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The Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects Paperback – 1967
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This is an account of the Madhyamika (Middle Way) school of Buddhism, a method of mediation and enlightenment that was developed by the great Indian teacher Nagarjuna. In a collaboration between the Frenchwoman Alexandra David-Neel and her friend, the Tibetan lama Aphur Yongden, these teaching are presented clearly and elegantly, intended for the layman who seeks a way to practice and experience the realization of oneness with all existence.Alexandra David-Neel was born in 1868 in Paris.
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The author, Alexandra David-Neel, was a very unusual spiritual explorer; a Western woman who spent many years among the Tibetan Buddhists. I had read her 'Magic And Mystery In Tibet' a long time ago and while it was interesting enough I didn't think it very serious-- it seemed too much to be just more 'esoteric romanticism.' But this Secret Oral Teachings is entirely different. The former now seems to me entertainment but the later a very fine commentary on the deepest Buddhist truths.
This book has a lot to say-- among the most meaningful to me is the explanation of what is actually meant by the 'Void' and in conjunction with that how we create fantasy thought versions of what we accept and believe to be 'real truth.' Mostly though we fool ourselves, wanting solidity and assurances where none such can ever be had. She writes, '...the origins of things is not situated in any place or moment of past time; it is produced now, at each instant, in our minds...like the waves which arise from the sea and fall back into it.'
She reminds us of our responsibility and complicity in whatever reality we confront: 'The faith commended to their faithful by all religions...is nowise approved in the Secret Teachings. Based on the advice given by the Buddha to his disciples, the primary recommendation is doubt. Doubt is an incitement to research and research is the Way which leads to Knowledge.'
Great wisdom of middle ground Buddhism.
I would recommend starting with Alan Watts literature or lectures, he has a more western approach to these difficult topics to comprehend.
And when you have acquired a little more depth on the infinite, these are really good tales of how oral tradition worked on passing wisdom.
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.