Review of Pith Instructions from my Teachers

James Gritz has written a profound Dharma book, organized in the form of a spiritual memoir.


Click on the cover to order the book

James Gritz has written a profound Dharma book, which he organized in the form of a spiritual memoir. Eight of the chapters focus on his main Tibetan teachers, all of them Buddhist except for one who was a shaman and healer of the Huichol indigenous people of Mexico. The Huichol use their ancient ceremonies and peyote to enter the realm of the gods.

James Gritz has been a photographer for over 40 years, and the book includes more than 100 photographs of his teachers and their environments. And his profession probably helped him gain access to these teachers. But this book isn’t about James Gritz’s life story as interesting as it is, nor is it a collection of Buddhist photographs. It is about the profound teachings he received from his teachers: Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Guadalupe Gonzales Rios, Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, the 16th and 17th Karmapa, and Mingyur Rinpoche.
While living as an undisciplined hippy, James came across a book by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche titled “Meditation in Action”, which caused James to seek this Rinpoche. After hearing more of Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings in the 1970s, James became a student Chögyam Trungpa.

After Trungpa Rinpoche’s death in 1987, James became disenchanted with the Colorado Buddhist scene and set out on a new path. In the early 1990s, James experimented with psychotropic drugs under the guidance of shaman Don Lupe before returning to Buddhism. After a 10-year apprenticeship to Don Lupe he went to Nepal to seek a living Buddhist teacher. While there he met Chökyi Nyima, Tengpa Rinpoche, Trulshik Rinpoche, and others. In 2000 he met Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche at Shechen Monastery. Returning to the Dharma he asked Jigme Khyentse to be his teacher. Through the years he connected with the other teachers discussed in this book and James shares profound notes and teachings from each of them – their Pith Instructions.

Jigme Khyentse, Rabjam, Dzigar Kontrul
79 Jim and Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche