Eight Verses for Training the Mind
Billed as a clear explanation of one of Buddhism’s most basic texts, Eight Verses for Training the Mind opens more as if you have walked in on a conversation well in progress. This is a dialogue with those schooled in Buddhist rhetoric, delivered by a speaker who has no interest in bringing you up to speed.
This book explores eight verses to be meditated on from a root text written in the eleventh century. The first sentence contains a footnote, a constant in this lingo heavy writing, which explains that these eight teachings belong to a category unique to “the Great Vehicle.” Flipping to the notes section offers little clarity, as you learn that “the Great Vehicle” consists of “the causal Perfection Vehicle and the resultant Secret Mantra Vehicle.” If you feel like you just stumbled into the wrong seminar, take heart, the note goes on to state that “these practices are suitable for practitioners of the very highest caliber.”
The eight verses themselves occupy the last two pages of the book proper, and are lucid and easy to follow. Resolving to cherish others, do good works and view those who hurt and betray you as your spiritual teachers are easily recognizable themes for even the most casual student of religion. The book dedicates a chapter to each of the eight verses, and seems focused on making each as inexplicable as possible.
While there are familiar points made in each chapter, they are buried under layers of reference and terminology, indecipherable to the common reader. Even with the omnipresent footnotes, many of the concepts referred to remain impenetrable.
Best suited to those already well versed in Tibetan Buddhist terminology and concepts, this book would make an adventurous read for those willing to swim in unfamiliar water. However, if you really want to learn to pilot that Secret Mantra Vehicle, this is the manual for you.