This is a six cassette, nine hour designed-for-publication recording of a retreat conducted by renowned American Buddhist Tibet-o-phile, Robert Thurman, whose many credentials are too numerous to mention. The recurrent theme of the recording is a relatively simple visualization excercise, whereby the meditator draws inspiration and compassion from revered beings--the Buddha and his lineage descendents of enlightened teachers, for example, (although according to Thurman, a non-Buddhist might draw equivalent inspiration from the likes of Christ, Moses, etc.)--and then extends such heartfelt loving kindness to others. Thurman guides the listener through this meditation several times through the tape, making it familair and workable. However, in my estimation, the brilliance of the tape rests in everything else Thurman wraps around this meditation, which turns out to be a condensed discussion about the history of Buddhism, its contrast to much of Western scientific, materialistic, philosophical and psychological thought, and how the major tenants of Buddhism, in a very practical sense, can become believable and workable for your everyday common-man Western-raised student.
Thurman, by anyone's estimation, is a compelling speaker, who somehow blends passion, eloquence, intellectual challenge and humor in trying in discussing the most complex of subjects, and he largely succeeds on this tape. His mission, seemingly, is simply to make Buddhism more understandable by interpreting it into a more American/Western idiom, without changing the 2500 year message. Nevetheless, in accordance with the subject, much of the material discussed is mature and intellectually and emotionally challenging. These talks are almost the antithesis of typical "new-age", feel-good type Jacuzzi-Buddhism relaxation tapes, (although I believe Thurman intends these talks to be accessible to the beginning--but serious--Buddhist).
Some of this material, but not the visualization, is contained within his recent book "Inner Revolution, Life , Liberty and the Pursuit of Real Happiness", although the tapes gladly spare the listener of all the political commentary of that book. I can imagine many future listeners, much as myself, revisiting these tapes repeatedly because of their authentic message delivered through a delightful human voice.