I first met Anam Thubten many years ago at Lama Tharchin
Rinpoche's retreat center in Santa Cruz. At the time, Tulku Thubten (as he was called then) only barely spoke English
but was instantly, warmly engaging as a person, presence, and practitioner. A bardo retreat I took with him was truly transformative,
his English having improved by leaps and bounds in a few short years. Anam Thubten's command of his second language
is now complete, and completely amazing.
So it is
no real surprise that his first dharma book, "No Self, No Problem," is a winsome winner. Each short chapter
shows us the instant accessibility of our true nature. I was still recovering from major surgery when I read it and
found it of invaluable help with my practice, even with post-op pain and mind-dulling meds.
Anam Thubten's main teaching is that "enlightenment can happen right now in a single
instant." His book is exemplary in pointing out how to accomplish this (a personal caveat: the word accomplish
may imply too much mental effort).
It's a tricky business,
even referring to awakening. Obviously, one's merit must be vast for instantaneous realization. Yet Anam Thubten,
like many other meditation masters, encourages us to see how small moments, repeated many times a day (he suggests trying
for 108, but isn't doctrinaire about it), can help break the karmic ties that bind us to samsara -- and our own mind-made
suffering. The boon of this book is that his words are so vivid, clear, and comprehensible, they pierce through our
doubt and resistance like a laser.
"Our mind can be our
greatest adversary, especially when [it] chooses to live in unenlightened perceptions of reality." This after a
discussion of perceptions of failure, in which "No Self, No Problem" points out that all "failures" are
concepts and as such empty of true content. "The true failure is that we have lost our unity with our true nature.
Beyond that there is no failure."