Y. Karunadasa is Professor Emeritus at the University of Kelaniya and a former director of its Graduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies. He has served as a visiting professor at the University of London, the University of Toronto, and the University of Hong Kong, and as the Numata Chair at the University of Calgary. He lives in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
A fluent English explanation of the Theravada Buddhist analysis of matter for serious students of Buddhist thought.
“This admirable book began life more than half a century ago as a doctoral thesis for the School of Oriental Studies at the University of London . . . Edward Conze, the most eminent Buddhologist of the day, wrote that it was ‘likely to be the last word on the subject for some time to come.’ There can be little doubt that the same judgment could be repeated today.”
—from the foreword by Richard Gombrich, Emeritus Boden Professor of Sanskrit, University of Oxford
“Professor Y. Karunadasa has long been one of the clearest, most dependable, and most knowledgeable exponents of the thought-world of Early Buddhism. His treatise on the Buddhist analysis of matter gives us a fascinating look at how the thinkers of the Theravāda Abhidhamma tradition pursued the cursory treatment of matter in the suttas to new depths of detail, providing a foundation for a deep contemplation of the first of the five aggregates into which Buddhism analyzes a sentient being. I am glad that this early work of his is now being made available to a wider readership.”
—Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, Buddhist scholar and translator
THE BUDDHIST ANALYSIS OF MATTER
The Buddhist Analysis of Matter is an in-depth study of the Buddhist view of the nature and composition of matter as interpreted in Theravāda Buddhism. The study is mainly based on the seven treatises of the canonical Abhidhamma as well as the subsequent commentarial exegesis. However, in order to bring the subject into a wider perspective and to present it with a measure of precision, it takes into consideration the parallel doctrines of the Vaibhāṣika and Sautrāntika schools of Buddhism. These were two of the leading non-Mahāyāna schools with which the Theravādins had much in common. Both subscribed to a realistic view of existence: while the former had a tendency to extreme realism, the latter had a predilection, but not a commitment, to subjectivism.
Acclaimed scholar Y. Karunadasa’s Buddhist Analysis of Matter provides a much-needed micro view of the topic with a detailed examination of the Theravādins’ list of rūpa-dhammas—the ultimate irreducible factors into which material existence is analyzed. It exposes the nature of the basic material elements and explains their interconnection and interdependence on the basis of conditional relations. It concludes with an attempt to understand the nature and relevance of the Buddhist analysis of matter in the context of Buddhism as a religion.
- 6 x 9 inches
- ISBN 9781614294511
- ISBN 9781614294672
Courageous Compassion, the sixth volume of the Library of Wisdom and Compassion, continues the Dalai Lama’s teachings on the path to awakening. The previous volume, In Praise of Great Compassion, focused on opening our hearts with love and compassion for all living beings, and the present volume explains how to embody compassion and wisdom in our daily lives. Here we enter a fascinating exploration of bodhisattvas’ activities across multiple Buddhist traditions—Tibetan, Theravāda, and Chinese Buddhism.
After explaining the ten perfections according to the Pāli and Sanskrit traditions, the Dalai Lama presents the sophisticated schema of the four paths and fruits for śrāvakas and solitary realizers and the five paths for bodhisattvas. Learning about the practices mastered by these exalted practitioners inspires us with knowledge of our minds’ potential. His Holiness also describes buddha bodies, what buddhas perceive, and buddhas’ awakening activities.
Courageous Compassion offers an in-depth look at bodhicitta, arhatship, and buddhahood that you can continuously refer to as you progress on the path to full awakening.
Superiority Conceit in Buddhist Traditions
Armed with his rigorous examination of the canonical records, respected scholar-monk Bhikkhu Anālayo explores—and sharply criticizes—four examples of what he terms “superiority conceit” in Buddhism:
- the androcentric tendency to prevent women from occupying leadership roles, be these as fully ordained monastics or as advanced bodhisattvas
- the Mahayana notion that those who don’t aspire to become bodhisattvas are inferior practitioners
- the Theravada belief that theirs is the most original expression of the Buddha’s teaching
- the Secular Buddhist claim to understand the teachings of the Buddha more accurately than traditionally practicing Buddhists
Ven. Anālayo challenges the scriptural basis for these conceits and points out that adhering to such notions of superiority is not, after all, conducive to practice. “It is by diminishing ego, letting go of arrogance, and abandoning conceit that one becomes a better Buddhist,” he reminds us, “no matter what tradition one may follow.”
Thoroughly researched, Superiority Conceit in Buddhist Traditions provides an accessible approach to these conceits as academic subjects. Readers will find it not only challenges their own intellectual understandings but also improves their personal practice.
The Dharma of Poetry
In The Dharma of Poetry, John Brehm shows how poems can open up new ways of thinking, feeling, and being in the world. Brehm demonstrates the practice of mindfully entering a poem, with an alertness, curiosity, and open-hearted responsiveness very much like the attention we cultivate in meditation. Complete with poetry-related meditations and writing prompts, this collection of lively, elegantly written essays can be read as a standalone book or as a companion to the author’s acclaimed anthology The Poetry of Impermanence, Mindfulness, and Joy.
Grieving is Loving
A new book of poems, quotations, reflections, and stories from the author of one of the most beloved books on grief & loss.
This book is a companion to carry with you throughout your day, to touch in with and be supported by when bearing the unbearable pain of a loved one’s death—whether weeks or years since their passing.
In the style of a quote-a-day collection, this book from Wisdom’s bestselling author Joanne Cacciatore distills down the award-winning book Bearing the Unbearable into easy-to-access small chunks, and includes much brand-new material, including new prose and poems from Dr. Jo and other sources.
If you love, you will grieve—and nothing is more mysteriously central to becoming fully human.
Our culture often makes the bereaved feel alone, isolated, broken, and like they should just “get over it”—this book offers a loving antidote.
Open to any page of Grieving Is Loving and you’ll find something that will instantly help you feel not alone, while honoring the full weight of loss.
This book is comprised of quotations from Bearing the Unbearable, and other sources as well, plus an enormous amount of new material from Dr. Jo. Especially well-suited for the grieving mind that may struggle with concentration, just 30 seconds on any page will empower, hearten, and validate any bereaved person—helping give strength and courage to bear life’s most painful losses.
“Grieving Is Loving is a wise, moving, and compassionate book. Reading it brought tears to my eyes as it reminded me of the loss of loved ones 30 and 45 years ago. Not only should its message be read and internalized by those suffering the loss of a beloved, but also by those with friends who have lost or are likely to lose someone in the future—in other words, by everyone.”
—Irving Kirsch, PhD, Harvard Medical School, University of Connecticut, University of Hull, author of The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth
Illuminating the Intent
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 sixth chapter of Shantideva’s classic A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life is a beacon of inspiration that shows what patience—one of the essential actions of the bodhisattvas—can really mean, leading us to profound self-realization and a heightened determination for awakened action in the world.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche—a teacher whose very name means “patience”—explores Shantideva’s teachings verse by verse, unpacking its lessons for the modern reader:
- Overcoming anger
- Accepting suffering
- Respecting others and finding happiness in their happiness
In explaining this quintessential quality of a bodhisattva, Rinpoche shows us ordinary beings the profundity of the practice of patience and the relevance it has in our everyday lives.
“Shantideva was like us, but he worked on his mind until he became completely free from delusions . . . A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life has inspired countless people since it was written over thirteen hundred years ago. It tells us that we too can develop our mind to the levels of realizations that the great masters have attained—and it shows us how to do it.”—Lama Zopa Rinpoche
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.
Zen and Psychotherapy
This book is an intimate dialogue that examines the interplay of emotional and spiritual development through the lens of Zen Buddhism and psychotherapy. Zen and Psychotherapy artfully illuminates the intrinsic connections between the two practices, and demonstrates how the traditions can be complementary in helping to live a truly fulfilled and contented life.
Zen teacher and psychologist Joseph Bobrow deftly shows how the major themes of trauma, attachment, emotional communication, and emotional regulation play out in the context of Zen and of psychotherapeutic practice, and how, in concert, both provide a comprehensive, interactive model of fully functioning human life.
How to Be Sick
You won’t be alone when you have this pocket-sized treasure of transformative practices, written by beloved bestselling author Toni Bernhard.
In 2001, Toni got sick and never recovered. As she faced the confusion, frustration, and despair of a life that was suddenly severely limited, Toni had to learn how to be sick.
In this easy-to-use, easy-to-carry book, Toni shares practices from her bestselling classic How to Be Sick and also offers new suggestions and strategies for coping with a life impacted by chronic pain and illness. Because the book is organized by specific challenges, you can immediately find practices that can help when they’re needed most.
With this book in hand, you will discover the experiential wisdom that has helped Toni live a life of equanimity, compassion, and joy, despite her physical and energetic restrictions—and, sometimes, because of them. In the pages of this loyal companion, you’ll find help, solace, and inspiration, no matter what life challenge you’re facing.
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.
Creating a Life of Integrity
Creating a Life of Integrity is our personal trainer for strengthening our integrity muscles.
When we don’t speak or act from our own sense of integrity, we feel lousy. Find out how you can live with more integrity—and subsequently more joy—as you follow these lively conversations between Joseph Goldstein, a founder of the modern mindfulness movement, and Gail Stark, a businesswoman and his student and friend of twenty-five years.
As Joseph and Gail unpack the components of integrity—generosity, virtue, renunciation, wisdom, courage, patience, truthfulness, resoluteness, loving-kindness, and equanimity—we discover each is a step on a path that transports us to an empowered place of clarity, commitment, and, consequently, more joy. As we strengthen and weave these qualities into our daily lives they become our trusted first response in a world that needs our integrity now.
The Buddha’s Single Intention
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.
The Six Perfections
The six perfections are the actions of the bodhisattvas—holy beings who have transcended selfless concerns. But they’re also skills we can and should develop right now, in our messy, ordinary lives.
In this clear, comprehensive guide to the backbone of Mahayana Buddhist practice, Lama Zopa Rinpoche walks us through each of the six perfections:
As he carefully describes each perfection, he not only reveals the depth of its meaning and how it intertwines with each other perfection, but he also explains how to practice it fully in our everyday lives—offering concrete ways for us to be more generous, more patient, more wise. With the guidance he gives us, we can progress in our practice of the perfections until we, like the bodhisattvas, learn to cherish others above ourselves.
“The perfections are the practices of bodhisattvas, holy beings who have completely renounced the self; they have transcended selfish concerns and cherish only others. Each perfection is perfect, flawless. Each arises from bodhichitta and is supported by the other perfections, including the wisdom of emptiness. Because of that, a bodhisattva generates infinite merit every moment, whether outwardly engaged in working for others or not. A bodhisattva’s bodhichitta never stops.”
—Lama Zopa Rinpoche
The Rice Seedling Sutra
One of Tibet’s great scholars presents the Buddha’s profound teachings on the laws of karma and dependent arising.
In the Rice Seedling Sutra, the Buddha unpacks the law of cause and effect. He notes how in the natural world, a seed becomes a sprout, which produces a flower, which bears fruit. A seed has no intention to sprout; when the right conditions are assembled the fruit arises. Similarly, when our senses encounter an object, a sense consciousness arises naturally, without our intending it. This, says the Buddha, is also how karma works and how actions performed out of ignorance create suffering, whether we want it or not. And this same law of causality also governs enlightenment—when the right conditions are assembled, awakening is assured.
In many sutras like this one, the Buddha explains that to understand his Dharma is to understand dependent arising. Geshe Yeshe Thabkhe explores dependent arising, and the corollary teaching of emptiness, through this sutra and others. Commenting on the works of Indian masters such as Śāntarakṣita, he shows how belief in a creator god is incompatible with dependent arising, and by illuminating the teachings of Nāgārjuna and Candrakīrti, he shows how we do—and do not—exist.
Geshe Yeshe Thabkhe was among the last generation of scholars to be trained in Tibet before the Chinese occupation. He has been teaching Westerners for decades, having worked with top scholars in the United States, and he is especially familiar with this sutra, having translated the commentary by Kamalaśīla into Hindi. Here his deep familiarity, combined with his extensive command of the Buddhist scriptures, allows him to present the Buddha’s words in a rich and authoritative context.
The Vajra Rosary Tantra
The Vajra Rosary Tantra (Śrī Vajramālā Vyākhyā Tantra) is one of the most significant and detailed tantras attributed to the Buddha, in his emanation as Vajradhara. It instructs a practitioner how to overcome the 108 energies and their related instinctual conceptions that circulate in the subtle body and mind and drive continued rebirth in cyclic existence, in order to attain the freedom of enlightenment. One of the explanatory tantras of the Buddhist Esoteric Community (Guhyasamāja) Tantra, its unexcelled yoga tantric system is among the most advanced systems described in Tibetan Buddhist literature. It mainly focuses on the final stage of Buddhist tantric practice, the perfection stage by means of which a person is said actually to become a buddha.
There is no more authoritative endorsement than that of the great Tibetan renaissance scholar, Lama Tsong Khapa, who strongly recommended the Vajra Rosary Tantra as follows: “Nāgārjuna, in condensing the perfection stage into the five stages, follows this tantra; he also follows it regarding the creation stage three samadhis, four yogas, thirty-two deities, and so forth. . . . It explains the many stages of creation and dissolution of the body in terms of the channel structure, wind energy movement, and enlightenment-spirit substance as a factor in the decisive ascertainment of the internal and external life-energy controls for bringing forth the four voids and the magic body, depending on . . . the hidden discipline of desire and of the vajra recitation . . . and the limitless ways for the dawning of realization. . . . It seems that such excellent elucidation is rarely seen.”
Rare and remarkable, Y. Karunadasa’s Buddhist Analysis of Matter is a perennial classic that fully retains its currency and authority. In the fifty years since it was first published no one has come near to Karunadasa’s expert exposition of the Theravādin philosophy of matter. The author does not repeat classical sources mechanically—he brings them to life with lucid explanations that do not shy from the complexity of the terrain. There is no better introduction to the subject.
Peter Skilling (Bhadra Rujirathat), Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok
A dazzling textual exposition of the analysis of matter in Theravāda Abhidhamma, connecting Buddhist philosophy, psychology, and ethics.
G. A. Somaratne, assistant professor, Centre of Buddhist Studies, the University of Hong Kong
This is a rebirth of a classic in modern Buddhist studies. Written in the 1960s, a good enough time for any academic work to be replaced by more modern works in the relevant field of study, Professor Karunadasa’s treatise still stands tall. Although a scholar is not expected to write the last word on a subject, if it has happened we have to be humble enough to acknowledge it. The Buddhist Analysis of Matter belongs to that rare class of works, the members of which are not too many.
Asanga Tilakaratne, School of Buddhist Studies, Philosophy and Comparative Religion, Nalanda University, Rajgir, Bihar
This is groundbreaking research in the Buddhist philosophical analysis of matter, with many new ideas. Professor Karunadasa skillfully presents his ideas in such a way that readers easily follow his logical arguments.
Guang Xing, associate professor and director of the Centre of Buddhist Studies, the University of Hong Kong