As It Is, Volume I: Essential Teachings from the Dzogchen Perspective Paperback – Jun 29 2004
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"Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche’s direct oral instructions inspired admiration, delight in practice, and deep trust and confidence in the teachings among those who met him. His words always helped their minds, in the sense that applying even some of his advice reduced disturbing emotions and naturally allowed compassion, love and insight to blossom."- Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche, Introductory Teachings
About the Author
Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche (1920-1996) was one of the outstanding Tibetan Buddhist teachers of his generation. Forced into exile by the Communist invasion of Tibet, he came to settle in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. Though spending over 25 years in retreat, he not only taught extensively, but also founded numerous monasteries and retreat centers the world over. He is the author of such popular books as Rainbow Painting and As It Is Vols. I & II.
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NOTE: This review is NOT meant to start a philosophical argument. This review is simply about the book, and the contents of the book from a reader's (as opposed to a practitioner's) perspective.
I do not closely follow Buddhist teachings; I knew a little bit about Buddhist philosophy, and I picked this book because I wanted to know more. As I started reading the book, I felt like I was entering a lecture hall where a famous and knowledgeable person was speaking eloquently on a subject he knew well, but that I didn't know anything about. At all. I am quite well-read, and I have a great vocabulary, but I found out rather quickly that my experiences thus far did not prepare me for the words and concepts I encountered in this in-depth treatment of one school of Buddhism, as practiced by one of the acknowledged masters of the philosophy.
HOWEVER, I'm also stubborn by nature, so I regarded this as an opportunity to learn and to grow. After reading the book through once, I noted some connections and descriptions later in the book that helped me understand certain terms early in the book. SO, re-reading the book, and visiting Wikipedia a few times, has helped me illuminate what the author was saying in such a matter-of-fact way.
On that note, one distinct positive aspect of the book is how kindly and lovingly the author and the translators treat the material. It is manifestly obvious this book was created out of an intense desire to share Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche's unique, rich, lived experiences with Buddhist thought and the Buddhist way of life. Even to a non-practitioner such as I, this effort was a smashing success.
Overall, the book was a growth opportunity for me, and I'm glad for that. I do not know whether I'll buy Volume 2; I may re-read Volume 1 (again). I would suggest the potential reader consider whether he or she already DEEPLY understands terms like "Samsara," "Karma," "Nirvana," and the deeper tenets of Buddhism; you will encounter all of that stuff in this book, and it is treated as if you already know something about them. If you believe you might want to study up on those things first, I would recommend a Buddhism primer (which is NOT this book), or some online study first; then open this book, and prepare for a beautiful explication of what you have only started to learn.