This collection of fifteen essays and talks offers an excellent introduction to the teachings of Chogyam Trungpa (1940-1987) as they relate to daily life. Trained in Tibetan Buddhism, Trungpa Rinpoche put aside his monastic robes when he came to the United States, believing that Buddhism needed to be taught "free from cultural trappings and religious fascination" (pp. 241-42). He criticized the materialistic and commercialized "spiritual supermarket" he encountered in the West, and encouraged his students to simply practice sitting meditation so that "it becomes an actual part of life" cutting through to the heart of the spiritual journey (pp. 34; 242). He introduced profound Buddhist teachings to the West in "a thoroughly contemporary way" (p. 243) and, for instance, there are teachings included in this 260-page book applicable to relationships, money, raising children, and drinking alcohol.
Our spiritual journey is a solitary one. The Buddha encouraged us to work out our own salvation with diligence, and "in some sense," Trungpa Rinpoche writes, "Buddhism can be described as a do-it-yourself process" (p. 69). THE HEART OF THE BUDDHA is organized into three parts. In the "Personal Journey" part of this book (pp. 1-82), Trungpa encourages us to confront ourselves directly through meditation practice. Rather than struggling to escape our pain, he writes, we must make it our path (p. 64). In the second part, "Stages of the Path" (pp. 83-170), Trungpa discusses the hinayana, mahayana, and vajrayana stages of the Buddhist path, which ultimately take us from our own inner self to facing life fearlessly. In the last part of the book, "Working with Others" (pp. 171-216), he demonstrates how meditation practice reveals the sacred quality of our everyday experience. This book delivers exactly what its title promises--teachings that cut straight to the heart of Tibetan Buddhism.
This book proves beyond doubt the class of Chogyam Trungpa as a real master of the noble lineage of Karma Kagyu tradition.There are two chapters which require an in-depth reading: 1)The four foundations of mindfulness, and 2)Sacred outlook. The chapter titled sacred outlook contains the heart of the tantra tradition. Understanding the Vajrayogini principle so very clearly explained in this text will clear up all confusion in the minds of the students of the Dharma regarding the total absence of connection between sex and the Buddhist tantra. For those who question the ritual aspects of the Tibetan Buddhism, the answer lies in the explanation given by Chogyam Trungpa of the symbolism of the iconography of the Vajrayogini. I would like to share with all the following nuggets embedded in this chapter: "Experiencing the vajra mind of Vajrayogini is so deep and vast that if thoughts arise, they do not become highlights: they are small fish in a huge ocean of space" "All the dharmas comprising grasping and fixation become empty. From within emptiness.....arises the triangular source of dharmas....On that is the nature of my consciousness....Like a fish leaping from water, I arise in the body of Jetsun Vajrayogini" "The best translation of yidam that I have found is "personal deity". I strongly recommend this book for all students of Buddhism.