Atisha (982-1054 AD) was a famous Indian Buddhist scholar and meditation master. He was Abbot of a great Buddhist monastery in Vikramashila at a time when Mahayana Buddhism was flourishing in India. He was invited to Tibet and his arrival there led to the re-establishment of Buddhism in Tibet. The tradition he established eventually became known as the Kadampa tradition, which was more recently brought to the West as the New Kadampa Tradition by the Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso ( When Atisha was about to leave Tibet and return to India, his students asked him to give one final teaching. He emphasised that this final teaching he gave was “not just words from the mouth, but sincere advice from the heart” and it became known as the “Advice from Atisha’s Heart”. It constitutes a marvellously concise summary of the essential teachings of this tradition of Buddhism. Whether you are a Buddhist or not, I think you will find they are a beautiful touchstone to help give direction to one’s life. But you have to accept that they were given as spiritual guidance by a teacher to his students. So if you find the concepts difficult to relate to, you may need to interpret their meaning metaphorically. I think his sentiments are a form universal of wisdom which can help guide us to make good life choices. I don’t think anyone would argue, for example, with the main theme of Buddhism, that everyone wants to be happy and not to suffer. Another key principle is that the choices we make in life should be made, not just because they benefit ourself, but also others. The following extracts from “Advice from Atisha’s Heart” are taken from Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’s appropriately-entitled book, How to Solve our Human Problems, and are reproduced here with the kind permission of Tharpa Publications (