Quirky Books: The New Meditation Handbook by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The New Meditation Handbook by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso was born in Tibet. He is an accomplished Master of Meditation who moved to the Europe in 1977 and established many Buddhist Centers all over the world. Patented in 1988, it offers a clear method for people to achieve enlightenment.

Initially he describes basic meditations to prepare for the later meditations. The beginning meditations concentrate on the six realms of samsara. Samsara is dismal. In fact, if not having a goal to read the entire book, after reading the first few chapters, I would have put the book down forever. Meditating on suffering is not appealing. The later philosophies in the meditations make it worthwhile.

Gyatso tries to control meditations with associated thoughts when entering the meditations. This is worthwhile if you are a Buddhist, because it furthers conceptual religious virtues. However, even if you a person of another faith, the meditations possess defining power to evolve through steps to achieve enlightenment.

Rearranging the order of the meditations is appealing to me, as I am not a Buddhist. Several of the meditations are disagreeable on the surface. The reference to animals being a lesser life form and having a lower consciousness, is harsh. It claims after becoming an animal an entity cannot achieve enlightenment, because they lack cognitive thought.

Another issue relates to enlightenment meditation, in regards to having to accept the body and mind together as true or false, I chose "true." Gyatso recommends "false." Dreams are real. Elephants are real. I don't have to see or touch them to know they are real. Therefore, the body and mind are true, though instructed to think otherwise.

An appendix containing additional prayers is helpful in clarifying thoughts and continuing personal meditation. Quotes from other Buddhist monks offer different perspectives or reinforce meditation. Everything is well designed and shows a purposeful movement. The illustrations are few, yet the visual images enhance inner reflection.

It contains worthwhile information which sidelines basic principles in regard to selflessness and achieving balance. However, martial arts are for people in offensive or defensive positions, alterations to the meditations may be appropriate. Several of key concepts are agreeable. The person is challenged to move away from a selfish existence towards a caring existence. I would recommend the book to people interested in Buddhism or wanting to explore meditation. I will not be discussing the specific meditations in any of my articles related meditation. You have to buy the book or borrow it from the library for these specific passages.

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