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A Chariot to Freedom is one of the most beloved presentations of the preliminary practices, or ngöndro, that form the foundation of the Vajrayāna Buddhist path. This set of practices, common to all schools of Himalayan Buddhism, is what nearly every practitioner begins with, yet it also constitutes a complete method in and of itself. Although ngöndro are considered a prerequisite for further teachings and initiations into other practices, many of even the most accomplished masters continue to engage in them every day.
Most of the other excellent works on these foundational techniques are specific to a particular tradition, but this text is widely considered to be exemplary, in part, because it is applicable to all traditions of ngöndro. Drawing from the original words of the Buddha in the sūtras and from later treatises by such masters as Nāgārjuna, Shāntideva, and Guru Padmasambhava, Shechen Gyaltsap’s commentary is a wonderfully curated anthology of Buddhist teachings on the preliminary practices of Vajrayāna Buddhism. It covers the thoughts that turn one’s mind away from ordinary pursuits and toward enlightenment, taking refuge, arousing the mind set on enlightenment (bodhichitta), purification, maṇḍala offering, and Guru Yoga.
Shechen Gyaltsap explains why each practice is beneficial and provides profound and eminently useful guidance for practitioners, while simultaneously transmitting the wisdom of generations of Buddhist masters.