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Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Cover, binding and pages are all in Very Good condition with limited signs of storage or use. Pages are free of markings. Spine shows no signs of creasing.
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The Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects Paperback – 1967

4.8 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael Lally has written more than 20 books and has won two NEA Fellowships, the Josephine Miles Award and an American Book Award. He has also been active as an actor and screenwriter.

Yongden was a tibetan lama
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: City Lights Books (1967)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872860124
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872860124
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The one reviewer who claims this is "old news" is pretty far off the mark. As Alan Watts said in the intro of the book, this is the "I told you so" book which you can whip out to back up your claims when other Buddhists accuse you of espousing Vedanta rather than Buddhism. Unfortunately, whether or not anyone will take this book seriously is another matter entirely. The most reliable names in modern Buddhism, including the Dalai Lama, have sung this author's praises, but some will never be able to see past her prior interest in Theosophy (in her early 20's), which she ultimately realized was fraudulent nonsense and left to spend the rest of her life very bravely exploring new territory in dangerous times and learning real Tibetan Buddhism right from the source: Tibet... during the start of the Chinese invasion. As the Dalai Lama said when he came to speak at the inauguration of David-Neel's museum, "She knew the REAL Tibet." She was one of the first Westerners, and certainly the first Western woman, to have a private audience with the Dalai Lama, helping to teach him about the West. When it was time for the Dalai Lama to pay back her kindness with an authentic Tibetan teaching, often he would direct her to a specific lama, one of his own teachers. The author of David-Neel's recent biography was invited on a speaking tour alongside high lamas, thus demonstrating the importance of her subject, Alexandra David-Neel. How many other western authors have lived in Tibetan caves for several years? Or adopted a monk as their son?

These are "secret" teachings in the sense the book says they are: up to the hearer who hears them to realize the truth of the teachings, to penetrate their subtlety and depth. They are not often-repeated, worn-out teachings that everybody already knows. Not at all.
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Format: Paperback
"Yet, despite the occultist flavor of its title, "The Secret Oral Traditions in Tibetan Buddhist Sects", is the most direct, no-nonsense, and down-to-earth explanation of Mahayana Buddhism which has thus far been written. Specifically, it is a wonderfully lucid account of the Madhyamika (or "middle-way") School of Buddhism, a method of meditation and enlightenment which was worked out sometime between 150 and 250 A.D. by the great Indian sage and pandit Nagarjuna." [from the forward by Alan Watts]
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Format: Paperback
A great quote from the book "Doubt is an incitement to research, and research is the path to true knowledge."
Paraphrase between A David-Neel and her teacher as reported in the book (Note similarities to dialog of Don Juan and Carlos): "Why are these teachings secret? Does that mean I can't write and tell about them?" "No, Alexandra, these teachings are not called 'secret' because it is forbidden to talk about them. They are 'secret' because so few who hear them understand."
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By bochu on September 23, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you know what you're getting into with this book, it is absolutely fantastic. The reason the teachings are 'secret', is because they are so incredibly difficult to understand. This book tries to lay it all out logically and in a way that makes it possible for the reader, with enough effort and persistence, to take in some of these 'secrets'.

This and Zen-Flesh Zen-Bones are my staple books for staying grounded. They both help me keep in touch with reality and such.

It's a hard read, but it holds so much in it.
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Format: Paperback
I've had this book for years. It really was a pioneering translation in its day, and for many, myself included, it provided a tantalizing first glimpse into the extraordinary world of Tibetan Buddhism. It's wonderful, and I recommend it highly. I would only say that the book is a bit outdated. Since Alan Watts died in 1973, there has been an explosion in the publication of authentic Tantric and Vajrayana texts and translations. In the early seventies for example, there was hardly one book by the Dalai Lama published in the U.S. Now, there are dozens. A whole generation of highly empowered Tibetan masters have fled to the West from Chinese oppression in Tibet, bringing with them profound Tibetan teachings, texts, and commentaries, and they are being published with gusto. Just type "Tibetan Buddhism" into a search window on Amazon and you'll see what I mean. The Dalai Lama and the wonderful teachers of his generation and later, means to firmly plant the Vajrayana Dharma in the West. This book, published some forty years ago, was a first of many steps.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been trying to work through this book since I was given a 1st edition of it wayyy back in 1969. Not that it is a difficult read, heck - it's rather skinny.

But the concepts/precepts contained in it REMAIN a "secret" to me, even to this day.

One thing I DO know for sure; you cannot KEEP this book! You will be tempted to loan it to someone, and they will NEVER return it. EVER. Even people who always return things will find an excuse to keep it, I know this for a fact.

This time, I ordered 2 copies. That makes a grand total of about a dozen copies I have purchased through the years.

After so many years, I am hoping to grasp the contents this time around. Have no doubt: the authors recognize the reader as likely an idiot, and say so. But they do their best to assist.

(If you want to see someone's head explode, try discussing the contents with a dyed-in-the-wool Fundamentalist Anything - or better yet, a Catholic. THEY will tell you all are simply "Mysteries" of the Universe!)

Alexandra David-Neel and Lama Yongden allow one to unravel those mysteries, those "secrets" if you will. I think.

I dunno. 42+ years later, I still don't quite "get" it.

Good Luck to You!

Update: 45+ years study now, and I know even less now than I did back in the 60's when first gifted with a copy of this book. I don't know what I know as a result of reading this. I used to know what it was I did NOT know, but further reading has changed even that.

I am purchasing a copy today for my grandson. When I asked his age on his birthday recently, he stated "Everyone thinks I'm seven years old. I'm not supposed to tell how old I really am".
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