The Tibetan Book of Everyday Wisdom: A Thousand Years of Sage Advice presents a genre of Tibetan works known as “wise sayings” (lekshé). While most Tibetan literature focuses on the Buddhist path, wise sayings literature has traditionally been a centerpiece of secular education in Tibet and in the cultivation of social mores and an honorable way of life. Drawing inspiration from classical Indian literature on human virtue and governance (nitisastra), including the folktales in the Pañcatantra, the authors of these Tibetan works strove to educate young minds in the ways of the civilized world, especially by distinguishing the conduct of the wise from that of the foolish.
This anthology includes some of the best-loved classics of Tibetan literature, such as Sakya Pandita’s Jewel Treasury of Wise Sayings, Panchen Sönam Drakpa’s Ganden Wise Sayings, and Gungthang’s Treatise on Trees and Treatise on Water. The final work is the intriguing Kaché Phalu’s Advice. Ostensibly written by a wise Tibetan Muslim, this versified text enjoys great popularity within Tibetan-speaking communities, such that many Tibetans are able to recite at least a few verses from memory.