Elevate Difference

Enlightened Courage

Buddhist doctrine can be difficult to wrap one’s mind around, and is not always feminist or politically correct in its approach. The old doctrines were written for individuals who did not even have “politically correct” in their vocabularies; the doctrines become more universal.

Dilgo Rinpoche, a teacher of Surya Das and the Dalai Lama, brings forth his interpretations of Seven Point Mind Training in Enlightened Courage. Very fortunately, there is a glossary, which probably should be read first. Those new to Buddhist teachings will find the explanations clear and educational. In addition, insights can be gained simply by reading the definitions of different terms - such as “rinpoche,” a divine leader who has been reincarnated.

I found the glossary to be highly enjoyable and it helped through different parts of the book. My experiences with reading Buddhist teachings has often been frustrating because the eloquent manner in which they are conveyed are (to my mind) best rendered in speech.

Recognizing the poetic and somewhat formal manner in which the information is offered can help in the reading of the book. The book is a translation of Rinpoche’s teachings, but appears to be faithful to the discursive style of teaching from spiritual leaders. Questions are asked, and often not answered to the satisfaction of the student. It is up to the student to find her own answers within the context of the discussion.

That isn’t to say the book is missing some practical, simple translation. In a discussion of impermanence, Rinpoche likens it to “rich people still discussing their business projects on their deathbeds.”

At the root of Enlightened Courage we have explanations on how to follow an uplifting, ethical path. Real examples are given, and our thoughts are provoked. The book isn’t designed (nor are the teachings) to be a quick, easy read. What you get from the book is much like what you get from meditation. Its ability to go back, again and again, starting anew, without judging yourself on how much you have accomplished.

Written by: Cheryl Ellis, May 9th 2007