Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature takes up centrally important premises of Buddhism: the unsatisfactoriness (duhkha) of cyclic existence (samsara), the determination to be free of cyclic existence, and the mind as the basis for both the extreme duhkha of samsara and the bliss of nirvana. This volume shows us how to purify our minds and cultivate awakened qualities.
Knowledge of buddha nature reveals and reconciles the paradox of how the mind can be the basis for both the extreme duhkha of samsara (the unpurified mind) and the bliss and fulfillment of nirvana (the purified mind). To illustrate this, Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature first takes readers through Buddhist thought on the self, the Four Noble Truths, and their sixteen attributes. Then, the Dalai Lama explains afflictions, their arising and antidotes, followed by an examination of karma and cyclic existence and, finally, a deep and thorough elucidation of buddha nature.
This is the third volume in the Dalai Lama’s definitive and comprehensive series on the stages of the Buddhist path, The Library of Wisdom and Compassion. Volume 1, Approaching the Buddhist Path, contained introductory material that sets the context for Buddhist practice. Volume 2, The Foundation of Buddhist Practice, describes the important teachings that help us establish a flourishing Dharma practice. Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature can be read as the logical next step in this series or enjoyed on its own.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama (b. 1935) is the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism. For sixty years, he was the also the political leader of the Tibetan people, first from the Potala Palace in Lhasa and then helping his compatriots adapt to the modern world from his residence in northern India. An advocate for science, ethics, and harmony among people of different faiths, he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and travels widely in support of Buddhism, the cause of Tibet, and human happiness.
“This book is a veritable tour de force in its explanation of the role of the mind in samsara and the realization of nirvana, which is the mind's own ultimate nature. In its examination of buddha nature—spanning early discussions of the mind's potential in the Pali canon through to the teachings of Dzokchen, the Great Perfection—it casts a bright light to dispel the darkness of materialism, which deludedly reduces the mind to a mere epiphenomenon or emergent property of the brain. Books such as this are urgently needed to trigger a true revolution in the mind sciences.”
– B. Alan Wallace, Founder and President, Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies
“Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature is the third volume in the series of books coauthored by Ven. Thubten Chodron and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This has proven to be a remarkable partnership, producing lucid, accessible articulations of Buddhadharma and demonstrating the relevance of philosophy to practice. The present volume ably advances the project begun in the first two and expands its scope enormously. His Holiness and Ven. Thubten Chodron together set out a comprehensive vision of the nature of of samsara and nirvana, of the Buddhist understanding of the nature of mind, and of the path to liberation grounded in the realization of our buddha nature. The philosophical analysis is precise and comprehensive. The application to personal practice is insightful, direct, and easy to apply. This is a wonderful example of how Buddhist philosophy and Buddhist practice can be integrated.”
– Jay L. Garfield, Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities, Smith College and Harvard Divinity School
“Ever since their stellar collaboration on Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions, the team of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Venerable Thubten Chodron have been bringing us teachings aimed at a modern Western-educated audience. In Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature, they have done it again, wonderfully. This third volume in the Wisdom Publication series The Library of Wisdom and Compassionpresents an in-depth examination of the idea of ‘buddha nature’ and explores and illustrates how the mind itself serves as both the basis for our suffering and our liberation. Helpful reflections throughout the text guide our journey. These are truly textbooks tailored for our times.”
– Jan Willis, author of Dreaming Me: Black, Baptist and Buddhist
“This third volume of the marvelous Library of Wisdom and Compassion series provides an exploration of samsara—the painful cycle of unenlightened existence—as well as its causes and how to attain freedom from it. The final sections contain a beautiful elucidation of the nature of the mind and its potential—buddha nature—signifying that every living being has the ability not only to be free of suffering and its causes but also to attain full awakening. The material in this volume is invaluable for those who sincerely wish to understand the Buddhist path and begin following it.”
– Venerable Sangye Khadro, author of How to Meditate