Rainbow Painting
Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche
Rangjung Yeshe Publications: Hong Kong, 1995.
210 pp., $20.00 (paper). 

 Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche.
Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche.

Rainbow Painting is a compilation of teachings given in Nepal between 1991 and 1994 by the late Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche 1920-1996), the famed Tibetan Buddhist master of Kagyu Mahamudra (Great Seal) and Nyingmapa Dzogchen (Great Perfection) traditions. A handbook covering some eighteen topics, Rainbow Painting is intended as a companion volume to Tulku Urgyen’s previous work, Repeating the Words of the Buddha. Unlike that book, however, which was essentially a beginner’s text, Rainbow Painting is aimed at the more seasoned student.

In the first section, “Background,” Tulku Urgyen speaks to the issue of Vajrayana Buddhism in the current milieu. Those who are not thoroughly weather-beaten by the current climate of political correctness, which judges much of Vajrayana (particularly the special role of the teacher) as inappropriate for Western society, might welcome his view of things. Our current age is marked, he says, by a fundamental competitiveness, where people are always trying to outdo each other. According to Tulku Urgyen,

this is exactly the reason that Vajrayana is so applicable to the present era. The stronger and more forceful the disturbing emotions are, the greater the potential for recognizing our original wakefulness.

Some might argue that it is better simply to focus on the practice of calm, placid states. However, Tulku Urgyen warns that becoming intoxicated with the spiritual pleasure of peace will not help at all in realizing the awakened state. Rather, it is the “ultimate sidetrack.” The experience of great despair or fear or intense worry can be a much stronger support for practice, for “it is the intensity of emotion that allows for a more acute insight into mind essence.”

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