Jan-Ulrich Sobisch is on the faculty of the Center for Religious Studies at Ruhr-Universität Bochum. He studied Tibetology, Indology, and philosophy at Hamburg University from 1985 to 1992 with David Seyfort Ruegg, Lambert Schmithausen, and David Jackson, under whom he completed his dissertation on the three-vows literature. From 1994 to 1999, he was working under Albrecht Wezler for the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project when he discovered and cataloged the complete thirty volumes of the writings of Amé Shab (1597–1659). From 2003 to 2016, he was a professor at the University of Copenhagen, during which time he published on the Hevajra Tantra and its associated Tibetan teachings in the Sakya school. For the past ten years, he has been focused on the unique Dgongs gcig tradition of the Drigung Kagyü school. In 2016 he received the prestigious Humboldt Research Award in recognition of his scholarly achievements. In 2022 he started with several colleagues in Bochum a Collaborative Research Center “Metaphors of Religion” that is projected for up to twelve years. His sub-project’s main focus will be on metaphors used in mahamudra instructions. Click here to learn more.
The definitive presentation of one of the most unique and compelling works of classical Tibetan literature that weaves the thread of mahāmudrā through the entire fabric of Buddhism.
“The teaching of the Single Intention, or Dgongs gcig, of the renowned founder of the Drigung Kagyü order, Jikten Sumgön, was among the most original and, to some, controversial Tibetan innovations in the history of Buddhist thought. A clear and authoritative presentation of it has long been needed. Jan-Ulrich Sobisch, in The Buddha's Single Intention, now admirably presents the key texts in lucid translation with copious annotation and commentary. An essential contribution to Tibetan Buddhist studies and to the history of the Kagyü and Mahāmudrā traditions in particular.”—Matthew T. Kapstein, professor emeritus, École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris
THE BUDDHA’S SINGLE INTENTION
Drigung Kyobpa Jikten Sumgön’s Vajra Statements of the Early Kagyü Tradition
This book presents an influential and extraordinary teaching of the Kagyü tradition of Tibetan Buddhism known as the Single Intention by the master Drigung Kyobpa Jikten Sumgön (1143–1217), along with its chief commentaries, principally the Light of the Sun by Rikzin Chökyi Drakpa (1595–1659).
Early in the history of the Kagyü school, the teachings of Jikten Sumgön were condensed into 150 core formulations called vajra statements. These pithy, revelatory statements comprise the Single Intention (Dgongs gcig), which presents the thought of the Buddha and the nature of the ineffable (brjod du med pa) in concise and direct expression. The Single Intention weaves the thread of ineffable mahāmudrā through the entire fabric of Buddhism. It presents mahāmudrā as pervading disciplined conduct, meditative concentration, and discriminative knowledge; ground, path, and result; view, practice, and conduct; and the “three vows” of prātimokṣa, of the bodhisattvas, and of mantra. Jikten Sumgön teaches how the fundamental values and insights revealed by the Buddha are woven into reality and therefore accessible to all.
Jan-Ulrich Sobisch manages to convey the unity of the Buddha’s message both in its particulars and in its scope. His deep and authoritative skill makes this the definitive presentation of one of the most unique and compelling works of classical Tibetan literature.
Learn more about the Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism series.
- 864 pages, 6 x 9 inches
- ISBN 9781614296393
- 864 pages
- ISBN 9781614296409
The Kālacakra Tantra
This is the first complete English translation of the fourth chapter of the esoteric Buddhist Kālacakra Tantra text and its eleventh-century commentary, the Stainless Light (Vimalaprabhā). Building upon the Chapter on the Cosmos and particularly the Chapter on the Individual (AIBS, 2004)—which provide the theoretical background to the Chapter on Sādhanā, and the reasons for the given structure and contents of the Kālacakra sādhana practice—this fourth chapter illuminates the intricate connection between the practice of the Kālacakra sādhana and the Kālacakra Tantra’s worldview. This fourth chapter describes Buddhist Tantric generation stage practices (utpatti-krama), including instructions on protecting the place of practice, the meditative practices of the origination of the body and the deities abiding in the body, and the diverse mundane sādhanas designed to induce the mundane siddhis. It then also describes the more advanced Buddhist Tantric completion stage practices (saṃpatti-krama), designed to lead directly to the attainment of buddhahood, called here the “Ādibuddha” (Primordial Buddha).
The translation is supplemented with annotations and references to Tibetan commentaries and other esoteric Buddhist works. It also includes the first critical edition of the Mongolian version of the fourth chapter.
This is the first complete English translation of the second chapter of the esoteric Buddhist Kālacakratantra text, and its eleventh-century commentary, the “Stainless Light (Vimalaprabha),” often accorded pride of place as the first volume of the Tibetan Tengyur. This chapter elaborates the human “individual” in terms of the cosmic human who embodies the cosmos within, showing the homology of macrocosm and microcosm, the outer and inner aspects of the person. The translation is supplemented with copious references to Tibetan commentaries, and includes the first critical edition of the Mongolian version of the second chapter.
Coming soon! This book will be published in October 2022. Enter your name and email below to be notified when the book is available for purchase.
This is the epic story of an international rescue effort to preserve a culture’s literary history.
Originally a Mormon from Utah, E. Gene Smith became the unlikely mastermind behind an international effort to rescue, preserve, digitize, and provide free access to the vast Tibetan Buddhist canon, many volumes of which had been lost or destroyed during China’s Cultural Revolution.
Digital Dharma is a stunning visual experience offering a behind-the-scenes look into this unprecedented mission. Through hundreds of photographs taken during Smith’s trip to deliver drives containing the digitized volumes to remote monasteries in South Asia, you’ll gain extraordinary and intimate access to life inside Buddhist monasteries, to the rituals of Tibetan Buddhism, and to the insights of some of the world’s leading lamas and lineage holders. Throughout the journey, you’ll meet monks, local publishers, scholars, and dignitaries involved in the preservation movement to which Smith dedicated his life. With the accompanying historical and cultural background, you’ll develop a deeper and more personal understanding of Tibetan Buddhism and of the achievement of preserving and disseminating its sacred canon.
The Range of the Bodhisattva, a Mahāyana Sūtra (Ārya-bodhisattva-gocara)
This is a study and the first complete English translation of the Mahāyāna Sūtra, the Bodhi-sattva-gocara, which presents one of the only Buddhist teachings extant on what might be called a “Buddhist theory of war.” The main body of the text takes the form of a dialogue between King Caṇḍapradyota and the Nirgrantha sage, Satyaka, who is later revealed by Śākyamuni Buddha to be a bodhisattva of high attainment.
The author’s introductory essay traces the ways in which the later Indian and Tibetan commentarial traditions have drawn on this sūtra in order to expound upon key themes in Buddhist ethics, law, and state policy, to highlight their positions in opposition to their non-Buddhist contemporaries. From the author’s analysis, it is clear that this sūtra has been seminal in the ethical reflections of generations of Indian and Tibetan Buddhists, though it appears that it was not well known in East Asia.
A companion volume of a Tibetan critical edition will also be available.
A History of Buddhism in India and Tibet
Coming soon! This book will be available in July 2022. Enter your name and email below to be notified when this book is available for purchase.
The first complete English translation of an important thirteenth-century history that sheds light on Tibet’s imperial past and on the transmission of the Buddhadharma into Central Asia.
Translated here into English for the first time in its entirety by perhaps the foremost living expert on Tibetan histories, this engaging translation, along with its ample annotation, is a must-have for serious readers and scholars of Buddhist studies. In this history, discover the first extensive biography of the Buddha composed in the Tibetan language, along with an account of subsequent Indian Buddhist history, particularly the writing of Buddhist treatises. The story then moves to Tibet, with an emphasis on the rulers of the Tibetan empire, the translators of Buddhist texts, and the lineages that transmitted doctrine and meditative practice. It concludes with an account of the demise of the monastic order followed by a look forward to the advent of the future Buddha Maitreya.
The composer of this remarkably ecumenical Buddhist history compiled some of the most important early sources on the Tibetan imperial period preserved in his time, and his work may be the best record we have of those sources today. Dan Martin has rendered the richness of this history an accessible part of the world’s literary heritage.
“In Zen meditation, anything that comes in your mind will eventually leave, because nothing is permanent. A thought is like a cloud moving across the blue sky. Nothing can disturb that all-encompassing vastness. This is the Dharma.”
In a collection of talks and anecdotes, Jakusho Kwong-roshi, a Dharma successor of Shunryu Suzuki-roshi, presents his approach to Buddhist teaching. Containing photos of Kwong-roshi with his teachers, as well as a selection of his vibrant calligraphy, Mind Sky explores the profound beauty of Zen history and practice, nature, and the philosophy of the ancient Zen master Eihei Dōgen.
With an elegant simplicity, Kwong-roshi shows how Zen is experiential rather than intellectual. And with persistent practice, realization is already yours.
The mind can be a potent tool, used to guide extraordinary achievements, inspire good works, and incline your spiritual path toward peace and awakening. But the mind can also produce thoughts that lead to suffering. For many people, thoughts run rampant and seem to oppress or control their lives. Even the Buddha tells us that before his enlightenment, he sometimes found his mind preoccupied by thoughts connected with sensual desire, ill will, and harm. But he figured out how to respond to thoughts skillfully and developed a step-by-step approach to calm the restless mind. Now, Insight Meditation teacher Shaila Catherine offers an accessible approach to training the mind that is guided by the Buddha’s pragmatic instructions on removing distracting thoughts. Drawing on two scriptures in the Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, Shaila shows you how to overcome habitual modes of thinking, develop deeper concentration, and discover the insights into emptiness that are vital for a liberating spiritual path.
Following the Buddha’s pragmatic approach, Shaila guides you through five steps for overcoming distraction and focusing the mind:
- Replace unwholesome thoughts with wholesome thoughts.
- Examine the dangers of distracting thoughts.
- Avoid it, ignore it, forget it.
- Investigate the causes of distraction.
- Apply determination and resolve.
Each chapter includes exercises and reflections to help you cultivate the five steps to deeper concentration. You’ll learn about your mind and develop your ability to direct your attention more skillfully in meditation and daily activities. And ultimately, you’ll discover for yourself how these five steps boil down to one key realization: In the moment you recognize that a thought is just a thought, you will find yourself on the path to a life of remarkable freedom.
Maitreya’s Distinguishing the Middle from the Extremes (Madhyāntavibhāga)
Maitreyanātha’s Distinguishing the Middle from the Extremes (Madhyāntavibhāga) was transmitted to us by the noble Asaṅga, great saint and champion scholar of fourth century CE Indic Buddhism—along with Vasubandhu’s commentary on the text. It is one of the five seminal texts of what the Tibetans call the “magnificent deeds tradition” of universal vehicle Buddhism, according to its spiritual focus and ethical impact. Its emphasis on the nondual, primarily mental nature of reality most powerfully supports the great messianic vow of the bodhisattva, the entry into the universal vehicle lifestyle. In his study introducing the translation, Dr. D’Amato analyzes and elucidates the teachings of this text and its associated school with great learning and insight.
A Catalogue of the Comparative Kangyur
This is the first volume of a two-volume set providing detailed cataloging information for the recently published Comparative (dpe bsdur ma) recension of the Tibetan Tripiṭaka.
The catalogue includes cross-references to seven other Kangyur recensions used in the compilation of the Comparative Kangyur, including the previously uncataloged “Litang” (li thang) Kangyur. In addition, errors found in the “tables of contents” (dkar chag) and “cross-reference tables” (re’u mig) to the published edition have been corrected and verified against the published volumes and original blockprints. Indices to Tibetan and Sanskrit titles, translators, and revisers have been added, along with concordance tables aligning catalogue numbers between the various recensions.
Liberation Tibetan Calendar 2022
The Liberation Tibetan Calendar has been produced since 1999 and supports the work of Liberation Prison Project, which helps people in prison around the world to study and practice Buddhism. Each year we give away calendars to inmates worldwide studying with the project.
Liberation Prison Project currently coordinates programs for prisoners through FPMT Dharma centers in Australia, the US, the UK, France, Italy, New Zealand, and Mongolia.
“Whenever we get a chance to go outside where there is grass, and it corresponds to a Tsog offering day on my calendar, I pick fresh flowers and dedicate them to all the Buddhas of the three times and all sangha members,” says Chris Helstowski of Pelican Bay State Prison in California.
A small, elegant calendar with Buddhist images, for desk or altar, Liberation calendar includes Tibetan lunar dates and information about more than thirty kinds of practice days and auspicious and inauspicious days for each month. Each month also features a particular buddha image, mantra, and quote from our lamas.
The calendar is prepared by astrologer Paksam Nawang Thartho based on Men Tsee Khang Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute’s calendar, with additional advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche, spiritual director of FPMT, and Geshe Ngawang Dakpa, astrologer lama of FPMT center Tse Chen Ling in San Francisco.
Ratnakīrti’s Proof of Momentariness by Positive Correlation (Kṣaṇabhaṇgasiddhi Anvayātmikā)
The Kṣaṇabhaṇgasiddhi is a masterpiece of skillful reasoning by the eleventh-century Indian Buddhist philosopher Ratnakīrti. This renowned scholar taught at the great Buddhist University of Vikramaśīla and was a master of almost every classical philosophical school that preceded him.
The present work is informed by centuries of debate between Buddhist advocates of momentariness and archrival Nyāya philosophers who believed that both selves and things endure.
This book is the first published translation of Ratnakīrti’s proof based on positive correlations, and includes a commentary explaining each step of his reasoning.
Liberation from Samsara
This rare teaching by Rinpoché is a uniquely concise volume of the teachings of the path to liberation that is authentic, authoritative, and complete.
In Liberation from Samsara, the Fourth Kyabjé Dodrupchen Rinpoché presents the Longchen Nyingthik preliminary teachings, with a special focus on guru yoga. These teachings, from the innermost secret instruction of Dzogchen, constitute a complete path to enlightenment.
After discussing the ways to turn our mind toward Dharma and the trainings, Rinpoché provides guru yoga instruction as he turns to the main tantric practice: meditations on unifying one’s mind with Guru Rinpoché’s wisdom mind. This rare teaching by Rinpoché, though intentionally succinct to accommodate the needs of contemporary Western practitioners, presents a complete path to enlightenment. It contrasts three different paths to liberation: Shravakayana (the way of the disciple), Pratyekabuddhayana (the way of the self-enlightened buddha), and Mahāyāna (the way of the bodhisattva), which is our way, our boundless intention to seek refuge in order to free all sentient beings from samsaric suffering.
The Power of Mantra
Energize your practice with the potent energy of mantra.
In this book, beloved teacher Lama Zopa Rinpoche guides us through the most popular mantras in Tibetan Buddhism: Shakyamuni Buddha, Chenrezig, Manjushri, Tara, Medicine Buddha, Vajrasattva, and more.
A mantra—literally “that which protects the mind”—is a series of Sanskrit syllables that evoke the energy of a particular buddha or bodhisattva. It works as a sacred sound that brings blessings to ourself and others, and as a tool to transform our mind into one that is more compassionate and wise.
In clear and succinct teachings, Lama Zopa shows us why we need different mantras and how each mantra works. He also explains their importance and power, giving specific instructions for practicing them. The exquisite, full-color illustrations of the deities that accompany the text make this book a beautiful guide, one suitable for both beginners and experienced practitioners.
The Wisdom Culture Series, published under the guidance of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, features translations of key works by masters of the Geluk tradition. Also available in the Wisdom Culture Series, Tsongkhapa’s Middle-Length Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment.
The Universal Vehicle Discourse Literature (Mahāyānasūtrālaṁkāra)
The Universal Vehicle Discourse Literature (Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra) was transmitted from the bodhisattva Maitreyanātha to Āryā Āsaṅga, the fourth-century Indian Buddhist scholar-adept. The most foundational of the set of the famous Five Teachings of Maitreya, the Discourse Literature is considered the wellspring of what the Tibetans call the “magnificent deeds trend of the path,” the compassion side, which balances the “profound view trend of the path,” the wisdom side. The Discourse Literature is also considered to be metaphysically aligned with and foundational for the Idealist (Vijñānavādin) school of Mahāyāna thought. Translated from Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Chinese by Lobsang Jamspal, Robert Thurman, and the AIBS team, the present work contains a fully annotated, critical English rendition of the Discourse Literature along with its commentary (bhāṣya) by Āsaṅga’s brother, Vasubandhu. It also includes an introduction covering essential historical and philosophical topics, a bibliography, and a detailed index. This long-awaited work is the founding cornerstone of the AIBS Treasury of the Buddhist Sciences series.
Sounds of Innate Freedom, Volume 4
Sounds of Innate Freedom: The Indian Texts of Mahāmudrā are historic volumes containing many of the first English translations of classic mahamudra literature. The texts and songs in these volumes constitute the large compendium called The Indian Texts of the Mahāmudrā of Definitive Meaning, compiled by the Seventh Karmapa, Chötra Gyatso (1456–1539). The collection offers a brilliant window into the richness of the vast ocean of Indian mahamudra texts cherished in all Tibetan lineages, particularly in the Kagyü tradition, giving us a clear view of the sources of one of the world’s great contemplative traditions.
Besides the individual dohās (couplets), vajragītis (vajra songs), and caryāgītis (conduct songs) in this second volume in publication, the three extensive commentaries it contains brilliantly unravel enigmas and bring clarity not only to the specific songs they comment on but to many other, often cryptic, songs of realization in this collection. These expressive songs of the inexpressible offer readers a feast of profound and powerful pith instructions uttered by numerous male and female mahāsiddhas, yogis, and ḍākinīs, often in the context of ritual gaṇacakras and initially kept in their secret treasury. Displaying a vast range of themes, styles, and metaphors, they all point to the single true nature of the mind—mahāmudrā—in inspiring ways and from different angles, using a dazzling array of skillful means to penetrate the sole vital point of buddhahood being found nowhere but within our own mind. Reading and singing these songs of mystical wonder, bliss, and ecstatic freedom, and contemplating their meaning, will open doors to spiritual experience for us today just as it has for countless practitioners in the past.
In Vimalakīrti’s House
Over the course of nearly half a century, Robert A. F. Thurman has left an indelible mark on numerous fields of study, including Buddhist literature, Tantric Buddhism, Tibetan studies, and the comparative sciences of mind. To celebrate his seventieth birthday, Thurman’s students and colleagues have come together to pay tribute to these contributions and to Thurman’s ongoing leadership in these fields by assembling a collection of essays of their own that extend and supplement his groundbreaking research.
In Vimalakīrti’s House is the result of this collaboration and represents a broad spectrum of cutting edge studies in areas central to Thurman’s own scholarly project. The resulting volume is itself a kind of “treasury of the Buddhist sciences,” insofar as its authors explore wide-ranging problems in art, literature, epistemology, history, ritual, buddhology, and lexicography.
Great Treatise on the Stages of Mantra (Sngags rim chen mo)
Tsong Khapa’s Great Treatise on the Stages of Mantra (Sngags rim chen mo)—considered by the present Dalai Lama to be one of Tsong Khapa’s two most important books (along with his Lam rim chen mo)—is his masterful synthesis of the principles and practices of all four classes of Tantra, which formed the basis of his innovation in creating the esoteric “Tantric College” institution and curriculum in the early fifteenth century. With detailed reference to hundreds of works from the Tibetan Kangyur and Tengyur, the chapters presented and studied in this volume concern his treatment of the creation stage (bskyed rim) meditations of Unexcelled Yoga Tantra. This includes a detailed analysis emphasizing how and why such creation stage practices—utilizing deity yoga to transform death, the between, and life into the three bodies of buddhahood are indispensible to creating a foundation for successfully entering the culminal yogic practices of the perfection stage. (A subsequent volume will present the perfection stage chapters of this essential masterwork.)
An important work for both scholars and practitioners, this annotated translation is supplemented with extensive support materials.
The Adamantine Songs (Vajragīti)
Presented here in English for the first time is a set of three of Saraha’s “Adamantine Songs” (Skt. Vajragīti; Tib. rdo rje’i glu), poetic works that play a central role in the Great Seal (mahāmudrā) tantric tradition of both India and Tibet. The tantric adept (siddha) Saraha was among the most notable figures from India’s late first millennium, a time of rich religious and literary activity. His influence on Buddhist practice and poetry extended beyond the Indian subcontinent into Tibet, where it continues to affect every tradition that engages the practice and philosophy of the esoteric Great Seal.
In these songs, Saraha’s views on the nature of mind are presented as both evocative poetry and theoretical exegesis. These songs offer a new perspective on the religious life of Buddhist India and the figure of one of its most famous adepts.
Braitstein opens the door to this important set of texts by Saraha through her elegant translation, critical edition of the Tibetan texts, and in-depth analysis of the three poems. She situates Saraha and his work both in the Tibetan Buddhist sphere and in a broader South Asian literary and religious context, closely treating the central themes in Saraha’s poems, highlighting the specific siddha worldview espoused in his oeuvre, and at the same time unpacking the cryptic references contained in the songs’ individual verses. With this book, Braitstein substantially increases the amount of Saraha’s poetry available to an English-speaking audience and contributes to the ever-increasing movement to explore the culture of the tantric adepts.
Tibetan masters excelled at crafting comprehensive visions of the entire Buddhist path. The Single Intention tradition is among the most important of these. Sobisch’s magisterial work makes this essential teaching available in all its splendor for the first time.
Kurtis R. Schaeffer, University of Virginia
The Single Intention by Kyobpa Jikten Sumgön not only is the most important work of the Drigung Kagyü school but also plays a central role in Indo-Tibetan hermeneutics. The huge diversity of at times contradictory statements attributed to the Buddha is thus taken to mask an underlying single common intent, namely to further and establish all sentient beings in complete awakening. Jikten Sumgön, in other words, does not accept the common claim that the different cycles of teachings were meant for different types of beings but rather that all disciples need to be guided through them sequentially on a gradual path.
Jan-Ulrich Sobisch’s meticulous and well-annotated translation of the Single Intention and the extensive commentary on it by Rikzin Chökyi Drakpa is thus a most welcome contribution. It profits from a rare combination of the translator’s privileged access to traditional Tibetan learned masters on the one hand and rigorous academic scholarship on the other. The book is highly readable and can be recommended even to newcomers to the field of Buddhist philosophy and hermeneutics.”
Klaus-Dieter Mathes, professor of Tibetan and Buddhist studies, University of Vienna