This classic text was written for those who wish to cultivate bodhicitta (compassion). The great path of awakening is a commentary of an earlier text The Seven Points of mind training by Chekawa Yeshe Dorje.
The development of compassion toward all sentient beings is an integral part of the mahayana path along with meditation and yidam practice, with a goal to fully realise our Buddha nature. In the mean time, the cultivation of compassion will quieten the mind, relinquish ego clinging and make us nicer people to know.
The text is easy to digest and the points are easy to put into practice. In practice, for the novice, Bodhicitta is hard to cultivate and requires diligence and dicipline in ones practice.
Although intended for practicing Buddhists any one could benefit from reading this book. Much of what is written can be found in contemporary self-help books, yet it was written in the late 19th century.
The underlying text of this commentary is a deeply inspired canon on ethics. This work is as groundbreaking as the New Testament but is born from an eastern perspective. It is hard to understand that this text is so little known in the west. I would rate this, along with the Sermon on the Mount and the Tao and Kant's categorical imperative, as one of the definitive works on ethics and spirtual insight. Part of the commentary is colored by Buddhist beliefs which I personally substract from its general message(as I would with Christian dogma from the New Testament). If you are looking for some kind of exotic, new age, feel good chanting sort of philosophy you should definitely skip this. This is one of the toughest prescriptions for ethical living that I've ever come across. This goes far beyond the Judeo-Christian call to "love thy neighbor as thyself" and calls for you to "offer all gain and victory to others while taking upon yourself all sufferings"- this especially applies to your enemies who you should be most thankful to since: "In particular, all those who hurt me are worthy of gratitude since they are my companions and helpers for gathering the accumulations of merit and pristine wisdom and for clearing away the obscurations of disturbing emotions and conceptual knowledge". Pretty strong stuff. If humans, with their vast technology but miniscule ethics, are not to go extinct during the next millenium, they are going to have to eventually follow a philosophy such as this. " Winner takes All " has gone about as far as it can in a world were the losers are armed with nuclear weapons.