The World of Tibetan Buddhism (Paperback) - Preface

An Overview of Its Philosophy and Practice


224 pages, 6 x 9 inches


ISBN 9780861710973

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ISBN 9780861719686

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Over a period of four days in the spring of 1988, His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave a series of lectures on Tibetan Buddhism in London organized by the Tibet Foundation, London. His lectures were, as usual, conducted in a personal and informal style that, nevertheless, in no way compromised the seriousness and the profundity of the subject matter. Looking back, I feel that those lectures marked an important turning point in His Holiness’s method of teaching Buddhism to a modern audience. On that occasion, he put into full swing a novel but sophisticated system of presenting the Buddhist path. Based on four simple premises, that there is suffering, that it has an origin, that there is an end to suffering, and finally, that there is a method for ending suffering, His Holiness presents the entire superstructure of Tibetan Buddhism—its philosophy and practice—including the esoteric path of Vajrayana Buddhism. He beautifully demonstrates how all aspects of the Tibetan Buddhist path must and can be perceived as both emerging from and being firmly rooted in the framework of the Four Noble Truths. In short, His Holiness shows us with convincing explanation how Tibetan Buddhism is, in the true sense of the phrase, “complete Buddhism.” The result is a unique overview of Tibetan Buddhism that combines His Holiness’s incisive, penetrating insight, profound reflective analysis, and deep spiritual experience, woven with a breathtaking scope of scholarship in all areas of Buddhist thought—all of this, of course, in a style that never fails to radiate a joyful exuberance of life and true affection toward all.

It has been a real joy to work on this project, and I am very happy that now others can also share in the experience. Many people have made significant contributions towards the success of this endeavor. I would like to thank Sally Ward for undertaking the difficult task of transcribing the tapes from the teachings, and Venerable Sarah Thresher, my first editor at Wisdom, for doing a second transcription with the necessary initial editing. I would also like to thank my editor at Wisdom, Venerable Connie Miller, for her valuable comments and criticisms, which contributed a great deal toward improving the English. My thanks also go to Vincent and especially Maria Montenegro and Robert Chilton for hours and hours of editing and research.

It has taken a long time for the lectures to appear in book form. As much as I had wished to see this teaching published, three years of study at Cambridge, England, between 1989 and 1992 delayed work on the manuscript. In retrospect, however, this delay has had a significant consequences in that when I finally had the time to work on the book, I was in a better position to appreciate the subtleties of many important English philosophical terms. For this, I am deeply grateful to the Inlaks Foundation, London, and my friends Geoff Jukes, Morna White, and Isabelle White, whose generosity made it possible for me to study at Cambridge.

In this book, I have attempted to adopt a style of translation that reflects, as faithfully as possible, His Holiness’s thoughts as if he were expressing them in English. In this, I have had a ready guideline in His Holiness’s own lectures as many of them have been at least partially given in English. These lectures often present a comprehensive overview of Tibetan Buddhism; correspondingly, I have tried to provide extensive footnotes and a bibliography for the benefit of those who wish to explore specific areas of Tibetan Buddhism in greater depth. For similar reasons, a glossary of important terms with their Tibetan and Sanskrit equivalents has been compiled. For their assistance in providing Tibetan and Sanskrit transliteration equivalents, as well as checking the translation of textual citations, I would like to thank John Dunne, Sarah McClintock, David Reigle, Venerable Michael Roach, and Artemus Engle. I would also like to thank Sophie Boyer for reading the entire manuscript and providing a valuable lay perspective.

It is my sincere hope that this book will bring joy into the hearts of many people and a deeper appreciation of the richness of the Tibetan spiritual tradition.

Geshe Thupten Jinpa
Gaden, India


How to cite this document:
© Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, The World of Tibetan Buddhism (Wisdom Publications, 1995)

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