Tibetan Buddhism is a religion in exile, forced from its homeland when Tibet was conquered by the Chinese. At one time it was thought that 1 in 6 Tibetan men were Buddhist monks.
As Tibetan Buddhism is getting more popular in the West, beautiful masterpieces by Vajrayana teachers has been translated into English. Below is the list of 10 books that will have advanced Vajrayana practitioners to follow the path.
For Ngondro Practitioners
Ngöndro Commentary: Instructions for the Concise Preliminary Practices of the New Treasure of Dudjom by Chagdud Tulku.
“The Dudjom Tersar Ngondro—succinct, unelaborate, and grounded in guru yoga—provides a superb means of opening the door to the nature of mind. The Tibetan word ngondro means ‘to go before’ or ‘preliminary,’ and these preliminary practices fall into two basic categories. The first, that of the outer preliminaries, common to both the Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhist paths, consists of contemplation of the ‘four thoughts that turn the mind.’ Then there are the extraordinary preliminaries special to the Mahayana and Vajrayana paths: refuge, bodhicitta, mandala offerings, Vajrasattva purification, guru yoga, and transference of consciousness.
Guru Yoga: According to the Preliminary Practice of Longchen Nyingtik by Dilgo Khyentse
Why is the practice guru yoga (union with the nature of the guru) so important? Because with the help of the outer teacher, the inner teacher (the true nature of our own mind) is discovered. This particular guru yoga is called “The Wish-fulfilling Jewel,” and it is the outer practice of the guru from the Longchen Nyingtik revelation of Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa. It was during a summer retreat in France in 1984 that Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche gave teachings on this text.
Not for Happiness: A Guide to the So-Salled Preliminary Practices. By Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse
Do you practise meditation because you want to feel good? Or to help you relax and be “happy”? Then frankly, according to Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse, you are far better off having a full-body massage than trying to practise the Dharma.
Genuine spiritual practice, not least the Ngöndro preliminaries, will not bring the kind of comfort and ease most worldly people crave. Quite the opposite, in fact. But if your ultimate goal is enlightenment, Ngöndro practice is a must, and Not for Happiness your perfect guide, as it contains everything an aspiring practitioner needs to get started, including advice about:
- developing “renunciation mind”
- discipline, meditation and wisdom
- using your imagination in visualization practice
- why you need a guru
Books on Dzogchen
The Crystal and the Way of Light: Sutra, Tantra, and Dzogchen by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu.
In The Crystal and the Way of Light, Chogyal Namkhai Norbu examines the spiritual path from the viewpoint of Dzogchen. He discusses the base path and fruit of Dzogchen practice, and describes his education and how he met his principal master who showed him the real meaning of direct introduction to Dzogchen.
By interweaving his life story with the teachings, he both sets Dzogchen in its traditional context and reveals its powerful contemporary relevance. The book is richly illustrated with photos of Buddhist masters, meditational deities, and Dzogchen symbols.
Mind in Comfort and Ease: The Vision of Enlightenment in the Great Perfection by His Holiness The Dalai Lama.
Here, in a teaching of outstanding completeness and clarity, the Dalai Lama sets out the key principles of Buddhism, showing how the mind can be transformed, and suffering overcome, through love, compassion, and a true understanding of the nature of reality. By illustrating his brilliant overview of the path with his own personal experiences and advice on how to integrate the practice, the Dalai Lama brings these teachings to life.
The Dalai Lama delves deep into the teaching of the Great Perfection, or Dzogchen. His enthusiasm and admiration for this profound tradition shine through as he comments on an important work by the great Dzogchen master Longchen Rabjam, Finding Comfort and Ease in Meditation on the Great Perfection.
Carefree Dignity: Discourses on Training in the Nature of Mind by Drubwang Tsoknyi Rinpoche.
Tsoknyi Rinpoche is a reincarnate lama educated in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He has been teaching students from around the world since 1990.
“Being carefree, you can fit in anywhere. If you’re not carefree you keep on bumping up against things. Your life becomes so narrow, so tight; it gets very claustrophobic. Carefree means being wide open from within, not constricted. Carefree doesn’t mean careless. It is not that you don’t care about others, not that you don’t have compassion or are unfriendly. Carefree is being really simple, from the inside. Dignity is not conceit but rather what shines forth from this carefree confidence.” —Tsoknyi Rinpoche
Fearless Simplicity: The Dzogchen Way of Living Freely in a Complex World by Tsoknyi Rinpoche.
Fearless Simplicity is about training in the awakened state of mind, the atmosphere within which all difficulties naturally dissolve. Here, the gifted Tibetan meditation master and author of Carefree Dignity, Drubwang Tsoknyi Rinpoche, in his exceptional and skillful teaching style, guides us through the methods to be at ease with our surroundings and ourselves. He shows us how to de¬velop confidence and be in harmony with every situation as the basis for true compassion and intelligence.
Buddhahood without Meditation: A Visionary Account Known as “Refining Apparent Phenomena” by Dudjom Lingpa.
Buddhahood Without Meditation, widely referred to by its subtitle, Nang-jang (Refining One’s Perception), presents the view of the Great Perfection through the approach known as t’hreg-chhod (cutting through solidity).
A Spacious Path to Freedom: Practical Instructions on the Union of Mahamudra and Atiyoga by Karma Chagme.