cover image Dzogchen: The Heart Essence of the Great Perfection

Dzogchen: The Heart Essence of the Great Perfection

Dalai Lama. Snow Lion Publications, $24.95 (271pp) ISBN 978-1-55939-157-3

Like all wisdom traditions, Buddhism trades on the transmission of doctrines and approaches from one generation to the next. Tibetan Buddhism also places great value on the teachings' human lineage. Dzogchen, literally ""great perfection,"" is the primary teaching of the Nyingmapa school of Tibetan Buddhism, and was brought to Tibet in the eighth century by Padmasambhava, who is venerated as the ""second Buddha."" His powerful gift is transmitted through this collection of addresses given from 1982-1989 by the 14th Dalai Lama. As Sogyal Rinpoche (The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying) puts it in his foreword, ""To receive such teachings from His Holiness is... something quite extraordinary."" For advanced students of Tibetan Buddhism this is a significant gift indeed, for it rings not only as an offering from the tradition's greatest living teacher, but also echoes with the compassionate authority of a purity kept clear by Tibet's 2,000-plus-year-old history. Beginners will be challenged, if not defeated, by the complex system here, but most readers can find joy and wisdom in the two brief addresses in the appendix. Here Nyoshul Khenpo Jamyang Dorje and the Dalai Lama speak softly yet powerfully to people of this brash, busy, chaotic world if we will but pause to listen. (Apr.)