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The Buddha Tarot Companion: A Mandala of Cards Paperback – Mar 8 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Llewellyn Publications (March 8 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1567185290
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567185294
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.7 x 2.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 590 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,024,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Robert M. Place is an internationally known visionary artist and illustrator. He is recognized as an expert on the Western mystical tradition and the history and philosophy of the Tarot, and his work has appeared in many books and publications. Place is also the designer, illustrator, and coauthor of the highly acclaimed Alchemical Tarot and The Angels Tarot. He has appeared on The Discovery Channel and The Learning Channel and has conducted lectures and workshops throughout the country, including the Open Center and the Omega Institute in New York and the International Tarot Congress in Chicago. Place's work in precious metals have been displayed in museums such as the New York State Museum, the American Craft Museum, and the White House.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 3

The Life of Buddha

The legend of the life of Buddha has many variations. Even the date of his birth is disputed. In China, he is believed to have been born in 947 BCE, but elsewhere the most commonly given date is 563 BCE. At birth, he was given the name Siddhartha, and his family name was Gautama. He is also called Sakyamuni, which means the sage (-muni) of the Sakya clan. Buddha is a title, not a name. It means one who is awake. To the Buddhists, a Buddha is no longer a person. It is a different category of beingnot a mere god, but a being superior to a god. The following account is a popular version of Buddhas life, focusing, as do the Buddhist texts, on Siddharthas early life and his heroic quest for enlightenment. The oldest Buddhist texts were written in the first century BCE in Pali (an ancient language of northern India close to the language that Siddhartha spoke), although the oldest copy of a Pali manuscript that we actually have today is about five hundred years old.1 These stories are more concerned with symbolic significance than an accurate account of Siddharthas life. Later a more complete biography was written in Sanskrit. In the Pali texts and the subsequent Sanskrit texts, we learn not only of Siddharthas life, but also of his past lives and of the twenty-four Buddhas who preceded him in other ages. At one time in a past incarnation, Siddhartha was a Brahman named Sumedha, an ascetic who came into the prescience of the first Buddha, named Dipankara. Like all Buddhas, Dipankara had the power of clairvoyance, and seeing Sumedha in the midst of the assembled crowd, he announced that one day Sumedha would also become a Buddha. This event set Siddhartha on his spiritual path, and led to his eventual Buddhahood. In the following 547 incarnations, Siddhartha experienced life as a lion, a snake, and other animals, as well as a human. During this process he purified himself and perfected the ten virtues: generosity, morality, renunciation, intelligence, energy, patience, truthfulness, determination, benevolence, and equanimity. He became a Bodhisattva, a title that refers to a person on his or her way to becoming a Buddha, and he incarnated in Tusita Heaven with the gods. Tusita Heaven is a paradise above Mount Meru in the sacred center of the world. The beings that live there are gods, but in Buddhist theology, the gods are not immortal. Although their lives are so long that they seem immortal to us, they, too, will suffer death. Of the six worlds shown on the Wheel of Life mandala, Tusita is the best place in which to incarnate. Realizing that his time there was ending, Siddhartha knew that it was time to incarnate in the world of men and to take the final step that he had been preparing for throughout all of his past lives: to become a Buddha. Siddhartha was born on the full moon in Wesak (our month of May), although the Chinese fix his date of birth on our modern calendar as April 8. He was born in Kapilavastu, a principality that no longer exists but which included an area that is now encompassed by northern India and Nepal. His father and mother were Suddhodhana and Maya, the wealthy rulers of Kapilavastu. They were members of the Ksatriya caste (the noble or warrior class). Before Siddharthas birth, Maya had a dream in which she was visited by a white elephant with six tusks. In the dream, the elephant impregnated Maya by piercing her side painlessly with one of his tusks. Ten lunar months later, Siddhartha was born. After his birth, it is said that he immediately stood and a white lotus rose under his feet from which he surveyed the ten directions. He then took seven steps toward each of the cardinal directions, and declared this to be his final birth. In some versions of the story, Suddhodhana and Maya had not yet consummated their marriage when Maya became pregnant. Therefore, Siddharthas birth, like that of Jesus, was from a virgin. Seven days after Siddharthas birth, Maya died of joy and ascended to Tusita Heaven. Mayas sister, Mahaprajapati, married Suddhodhana and raised Siddhartha. A short time later, a seer named Asita, a saintly old man from the Himalayas, came to visit the child and confirmed that two possible destinies awaited him. If Siddhartha embraced a worldly life, he would grow to be a chakravartin (literally, a wheel-turner), a great emperor over a unified India. If he embraced asceticism, he would become a world saviora Buddha. Asita was sure that Siddhartha would take the religious path. As the child was growing, his father summoned a council of wise Brahmans (members of the priest class). They determined that Siddharthas destiny hinged on whether or not he beheld the four sights: old age, sickness, death, and the life of the holy hermit. Suddhodhana wanted his son to succeed him to the throne and become a powerful ruler instead of an ascetic, so he kept Siddhartha in a beautiful palace with sumptuous gardens and delightful young women to serve as his attendants or as his courtesans. Some accounts say that the palace was surrounded by three...(Continues)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ed Brickell on June 1 2004
Format: Paperback
Robert M. Place is a treasure -- an artist who has thought long and seriously about the Tarot and has developed several excellent Tarot decks. Philosophically they are always conceptually novel and well thought-out. Artistically, I find his work unspectacular but certainly pleasing and uncluttered, never drawing attention away from the symbology featured on each card.
If you have his Buddha Tarot deck or are thinking of purchasing it, by all means buy this book, too. As with his terrific companion book to his "Tarot of the Saints" deck, he goes beyond merely providing interpretational keys for each card. Relating each card not only to the other cards in the deck but also to Tarot symbology of the past as well as Buddhistic philosophy, Place weaves a fascinating tale for each card and provides fertile soil to further enrich your own readings.
Rarely does a Tarotist find a modern Tarot deck with such a wealth of interpretational background. Aside from its obvious value to anyone who owns the Buddha Tarot, it can also be used as an excellent introduction to the concepts of Buddhism.
Here's hoping Place continues to find inspiring concepts for new Tarot decks. In an age when so many decks seem to favor style or "warm and fuzzies" over substance, his intelligence and thoughtfulness should be highly valued.
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By Leo de Matos on Aug. 21 2014
Format: Paperback
Great! Awesome! Thank you!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Well researched companion and academic guide June 17 2005
By S. H. Ong - Published on
Format: Paperback
I approached this book with 3 perspectives and average the contents to a well deserved 4.5 star nearing 5. The author had covered many aspects of buddhism through this companion title of the buddha tarot.

Aside the well illustrated but not overly done buddha tarot deck, in my opinion, this deck would be better used for specific purposes rather than general reading. The white booklet (LWB) has quite a bit of coverage but this companion is a definite must in order to interpret it further.

The companion book does a good coverage of information in the areas of tarots, religion as well as academic studies/knowledge.

Besides the usual explanation of the buddha journey, coincidental linkage to the 22 trumps of the tarots, it also introduces the many buddhism items and association incorporate into the pips and court cards. A beginner should have no problem trying to get familiar with the materials as well as advanced or western ideas adopters.

The author did a good job linking western religions with buddhism, which is usually canned to be an eastern religion. For the standard tarots content and introductory coverage, I will give the book 4 stars. With advanced topics, it deserves 4.5 stars.

Through the contents presentation, it is not difficult to tell that the author is targetting western readers and in order to achieve that, the author did a good job by referencing many western ideas, philosophical and religions teachings such as Plato and Christ. The content may be boring to some but the coverage is definitely extensive and is good enough for academic reference. For religious coverage, it deserve a 4 stars, for knowledge and academic content, it deserves a 5 stars.
Five Stars April 2 2015
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The cards are beautiful, love Buddha's story. Robert M Place is a fantastic guy.