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54: TWO BUDDHIST TEACHERS

#54: TWO BUDDHIST TEACHERS. With the increase of interest in Tibetan Buddhism and the efforts of scholars and publishers, there are a number of classical Buddhist texts and teachers, barely heard of twenty years ago, who are now widely read, with translations and commentaries easily available. Two of the very great figures, Indian teachers whose works were widely influential in Tibet, are Shantideva, the eighth-century author of The Way of The Bodhisattva, and Atisha (or Atisa), whose Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment was written in the eleventh century. Both are verse texts, rich and accessible, certain to be rewarding reading to anyone interested in Buddhism. My favorite version of The Way of the Bodhisattva, translated by Wulstan Fletcher of the Padmakara Translation Committee into a graceful blank verse, has been reedited with notes in a fine hardcover edition in the Shambhala Library (2008). The Dalai Lama, who has claimed the work as a special favorite, has done three volumes of commentary on it: For the Benefit of All Beings (Shambhala, 2009), Healing Anger (Snow Lion, 1999) and Practicing Wisdom (Wisdom Publications, 2005). And as a culmination of Western interest in Shantideva comes The Nectar of Manjushri's Speech, a splendid translation (again from Padmakara) of Kunzong Pelden’s book-length commentary, itself based on the teaching of the great nineteenth century master Patrul Rinpoche—a magisterial (and readable) work.

For Atisha: The Complete Works of Atisa, translated by Richard Sherburne (Delhi, Aditya Prakashan, 2000, with romanized Tibetan text) includes the Lamp, Atisha’s own commentary, and twenty-five key texts. It’s an oddly-arranged volume with some puzzling features, but the only Complete Works in English. The Lamp is a brief verse work, and the full text is included in two excellent commentaries: Illuminating the Path to Enlightenment, by the Dalai Lama (from www. lamayeshe.com) and Atisha's Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, commentary by Geshe Sonam Rinchen (Snow Lion, 1997). A particularly good anthology of texts on the lojong (mind-training) tradition associated with Atisha is Essential Mind Training: Tibetan Wisdom for Daily Life, translated by Thupten Jigma (Wisdom, 2011). All worth reading.

A particularly good anthology of texts on the lojong (mind-training) tradition associated with Atisha is Essential Mind Training: Tibetan Wisdom for Daily Life, translated by Thupten Jigma (Wisdom, 2011).

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