Book Review — Ten Tales from Tibet: Cultivating Compassion

Ten Tales from Tibet: Cultivating Compassion by Lama Lhakpa Yeshe is a series of ten parables from the Buddhist tradition.  Lama Yeshe decided to become a monk at the age of 10 following in the footsteps of his uncle, Lama Guru Chowang.  Around the same time, his uncle started to teach him the fundamentals of the Nyingma-pa School of Tibetan Buddhism. Lama Yeshe joined the Zigar monastery in Dege, which housed around 300 monks. Lama Lhakpa Yeshe now teaches throughout the UK.  This edition is also richly illustrated with the photographs of Matthieu Ricard and introduction provided by global peace and environment campaigner, Satish Kumar

The ten parables used in the text are simple stories with a strong moral that is gently applied.  Compassion for all living things is a central point as well as looking inward for answers.  It is not really difficult, when reading the teachings of Lama Patrul Rinpoche, to see the universality of the message.  Lama Patrul Rinpoche is the actual teller of the stories.  He is one of Tibetan Buddhism’s most revered teachers of the Dharma.  

Suffering is part of as much a part of life as joy.  It is our job as humans to decrease suffering where we can.  We must prevent violence and show compassion. That being said in the introduction we are reminded that:

Polluting oceans with plastics, cutting down rainforests and depriving the indigenous people of their livelihood, poisoning the soil with chemicals and pesticides, and emitting greenhouse gases that cause climate change are all acts of violence.

The ten parables used in this book teach gentle lessons in a language that is understood by all.  The themes are easily recognized.  The giving up one’s possessions to follow the true path and not following distractions is always good advice.  Lending aid to the less fortunate man and beast is compassion in any religion.  Many times we are caught up in our own problems and don’t see bigger problems of others.  I think Jimmy Carter made quite a bit of sense when he told fellow Christians ‘If you don’t want your tax dollars to help the poor, then stop saying that you want a country based on Christian values.’.   We sometimes forget what our core values no matter what the belief system we belong to and the real reason why we follow them:

So making oneself available to others at a time of need is the most altruistic and selfless act one can perform. If that act is performed merely out of duty, or because it is a profession, then it is only a job.

The stories presented offer value to those of all beliefs.  Most religions do have same core values of good and evil — Don’t steal,  Don’t kill.  Yeshe presents parables that are universal and can help all become better at what they seek:

‘The purpose of life is to help all sentient beings to be free from suffering. In order to do this, you need to cultivate unconditional, unlimited and pure compassion towards all, without any exception.’  ~  Lama Patrul Rinpoche

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