The Madhyamika philosophy is the most profound view of reality formulated within the Buddhist tradition. It was first articulated clearly two thousand years ago by the Indian saint Nagarjuna, and later elaborated upon by his disciple Aryadeva and the famous Chandrakirti. The works of these three masters formed the philosophical bedrock for the Buddhism that later flourished in Tibet, and most of their writings which are currently available in English have come to us through Tibet. This book is part of that tradition. The book contains Aryadeva's famous Four Hundred Verses on the Yogic Deeds of Bodhisattvas, as well as a commentary by the 14th century Tibetan master Gyel-tsap. These are then further elaborated upon in this volume by Geshe Sonam Rinchen.
The book, is divided into two parts. The first deals with more "conventional" Buddhist truths which address renunciation from worldly attachments, abandonment of delusions and disturbing emotions such as pride and anger, cultivation of compassion and so forth. It is here that this book is at its most compelling and most enjoyable to read. The second part deals with "ultimate" Buddhist truth, arguments in favor of the Madhyamika philosophy that all phenomena, although they appear, are empty of inherent existence. This philosophy is extremely profound and subtle. Only a few books in English really do it justice, and this, unfortunately, isn't one of them. I am not sure if the fault is Aryadeva's, Gyel-tsap's, Geshe Sonam Rinchen's or the translator's, but readers sincerely interested in plumbing the depths of the Madyamika would do better in my opinion to study some of the currently available translations and commentaries of Nagarjuna's and Chandrakirti's works. Unfortunately, there are no other English translations and commentaries on this work by Aryadeva which are in print at this time.
Whoever experienced Geshe Sonam Rinchen La's humourous wisdom, meeting him in person, will be eager to prolong the inspiration, that grew out of his words.
In the " 400 stanzas", Aryadeva, an ancient indian saint, famous scholar of Nagarjuna, explains, how to regard life out of Buddhist insight. His compressed verses show a radical wit, provoking the readers' contradiction, making them think about the actual meaning.
To unfold the contents of Aryadeva's mental seeds, comments and explaining stories have been added by following Indian and Tibetan Buddhist personalities, which are a pleasure to read, due to their poetical, funny and colourful descriptions of how to consider apparently common situations in a refreshing new way.
Geshe Rinchen La rounds up each chapter, summarizing the essentials, clearing them from the narrative ornaments to emphasize their advice for the present time.
'Though dealing with highly complex philosophical subjects, this book is earth-bound as life itself. It fascinates in combining a thousand years of Buddhist spirit, serving to improve human life through changing ones own mental influence on it.