My attempting this book was a mistake. I gave up on it, and donated my copy to a charity bookstore. As a beginner, I was way out of my depth.
The authors on Buddhism whom I've found most helpful for someone at my stage have been Stephen Levine (Gradual Awakening) and Ezra Bayda (Being Zen and Zen Heart). I recommend them very highly to fellow beginners. They share a simple, practical, down to earth, authentic style that I find accessible and inspiring.
This is not a criticism of Huang Po, who evidently is a brilliant author for the reader who is ready. Rather, I'm sharing my experience for the potential benefit of my fellow beginners.
It's difficult to know how many stars to assign to a book that didn't work out -- at least not at this time -- when the "deficiency" (if that's the appropriate word) is in the reader rather than the author. In the right hands, the book no doubt deserves every star there is to give.
This book could be a real treasure for those few who are intuitively ready for the highest teachings as for example represented by the Dzogchen teachings. This could be together with another book translated by the same translator " The teachings of instantaneous Awakening" by Hui Hai the clearest and most radical exposition on this subject. To my mind the older teachings that were given in the 8th and 9th century are much more powerful than the later books written. Warning: This books are about transcending the intelect and conceptual thinking altogether!
If you want to understand and know who you are, Huang Po takes you there very directly. For those of us wanting clear directions on the journey inward, to our very essence, these teachings are in plain English. Coming from a Chinese culture in 800's he brings the profundity of our Mind, by way of Taoist and Buddhist teachings. As you live your simple or complex life can you understand that you contain all the wisdom within you. You just have to sit and be quiet and discover this extraordinary truth. Concepts and beliefs cannot take you totally home .You have to come to it by way of stillness and silence where MIND manifests itself. We are surrounded by many traditions that head us towards the truth. Words only take you so far. Huang Po wants you to be still and go in and get it ,a little bit like fishing but not quite . You are the very Fish you seek. Find a nice stream ............. Apologies to any vegans for the metaphor. This Fish, that you cannot take hold of, becomes just...
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