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The Way of Awakening: A Commentary on Shantideva's Bodhicharyavatara Paperback – January 15, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications (January 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0861714946
  • ISBN-13: 978-0861714940
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,505,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"The present work contains a thorough practical guide to the Bodhicharyavatara by Geshe Yeshe Tobden. He has that rare distinction of being not only qualified as a scholar, but also of having gained long acquaintance through many years of meditation in the mountains. As a result, his explanation has the special flavor of heartfelt personal experience." (from the foreword by the Dalai Lama)

"Geshe Yeshe Tobden studied at one of the world's greatest Buddhist monateries, Sera. Not only did he master the subjects of philosophy, logic, wisdom, metaphysics, and morality, his presentation shows that he also has experiential understanding. His combination of knowledge and experience is greatly needed today." (Gehlek Rimpoche, author of Good Life, Good Death)

About the Author

Geshe Yeshe Tobden was born in 1926 to a family of wealthy farmers in Ngadra, a village one day's walk south of Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, and became a monk at age twelve. After the Chinese invasion of his homeland in 1959, he was arrested, but escaped, and spent two years crossing the Tibetan Plateau on foot until reaching the border with India. He completed his geshe studies in India, and spent several years teaching at the university in Varanasi. When he was forty-four, he told the Dalai Lama of his desire to live out his days in meditation retreat, for, from his boyhood, he had deeply desired the realization of reununciation, bodhichitta, and emptiness. Released from his duties at the university, he made his main residence a one-room hut above McLeod Ganj, the town in India where the Dalai Lama lives. There he lived for the remainder of his life, apart from a few teaching tours abroad, notably to fledgling Buddhist centers in Italy where these teachings were delivered. Geshe Yeshe Tobden passed away in McLeod Ganj in 1999.

Fiorella Rizzi has been a student of Buddhism since 1980, when she met the late Geshe Yeshe Tobden. Since 1997, she has been translating and editing texts on Buddhist philosophy and practice and is the founder of the nonprofit cultural association La Ruota del Dharma. She lives in Pomaia, Italy.

Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. He frequently describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk. Born in northeastern Tibet in 1935, he was as a toddler recognized as the incarnation of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and brought to Tibet's capital, Lhasa. In 1950, Mao Zedong's Communist forces made their first incursions into eastern Tibet, shortly after which the young Dalai Lama assumed the political leadership of his country. He passed his scholastic examinations with honors at the Great Prayer Festival in Lhasa in 1959, the same year Chinese forces occupied the city, forcing His Holiness to escape to India. There he set up the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, working to secure the welfare of the more than 100,000 Tibetan exiles and prevent the destruction of Tibetan culture. In his capacity as a spiritual and political leader, he has traveled to more than sixty-two countries on six continents and met with presidents, popes, and leading scientists to foster dialogue and create a better world. In recognition of his tireless work for the nonviolent liberation of Tibet, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. In 2012, he relinquished political authority in his exile government and turned it over to democratically elected representatives.

His Holiness frequently states that his life is guided by three major commitments: the promotion of basic human values or secular ethics in the interest of human happiness, the fostering of interreligious harmony, and securing the welfare of the Tibetan people, focusing on the survival of their identity, culture, and religion. As a superior scholar trained in the classical texts of the Nalanda tradition of Indian Buddhism, he is able to distill the central tenets of Buddhist philosophy in clear and inspiring language, his gift for pedagogy imbued with his infectious joy. Connecting scientists with Buddhist scholars, he helps unite contemplative and modern modes of investigation, bringing ancient tools and insights to bear on the acute problems facing the contemporary world. His efforts to foster dialogue among leaders of the world's faiths envision a future where people of different beliefs can share the planet in harmony. Wisdom Publications is proud to be the premier publisher of the Dalai Lama's more serious and in-depth works.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dan on January 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
Shantideva spoke his Bodhicharyavatara close to two millenia ago, instructing practitioners how to practice and how to live their lives. It became a major text in the Mahayana tradition.

I read the actual prose edition of it, and was very impressed with Shantideva's skillful use of logic and his conclusions of how one should live and practice. The wisdom chapter is notable in particular, for its explications of some core doctrines that can be confusing (such as anatman or no-self). I decided to read a commentary on it in order to clarify some questions I had and to gain new insight into what it was he was saying.

I picked up a copy of this book, and was fairly impressed by it. Some parts of it struck me as redundant and repetitive, but it could be argued that such repetition is important to planting wholesome seeds in the reader's head. Still, I think it would have benefited from omitting such parts.

There are also some sections which make some fairly remarkable assertions (notably a discussion of reincarnation) and which attempt unsuccessfully (IMO) to support them with logic.

There are a few other commentaries out there, such as the Dalai Lama's and Pema Chodron's. I have read neither, but the Dalai Lama's book would be worth checking out, as he is skilled at writing for the modern Western mind, and it is also maybe half the length of this book.
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The text this commentary is based on is a true masterpiece of enlightened literature. The scope and depth of Shantideva's Bodhicharyavatara while being immediately accessible also merits a lifetime of study and repeated reading and application. It is true guidance coming from and guiding one to the perspective of ultimate reality.
This commentary by Geshe Yeshe Tobden is rich and replete with explanations, examples and wise anecdotes that drive home the importance and relevance of Shatnideva's text. Geshe Yeshe Tobden lived in a one room shack high in the mountains for 30 years meditating and practicing. Is there a way to be more highly qualified than that when it comes to writing a commentary like this?
This text is profoundly helpful and insightful for one on the Buddhist path. Most importantly, it takes one from the constricted suffering of self cherishing to the enlightened expanse of selfless benefit.
Highly recommended.
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This is a commentary on Shantideva's Way of the Bodhisattva by a Tibetan teacher who fled Tibet in 1961. While living as a hermit outside Dharamsala, he eventually became a teacher to some Italian Tibetans and visited Italy regularly for a number of years. Because of this, I think, his commentary is clearer and more understandable for lay people. His talks were made into a book and then translated into good, modern English. He also used a different translation of Shantideva by a Tibetan monk. Shantideva has some difficult sections, including Ch. 9, on wisdom, which Geshe Tobden has commented on, with extra material in the appendixes. If you wish to study Shantideva, I recommend getting this book as one of your texts.
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