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The Jewel Tree of Tibet


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About the Author

Robert Thurman is the author of the critically acclaimed, popular original books Inner Revolution and Infinite Life and a translator of sacred Tibetan texts, including The Essence of True Eloquence and The Tibetan Book of the Dead. He teaches at Columbia University and holds the first endowed chair in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in America. Cofounder of Tibet House US and Menla Mountain Retreat Center, he lives in New York City and Woodstock, New York.


This latest from Thurman (Tibetan Buddhist studies, Columbia Univ.; Essential Tibetan Buddhism) is based on a retreat conducted some years ago. Using the Fourth Panchen Lama's text The Devotion to the Mentor (1600) as a teaching tool, Thurman leads the reader down a path that can culminate in an understanding of enlightenment. The Jewel Tree is a visualization to help focus attention, and the jewels are great teachers (such as Buddha, Christ, or Muhammad) who sit on its branches. In six chapters, Thurman gives a history of Buddhism and explains basic philosophical concepts, including the person of the Buddha, the teachings of Buddhism, the community of practitioners, how to develop compassion, and how the mind may be transformed. Guided meditations are included in each teaching. Readers are well served by clear explanations built in a logical sequence of learning. Recommended for academic and public collections.-Jerry Shuttle, East Tennessee State Univ. Lib., Johnson City Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"I heartily recommend this book to anyone interested in the path of peace, loving spirit, and enlightenment." -- Lama Surya Das, author of Awakening the Buddha Within
"The Jewel Tree of Tibet is an extraordinary spiritual text that takes the finest wisdom of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and offers it to readers in a way that is not only very accessible, but deeply enthralling and inspiring." -- Caroline Myss, author of Invisible Acts of Power, Sacred Contracts, and Anatomy of the Spirit

Based on Thurman's six-lesson retreat on Tibetan Buddhism, this accessible book guides readers through the process of enlightenment. Throughout, Thurman (Inner Revolutions) draws from the Fourth Panchen Lama's text Mentor Devotion to ground his teachings, a surprising choice given that it's an advanced dharma that he concedes is "semiesoteric." Thurman successfully spins the text's interpretation so that it becomes more transparent to a Western audience. He describes Buddhist karma, for example, as "Darwinian evolution with an individual twist," and also cautions readers not to adopt some blissed-out, mind-emptying idea of Buddhism just because they imagine that it's Eastern and therefore superior. "When we seek to enter the path of enlightenment, we have to engage with society." On the other hand, he notes, we also need to embrace ascetics like monks and nuns, and invest generously in their work toward liberation. The book has some truly beautiful moments, as when Thurman encourages readers to meditate on the loving-kindness of their mothers (even the bad mothers, he says, made sacrifices to keep their children alive and fed), or when he offers 11 steps to compassion, love and happiness. Although there are a few hiccups-moments when it becomes obvious that the "root text" of Mentor Devotion is a tricky one indeed-this is a fine tool on the road to enlightenment. (Feb. 10) Forecast: A nine-city author tour will help promote this title, which is a One Spirit Book Club alternate selection. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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