Cyrus Stearns first began to study Buddhism with Dezhung Rinpoche (1906–87) in 1973. Since that time he has studied with and translated for many Tibetan teachers, especially Dezhung Rinpoche and Chogye Trichen Rinpoche. Cyrus has a PhD in Buddhist Studies from the University of Washington and lived for about eight years in Nepal, India, and Southeast Asia. Among his other publications are The Buddha from Dolpo, Hermit of Go Cliffs, and Luminous Lives. Cyrus has three daughters and lives on Whidbey Island, Washington.
Books, Courses & Podcasts
Hermit of Go Cliffs
The great Tibetan meditation master Gyalwa Godrakpa (1170-1249) practiced and taught a nonsectarian approach to realization. Hermit of Go Cliffs is the first English translation of The Collected Songs of Godrakpa, presented here with the original Tibetan text and with Cyrus Stearns’ comprehensive introduction to Godrakpa’s life, legacy, and poetry.
Like the songs of Tibet’s great saint Milarepa, Godrakpa’s songs are uniquely beautiful and accessible: sometimes stern and sharp, sometimes lyrical and filled with allusions to the natural world. These songs express what Godrakpa emphasized in his life—a no-nonsense approach to the practice of meditation.
Read Gyalwa Godrakpa’s biography at the Treasury of Lives.
The tantric Buddhist tradition of the Lam ’bras, the “Path with the Result,” has been practiced in Tibet for almost a thousand years, most prominently within the Sakya lineage. Luminous Lives is the first in-depth study of the literature and history of the Lam ’bras in Tibet. The central focus of the work is a rare Tibetan history that brings alive the story of the earliest men and women practitioners of the Lam ’bras. This text, recording the words of the great Sakya Pandita (1182–1251), was a major source for all later histories of the tradition. Recently rediscovered, it has been reproduced here along with Cyrus Stearns’ excellent translation, introduction, and annotations. Luminous Lives opens a window into the world of one of the great traditions of tantric Buddhism in Tibet.
Taking the Result as the Path
The tradition known as the Path with the Result, or Lamdré‚ is the most important tantric system of meditation practice and theory in the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism. This volume contains an unprecedented compilation of eleven vital works from different periods in the history of the Path with the Result in India and Tibet, including the Vajra Lines of the great Indian adept Virūpa (ca. seventh–eighth centuries), the basic text of the tradition. The collection also includes six writings by Jamyang Khyentsé Wangchuk (1524–68) and an instruction manual composed by the Fifth Dalai Lama (1617–62). None of the works in this book have ever been published before in any European language, and most of these writings traditionally have been considered secret. The present translation, an important new volume of the Library of Tibetan Classics, has been made with the personal approval and encouragement of His Holiness Sakya Trizin, head of the Sakya tradition. Students of the Lamdré will rejoice at the availability and lucidity of this major translation of key Sakya texts.
Song of the Road
In Song of the Road, Tsarchen Losal Gyatso (1502-66), a tantric master of the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, weaves ecstatic poetry, song, and accounts of visionary experiences into a record of pilgrimage to central Tibet. Translated for the first time here, Tsarchen’s work, a favorite of the Fifth Dalai Lama, brims with striking descriptions of encounters with the divine as well as lyrical portraits of Tibetan landscape. The literary flights of Song of the Road are anchored by Tsarchen’s candid observations on the social and political climate of his day, including a rare example in Tibetan literature of open critique of religious power.
Like the Japanese master Basho’s famous Narrow Road to the Interior, written 150 years later, Tsarchen’s travelogue contains a mixture of luminous prose and verse, rich with allusions. Traveling on horseback with a band of companions, Tsarchen visited some of the most renowned holy sites of the Tsang region, incluing Jonang, Tropu, Ngor, Shalu, and Gyantse. In his introduction and copious notes, Cyrus Stearns unearths the layers of meaning concealed in the text, excavating the history, legends, and lore associated with people and places encountered on the pilgrimage, revealing the spiritual as well as geographical topography of Tsarchen’s journey.