I am writing to you with encouragement, or perhaps, with an unsolicited promotion. After many years of committed study and practice on the part of students, and based on the gathering of decades of teachings directly from Shamar Rinpoche, the book Boundless Wisdom: A Mahāmudrā Practice Manual is available for you.
This is a time to celebrate and commit to reading. I encourage you to find this book, read it, and put it into practice. If you are reading this note from me, you are likely online, whether on a phone or a computer. So if your location and finances allow, and unless you are placing orders directly with the publishers for some other reason, I highly encourage you to seek out this book on Amazon, where the visibility of your purchase can help make this book a bestseller.
Once you have read this book and have some specific words to add to the conversation, I encourage you to add your reviews online to help other readers find Boundless Wisdom. There are many places where you can do this, like Amazon and Goodreads, and many small gestures add up to a broader appreciation for our teacher’s contributions. Is this important because we should be trying to make a financial gain from selling a teacher’s books? No. Readers form communities online, and you would be joining those communities, and sharing your knowledge with them, which can have great benefit, because it allows others to find Rinpoche’s teachings.
Why is it important to support books like this? And shouldn’t we cringe to think of trying to make a Dharma book a bestseller?
We should be clear that a spirit of generosity has driven every facet of these projects, including the sponsorship of donors, large and small, without whom we would have no Dharma presses whatsoever. That said, even if a business follows Dharma principles, and even if it is structured as a non-profit, the business aspects of Dharma organizations are often frowned upon. We should never compromise our spirit of generosity, and the free movement of the teachings. But we should be realistic about the way a business functions in the world, and about what it takes to build stable organizations that appropriately honor our teacher’s legacy.
When you enthusiastically support this book in the marketplace — the place where so many things are judged in a capitalist society — you create the conditions for this title to suddenly become available through the magic of technology for other committed students — students of the Dharma who have never heard of Shamar Rinpoche — when they take the step to type in “Mahamudra” or “meditation” in a search bar. This does not mean forcing a person of lesser means to make a purchase they cannot afford, but rather requires that we move as an organism. If you have the means, could you send a copy of a book to someone who does not? If you receive a copy from a friend, could you place a review online to celebrate the contents of the book, and the generosity of the gift? These are all ways that we can contribute to the basic conditions that allow our teacher’s writings to flourish.
Imagine what could happen if even one more person has the opportunity to access these transformative teachings. Try to remember what your life was like before Rinpoche found you. Did you see a poster for a meditation class? Perhaps a friend recommended visiting a temple. If you really look back to what life was like before you met Shamar Rinpoche’s teachings, then the importance of your dignified, informed participation in this marketplace may become more tangible.
Therefore, here are some benefits to purchasing and sharing this book, and committing to the visibility of Rinpoche’s teachings in a broader sphere, a sphere that goes beyond the students who have had the good conditions to meet with him as their personal teacher:
- For your own benefit, to have a strong connection with the Mahāmudrā teachings, which can truly liberate you.
- To continue preserving the teachings of Shamar Rinpoche, who gave every moment of his life to his students. It may be that we can never forget Rinpoche, and a bodhisattva does not need our help in the conventional way. But it is a fact of Tibetan history, and now a fact for us in our more global context, that the reputation of a teacher survives through the ages because that teacher’s students make books and institutions that preserve the memory of their precious teacher. Certainly, Rinpoche did not emphasize Tibetan culture as the anchor for our practice, and he encouraged meditation and clear ethics as the best ways to embody our gratitude for his teachings. And indeed, we are always closest to him when we are following this path. But what will we do with our outlook and energies, and how can the same path be visible so others can take it up if they choose? Having witnessed the passing away of a great master, what are you going to do now, if not also generate internal support for such organizational projects? Not because we need to see the reflection of our own pride in the world at large, but because the person who gave us the tools to be free of suffering can help others as well. Is this the same as proselytizing or going door to door? No. Showing your support in this way is like putting up a sign on the door to let others access, if they so choose, these precious teachings in the world, in this form.
- To support, in friendship, publishers like Bird of Paradise Press and Rabsel Éditions (for the French translation of this book), which are among the few publishing houses embodying Shamar Rinpoche’s dream of having Dharma teachings available, as books, worldwide.
- To encourage your fellow students who have dedicated years of their lives to these projects, setting aside other ambitions and diversions.
- To sustain the teachings of Shamar Rinpoche in terms of visibility and financial feasibility. Bird of Paradise and Rabsel Éditions have been working to make Shamar Rinpoche’s books available, but in order to sustain their activity, we must help make their work visible and sustainable. That is to say, instead of striving for a free copy — which we quite naturally would do — we have the opportunity to make an investment that supports one of Rinpoche’s dreams. What is this dream? The dream of making Mahāmudrā teachings available far and wide. One way we can support this dream, practically speaking, is with our financial support in the form of purchases and donations.
A lot of this boils down to how we understand generosity — generosity with resources and with the teachings. What are we willing to do? Dharma books contain Dharma teachings, and the Dharma teachings are priceless. But if they truly are priceless, what should we be willing to pay? Nāropa did not need gold, and yet, Marpa felt compelled to offer so much wealth for the Dharma he was about to receive.
It is time now to offer some specific gratitude and honor to those among Rinpoche’s students who contributed to this momentous occasion. Tina Draszczyk translated, compiled, and edited these teachings, and Lara Braitstein contributed her editing skills. For more inspiration about Rinpoche’s legacy, in the form of short narratives and tributes, please also read Voices: Tributes in memory of Shamar Rinpoche, the late 14th Shamarpa. In memory of her precious teacher, Sharon Gamsby collected these essays from Rinpoche’s grieving students, a true feat of organization and devotion. Although teachings flow naturally from an enlightened master, putting them between two covers in the appropriate manner is like transporting a crystal flower through a storm. Many more have contributed, in visible and invisible ways. Let us emulate their patience and diligence.
Shamar Rinpoche wanted his students to have access to Mahāmudrā teachings, and to his precise way of delivering them. Did he want you to meditate and attend teachings? Yes. But we know that he also wanted you to read, study, and take in the teachings that he personally gave, even after his passing away. How do we know this? Because he directed certain students to set these out in book form. So lastly, most importantly, please read this book, and put it into practice.
With encouragement for your practice and studies,