Mahamudra: Eliminating the Darkness of Ignorance
By: 9th Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje
The 9th Karmapa (Wang-ch'ug dor-je) wrote three famed texts on Mahamudra. The longest one, the Ocean of Definitive Meaning (or Ultimate Meaning) was published with commentary by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche twice ("The Ninth Karmapa's Ocean of Definitive Meaning" and "An Ocean of Ultimate Meaning"). Likewise, Thrangu Rinpoche published his commentary of "Pointing Out the Dharmakaya." The present work is one of the shortest (maybe the shortest) of the 3 texts by the 9th Karmapa (1556-1603). It is, thus, quite concise--reminiscent of "The Practice of Mahamudra" by Chetsang Rinpoche in that regard. Beru Rinpoche's commentary (paragraph by paragraph) is also quite concise, but virtually always contributes greatly to the reader's understanding of the text and of Mahamudra. The translation by Alexander Berzin seems first rate to me. I'd give the main book 4.5 stars. However, in addition to this text, the book also includes the 1st century BCE text "Fifty Stanzas of Guru-Devotion" by Aryasura (or Asvaghosa) with commentary by Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey who is presumably the co-author of the very fine modern classic, "Advice from a Spiritual Friend." It was writtn during the reign of Kanishka of the Kushan dynasty--known for his ancient coinage. It includes much detail about how to choose and treat one's Guru. However, its context must be considered. For example, it is considered unseemly to point your feet (still the case in Asia) and to step on your Guru's shadow. Some of the items could be considered either Tibetan-specific beliefs or culture or even superstition, but considering the age of the text, these should be overlooked by the Western reader. There is some practical advice still useful today.