The Library of Wisdom and Compassion
A special multivolume series by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Venerable Thubten Chodron
The Library of Wisdom and Compassion is a special multivolume series in which His Holiness the Dalai Lama shares the Buddha’s teachings on the complete path to full awakening that he himself has practiced his entire life. The topics are arranged especially for people seeking practical spiritual advice and are peppered with the Dalai Lama’s own unique outlook. Assisted by his long-term disciple, the American nun Thubten Chodron, the Dalai Lama sets the context for practicing the Buddha’s teachings in modern times and then unveils the path of wisdom and compassion that leads to a meaningful life and sense of personal fulfillment. This series is an important bridge from introductory to profound topics for those seeking an in-depth explanation from a contemporary perspective.
Volumes 1 through 6 have been published. Volume 7 is coming in the spring of 2022.
Volume 1: Approaching the Buddhist Path
The Buddha wanted his students to investigate, to see for themselves whether what he said was true. As a student of the Buddha, the Dalai Lama promotes the same spirit of investigation, and as the rich tradition of the Buddha makes its way into new lands and cultures, His Holiness has recognized that new approaches are needed to allow seekers in the West to experience the relevance of the liberating message in their own lies. Such an approach cannot assume listeners are free from doubt and already have faith in Buddhism’s basic tenets. The Library of Wisdom and Compassion series, therefore, starts from the universal human wish for happiness, and presents the dynamic nature of the mind. This first volume also provides a wealth of reflections on Buddhist history and fundamentals, contemporary issues, and the Dalai Lama’s own personal experiences.
Volume 2: The Foundation of Buddhist Practice
The Foundation of Buddhist Practice contains the important teachings that will help us establish a flourishing Dharma practice, beginning with the four seals (impermanence, suffering, selflessness, nirvāṇa) shared by all Buddhist philosophies, and moves on to an explanation of the reliable cognition that allows us to evaluate the veracity of the Buddha’s teachings.
The book provides many other essential Buddhist teachings, including:
– the relationship of a spiritual mentor and student, clarifying misunderstandings about this topic and showing how to properly rely on a spiritual mentor in a healthy, appropriate, and beneficial manner;
– how to structure a meditation session;
– dying and rebirth, unpacking the often difficult-to-understand topic of multiple lives and explaining how to prepare for death and aid someone who is dying;
– a fruitful explanation of karma and its results;
– and much more.
His Holiness’s illumination of key Buddhist ideas will support Western and contemporary Asian students in engaging with this rich tradition.
Volume 3: Saṃsāra, Nirvāṇa, and Buddha Nature
Knowledge of buddha nature reveals and reconciles the paradox of how the mind can be the basis for both the duhkha of samsara (the unpurified mind) and the bliss and fulfillment of nirvāṇa (the purified mind). To illustrate this, Saṃsāra, Nirvāṇa, and Buddha Nature first takes readers through Buddhist thought on the self, the four truths, and their sixteen attributes. It then explains afflictions—including how they arise and their antidotes—followed by an examination of karma and cyclic existence, and, finally, a deep and thorough elucidation of buddha nature. Saṃsāra, Nirvāṇa, and Buddha Nature shows us how to purify our minds and cultivate awakened qualities.
Volume 4: Following in the Buddha’s Footsteps
Delve into the substance of spiritual practice in this fourth volume of the Dalai Lama’s definitive series on the path to awakening, Following in the Buddha’s Footsteps. You’ll first hear His Holiness’s explanation of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, why they are reliable guides on the path, and how to relate to them. His Holiness then describes the three essential trainings common to all Buddhist traditions: the higher trainings in ethical conduct, concentration, and wisdom. These chapters show us how to live a life free of harm to self or others and give us detailed instructions on how to develop single-pointed concentration as well as the higher states of concentration available to an earnest practitioner. In addition, the chapters on wisdom contain in-depth teachings on the noble eightfold path and the four establishments of mindfulness for developing greater awareness and understanding of our body, feelings, mind, and other phenomena. Together, these topics form the core of Buddhist practice.
This is a book to treasure and refer to repeatedly as you begin the path, progress on it, and near the final goal of nirvāṇa.
Volume 5: In Praise of Great Compassion
In Praise of Great Compassion continues the Dalai Lama’s teachings on the path to awakening. While previous volumes focused on our present situation and taking responsibility for creating the causes of happiness, this volume concerns opening our hearts and generating the intention to make our lives meaningful by benefiting others. We are embedded in a universe with other living beings, all of whom have been kind to us in one way or another. More than any other time in human history, we depend on one another to stay alive and flourish. When we look closely, it becomes apparent that we have been the recipient of great kindness. Wanting to repay others’ kindness, we cultivate a positive attitude by contemplating the four immeasurables of love, compassion, empathic joy, and equanimity, and the altruistic intention of bodhicitta. We learn to challenge the self-centered attitude that leads to misery and replace it with a more realistic perspective enabling us to remain emotionally balanced in good and bad times. In this way, all circumstances become favorable to the path to awakening.
Volume 6: Courageous Compassion
Courageous Compassion, the sixth volume of the Library of Wisdom and Compassion, continues the Dalai Lama’s teachings on the path to awakening. The previous volume, In Praise of Great Compassion, focused on opening our hearts with love and compassion for all living beings, and the present volume explains how to embody compassion and wisdom in our daily lives. Here we enter a fascinating exploration of bodhisattvas’ activities across multiple Buddhist traditions—Tibetan, Theravāda, and Chinese Buddhism.
After explaining the ten perfections according to the Pāli and Sanskrit traditions, the Dalai Lama presents the sophisticated schema of the four paths and fruits for śrāvakas and solitary realizers and the five paths for bodhisattvas. Learning about the practices mastered by these exalted practitioners inspires us with knowledge of our minds’ potential. His Holiness also describes buddha bodies, what buddhas perceive, and buddhas’ awakening activities.
Courageous Compassion offers an in-depth look at bodhicitta, arhatship, and buddhahood that you can continuously refer to as you progress on the path to full awakening.