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Stages of Meditation

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Book Overview

The Dalai Lama explains the principles of meditation in a practice-oriented format especially suited to Westerners. Based upon the middle section of the Bhavanakrama by Kamalashila, a translation of... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Useful Guide for Experienced Meditators

I'm a WASP born and raised in the United States and a very long term meditator who has mostly practiced inside Hindu and Theravadin traditions. I've seen the Dalai Lama speak twice, read some of his books, and watched a few of his videos, so I'm not entirely unfamiliar with his work, but still I'm not a follower of his branch of Buddhism. I downloaded this book from Audible several years ago, and listened to it through in bits and pieces several times while commuting. There were passages I wanted to linger over, so I bought the hardback. It sat on my shelf unread for quite some time, until I finally picked it up about a week ago and read it through in a short series of evening sessions. I find this book to be extremely useful. In it, the Dalai Lama talks about two different types of meditation: 1) Calm Abiding 2) Special Insight Calm abiding meditation usually involves some form of single pointed concentration, and in my experience can lead to the pleasant or - on rare occasions - the blissful experiences that dominate popular perceptions of meditation. The second type of meditation I think of as Insight meditation. It is often associated with the goal of attaining wisdom. The Diamond Sutra, and many branches of Buddhism, emphasize that wisdom involves compassion, selflessness, and learning to treat this "fleeting world" as "a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream, a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, a flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream." Finding the right words to help westerners understand Buddhist wisdom is one of the books strengths. Many schools of meditation present you with the option of choosing either special insight or calm abiding. In this book, and in others of his that I have read, the Dalai Lama insists that both techniques are essential for those who want to make spiritual progress. In this book the Dalai Lama gets quite specific about what is involved in each form of meditation, and provides numerous techniques that practitioners of meditation can use to enhance their practice. For instance, I found his discussion of the antidotes to torpor or over-excitement to be particularly useful. I'll echo what others have said about this book not being a good text for beginners. It is not particularly difficult to understand, but it is unlikely that most practitioners will have the practical background in meditation necessary to understand the significance of some of the points made by the Dalai Lama in this text. I disagree, however, with those who find the book dry. The Dalai Lama was trained from early childhood in the arcana of Buddhist thought, and his discussions of this topic are often detailed and highly technical. In this text, however, he is less rigid, and delves immediately and continuously into the most telling and important points in Buddhist thought. If this book finds the right audience, as it did with me, it becomes something of a page turner. I found myself thinking about this book often during the day, and

Insightful and warm. An absolute pleasure to read

Essentially a study of Mahayanan Buddhism, this book is also excellent choice for those interested in refining their mindfulness meditation practice. There are full chapters describing calm abiding and actualizing special insight. Both are discussed in great detail with vivid examples. I would consider it to be a must-have for anyone interested in the practice of mindfulness meditation.

A great book for appropriate readers

This book is aimed at those who already have the basic knowledge of Buddhism. Those who wish to know the basic of Buddhism should pick up What Buddhists Believe by K. Sri Dhammananda. Stages of Meditation is about the practice of the Madhyamika school of Buddhism. Though a follower of the Theravada school, I greatly enjoy the teaching expounded in this text. The language is precise and to the point. Hence it could be a little dry and challenging to novice readers. Each school of Buddhism explains the core Buddhist concepts a little differently. Because of this students of the Dharma can pick up different insights from reading texts outside of their school. This is hugely benefiting for the development of wisdom and compassion.

A "must-read" for followers of the Dalai Lama

Stages Of Meditation is a extensive commentary written by the venerable Dalai Lama upon the middle section of the Bhavanakrama by Kamalashila; a translation of this section is included. The text and the Dalai Lama's wisdom offer insight into understanding all Buddhist scriptures, and covering such matters as how to embrace kindness and live, know calmness, and achieve insight. A "must-read" for followers of the Dalai Lama and an unquestionably worthy addition to Buddhist studies reading lists and reference collections.

"How-to" guide to happiness.

This book may be read as a "how-to" guide to "The Art of Happiness." In this commentary, the Dalai Lama turns his attention to the intermediate section of the BHAVANAKRAMA, a meditation handbook composed by the ninth-century, "great scholar-saint" (p. 7), Acharya Kamalashila. A practice manual for taming the mind, this book is aimed at cultivating "within our minds those positive qualities taught by the Buddha" (p. 19). You will find teachings here to awaken your bodhichitta mind, and to help you find your way on the bodhisattva path to enlightenment.This deeply-meaningful book offers a good introduction to Buddhism. It might just change your life, or temporarily liberate you from suffering. The Dalai Lama addresses compassion, loving-kindness, and calm abiding (Chapter 8), along with the often-difficult Buddhist concepts of equanimity (Chapter 4), suffering (Chapter 5), and emptiness in terms accessible to a Western reader. He writes, this book "can be like a key that opens the door to all other major Buddhist scriptures" (p. 27). Simply stated, this book delivers the dharma.G. Merritt
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