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Introduction to Tantra : The Transformation of Desire Paperback – June 15, 2001

45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"...the best introductory work for undergraduate teaching on Tibetan Buddhist tantra available today...readily accessible to Western students." -- Janet Gyatso, Amherst College

"No one has summarized the essence of tantra as well as Thubten Yeshe does here." -- Religious Studies Review

"[A] lucid explanation of Buddhist tantra...a classic." -- Phillip Glass, composer

No one has ever talked about tantra with such clarity, coherence and simplicity. -- Religious Studies Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

What is tantra? Who is qualified to practice it? How should it be practiced? What are the results? According to Buddhism, every human being has the potential to achieve profound and lasting happiness. And according to the tantric teachings of Buddhism, this remarkable transformation can be realized very quickly if we utilize all aspects of our human energy - especially the energy of our desires.

Introduction to Tantra is the best available clarification of a subject that is often misunderstood. In this book, Lama Yeshe, who was a fully realized tantric meditator, scholar, and yogi, outlines the entire tantric path. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications; 3rd edition (June 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0861711629
  • ISBN-13: 978-0861711628
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #338,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

218 of 225 people found the following review helpful By Patrick D. Goonan on May 24, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tibetan Buddhism is a very complex and difficult topic to explain to anyone, especially people from the West. Lama Yeshe had a rare gift to take difficult concepts, present them logically and concisely, in a way that brings the essence of tantra to life.

What this book is not about, is "tantric sexual practices" as they are so often presented out of contex in the West. Rather, it is about the tantrayana (resultant) path of harnessing all of your energies and realizing your true nature in the present moment, which is love, compassion and wisdom. This is in contrast to the sutrayana (causal) path, which is the more gradual path of cleansing the mind and replacing conditioned responses in a slow and systematic way with more beneficial responses characterized by love and wisdom.

In a nutshell, tantrayana is the fast path. This book explains this complicated system very well in approximately 168 pages. For people looking for more in-depth explanations and lots of history, try "Secret of the Vajra World" by Reginald Ray. However, I would still get Lama Yeshe's book as a roadmap or excellent short summary presented in a different style.

Lastly, Lama Yeshe has a gift for words. While the many of the concepts of tantra are presented in other reputable works, there is something about Lama Yeshe's presentation that carries a combination of depth and simplicity that sinks in deeply and touches the heart.
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124 of 128 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan E. on May 15, 2000
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<< Lama Yeshe >>
I feel that one of the primary gifts Lama Yeshe brought to the "western" world as a Tibetan Buddhist, was his ability to explore and describe Tantra in great depth and detail, yet from a culturally independent perspective.

Much of the really authentic, un-Americanized, non-newage etc. info and teachings on Tantra is, in my experience, essentially coming from various Tibetan Lamas, practitioners, and scholars. Many of them, in my experience, maintain a perspective on Tantra that is nearly always heavily over-toned by a great deal of cultural (Tibetan) views, beliefs, history, and dogma that are in actual fact quite independent from Tantra itself. These cultural elements have value and appeal, but they have little or nothing to do with Tantra. Which, in it's essence, is free from all cultural and social thought-forms.

Lama Yeshe has beautifully stepped right through all that; going directly into the essence of Tantra itself. Not Tibetan Tantra and not American tantra... but, for the most part, just the essence itself of Tantra perspective on Life.

<< Introduction to Tantra >>
As an introduction to Tantra, this book touches on a broad array of issues and elements of the world and spirituality that are all key aspects of Tantra and the Tantric perspective. For many in the "Western" world the word Tantra primarily invokes the notion of sex with a spiritual twist to it. This is, however, only one aspect of Tantra (Red Tantra, specifically), and by no means the most important nor most significant in its spiritual implications.
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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful By A. Doyle on March 27, 2007
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This is a very good book for learning what Tantra is and what tantric practices and visualizations are, but it should be understood - and probably is by many or most - that this is not a substitute for real study under a qualified teacher. Lama Yeshe makes this clear from chapter to chapter. My only caution is that readers should not expect to read this book and feel as though they are completing some kind of introductory-level "training" in Tantra, or that they will accomplish "Transformation of Desire." It is an introduction and overview for outsiders looking in (taught by a highly qualified and respected insider), not a "manual" for beginning practitioners to achieve readiness for intermediate or advanced tantric instruction. Insofar as this is understood, Lama Yeshe does a very good job describing and explaining Tantra and its practices, and I learned quite a lot about it.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a clear, concise, non-technical introduction to vajrayana buddhism according to the tibetan tradition. It is easy to read but it actually contains a lot of information so at the same time it's very condensed and you may find it useful reading some chapters again.
Those looking for books dealing with 'sacred sex' or that kind of stuff will be disappointed, ..., but this book presents a refreshing, radical view that CAN change our lives in profound ways.
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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Incantessimo VINE VOICE on July 23, 2004
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Tantra is a very complex and difficult subject to understand, and this book may be one the best short introductions to the theory and practice of tantra. Note that it is written for practitioners, not scholars, as is common with books by Lama Yeshe. Not that a scholar might not be quite interested in what Lama Yeshe has to say.

Although there are many books on tantra and Tibetan Buddhism, Lama Yeshe's stand out as unique due to his ability to speak in a language easily accessible to Westerners. He is so direct and has such a good sense of humor that very few people who are genuinely interested will not find special gems in this book. Although compiled from many of Lama Yeshe's oral teachings by his students, it reads as a seemless whole. They have done a brilliant job in this respect.

If you have just begun tantric practice, or even if you are practicing anuttarayoga tantra, this book could be very beneficial to you. Lama Yeshe goes through the essential aspects of tantra, such as dissolution, meditation on emptiness, arising as the deity, etc., explaining the purpose and feel of each of these parts. This is something that is often not explained, at least not as clearly as here, so I think this is valuable information for those practicing these kinds of meditations.

For those interested in the transformations that tantric meditation can bring about, "The Psychology of Buddhist Tantra" might also be interesting, by Rob Preece.
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