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Book review

Roaring Silence: Discovering the Mind of Dzogchen

Read date: Sept 2018

4 stars

This book describes in some detail some of the paths of Dzogchen meditation, one of the traditional variants of Buddhist meditation. I’m an “intermediate” meditator: I’ve been meditating for several years, and have been on one silent retreat, but I’ve definitely still got a long way to go in my practice. In that quest, to improve my practice, I found the book definitely did help. It has a number of practical exercises with a clear progression, and the discussion – in the form of lots of question and answer sessions with the authors.

For me, the path was not complete, though. The initial stages were clear and well guided, but after that the way forward was more or less left as an exercise for the reader. I also found the use of the original Tibetan words for many of the terms to be of mixed value: it was sometimes hard to hold them all in your head, especially as they are used precisely because there are no directly equivalent terms in English, so you are having to hold a whole subtle set of meanings in your head, not just a direct translation.

Ultimately, though, no book about a subject that is so difficult to describe in concrete terms is going to solve your problems for you. It can be a guide book on your journey, and in that regard I found Roaring Silence to be useful, with a lot of the Q&A-style discussion in particular gave you metaphor and allusions which helped in my understanding.