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Buddhist Fasting Practice: The Nyunge Method of Thousand Armed Chenrezig

Starting in high school, I became very interested in Buddhism, which really did not sit well with my Catholic family. The philosophy behind Buddhism intrigued me, as well as the history. That is why I was interested in reading Buddhist Fasting Practice. It is more than just a book on fasting: it encompasses the history, the philosophy and the practice of Tibetan Buddhism.

Wangchen Rinpoche goes into great detail about the history of the Nyunge method, which is a specific type of fasting, beginning with Gelongma Palmo, a princess stricken with leprosy. When Gelongma Palmo performed the Nyunge method, her leprosy was cured, and she entered enlightenment. In addition to Gelongma Palmo, Rinpoche discusses other great gurus of the Nyunge method; the amount of information that he provides in this section could be a book on its own.

The benefits of the Nyunge method, according to Rinpoche, are enlightenment, as well as cleansing. In the Buddhist tradition, misfortunes are due to bad karma, either in this life or previous lives. By performing the Nyunge method, the practitioner's karma is cleansed and she is born into a higher being her next life. One round of the Nyunge method includes a day with only one vegetarian meal, and another day of fasting. Practitioners can choose to continue the fasting, which provides even more benefits. In addition to the fasting, Rinpoche includes the chants used in phonetics and Tibetan prints. Pictures are also included of sacred images.

Buddhist Fasting Practice can be a tough book to get through: the information is dense and Rinpoche covers a large amount in his book. However, it is a valuable resource for people interested in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and Buddhist fasting methods. Scholars of Buddhism will find that Rinpoche knows what he is talking about as he provides an in-depth look at the Nyunge method and tradition.

Written by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch, October 17th 2009

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