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Subtitle: Lamp of Mahamudra & The Heart of the Matter
Author: Tsele Natsok Rangdrol
Translated by: Erik Pema Kunsang
Softcover ~ 222 pages
Third edition (December 13, 2011)
Heart Lamp is the combined reprinting of two previously hard to find books by the remarkable 17th century Tibetan master Tsele Natsok Rangdrol (born c. 1608): Lamp of Mahamudra, and The Heart of the Matter, translated by Eric Pema Kunsang at the request of H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, under the guidance of Tulku Urgyen and Chokyi Nyima Rinpoches.
As Tulku Urgyen succinctly explains in his introductory talk there are three modes of mahamudra (direct realization of nonduality): sutra mahamudra, mantra mahamudra, and essence mahamudra. This last form, which is the subject of these translations, is identical to the dzogchen view of the Nyingma school, but approached a bit differently, with it's own set of terminology. These texts thus make for very practical and completely reliable instructions for serious students of both mahamudra and dzogchen.
Subtle, condensed, and comprehensive it was probably refreshingly direct and no nonsense in the 17th century, and still is today. Of the two texts, the first, Lamp Of Mahamudra, is very pithy, (although rather conventionally written, not unlike many other overviews of the view and stages of practice within Tibetan Buddhism), while the second and shorter, The Heart Of the Matter, covers the same material but is more poetic, experiential and lively (referencing the mahamudra view to various masters within the practice lineage, while never straying from it's simple, immediate nature).
This book's main idea is that intrinsic to the heart, mind and spirit in every human being is an identical essence which can be realized. This realization makes any man or woman a Buddha. The timeless truth it conveys is as meaningful for a Westerner today as it was in India and Tibet.