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Religions of Tibet in Practice

by Donald S. Lopez Jr.

Buy the book: Donald S. Lopez Jr.. Religions of Tibet in Practice

Release Date: 03 March, 1997

Edition: Paperback

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Buy the book: Donald S. Lopez Jr.. Religions of Tibet in Practice


A splendid, varied collection of translations from Tibetan.

Donald S. Lopez, Jr.'s newest volume in the Princeton Series is Religions of Tibet in Practice. It includes translations of all sorts of interesting texts in the Tibetan tradition from bits of Gesar of Ling to a Gelug vinaya-type text. Contributions are by various scholars including Shambhala's Nalanda Translation Committee, and others such as Matthew Kapstein, Per Kvaerne, Toni Huber and Janet Gyatso. The introductions by Lopez, Norma E. Levine, Francoise Pommaret and others from around the world, provide a clear context for all readers ranging from the merely curious to students of history, religion and the humanities, and, of course, to inquiring Buddhists. These introductory essays serve to explain the purpose or use of each selected text and so do much to dispel the prevalent notion that the religious practices of Tibetans, educated or not, Buddhist or not, are a confused, though gorgeously exotic mish-mash of animism/shamanism lightly touched with sexual imagery from Tantric yoga and incursions from the Graeco-Roman, even Christian,West.

I found this volume to be like a walk through a scented market. There are booths and stalls to appeal to every taste, yet they are not laid out in random fashion. Lopez has carefully arranged the selections around various themes. There are items to please the connoisseur as well as the tourist. The stroll, itself, is delightful whether one intends to buy or not. There are tasty samples here and there: The introduction makes a good argument against the prevalent contemporary notion that the Bon tradition is but a mere reaction to Buddhism derived from ancient "primitive" beliefs. Since the selections range over a thousand years, I was reminded of the changing fortunes of the various sects, as this or that monastery found favour in the eyes of the Mongolian or Chinese, Indian or local Tibetan kings and princes.

One can enjoy Tibetan culture and daily life seen as the life-journey as we all experience it, the bodhisattva's path, the mystical experience, the lama-student relationship or the worship of and devotion to specific deities. In fact, it ends splendidly with a new translation of the 21 Praises to Tara.

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