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Stages of Meditation Paperback – July 28, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Snow Lion; Reprint edition (July 28, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559391979
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559391979
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Stages of Meditation is a commentary by the Dalai Lama on a rare text by ninth-century Indian Buddhist scholar Kamalashila, written in Tibet to correct some Chinese misinterpretations of Buddhism that were influential at the time. Kamalashila's short work is not widely known today, but according to the Dalai Lama, it is a most important text, and worthy of study by those new to Buddhism, because "on the basis of this knowledge you will be able to understand other treatises without great difficulty. This text can be like a key that opens the door to all other major Buddhist scriptures."

Throughout the book, the Dalai Lama emphasizes the importance of logical analysis of scriptures, even if they are in the Buddha's own words; some teachings, he stresses, "should not be taken literally, but need interpretation." And this is what he does in this clear and readable commentary, originally given in 1989 and now translated and published for the first time. Its 10 short chapters are on such familiar Buddhist themes as Training the Mind, Compassion, Identifying the Nature of Suffering, and The Practice of Calm Abiding.

"Through meditation," says the Dalai Lama, "we can train our minds in such a way that negative qualities are abandoned and positive qualities are generated and enhanced." Those who practice meditation, whether Buddhist or not, will find this a thoughtful and practical guide, written with the Dalai Lama's characteristic warmth and gentleness. --David V Barrett, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"A feast of a book and as comprehensive and readable an introduction to the nature and scope of Buddhism's living wisdom as can be found."—Bloomsbury Review

"With characteristic warmth and lucidity, the Dalai Lama's reflections bring alive this classic synopsis of Mahayana Buddhism in a way that will inspire and inform anyone who seeks to practice the Dharma today."—Stephen Batchelor, author of Verses from the Center

"Stages of Meditation is a wise, wonderful, and profound book."—Ken Wilber, author of Integral Psychology: Consciousness Spirit Psychology Therapy

"For the budding practitioner there are few teachings more essential or indispensable than Kamalashila's Stages of Meditation."—ForeWord

"A rigorous treatment of a single pithy source text, this faithful rendering from Tibetan was more than ten years in the making."—Shambhala Sun

"A must read for followers of the Dalai Lama and an unquestionably worthy addition to Buddhist studies reading lists and reference collections."—Midwest Book Review

"As always the Dalai Lama's warmth and his ability to adjust the level of his commentary to his audience are in evidence."—Journal of Asian Studies

"As usual he challenges the listener or reader with his deceptive simplicity and unassuming brilliance."—Frederick M. Smith, University of Iowa for Religious Studies Review

More About the Author

His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was born in 1935 to a peasant family in northeastern Tibet and was recognized at the age of two as the reincarnation of his predecessor, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama. The world's foremost Buddhist leader, he travels extensively, speaking eloquently in favor of ecumenical understanding, kindness and compassion, respect for the environment, and, above all, world peace.

Customer Reviews

Both are discussed in great detail with vivid examples.
D. A. Patton
It sat on my shelf unread for quite some time, until I finally picked it up about a week ago and read it through in a short series of evening sessions.
Charlie Calvert
H.H. Has written yet another wonderful book, I would recommend this to anyone other Buddhists or those interested in meditation!
Oral B

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Charlie Calvert on August 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm a WASP born and raised in the United States and a very long term meditator who has mostly practiced inside Hindu and Theravadin traditions. I've seen the Dalai Lama speak twice, read some of his books, and watched a few of his videos, so I'm not entirely unfamiliar with his work, but still I'm not a follower of his branch of Buddhism.

I downloaded this book from Audible several years ago, and listened to it through in bits and pieces several times while commuting. There were passages I wanted to linger over, so I bought the hardback. It sat on my shelf unread for quite some time, until I finally picked it up about a week ago and read it through in a short series of evening sessions.

I find this book to be extremely useful. In it, the Dalai Lama talks about two different types of meditation:

1) Calm Abiding
2) Special Insight

Calm abiding meditation usually involves some form of single pointed concentration, and in my experience can lead to the pleasant or - on rare occasions - the blissful experiences that dominate popular perceptions of meditation. The second type of meditation I think of as Insight meditation. It is often associated with the goal of attaining wisdom. The Diamond Sutra, and many branches of Buddhism, emphasize that wisdom involves compassion, selflessness, and learning to treat this "fleeting world" as "a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream, a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, a flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream." Finding the right words to help westerners understand Buddhist wisdom is one of the books strengths.

Many schools of meditation present you with the option of choosing either special insight or calm abiding.
Read more ›
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By SN on February 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is aimed at those who already have the basic knowledge of Buddhism. Those who wish to know the basic of Buddhism should pick up What Buddhists Believe by K. Sri Dhammananda. Stages of Meditation is about the practice of the Madhyamika school of Buddhism. Though a follower of the Theravada school, I greatly enjoy the teaching expounded in this text. The language is precise and to the point. Hence it could be a little dry and challenging to novice readers. Each school of Buddhism explains the core Buddhist concepts a little differently. Because of this students of the Dharma can pick up different insights from reading texts outside of their school. This is hugely benefiting for the development of wisdom and compassion.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By D. A. Patton on February 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Essentially a study of Mahayanan Buddhism, this book is also excellent choice for those interested in refining their mindfulness meditation practice. There are full chapters describing calm abiding and actualizing special insight. Both are discussed in great detail with vivid examples. I would consider it to be a must-have for anyone interested in the practice of mindfulness meditation.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Brian Griffith on May 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book captures the Dalai Lama in his classical role, explaining an ancient Buddhist text to monks in Northern India. The exposition is simply translated from Tibetan, and it shows us the subtlety of an advanced class for committed practitioners. Where our sound-bite world commonly simplifies religion to some "main point", the Dalai Lama's careful reflections always maintain a balancing act. The terse root text by Kamalashila is expanded on, the way a seasoned mountain guide explains a map through highly variable terrain. The path to unwavering attention and compassion looks hard, but possible. The teacher evokes a desire to make it.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By D. Buxman TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The other reviews of this book have done an admirable job of describing the different aspects of this work, but I would like to add a couple of thoughts. First, this is a wonderful book for those with a background in meditative practice, but a beginner could get lost in some unfamiliar territory. Second, although the book is 210 pages, the last 40 are comprised of the original Tibetan text, which will be of limited use to those of us who are not Tibetan scholars. Otherwise, this is a great book with solid, practical advice (which is to be expected of the Dalai Lama).
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on June 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Stages Of Meditation is a extensive commentary written by the venerable Dalai Lama upon the middle section of the Bhavanakrama by Kamalashila; a translation of this section is included. The text and the Dalai Lama's wisdom offer insight into understanding all Buddhist scriptures, and covering such matters as how to embrace kindness and live, know calmness, and achieve insight. A "must-read" for followers of the Dalai Lama and an unquestionably worthy addition to Buddhist studies reading lists and reference collections.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bihlera on November 4, 2014
Format: Paperback
The Book consists of the text and its interpretation / comments in ten chapters, a glossary, a list of recommended readings, and a print of the text in Tibetan. The text is written by Kamalashila, translated into English and commented by H.H. Dalai Lama

The title as-well as the bookcover have some misleading notions that lured me into the decision to buy the book and deceived me:
- the original text "Stages of Meditation" consists of three parts. The book covers the intermediate part - the second of three.
- the text is a theoretical treatise. Whoever thinks that "Practise-oriented Westerners will find this favorite text of the Dalai Lama especially useful" (so the cover states) either hasn't read it or has a totally wring idea about a practise-oriented westerner's need.
- the Glossary misses many expressions I'd need clear interpretation of. Other interpretations I have read five times and still don't get them. I guess that too clearly shows me I am not on intermediate level.

Just to give you some little taste of it, let me randomly pick two sentences of p. 110: "Through the process of meditation, the practicioner initially actualizes mental pliancy. This is preceded by a kind of heaviness of the brain that is in fact a sign of relinquishing the defects of the mind."
I am missing here either a language, or a wisdom, or a sanity interface beween the sender (Kalamashila) and the recipient (myself). No matter how much I'd like to get that, I simply don't.
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