Monday, December 21, 2015

In the Shadow of the Buddha by Matteo Pistono

Perhaps it was fated for me finding this book in the library's shelf earlier last week. Once I finished reading 'All the Light We Cannot See' - written by Anthony Doerr, I started immediately reading the following book written by Matteo Pistono.

In the Shadow of the Buddha by Matteo Pistono

"For nearly a decade, Matteo Pistono evaded Chinese security and smuggled out photos of prisons, secret documents, and firsthand interviews of torture victims and other atrocities committed by the Chinese government. Yet Pistono had not initially gone to Tibet to fight for human rights - but as Buddhist pilgrim. 

After Pistono became the student of a venerated meditation master in Tibet, he began couriering messages to him from the Dalai Lama in India. This began an extraordinary adventure. In the Shadow of the Buddha is both a vivid account of how Tibet's rich spiritual past is slipping away under repression, and the story of one man who merged political activism with Buddhist mysticism in pursuit of freedom and peace."  

--- excerpt copied from the back of the book ---

At first, when I saw this book on the shelf, I thought it was gonna be another book that would make me having a closer feeling to the Tibetan Buddhism and Tibet as a place, from another person's point of view. I didn't read the excerpt written behind but just flipping the pages around and saw some familiar Buddhist teachers so I decided to grab it as I was expecting to learn one or two things from them. Like I had the feeling that there must be something for me to learn kind of thing!!

Little did I expect that this book has amazingly opened up my mind and knowledge about what was, and perhaps is still happening to Tibetans living in Tibet. The author, as mentioned above, initially visited Tibet as the Buddhist pilgrim. However, after meeting with Tibetans there, he came to know about the terrible suffering that many Tibetans experiencing and he could not resist but helping them to bring the news out with the expectation that something could change into their lives.

Tertön Sogyal (1856-1926)

In the book, there was also a biography of Tertön Sogyal (predecessor of Sogyal Rinpoche and Khenpo Jikme Phuntsok), which brought us back to mid 1800s and beginning of 1900s, where he was there as a teacher and Dhamma heir of Dalai Lama XIII. From the story, I managed to learn and understand more about Guru Padmasambhava and the role of Tertön Sogyal as the hidden treasure revealer, also the history of Tibet  back then.

It was a mixed feelings I had when reading it. Salute to the author to follow his heart and do whatever he could for the benefit of sentient beings, even if he had to put himself at risk when doing his tasks. He almost fell into depression too as he felt helpless somehow with the situation that happened but couldn't do much to change it.

"Whatever joy there is in this world,
All comes from wanting others to be happy.
Whatever suffering there is in this world, 
All comes from wanting oneself to be happy.

What need is there to say a whole lot more?
Buddha's work for the benefit of others,
Ordinary people work for the benefit of themselves,
And just look at the difference between them!"

--- Shantideva ---

This quote, as said by Wangchen - the contemporary treasure revealer from eastern Tibet with whom the author studied and traveled - reminded Matteo when he felt lost, "Always remember, there is no Vajrakilaya, no Buddha, no Tertön Sogyal, if there are no suffering beings to be helped!" And hope this too, would remind us about our purpose in life once again.

Meditation - Simply be aware, before thinking begins

"We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with a pure mind, 
And happiness will follow you,
As your shadow, unshakable. 

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind,
And trouble will follow you,
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart."

--- Buddha's Quote ---


Choki Gyeltshen said...

Looks like an interesting book. I like to know especially Tibetan culture from different perspective like this book. If time permits, I am gonna read too :)

Rima Reyka said...

Yeah, if you can find this book there, it's worth reading, especially if you want to know more about what happened in Tibet in the past. Not a very detailed but it would be an interesting mixture of story worth reading :)

Tashi Chenzom said...

Its so sad that I missed lots of your beautiful posts but okay because I am reading it all now as I get time. Seems a great book full of wisdom.

Thank you for sharing mam.

Rima Reyka said...

Haha... You managed catching up all my posts you missed in a day! So no need to feel sad anymore mo la? ;)

Yaah, it's a good book widening up my knowledge about what had happened in the past especially in Tibetan region. If you have any chance to get this book there, you can read it too Lah! ^^ My pleasure sharing! :)

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