A Book Review


Gendun Rimpoche
Gendun Rimpoche

Heartfelt Advice of a Mahamudra Master is a presentation of the teaching of Gendun Rimpoche, an eminent and delightful Kagyu master who established Dhagpo Kagyu Ling in the Dordogne, France. It is an outline of his teaching that is concise and clear, but which does not miss important nuances.  I am not going to attempt a full review of the book at this point, but what struck me about it was that, although my teacher is an Englishman who has been communicating to mostly western disciples for the last forty five years, I could feel a very strong rapport with the teaching as outlined by a very traditional Tibetan Teacher of the ancient Kagyu School.   Although I have no lack of confidence in my own teacher I experience the discovery of such a similar approach in another tradition very deeply satisfying.

There are of course interesting differences. One different and interesting slant is that Gendun Rimpoche uses the term mindfulness almost exclusively to mean an awareness of the need to act for the benefit of others, whereas, although we do not ignore this dimension, within the Triratna Commmunity we tend to use the word with reference to mindfulness of our own body, thoughts and feelings.    Another, more controversial issue it that my teacher, Urgyen Sangharakshita, takes the Buddha’s teaching of pratityasamutpada (conditioned co-production) as his, as it were, basic ‘philosophy’, whereas Gendun Rimpoche and the Kagyu School are based on the doctrine of the Tathagatagarbha (Buddha Nature).  However in this book it is clearly stated on most occasions when the term is used, that it refers to the potentiality for Englightment.  This more symbolic approach does not present any contradiction  with the Buddha’s teaching of pratityasamutpada and makes it quite clear that it would be a mistake to see the ‘Buddha Nature’ as something that has an independent literal existence – as a sort of soul or Ground of Being.

I enjoyed also the tone of the book which is modern in style but not familiarly subjective and it conveys a gentle but deep confidence in the subject matter which is expressed in a simple and direct manner with which I am sure Milarepa and Gampopa would be pleased.

I’m very grateful to those who produced this book because through it I can rejoice in the existence of a like minded Sangha.