"Spirituality and religion should be practical. . . . It's about transforming our heart and mind, assessing and expanding our inner human beauty, clearing away obstacles to doing this, and sharing who we are and what we know with others in ways that will benefit them. Spiritual practice is about how we live our daily lives," writes Thubten Chodron, an American-born Tibetan Buddhist nun who travels worldwide teaching and leading meditation retreats. She is the author of numerous books including Buddhism for Beginners and Cultivating a Compassionate Heart. Chodron is also one of S&P's Living Spiritual Teachers.
In this amazing resource, the author offers a substantive and practical exploration of The Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas written in the fourteenth century by the Tibetan monk Togmay Zangpo. Chodron believes that this text provides a way to live a meaningful life right now that is free from the stress and frenzy brought by our disturbing emotions. It is helpful to study, reflect, and meditate on the Buddha's wisdom and to eschew the three poisons of attachment, anger, and ignorance. Letting go of attachment to this life, to our bodies, and to our wealth or possessions takes lots of inner fortitude. Making spiritual friends on the path is important for they offer companionship, encouragement, and inspiration. With their help and the light of the dharma, we can aspire to "the ever-changing supreme state of liberation."
This ancient Tibetan text also contains powerful incentives to cultivate love, compassion, and altruism. It covers the challenges of mind-training, which involves transforming distressing events and problems into the path; dealing with difficulties such as disease, success, and the urge to control; and the six practices of bodhisattvas engage: generosity, ethical conduct, fortitude, joyous effort, meditative stabilization, and wisdom.
Chodron gets high marks for her treatments of harsh words, anger, guarding the mind and the mouth, and being compassionate for those who deride and criticize us. Throughout the book she shares first-person accounts by students and colleagues as they reflect upon their experiences and spiritual practices.