Treasures of the Sakya Lineage: Teachings from the Masters
Migmar Tseten, . . Shambhala, $18.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-1-59030-488-4
The Sakya lineage, one of four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism, is little known among English-speaking Buddhists. This collection aims to fill that void, but with mixed results. Tseten is well-positioned to bring these teachings to an audience with some awareness of Tibetan Buddhism; he is a Buddhist chaplain at Harvard University and founded the Sakya Institute in Cambridge, Mass. The book offers writings by important figures of the school, some ancient and others contemporary. But it is tough sledding: one wishes Tseten had ordered the essays according to some principle and added brief introductions to the selections, particularly the older texts. Key Buddhist concepts frequently discussed include karma, emptiness and compassion. Only one essay deals extensively with the practice of meditation. An essay on Sakya history is especially helpful; the history of Buddhism from this school's view contains some interesting stories and variants. Pre-eminently a work of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, this is not a quick read. It will make most sense to advanced and patient students of Tibetan Buddhism who are comfortable with Sanskrit, Tibetan names and terminology, and philosophical distinctions among schools on the ultimate nature of reality and methods to gain enlightenment.
Reviewed on: 02/11/2008