A clear, short, and delightful guide to practicing Vajrayana Buddhism, covering everything a beginner needs to know to get started, including instructions on the Vajrayana preliminary practices.
If you are new to Tibetan Buddhism, this short work will help you get started with your practice, and if you are well steeped in these teachings, it will remind you of the essentials points. Framed as a commentary on the Tersar Ngondro by Dudjom Rinpoche, Awakening Wisdom is geared toward connecting people with practice.
Part I covers motivation, posture and breathing, mantra practice, and the four reflections that turn the mind toward Buddhist practice. Part II covers mantras and tonglen, the compassion practice that helps us connect to the suffering of others. Part III provides guidance about the preliminary practices themselves: the practice of the threefold refuge; generating the altruistic mind, or bodhichitta; purification practice; mandala offering; and Guru Yoga, explaining how each practice is the antidote to a particular cause of suffering, or "poison." Part III also includes precious guidance about the Vajra Guru mantra and the transference of consciousness at the moment of death.
While these may seem like technical subjects--and this is indeed a traditional presentation--Pema Wangyal's writing is suffused with warmth and tenderness, making this book quite accessible and inviting to beginners.
Awakening Wisdom: Heart Advice on the Fundamental Practices of Vajrayana Buddhism, Pema Wangyal, Shambhala Publications, Paperback, 176 pages, $21.95
Pema Wangyal (b. 1945), the first son of Kangyur Rinpoche, is the main resident master of the three-year Nyingmapa retreats in Dordogne, France, director of the Association du Centre d'Etudes de Chanteloube, and founder of the Padmakara Translation Group. Under the guidance of Kyabje Kangyur Rinpoche, Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche, and other great masters of Tibetan Buddhism, Pema Wangyal Rinpoche has studied extensively, his learning confirmed by years of intensive practice. At the request of Dharma groups and institutions around the world, Rinpoche has been active as a teacher since 1975, giving public talks, leading seminars, and providing individual guidance. Since 1980, Rinpoche has personally supervised the traditional three-year retreat of intensive study and practice in Dordogne, France. In 1999, he inaugurated a series of retreats in parallel with the three-year retreat, thus enabling Buddhist practitioners with family responsibilities to engage in serious and sustained practice.