Saturday, January 12, 2013

January Excerpt: A Review of "Ocean of Compassion"

A Review of Ocean of Compassion
Tim Gannon

The ocean is complex and so is the Ocean of Compassion. It is complex because the simple parts go together in a surprising way. Ocean of Compassion breaks into three interrelated parts. The Introduction is extensive, and it itself falls into three parts. The second is the poetic expression of progression in the virtues to reach the Bodhisattva state. The final part continues in poetic style to present how the foolishness of philosophy since Kant is overcome by love.

The whole book, but especially the chapters on progression in virtue, is intended to appeal to individuals of every religious and spiritual persuasion. It mostly succeeds at this. The traditional Eastern references to rebirth and reincarnation are not essential to spiritual progress and can be ignored by those who do not believe in reincarnation. The progress in virtues is the key to a good and happy life and serves all who aspire to it. This progression also leads to the Bodhisattva state–the state that desires to end the suffering of all sentient beings.

The introduction previews the whole project. Tenzin Norbu lays out the origin and goal of the book. The poetry rose from his need for images that will inspire him on the spiritual path and the book is to help all others who wish to attain enlightenment and end the separation between the perceived small self and the ground of all being. He points out the similarity of the path of virtue between all religious traditions.

Three items in the introduction are noteworthy. Tenzin mentions analytic meditation and placement meditation as the two main types of meditation to utilize with the passages. His treatment of these two meditations is sketchy in the introduction but in his blog talk radio presentations (, he clarifies each type of meditation and does guided meditations on each. A passage from Ocean of Compassion is used for each guided meditation. Also, Tenzin frequently has guest musicians on each show that are on various spiritual paths. The congruence of their spiritual experience of the virtues and the ground of being reinforces Tenzin’s insight into the unity of spiritual truths. These are interesting and entertaining interviews.

If you would like to read more of this review in Empirical, the January issue is now available at your local bookstore and online at our website.

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