, Author, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, Foreword by . Hampton Roads $14.95 (197p) ISBN 978-1-57174-375-6

Tibetan Buddhist practice is elaborate, esoteric and challenging for Westerners. This book by Lowenthal, a psychotherapist, meditation teacher and longtime student of Tibetan Buddhism, breaks ground as an English-language guide to the technique of dark retreat, a traditional Tibetan spiritual practice that a Western, non-monastic Buddhist can experience by sitting in a sound- and light-proof room. The dark retreat affords a clearer view of how mental and physical processes generate an individual's experience of reality. Lowenthal explains the practice, frames it in the context of teachings from the Buddhist and Bon spiritual traditions of Tibet, and uses his journal, recorded during his own retreats, as an example of the retreat experience. The journal excerpts are especially helpful as a way of concretely describing what a practitioner might encounter under these unconventional circumstances designed to promote spiritual growth. While the author writes clearly and helpfully about techniques—two appendices give useful practical instruction—and is transparent about his experience, Tibetan Buddhist teachings about the nature of reality are complex. A few chapters are too short to shed sufficient light on central concepts that are very difficult to grasp. This is not a book for beginners, but an advanced practitioner with good guidance from a teacher can benefit from this clear and helpful introduction to a little-known spiritual practice. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/04/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
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