Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Introduction to Tantra: The Transformation of Desire, by Lama Yeshe, Jonathan Landaw, ed.  Wisdom Publications (1987) 167 pages.

Although Tantra is, in general, too esoteric for many Buddhist readers, those looking for a beginning understanding of this subset of Tibetan Buddhism will find Introduction to Tantra an uncommonly accessible book.  Lama Yeshe was one of those rare Tibetan teachers who was able to demystify and transform this tradition into something that is easily digested by the Western reader without losing any of the depth and beauty within it.  His voice has a clarity and directness that is simultaneously challenging, comforting, and inspiring.

If you’re looking for information on every teeny tiny detail of Tibetan Buddhism, read Reginald Ray’s two-volume, thousand-page work, Indestructible Truth and Secrets of the Vajra World.  If, on the other hand, you want to get right to the essence of the practice without trudging through all the history and lineages and politics, you won’t find a better book than Introduction to Tantra.

Somehow we need to learn to be natural, to be naturally detached from material objects, from our grasping after this and that.  I am not saying this because, as a backward Tibetan, I am jealous of wealthy Westerners.  Nor am I saying that you are bad because you remain rich while others are poor.  I am merely trying to answer the question: “Why are we dissatisfied?”

We can always find some external cause to blame for our dissatisfaction, “There is not enough of  this, not enough of that,” but this is never the real reason for our restlessness and disappointment.  What is missing is inside and this is what we all have to recognize.  Satisfaction is not dependent on material objects; it is something that comes from simplicity, inner simplicity.

Reviewed by Cindy Blackett