6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2007
This book is immensely rich with wisdom and compassion. It is a translation of an old text. Herein are stories being told of the founding fathers of the Kagyu lineage. Not to be left out are Vajradara and Buddha.
Marpa's story is like Naropa's in that there are layers of depth that can only be understood by a Vajrayana practitioner. This is not your typical life of Saints book because of its profoundity. The content is very sacred in nature.
Another reviewer, Magalini Sabina "sabina", mentioned a book near the end of his review titled "The Life of Milarepa". There are few known translations of this text, and thank you "sabina" for bringing it to light.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2006
Translated by Tibetan Rinpoche Khenpo Konchog Gyaltsen, Tibet The Great Kagyu Masters: The Golden Lineage Treasury is a collection of the wisdom of the early sages of the Kagyu sages of Tibet, many of whom are virtually unknown to non-Tibetans. Presenting the life stories of several enlightened masters including Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa, Milarepa, Gampopa, and others, The Great Kagyu Masters is part biography, part religious history, and part insight into principles and teachings of this dynamic path of Tibetan Buddhism. Many of the biographical sketches alternate between standard prose and verse form. An enthusiastically welcome addition to public library, Buddhist history and Buddhism study shelves.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2006
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The Venerable Khenchen Rinpoche Konchog Gyaltsen is a Tibetan monk that has gone through all the phases of expatriation followed by refugees fleeing Tibet after 1959 (see the magnificent description of this period of Tibetan Diaspora in John Avedon's "In Exile from the Land of Snows"). He now lives according to [...] in the United States. Asides from being a teacher and a master of Buddhism he is a translator that strives to make important text available to the public and provide training in the Dharma. He has already translated other Tibetan texts, but he found that a translation of the 13th century text by Dorje Dze Od a disciple of the Kagyu lineage might be useful for the public and his students.
Dorje Dze Od was himself a great master that practiced in Western Tibet, experienced in meditation practices and perceived by his disciples in miraculous ways. He wrote a compilation of the lives of the Kagyu Masters starting from Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa, Milarepa, Gampopa down to the more recent Phagmodrupa and Lord Jigten Sumgon describing their mutual relationships, their miracles, illuminations and adding significant and beautiful doha songs (a kind of praises and prayers).
So we are talking about a translation of a 13th century text, like (if a comparison is consented) Dante's "Divine Comedy", or St. Francesco d'Assisi's "Laudato sii.." or Jacopone da Todi's Laudae. Naturally Italians, with experience of Latin and classical literature, are capable of understanding part of these beautiful and significant religious texts, but even our school editions have notes and explanations that consent to appreciate the full meaning of the texts, but when an English translation is necessary notes are indispensable. This is to say that once one decides to translate an ancient text, more so one with a religious and spiritual significance also in modern times and not only a narration of known and timeless tales (like for example the Iliad), this must be rendered comprehensible also to a non adept public. Notes, historical, geographical explanations are completely absent from this book. Only the dates of the life spans of the Great Masters are reported.
This particular characteristic makes this translation an esoteric book which is somehow a little frustrating for the interested reader. However, since the web gives us many resources I found great help on [...] for a comprehension of the Kagyu tradition and on [...] for the current meaning of the Lineage.
Remembering a "The life of Milarepa" I read many years ago, I took it down from the shelf and reread it. This translation I have (from the Rechungpa chronicle of is life - 12th Century) is by Jacques Bacot, and I don't believe it exists in English. Though not fraught with notes it is comprehensible and infinitely interesting to read and has the intent of explaining Mila's life to the occidental reader. The introduction expressly states "sometimes different words design a similar or same thing. We must remember the enormous distance that separates the intellectual world of Milarepa from that of the occidental reader today. Some misunderstanding might be present also regarding the facts. Our comprehension of the phenomena of Indian mystics will always be missing the will, and also the possibility of experiencing it, because it requires some conditions which are for us today unrealizable". Bacot wrote this in the 1920's. Maybe today it's truth is not so evident because many readers have an idea of Tibetan mystics and Buddhism is part of or New Age practical life philosophy. However, KK Gyaltsen's translation is sometimes really cryptic and this is a pity because the interest of the text does not come fully out.
The book has a sturdy binding, a colourful cover and very nice line drawings. At the end it reports the Drikung Kagyu lineage with the relative dates.
It is a useful adjunct to a library, but only a stepping stone to knowledge about such a different cultural milieu.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2008
As I have been considering joining Mahamudra lineage of the Karma Kagyu, I wanted to get a feel for the fore-fathers of the lineage. This is a very interesting book, some of which, with my limited progression so far on the path, was not completely understood. Nevertheless I found it vital to get a feel for those yogis who formed the Kagyu lineage. I recommend you read it many times as your meditation progresses to get the most out of this book.