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History Of The Karmapas: The Odyssey Of The Tibetan Masters With The Black Crown Paperback – April 16, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"An unprecedented work, the most complete on the subject in the West. It offers a rich, lively reading on many levels: spiritual, historic, and societal, and contains numerous anecdotes and information drawn from Tibetan, Chinese, Mongolian, French, and English sources." —Université Bouddhique Européenne

"In their book the authors retrace a very lively portrait of the seventeen Karmapas, a history in which the marvelous is part of daily life." —Le Point Magazine

"Wonderful work and very complete. Each chapter retraces the biographies of the seventeen spiritual leaders who are closely linked to the history of Tibet."—Info-Yoga Magazine

"The Karmapa, one of the highest Tibetan dignitaries, is the only one to be compared with the Dalai Lama. The authors retrace the biographies of the seventeen Karmapas who have shaped Tibetan history since the twelfth century." —Bouddhisme Actualité

From the Back Cover

Masters of esoteric knowledge and miraculous practices, the lineage of the Karmapas is the earliest of all the recognized incarnate linages and is said to descend from the great Indian tantric master Tilopa through a chain that includes Naropa, Marpa, and Milarepa. The Karmapas are distinguished by their black crowns, said to have been woven by dakinis and symbolizing the activity of the buddhas. Unlike other Tibetan Buddhist lineage heads, each Karmapa has specific knowledge of his next reincarnation and leaves behind a "Last Testament," a letter to his disciples describing the place and circumstances of their future rebirth, the name of their parents, and so on. At a very young age each successive incarnation is often able to recognize himself as the Karmapa.

In their recounting of the histories of the seventeen Karmapas, the authors reveal the universal and marvelous concealed in the everyday world. Their lively account, peppered with anecdotes, is the most comprehensive in the West on this subject, with information from Tibetan, Chinese, Mongolian, French, and English sources. There are over 50 illustrations/photos in color and black and white.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Snow Lion; Tra edition (April 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559393904
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559393904
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #804,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Steve Richardson on April 15, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book offers a very lively reading with plenty of amazing anecdotes and information about the marvelous everyday life of these great masters. Well researched and beautifully written - full of magnificent photographs and watercolors -, it is profound and accessible at the same time. Anyone interested in Tibet and its form of Buddhism will want to include this book in their "must read" list. A book I would strongly recommend for the Buddhist and non-Buddhist alike.

Of all the books I have read about the Karmapas this is the most inspiring one. I read half the book the first day and didn't want to put it down. The biographies and teachings went right to my heart; I could feel my heart opening as I read the words.

Mila Khyentse Rinpoche's brilliant introduction is a real plus. Over the years, I have read plenty of books on reincarnation, but I still learned so much from Rinpoche's explanations. He elucidates from a totally new viewpoint, numerous concepts such as reincarnation, the principle of multiple emanations, the "tulku" system, the education and vision of reincarnated masters, etc.
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This book is one of those treasures that only comes along infrequently. Well written, deeply researched, filled with historical facts, it's a learning process and an interesting read. I heartily recommend it to all who are interested in the history of Tibetan Buddhism or in learning more about the Tibetan hierarchy -- or to those just looking for an interesting Buddhist book to read.
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I wish there was a bit more depth in this volume. I compare it with Glenn Mullin's The Fourteen Dalai Lamas, which had more historical depth. However, as a student of Tibetology with a glaring hole in my understanding of the Karmapas, this volume is a good starting point.
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