Open Heart, Open Mind: Awakening the Power of Essence Love Hardcover – Apr 3 2012
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“Rinpoche’s infectious spiritual energy, enthusiasm and insight will still prove relevant for anyone with an open mind and a willingness to project peace and goodness inward and outward…Centered serenity from one of the greats.”--Kirkus
“Tsoknyi Rinpoche is a most wonderful teacher, warm-hearted, deep, honest and funny. This book captures his teachings and spirit beautifully, profound teachings offered in a kind, truly accessible and personal way.”
—Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart
“Designed both for people new to meditation and those with long experience, Open Heart, Open Mind is a treasure trove of wisdom and love.
It is a book filled with practical exercises, personal anecdotes, humor, compassion, clarity, and an expansive view
of how we can each have a better life.”
—Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Happiness
“Tsoknyi Rinpoche has a unique way of integrating heartfelt wisdom, brilliant clarity and playfulness on the path to awakening. In these lively and profound pages we feel the pleasure of being with Rinpoche as his delightful stories evoke a path of practical psychological insights and spiritual methods. Open Heart, Open Mind offers anyone who wants a more joyous life a masterful guide to greater meaning, a more spacious mind, and the spark of a kind love.
—Tara and Daniel Goleman, authors of Emotional Alchemy and Emotional Intelligence
“Tsoknyi Rinpoche's Open Heart, Open Mind is amazing in a number of ways. Tsoknyi Rinpoche grew up in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. His family is full of meditation masters and their energy surrounded him from an early age. Yet he is also interested in and experienced
with Western neuroses and Westerners' minds. The result is a refreshing, invigorating, and stimulating work: one that has the power
to awaken that essence we all seek.”
—Mark Epstein, M.D., author of Thoughts without a Thinker and Going to Pieces without Falling Apart
“Tsoknyi Rinpoche is a rare gem—a teacher who combines a deep understanding of the Buddhist tradition with remarkable insight into the challenges we face in the modern world. In this book, he skilfully weaves together profound teachings on ‘essence love’ and the ‘subtle body’ with examples from everyday life to show how it is possible to overcome our fears and limitations, and ignite the boundless wisdom and compassion that we all have within us.”
—Sogyal Rinpoche, author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
About the Author
Born in 1966 in Nubri, Nepal, Tsoknyi Rinpoche is one of the most renowned teachers of Tibetan Buddhism trained outside of Tibet. Deeply versed in both the practical and philosophical disciplines of Tibetan Buddhism, he is beloved by students around the world for his accessible style, his generous and self-deprecating humor, and his deeply personal, compassionate insight into human nature. The married father of two daughters, Rinpoche nevertheless manages to balance family life with a demanding schedule of teaching around the world and overseeing two nunneries in Nepal, one of the largest nunneries in Tibet, and more than fifty practice centers and hermitages in the eastern region of Tibet. More information about Tsoknyi Rinpoche, his teachings, and his activities can be found at www.pundarika.org.
Eric Swanson is coauthor, with Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, of the New York Times bestseller The Joy of Living and its follow-up volume, Joyful Wisdom. A graduate of Yale University and the Juilliard School, he is the author of several works of fiction and nonfiction. After converting to Buddhism in 1995, he cowrote Karmapa, The Sacred Prophecy, a history of the Karma Kagyu lineage, and authored What the Lotus Said, a memoir.
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Westerners live in a world dominated by science, instrumental rationality, and competition. Our eighteenth century Age of Reason taught us to put faith only in our thinking ("I think, therefore I am"), not to explore the fuller embodied awareness that Buddhism points us to. Many of us harbor the thought of ourselves as intrinsically unlovable, perhaps due to the socio-economic competition that ties our worth just to our current usefulness or success, instilling fear from a young age that we can never be reliably worthy of love.
Such socially conditioned anxiety and self-dislike, as Tsoknyi Rinpoche points out, becomes embedded in our minds and psycho-physical energies, inhibiting access to the heart of awakening, the recognition that oneself and all others are primordially pure, deeply worthy of love, and endowed with vast potential. Unless the ingrained patterns of our social conditioning are directly addressed (and Asian pedagogies were not designed to do so), we may be hindered from fuller access to the liberating power of the Dharma.
The brilliance of Tsoknyi Rinpoche's book lies in his crystal clarity on these dynamics, and the effectiveness of his methods for cutting through them to reawaken the innate spark of awareness and loving energy that is hidden in our being.
Rinpoche teaches through personal stories of struggles and inspirations, his own and others'. Told by a revered lama, his personal stories can be shockingly frank, yet are precisely targeted to show how our subconscious patterns of thought, feeling and energy can obstruct our potential, and to impart practices that gently heal and release those patterns. Rinpoche thereby transmits, in the most affectionate and gentle ways, the very heart of awakening from the Dzogchen and Mahamudra traditions of Tibet.
In the book's first pages, Tsoknyi Rinpoche describes the fear of falling he felt in Malaysia years ago when stepping onto a transparent glass bridge between skyscrapers. "Paralyzing fear is not, perhaps, the response one might expect" from a Tibetan lama, he admits. Yet by sharing his fears with us, he helps enter us into the same deep process of healing that he underwent. The key is kindness and respect for every aspect of our being: "Working with patterns [like fear] requires great kindness and gentleness: the same qualities parents apply when they comfort children crying in the dark.... I stepped for a third time onto the bridge, ... acknowledging the fear and letting it come up within an open, comforting embrace instead of trying to push it away. With each step I gained more confidence. The tight knot of physical sensations, emotions and thoughts began to loosen."
To be present to our emotions with such gentleness and respect shows us how to be present to others caught in similar patterns (compassion) while drawing our minds toward the View of Dzogchen and Mahamudra (wisdom) that embraces everything in its openness, clarity and warmth.
A practical problem for modern people is the inner blockage we may experience as we try to open to awakening qualities in the nature of our minds. Purely intellectual, cognitive training is not enough, for it leaves untouched the energetic and emotional knots imprinted by years of conditioned reaction in our fast paced lives. Rinpoche provides new access to the practice of subtle energy from Tibetan tantric tradition that helps us release, from the inside, our psycho-physical barriers to awakening.
The journey unfolds as layers of habitual fear learned from our youth gradually unwind to reveal the child-like freedom and wonder with which we were born: "In the process [of my Tibetan lama training,] I learned something quite startling. The youthful freedom I longed for was no different than the freedom of heart that the Buddha ... had taught. The discipline of my training was aimed at helping people work with their patterns, to embrace them with the same warmth, openness, and curiosity with which most of us approached the various phenomena we encountered as very young children. "
As Rinpoche shares many further stories, fresh ways of imparting Buddhist teachings, and simple meditations, we discover that what needs healing in us is what needs healing in others, that the inner wisdom, openness and warmth that does this healing is our deepest identity, and that all of our experiences and relationships can become the means to express that identity. Tsoknyi Rinpoche is not merely giving us methods of self-healing, but returning us to our deepest being, Buddhahood, by showing us how to let all that hides it gently fall away.
Associate Professor of Buddhism, Boston College
Open Heart, Open Mind is different. Co-written with Eric Swanson, the book is tighter, more coherently organized and oriented to beginning meditation students or those who are simply curious about Buddhism and spirituality. The book contains many autobiographical anecdotes as well as stories and examples gleaned from Tsoknyi R.'s years of teaching in the West. The autobiographical details, in particular, make the book accessible and present the path of meditation as practical and doable. Tsoknyi, R. is willing to present honest stories of his own path as a student and as a teacher and does not hide behind the mystique of a monks robes.
The substance of the teachings are very traditional and authentic, presenting the Four Foundations of Mindfulness and the Six Paramitas of the Mahayana path. But Tsoknyi R.'s style and sense of humor are unique. And his understanding of Western students and their strengths, hestitations and hang ups are unusual. In particular, Rinpoche focuses on Buddhist teachings on what he translates as "essence love", loving-kindness toward oneself and spontaneous compassion toward others that is both an outcome cultivated through meditation practice and also the inspiration for the practice path. Because of the high degree of literacy and education of Western students, Tsoknyi R. believes that these heart teachings are particularly important as Buddhism becomes established in the West. Buddhism as Tsoknyi R. presents it is a very juicy, intimate journey -- full of inspiration derived from others and with a path that includes others.
This book is in the first rank of introductory books in English on Buddhist meditation. Although quite different from introductiory books of other teachers, it compares well with Trungpa R.'s Myth of Freedom, Suzuki Roshi's, Zen Mind, Beginners Mind, and, more recently, It's Up to you by Dzigar Kongtrul, R. and How Not to be a Buddhist by Dzongsar Khyentse R.
At the age of eight, the Nepalese-born Tsoknyi Rinpoche was marked as the reincarnation of a well known Tibetan meditation master. By twelve, he started the rigorous training Tibetan monks under go. Later he renounced his vows, marrying and becoming a family man. After writing about his training in the monastery and life as a global teacher, he encourages us to realize we can all be "virtuosos" -- able to "recognize within ourselves an astonishing capacity for brilliance, kindness, generosity, and courage." And we can help develop these qualities in everyone. At the heart of this practice is "essence love" which is "unconditional kindness, gentleness, and affection born of openness."
In Open Heart, Open Mind Tsoknyi gives us stories, teachings and exercises directed to developing essence love and other spiritual qualities. Opening with a story about his fear crossing a bridge, he builds on that analogy through out the book, gently trying to help us cross our own bridges from reactive patterns to greater openness and love.
In addition, Tsoknyi Rinpoche has a way of expressing himself that I have never seen before in contemporary, Buddhist literature. He is so down to earth! His explanations are so easy to understand and accessible to any reader, Buddhist or not. The book is sprinkled with personal stories that add flavor and interest and give the reader the feeling that although Tsoknyi Rinpoche is a tulku;the reincarnation of a Buddhist teacher, he is very much a human being like you and me...someone that we can truly relate to.
As Rinpoche honestly shared his experiences regarding his problems, dilemas & personal issues, I began to see that these things are part of the human condition. It was so helpful to see that someone so evolved spiritually, nevertheless, still had problems similar to mine! I knew that he understood my mind & my pain and that this book was his way of reaching out to me & countless others with a genuine sense of compassion. It is a guide to healing our personal patterns that block us from living the life we are meant to live with greater peace, contentment and well being. Many thanks, Rinpoche.
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