The basics of the religion and philosophy of Buddhism are constantly ebbing and flowing like a tide between “self-help” gurus and uber-strict traditionalists. This tide is not only beautiful to watch but exceedingly dangerous due to the undercurrent of “authenticity” that weaves through it.
It is this undercurrent that sweeps us up and deposits us far from our original practice and intent.
In “Light Comes Through: Buddhist Teachings on Awakening to Our Natural Intelligence” Dzigar Kongtrul successfully straddles this undercurrent and guides readers through a brief (approx 150 pages) description of the Buddhist’s outlook on emotions and Natural Intelligence. By “natural intelligence” the author is basically talking about our “Self”, “Pure-Mind”, “Buddha Nature” or whatever the hell you want to call it that gets obscured by our emotional reactions and perceptions.
The book is split into 3 parts: (1) The Five Self-Centered Emotions (2) Working With Others and (3) Teachings on Emptiness. Each chapter basically reads like a quick dharma talk with very little continuity from chapter to chapter, which makes this deceivingly short book a bear to get through in a few sittings. This one sat on my bed-side stand for close to a month while I read through one chapter a night; digested its contents and applied its lessons through the day. It was nice and informative without being too pop-Buddhist in presentation.
I do have one major disappointment in this book though. Much of what was presented was somewhat basic to me and will be so to anyone with any experience in Buddhist practice. That is not to say it isn’t restructured in a way that was engaging to an experienced practitioner but I was hoping for a more in-depth delving into Tibetan esoteric practice and philosophy but alas it was not to be. Some of the content was about as original as a punch to the groin – you see it coming and are prepared for it but it still knocks you on your ass.
* In the interest of full disclosure, I was sent a copy of this book, for free, from the publisher to write about it. I probably would have gotten a copy of this book regardless; I would have ordered it from my public library and thus gotten it free anyway. It is a good book for the reasons outlined above (as well as a poor one). I always feel obligated to give an honest opinion of a book I recieve. And that is what I did. Now, if the publishers were to have provided me with a pony or llama, they would have gotten a better review. Maybe even a sweater…I am quite the knitter.