For the past thirty years, berkeley based Dharama Publishing has published--well, that is to say--the Dharma; the teachings of the Buddha. Last year, they published a collection of writings by their founder Tarthang Tulku who is also a Tibetan lama. Entitled "Teachings from the Heart," this 253 page paperback book is a collection of interviews, introductions to other books mostly published by Dharma Publishing, and excerpted articles from their internal magazine "Gesar" which is named after a legendary Tibetan king.
This book provides a broad introduction to Dharma Publishing's books that focus on the wisdom of the Buddha as it is applied to modern day-to-day living in a Western dominated culture. As such, it provides an excellent "first read" to those who live in America and want to know more about Buddhism and what practical benefits they could receive from the study and practice of Buddhism.
Taken in this context, what is the primary benefit of Buddhism? Meditation. How is Buddhist mediation practice of particular benefit to modern, western life? It's practicioners gain a sense of perspective that mitigates the feelings of frustration known to be widely experienced in today's world.
What is another benefit of Buddhism? I personally believe that learning is a very important part of the human condition. If you are not learning, then you are not really living. Buddhist practice emphasizes the importance of learning and encourages you to continue keeping your mind open to new experiences and to learning for your entire life span. It is a key ingredient to happiness. Several chapters in this book address this topic.
A lot of the typical modern, western lifestyle centers around the workplace. Several chapters in this book center on how you can transform your work into a path of spiritual development. Of particular interest to me was the semantic differences in the introduction to the English version of a book on this topic and its German translation.
A few chapters are dedicated to their retreat center located in Northern California called "Odiyan." The name comes from an ancient kingdom northwest of India that is known as a center of enlightened lineage.
About a hundred pages of the book are devoted to an artifact, unique to Dharma Publishing, called the "Time, Space, and Knowledge" vision (or TSK for short). Here is my take on TSK. One human cognitive behavior of note is the ability to infer a generalized rule from specific experiences. This behavior is important to learning yet it is also what keeps us in ignorance because once an inference is made, the mind is closed on that topic. What need is there to look further as an answer has been arrived at? But in reality everything is changing, everything is interconnected, and nothing is permanent. TSK uses the Socratic method to reopen the mind again to further inquiry and learning.