Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thaye, (1813–99) was the leading figure in the nineteenth-century rimé (nonsectarian) revival of Tibetan Buddhism. One of the most prolific and accomplished teachers and writers in Tibetan history, his works continue to guide and inspire students and practitioners alike.
Books, Courses & Podcasts
Creation and Completion
Creation and Completion represents some of the most profound teachings of Jamgön Kongtrul (1813-99), one of the true spiritual and literary giants of Tibetan history. Though brief, it offers a lifetime of advice for all who wish to engage in-and deepen-the practice of tantric Buddhist meditation.
The original text, beautifully translated and introduced by Sarah Harding, is further brought to life by an in-depth commentary by the contemporary master Thrangu Rinpoche. Key Tibetan Buddhist fundamentals are quickly made clear, so that the reader may confidently enter into tantra’s oft-misunderstood “creation” and “completion” stages.
In the creation stage, practitioners visualize themselves in the form of buddhas and other enlightened beings in order to break down their ordinary concepts of themselves and the world around them. This meditation practice prepares the mind for engaging in the completion stage, where one has a direct encounter with the ultimate nature of mind and reality.
- Academic & Translations
- Children's Books
- Tibetan Buddhism
- All Topics
John Dunne: Dharmakīrti, Conceptuality, and Antidotes for Distorted Thinking (#98)
For this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, host Daniel Aitken speaks with Professor John Dunne, acclaimed scholar and teacher in both Indian and Tibetan Buddhist traditions. John’s research focuses on Buddhist philosophy in relationship to contemplative practice, religious studies, and cognitive science. John is presently Distinguished Professor of Contemplative Humanities at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and author of several publications, including Foundations of Dharmakīrti’s Philosophy, published by Wisdom.
In this rich conversation, you’ll hear John take a deep dive into the world of human conceptuality and, specifically, its relationship to human suffering. For John, as well as for the philosophers he studies, the root of our suffering is not human emotion itself but rather our distorted perceptions. You’ll hear John discuss the structures that underlie perception and how they play a role—for better or for worse—in determining how we conceptualize ourselves and our experiences. John also explains how different types of meditation can serve as antidotes to various categories of distorted thinking.
Lastly, you’ll hear John discuss the difference between learning conceptually versus learning experientially. John asserts that conceptual ideas don’t necessarily change our behavior—instead, we need experiential knowledge to catalyze a deeper internal shift in our understanding.
Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics, Vol. 2
Coming Soon! This book will be published in November 2020. Enter your name and email below to be notified when the book is available for purchase.
This, the second volume in the Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics series, focuses on the science of mind. Readers are first introduced to Buddhist conceptions of mind and consciousness and then led through traditional presentations of mental phenomena to reveal a Buddhist vision of the inner world with fascinating implications for the contemporary disciplines of cognitive science, psychology, emotion research, and philosophy of mind. Major topics include:
- The distinction between sensory and conceptual processes and the pan-Indian notion of mental consciousness
- Mental factors—specific mental states such as attention, mindfulness, and compassion—and how they relate to one another
- The unique tantric theory of subtle levels of consciousness, their connection to the subtle energies, or “winds,” that flow through channels in the human body, and what happens to each when the body and mind dissolve at the time of death
- The seven types of mental states and how they impact the process of perception
- Styles of reasoning, which Buddhists understand as a valid avenue for acquiring sound knowledge
In the final section, the volume offers what might be called Buddhist contemplative science, a presentation of the classical Buddhist understanding of the psychology behind meditation and other forms of mental training.
To present these specific ideas and their rationale, the volume weaves together passages from the works of great Buddhist thinkers like Asaṅga, Vasubandhu, Nāgārjuna, Dignāga, and Dharmakīrti. His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s introduction outlines scientific and philosophical thinking in the history of the Buddhist tradition. To provide additional context for Western readers, each of the six major topics is introduced with an essay by John D. Dunne, distinguished professor of Buddhist philosophy and contemplative practice at the University of Wisconsin. These essays connect the traditional material to contemporary debates and Western parallels, and provide helpful suggestions for further reading.
Illuminating the Intent
Coming Soon! This book will be published in March 2021. Enter your name and email below to be notified when the book is available for purchase.
This work is perhaps the most influential explanation of Candrakirti’s seventh-century classic Entering the Middle Way (Madhyamakavatara).
Written as a supplement to Nagarjuna’s Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way, Candrakirti’s text integrates the central insight of Nagarjuna’s thought—the rejection of any metaphysical notion of intrinsic existence—with the well-known Mahayana framework of the ten levels of the bodhisattva, and it became the most studied presentation of Madhyamaka thought in Tibet.
Completed the year before the author’s death, Tsongkhapa’s exposition of Candrakirti’s text is recognized by the Tibetan tradition as the final standpoint of Tsongkhapa on many philosophical questions, particularly the clear distinctions it draws between the standpoints of the Madhyamaka and Cittamatra schools.
Written in exemplary Tibetan, Tsongkhapa’s work presents a wonderful marriage of rigorous Madhyamaka philosophical analysis with a detailed and subtle account of the progressively advancing mental states and spiritual maturity realized by sincere Madhyamaka practitioners.
The work remains the principal textbook for the study of Indian Madhyamaka philosophy in many Tibetan monastic colleges, and it is a principal source for many Tibetan teachers seeking to convey the intricacies of Madhyamaka philosophy to non-Tibetan audiences.
Though it is often cited and well known, this is the first full translation of this key work in a Western language.
The Diamond Cutter Sutra
In the profound teachings of the Diamond Cutter Sutra, the Buddha offers a view of the world that deconstructs our normal categories of experience to show us that what we think are real entities in the world are actually our conceptualizations. The Buddha teaches us to cut our attachment to all phenomena and to the “I,” which are empty of inherent existence, and in so doing, cut the root cause of our suffering. Yet without wise guidance we may think that because all phenomena are empty there is no need to be attached to virtue, and thus we fall into the worst trap of all—an attachment to emptiness. How do we destroy our attachment without being led astray?
With this question in mind, Dzogchen Master Khenpo Sodargye provides sparkling commentary on the Diamond Cutter Sutra so that we understand its actual meaning, thus preparing us to understand the view of the Great Perfection and Mahamudra. Before recognizing the nature of the mind, we learn we must hold on to things that are virtuous and right. Like a boat, these can help us cross a river; until we reach the other shore, it makes no sense to give them up.
The Sublime Continuum and Its Explanatory Commentary
The original Sublime Continuum Explanatory Commentary was written by Noble Asaṅga to explain the verses by the bodhisattva Maitreyanātha around the 4th CE century in North India. Here it is introduced and presented in an original translation from Sanskrit and Tibetan, with the translation of an extensive Tibetan Supercommentary by Gyaltsap Darma Rinchen (1364–1432 CE), whose work is considered to follow the view of his teacher, Tsong Khapa (1357–1419 CE).
Contemporary scholars have widely misunderstood the Buddhist Centrist teaching of emptiness, or selflessness, as either a form of nihilism or a radical skepticism. Yet Buddhist philosophers from Nāgārjuna on have shown that the negation of intrinsic reality affirms the supreme value of relative realities if accurately understood. Gyaltsap Darma Rinchen, in his Supercommentary, elucidates a highly positive theory of the “buddha-nature,” showing how the wisdom of emptiness empowers the compassionate life of the enlightened, as it is touched by its oneness with the truth body of all buddhas. With his clear study of Gyaltsap’s insight and his original English translation, Bo Jiang, Ph.D. completes his historic project of studying and presenting these works from Sanskrit and Tibetan both in Chinese and, now, English translations, in linked publications.
Originally published by the American Institute of Buddhist Studies in 2017.
In Praise of Great Compassion
In Praise of Great Compassion, the fifth volume of the Library of Wisdom and Compassion, continues the Dalai Lama’s teachings on the path to awakening. While previous volumes focused on our present situation and taking responsibility for creating the causes of happiness, this volume concerns opening our hearts and generating the intention to make our lives meaningful by benefiting others.
We are embedded in a universe with other living beings, all of whom have been kind to us in one way or another. More than any other time in human history, we depend on one another to stay alive and flourish. When we look closely, it becomes apparent that we have been the recipient of great kindness. Wanting to repay others’ kindness, we cultivate a positive attitude by contemplating the four immeasurables of love, compassion, empathic joy, and equanimity, and the altruistic intention of bodhicitta. We learn to challenge the self-centered attitude that leads to misery and replace it with a more realistic perspective enabling us to remain emotionally balanced in good and bad times. In this way, all circumstances become favorable to the path to awakening.
Mastering Meditation gives you the experience of studying with one of the greatest meditation masters of the modern age. His Eminence Chöden Rinpoché was not only a celebrated scholar, honored by selection as a debate partner to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, but he was also an accomplished yogi who spent nineteen years in solitary meditation retreat. In this thorough and thoroughly clear book, Rinpoché offers meticulous explanations and profound practical instructions on two essential practices in Tibetan Buddhism: calm abiding and mahāmudrā.
The first part of this book contains instructions for developing calm abiding, an unshakable single-pointedness of mind. The second part, Rinpoché’s direct commentary on the Fourth Paṇchen Lama’s foundational text, offers advanced instructions on using calm abiding as a platform to develop mahāmudrā. Rinpoché elucidates both sūtra-system mahāmudrā—meditation on the emptiness of the mind—as well as mantra-system mahāmudrā, a specialized meditation that uncovers subtle, hidden levels of mind to pierce into the ultimate nature of self and reality, leading finally to complete enlightenment.
Drawing from his vast learning and personal experience, Rinpoché provides readers with an open gateway to remarkable states of lucidity and peace.
How to Face Death without Fear
“Helping our loved ones at the time of death is the best service we can offer them, our greatest gift. Why? Because death is the most important time of life: it’s at death that the next rebirth is determined.”—Lama Zopa Rinpoche
For years Lama Zopa Rinpoche envisioned a practical book to inform students of how to help loved ones have a beneficial death. How to Face Death without Fear has been compiled from years of Rinpoche’s teachings and has been lovingly edited by Venerable Robina Courtin.
Rinpoche provides detailed advice on how to help your loved ones prepare for the end of their life with courage, acceptance, and a mind free of fear. With great care, he explains what to do in the months, weeks, and days before death, how to handle the moment itself, what to do after the breath has stopped, and finally, what to do after the mind has left the body. Rinpoche provides the mantras, prayers, and meditations appropriate for each stage. This new edition of Rinpoche’s modern classic How to Enjoy Death makes it easy for the reader to find the right practice at the right time.
This handbook is an essential reference for Tibetan Buddhist caregivers, hospice workers, and chaplains. But, as Rinpoche points out, it is not only for people who work with the dying; it is education we all need.
You’ll find solace in this wealth of advice, and you’ll also gain the confidence to ensure that your loved one’s death—and your own—will be joyful and meaningful.
The Extremely Secret Dakini of Naropa
The Extremely Secret Dakini of Naropa has become the basis for almost every subsequent Vajrayogini commentary in the Gelug tradition. Kyabje Pabongkha’s commentary is both very thorough in its presentation and deeply inspiring, providing rich detail on essential elements of Vajrayogini practice:
- all eleven yogas of the generation stage
- the transference of consciousness
- tsok offering
- left-sided conduct
- and many other auxiliary practices
There is also a stunning explanation of the completion stage that provides many extraordinarily profound methods unique to the practice of Vajrayogini. The second half of the book contains several sadhanas for the practice of Vajrayogini, including six-session guru yoga as well as two sadhanas on the transference of consciousness.
The Dechen Ling Practice Series from Wisdom Publications is committed to furthering the vision of David Gonsalez (Venerable Losang Tsering) and the Dechen Ling Press of bringing the sacred literature of Tibet to the West by making available many never-before-translated texts.
While yoga has been popularized in the West as a practice for physical health and well-being, the ancient practices of Tibetan yoga have often remained secretive.
Now, in this groundbreaking new Wisdom Academy course, Dr. Alejandro Chaoul explains the history of the trul khor, or magical movements, guides you through each yogic posture and movement, and teaches you to work with your body and breath to expand your meditation practice and cultivate well-being in your day-to-day life. Dr. Chaoul has spent the last thirty years studying, translating, and practicing the trul khor. Now with the blessing of contemporary masters—including the late His Holiness Lungtok Tenpai Nyima Rinpoche, His Eminence Yongdzin Lopon Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche, and Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche—he is sharing these precious and rare teachings with you, in a format that allows them to be accessible to a modern audience.
The Tārā Tantra
This volume contains an English translation of the “root text” of the Tārā-mūla-kalpa, a scripture-ritual compendium that captures an important Buddhist tantric tradition in mid-formation. In this regard it is utterly unique and unlike any other text in the Buddhist canon. Its contents document the emergence of the quintessential female Buddha Tārā in seventh-century India. As her popularity grew, her cult spread throughout Southeast Asia, as well as Tibet, where she became revered as the “Mother” of the Tibetan people. Tārā is worshiped for a variety of reasons, from health and long life, to wealth, protection from enemies, and ultimately, the mind of enlightenment. Her presence pervades the evolution of Buddhism in Tibet, including within royal circles, as well as mentor and guide to many important Buddhist scholars, practitioners, and lineage holders.
Freeing the Heart and Mind
Collected from teachings by His Holiness, this book is a warm and comprehensive introduction to the Buddhist path as told by the patriarch of the Sakya order. His Holiness offers explanations of the philosophical tenets of the Mahayana path and in particular the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism—giving down-to-earth advice for practicing in the world today, including
- the principles of tantra,
- the value of retreat,
- the history of the Sakya lineage,
- ecology from a Buddhist perspective,
- biographies of great women practitioners,
- and other fascinating topics.
This is a must-read for anyone interested in following a Buddhist spiritual path.