Cultivating a Compassionate Heart by Thubten Chodron

Thubten Chodron. Cultivating a Compassionate Heart: The Yoga Method of Chenrezig. Ithaca, N.Y.: Snow Lion Publications, 2005. Paperback, 207 pages.

Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara / Kuan Yin) is not only Tibet’s patron deity, he also is the embodiment of the compassion of all the Buddhas and as such is deemed the best possible contemplative gateway to the cultivation of compassion.

In this book, which has received high praise from monastics and lay Buddhist scholars alike, the American-born nun Ven. Thubten Chodron lucidly and engagingly elucidates the Tibetan Buddhist Yoga of Chenrezig. Her explanations are based not only on scriptural but also oral teachings, which makes them eminently authoritative and practical.

Essentially, Cultivating a Compassionate Heart is a knowledgeable, highly practical, and fairly extensive commentary on the Chenrezig sadhana. The book starts with the Thousand-Armed Chenrezig visualization and the preliminary prayers found in most sadhanas, and the long mantra of Chenrezig. Only then does the author proceed to explaining the various concepts that make up the theoretical underpinnings of this extraordinary practice.

The crux and spirit of the Chenrezig sadhana could not be more beautifully epitomized than in the response the late Lama Yeshe gave to a student who had asked him whether Mao Tse-tung was an evil being. Lama Yeshe, who had been personally affected by Mao Tse-tung’s brand of communism, simply said: “He meant well, dear.” This remark shows a level of forgiveness and understanding that is possible only when there is genuine compassion. What better way is there to cultivate compassion than by contemplating Chenrezig?

Copyright ©2007 by Georg Feuerstein. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in any form requires prior permission from Traditional Yoga Studies.

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