Songs of Spiritual Experience: Tibetan Buddhist Poems of Insight and Awakening

Songs of Spiritual Experience: Tibetan Buddhist Poems of Insight and Awakening

by Jas' Elsner, Thupten Jinpa
     
 

A remarkable collection of Tibetan religious verse—of interest to students of any spiritual tradition.

     The first major anthology of Tibetan spiritual poetry available in the West, Songs of Spiritual Experience offers original translations of fifty-two poems from all the traditions and schools of Tibetan Buddhism,

Overview

A remarkable collection of Tibetan religious verse—of interest to students of any spiritual tradition.

     The first major anthology of Tibetan spiritual poetry available in the West, Songs of Spiritual Experience offers original translations of fifty-two poems from all the traditions and schools of Tibetan Buddhism, spanning the eleventh to the twentieth centuries. These poems communicate spiritual insight with grace and precision, addressing the themes of impermanence, solitude, guru devotion, emptiness, mystic consciousness, and the path of awakening. Also included here is a thorough introduction exploring the characteristics of Tibetan verse and its role in Buddhism and a glossary containing notes on the poems.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The tyro learning something about Buddhism will have noticed a trend in books: many are either about how to meditate or they're about theory. Fewer present Buddhist basics from the perspective of practice (that is, practice above and beyond meditation). Filling that gulch is this hefty volume by Ray, a Naropa University Buddhist studies professor, who presents ideas and actions, theory and practice. This book is distinguished by the author's comprehensive attention to detail. He explains both Buddhist cosmology and the history of Buddhism, and cogently outlines Geluk Buddhism, a line of monastic traditions from central Tibet. While many books focus exclusively on Geluk (which is a bit like using the example of Roman Catholicism to explain all of Christianity), Ray also explores non-Geluk practices, though he does not always flag a given practice as Geluk or other. There may be too much of a good thing here--history, doctrine, practice, Geluk, non-Geluk, the kitchen sink. The novice may easily lose the forest for the trees. Clearer chapter introductions would have gone a long way to ameliorating that problem, and a glossary would have been more helpful than the chronology of important dates appended to the book's end. Ray refers to, but never delves deeply into, Tantric Buddhism (but his announced Shambhala 2001 title promises to pick up where this book left off). This tome belongs primarily to the very devoted and the very knowledgeable. (Dec.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
The West has shown an almost inexhaustible interest in the spiritual teachings of the Buddhist East, and Tibet in particular has evoked a special fascination. It is not difficult now to read in English the major and minor Buddhist scriptures of Tibetan Buddhism, but until now there has not been a collection of related poetry in a Western language. This anthology from Jinpa (the Dalai Lama's principal translator) and Elsner's anthology makes a strong case for the spiritual importance of this poetic tradition, and their translations are, by and large, readable and somewhat less forbidding than some of the long prose instructions characteristic of Buddhist scripture. Poetry makes the insights more accessible: "When I first began meditating,/ I felt a surge of bliss,/ like a couple in love gazing on each other." A fine volume; recommended for collections where there is interest in Buddhism. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781570625503
Publisher:
Shambhala Publications, Inc.
Publication date:
12/19/2000
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
6.21(w) x 9.26(h) x 0.94(d)

Meet the Author

THUPTEN JINPA is the principal English translator for the Dalai Lama. He holds a PhD in religious studies from Cambridge University, as well as a Lharam degree, the Tibetan equivalent to a doctorate in divinity. He is president of the Institute of Tibetan Classics, an organization dedicated to translating key classical Tibetan texts into contemporary languages. JAŚ ELSNER is a senior research fellow at Corpus Christi College, Oxford University. He has published widely on the topics of art and religion.

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