There is an increasing range of Tibetan Buddhist commentaries and teachings that a Dharma student can draw from. This can lead the student to a sense of the Dharma student feeling overwhelmed by the wealth of material. Instead, at @happyops we find it more beneficial to focus on the core points of Buddhism. This helps us to keep the the core points fresh in our mind, so we can apply them when we encounter difficult people or situations. In this article we describe books in 7 areas that help to cover off these core points of Tibetan Buddhism.
1. Four Noble Truths
The Buddha’s first teaching not only establishes the core teachings of the Dharma, including suffering, Buddha nature, change and impermanence, and dependent arising. The four teachings also establish the structure of the teachings found in more detail in the ‘Lamrim’ texts (see below).
‘The Four Noble Truths: A Guide to Everyday Life’ by Lama Zopa Rinpoche
‘The Four Noble Truths: The Foundation of Buddhist Thought’ by Geshe Tashi Tsering
2. Heart Sutra
The Buddha’s teaching on emptiness is the core of Buddhism. These commentaries establish emptiness, along with the five paths.
‘Essence of the Heart Sutra’ by HH Dalai Lama, Thupten Jinpa
‘The Heart Sutra’ by Geshe Sonam Rinchen
3. Meditation Book
Provides advice for applying meditation to a modern lifestyle, including the practicalities such as meditation posture, as well as what to actually meditate on.
‘How to Meditate: A Practical Guide’ by Kathleen McDonald, Robina Courtin
4. Stages of the Path To Enlightenment (Lamrim)
The ‘Lamrim’ texts provide a detailed, step-by-step approach to the Buddha’s teachings. They cover subjects in detail.
‘Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand’ by Pabongpa Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche
‘Practicing the Path: A Commentary on the Lamrim Chenmo’ by Yangsi Rinpoche
5. Shantideva Text
Like the ‘Minding Training’ texts below, Shantideva’s text on the ‘Bodhicaryavattara’ provides a hands-on manual to applying the Dharma to difficult people and situations that you encounter. Importantly, both the ‘Bodhicaryavattara’ and ‘Mind Training’ texts cover the lofty goals of universal compassion, loving kindness, and bodhicitta.
In the first verses, Shantideva explains that there is nothing new in the ‘Bodhicaryavattara’. Indeed, the Dharma student will already be familiar with the subjects after covering a ‘Lamrim’ text (see above).
‘The Nectar of Manjushri’s Speech: A Detailed Commentary on Shantideva’s Way of the Bodhisattva’ by Kunzang Pelden
6. Mind Training (Tonglen)
Like the ‘Bodhicaryavattara’ texts below, Shantideva’s text on the ‘Mind Training’ provides a hands-on manual to applying the Dharma to difficult people and situations that you encounter. Importantly, both the ‘Bodhicaryavattara’ and ‘Mind Training’ texts cover the lofty goals of universal compassion, loving kindness, and bodhicitta.
‘Training the Mind in the Great Way’ by HH Dalai Lama I, Glenn H Mullin
‘Mind Training Like the Rays of the Sun’ by Nam-Kha Pel
7. Tenets & Emptiness
Emptiness is the peak that all of the Buddha’s teachings eventually lead to. The path to emptiness is in understanding the tenets, or the other views on emptiness. By comparing and contrasting the other view on emptiness, we can find a definition of emptiness for ourselves.
‘How To Realize Emptiness’ by Gen Lamrimpa
‘Insight into Emptiness’ by Khensur Jampa Tegchok
‘Emptiness: The Foundation of Buddhist Thought’ by Geshe Tashi Tsering