With great respect to the authors, this review is NOT a critic's review of the contents of this classical work. This is merely a humble end-user review to share on how to benefit from the use of this book.
The current 3rd blue cover paperback edition of <Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand: A Concise Discourse on the Path to Enlightenment> is a refinement of the wonderfully translated Buddhist Work from a lecture by the Tibetan Buddhist monk and teacher,Pabongka Rinpoche to the author Trijang Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist monk.
<Liberation..> is a dharma gem in Tibetan, a classic now translated in English many years ago, it is 898 pages of "executive summary" of the <The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, the Lamrim Chenmo> by the great Tibetan Buddhist Master, Je Tsong Khapa.
The author, Trijang Rinpoche had attended and faithfully documented in Tibetan language the essence of the entire series of lectures taught by his master, Pabongka Rinpoche, who had taught the great teachings of Je Tsong Khapa over 24 days during a retreat in Tibet during the 1920s.
After months of reading <Liberation...> along with its contemporary Tibetan to Chinese (Taiwanese) translated version ; making comparisons side by side, chapter by chapter, and often word for word with both translated work ; I am convinced that the Tibetan-English translator of <Liberation...>, Mr. Michael Richards has dutifully translated the great works of the author into from Tibetan to English, choice of words in English to the closest possible meaning in Tibetan and/or Chinese, he virtually has left no stone unturned. It is indeed great joy to read his work in English.
To be able to read <Liberation...> in English and to meditate on the teachings is probably the next closest thing to hearing a concise dharma lecture on the path to enlightenment delivered by the author himself to the reader in English.
The author summarises the key points of the systematic approach to meditation in the by Je Tsong Khapa in a manner which benefits all Buddhists on the Mahayana-Vajrayana path because Je Tsong Khapa's teachings is influential across all schools of Tibetan Buddhism and the contents is presented in a story telling-lecture-narration manner.
Nowadays, some Tibetan Buddhist monks from the Gelupa/Gelug school use <Liberation...> as a 24 days comprehensive course outline to deliver lectures on to the Buddhist community on Je Tsong Khapa's <The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment> or <Jangchub Lamrim Chenmo>. This shows the significance of the author's work.
For Buddhist practitioners on the spiritual path, <Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand> is a recommend must read, essentially it teaches how one would benefit by understanding and putting into practice the essence of Buddha's teachings in a single path with three stages.
In <Liberation...> which is based on Je Tsong Khapa's work,<The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment>,<Jang Chub Lamrim Chenmo> the content has been approached in its most concise form by the author, yet nothing of relevance has been omitted.
The value-added end product in <Liberation...> by the author, is an "executive summary", an operational manual and road map for those who had embarked on the spirtual path, a compendium to the very scholarly worded, voluminous and recently completed translated to English of Je Tsong Khapa's <The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, Volumes One, Two and Three : The Lamrim Chenmo>
To benefit from the study of this work, readers should be focused and read <Liberation...> one chapter a day and meditate on the dharma teachings before proceeding to the next. This should bring insight and strengthen our readers on the main points and essence of what the authors intend to convey. Chapter One of <Liberation...> is the most important chapter, it presents the entire book in a nutshell and expands into details for the remaining chapters.
Argubly, some readers may be amused, and even confused by the numerous story telling examples, analogies and metaphors,any misunderstandings, I suppose is largely due to differences in Tibetan culture with modern culture, a difference in time and place when the lectures were delivered. If such examples had been helpful and useful to listeners of the actual lectures at that time, our modern readers should be able to gain the insight and find relevance if they could put these "story telling" contents and examples in <Liberation...> into its modern context. This is essential the most important DIY part for the readers.
When reading and studying a serious work and profound as <Liberation...> the serious readers require to be focused and invest meditative effort. More importantly, learning requires right motivation, demands patience,constant reflection and right thoughts on the part of the reader, like that of a student with an inquisitive mind.
The real benefit to derive from the study of the Buddha Dharma cannot be attained without putting into actual practice the teachings of the path to enlightenment in this book.
For the Buddhist practitioner, who studies and meditate using <Liberation..>, this book is indeed a dharma gem in the palms of our hands. A gem to behold. Don't just read it,understand, meditate and practice.
Our spiritual liberation could actually happen and attainable in the palms of our hand, not to be found in a galaxy far far away or somewhere in time in the distant and uncertain future. May all beings be liberated, well and happy.
For hardworking readers who are really keen to follow up with where the last page of <Liberation..> has ended and the journey to actual liberation had begun, the following trilogy which <Liberation..> is based on is highly recommended :
The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, Volume One: The Lamrim Chenmo
The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, Volume Two
The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, Volume Three: Lam Rim Chen Mo
For a comparative study with a similar contemporary work in the Mahayana (Chinese) Pureland-Zen Buddhism Tradition, the English translation of Venerable Yin-shun's <The Way to Buddhahood: Instructions from a Modern Chinese Master > translated from Chinese, <Cheng Fo Zi Dao> to English by Wing Yeung, Translator is highly recommended.
My only suggestion to the publisher,that it would be a great service to the readers if they could improve on the binding of this thick paperback book by strengthening it and/or to release a hardcover bounded edition, surely a gem such as this should be able stand the test of time without its pages falling apart after a third read.