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Wearing the Body of Visions
By Ngakpa Chögyam (Ngak’chang Rinpoche)
Wearing the Body of Visions is a unique overview of Tantric Buddhism. Ngak’chang Rinpoche abandons the didactic expository style of most books on Tantra. Instead, he adopts language that is poetic, electric, evocative, experiential, unconstrained and unconventional. This is the style of Tantra itself: Rinpoche writes Tantra rather than writing about Tantra.
The title of the book refers to one of its main topics – a central practise of Tantra. ‘Wearing the body of visions’ is envisionment or self-arising, in which one experiences oneself as an enlightened being (yidam). This chapter of the book gives a better sense than anything else available in English of what it is like to practise envisionment. A related chapter discusses empowerment, a prerequisite for yidam practise.
The second major theme of the book is the nature of the relationship between a Lama and student. This will be of particular interest to those contemplating Aro apprenticeship. The degree of resonance experienced when reading this chapter provides a good indication of the likelihood of finding a permanent home in Aro. If you are excited by the prospect of the author personally enacting the rôle of Lama in your life, you may well have discovered the most important book you will ever read.
Each chapter is supplemented with an extensive transcript of an oral question-and-answer session discussing its material with students. The book contains numerous depictions of yidams. These can deliver quite a jolt—they are at once shocking and beautiful—despite being line drawings. Finally it includes a valuable and informative glossary of the Tibetan and Sanskrit words used in the text.
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