BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY IN DEPTH, PART 1
- Enroll $247.00 Course
The rich philosophical fabric of Buddhist thought has evolved over two millennia, within a variety of cultures, epochs, and geographies. Professor Jay Garfield takes us on an exciting in-depth journey throughout these Buddhist worlds, their texts, and the essential thinkers that have shaped Buddhist philosophy from the time of the historical Buddha.
In this first-installment of a three-part course series on the history of Buddhist philosophy we explore the fundamentals, including the Four Noble Truths, the life of the Buddha, the distinctive features of Theravada and Mahayana, as well as texts such as the Vimalakīrti Sutra, the Heart Sutra, Nagarjuna’s Precious Garland, and much more.
The course progresses historically from Part 1 to Part 2 and Part 3, but all courses are open for enrollment without having to take a prior course. Take advantage of our special offer to enroll in the entire Buddhist Philosophy In-Depth series, Parts 1-3, a $741 value for $497! Click here to enroll in all three courses.
Stages of the Path and the Oral Transmission
A major contribution to the literature on Buddhist practice according to the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism from its foremost interpreter.
Although it was the last major school to emerge in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the Geluk school has left an indelible mark on Buddhist thought and practice. The intellectual and spiritual brilliance of its founder, the great Tsongkhapa (1357–1419), has inspired generations of scholars and tantric yogis to place him at the heart of their daily meditative practice. The Geluk tradition’s close ties to the Dalai Lamas have also afforded it an outsized influence in all aspects of Tibetan life for centuries. At its peak, its combined monasteries boasted a population in the tens of thousands, and its sway encompassed the religious landscape of Mongolia and much of Central Asia.
This widespread religious activity fostered a rich literary tradition, and fifteen seminal works are featured here representing four genres of that tradition. The first are works on the stages of the path, or lamrim, the genre for which the Geluk is most renowned. Second are works on guru yoga, centered around the core Geluk ritual Offering to the Guru (Lama Chöpa). Third are teachings from the unique oral transmission of Geluk mahāmudrā, meditation on the nature of mind. Fourth are the “guide to the view” (tatri) instructions. The volume features well-known authors like Tsongkhapa, the First Panchen Lama, and the Fifth Dalai Lama, but also important works from lesser-known figures like Gomchen Ngawang Drakpa’s stages of the path in verse and Gyalrong Tsultrim Nyima’s extensive commentary on the Lama Chöpa that interweaves precious explanations from the Ensa Oral Tradition he received from his own teacher.
Your guide to these riches, Thupten Jinpa, maps out their historical context and spiritual significance in his extensive introduction.
Vasubandhu’s “Three Natures”
In this plain-English commentary on Vasubandhu’s classic Treatise on the Three Natures, Ben Connelly shows the power of integrating early Buddhist psychology with the Mahayana emphasis on collective liberation. You’ll discover how wisdom from fourth-century India can be harnessed to heal and transform systems of harm within ourselves and our communities.
The three natures (svabhavas)—the imaginary, dependent, and complete, realized natures—are inherent aspects of all phenomena. The imaginary nature of things is what we think they are. Their dependent nature is that they appear to arise from countless conditions. The complete, realized nature is that they aren’t as we imagine them to be: things that can be grasped or pushed away. The three natures form the backbone of Yogacara philosophy, and by showing us how to see beyond our preconceived notions of ourselves and others, beyond the things that we’re convinced are “true,” they open up a path to personal and communal healing.
Dive into this empowering approach to freedom from suffering, from harmful personal and social patterns, and to finding peace and joyfulness in the present.
The Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s Stages of the Path
Discover His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s advice for finding happiness, helping others, and applying insights from Buddhist thought to everyday life—for a life of greater harmony, meaning, and joy, for ourselves, others, and in our world.
This first volume of The Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s Stages of the Path shares His Holiness’s teachings on specific topics of vital relevance to contemporary life:
– how kindness and compassion are the foundation for individual happiness and world peace;
– how we can solve manmade problems;
– how Buddhism does not conflict with modern science and can actually contribute to its advancement;
– how gender equality is fundamental for a decent and just society;
– and much more.
His Holiness’s messages on these topics will be of value to all readers, Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. These teachings embody the Dalai Lama’s generous warmth and humor, his expertise in presenting important Buddhist ideas, and his ability to inspire us toward greater kindness and happiness.
Freedom through Correct Knowing
Discover a clear and accessible translation with commentary on key parts of Khedrup Jé’s Clearing Mental Darkness.
Composed at the request of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and with a foreword by His Holiness, this translation with commentary on key parts of Khedrup Jé’s Clearing Mental Darkness: An Ornament of Dharmakirti’s “Seven Treatises on Valid Cognition” is intended for all levels of understanding. You’ll learn how a mind realizes its object, which types of consciousness realize their objects, and when a consciousness is considered to be valid in the sense of realizing its object. Having explained valid cognizers, or direct perceivers, which are essential to understanding the four noble truths, Khedrup Jé goes on to brilliantly elucidate this essential teaching of the Buddha and offers a lucid presentation of how to progress on the spiritual paths of liberation and enlightenment, including how to generate yogic perception directly realizing selflessness. With this, one develops an unmistaken realization of the fundamental reality of selflessness of persons and phenomena, which eliminates ignorance, the root cause of all mental afflictions and samsaric suffering.
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, founder of the Buddhist Digital Resource Center, 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.
Gene Smith’s legacy lives on in the organization he founded in 1999, the Buddhist Digital Resource Center. BDRC’s founding mission was to digitally preserve the entirety of Tibetan Buddhist literature in order to secure it from destruction. In 2015, it expanded its mission to include all Buddhist traditions. More than twenty years later, BDRC has digitized and archived millions of pages of Tibetan, Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese, Khmer and Newari literature. BDRC is dedicated to seeking out, preserving, documenting, and disseminating Buddhist literature. With its text preservation programs, free online library, digital tools for researchers, and hard drive distribution programs, BDRC provides lamas, scholars, translators, Buddhist practitioners, and the general public with access to an unparalleled collection of Buddhist texts.
Ornament of Dakpo Kagyü Thought
The Mahāmudrā Aspiration Prayer is one of the most brilliant and popular compositions on mahāmudrā. Written in easygoing nine-meter verse, this heartfelt prayer by Rangjung Dorjé lends itself to chanting and ritualized group prayer and is at the same time intricately organized into the most profound and thorough exposition of mahāmudrā, the pinnacle of practice in the Kagyü school of Tibetan Buddhism. The commentary on the prayer by Mendong Tsampa Rinpoché brilliantly illuminates its subtleties, making it even more accessible for the reader, and students and teachers alike will appreciate the inclusion of the Tibetan script on facing pages of the prayer and commentary.
This is a text for encouraging study, for inspiring practice, and for the awakening of the world.
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.
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.
Nāgārjuna’s Reason Sixty (Yuktiṣaṣṭikā)
The Reason Sixty is the most concise philosophical work by the second-century Indian Buddhist philosopher Nāgārjuna. It is one of that master’s works most often cited by Centrist (Madhyamaka) commentators, and it is included in the Sixfold Canon of Reason (rigs tshogs drug) which forms the textual basis for Centrist studies in the Tibetan philosophical curriculum. Standing midway between his other masterpieces on philosophy and religion, in the Reason Sixty Nāgārjuna describes the central thrust of his therapeutic philosophy of language—the elimination of cognitive bias and affective resistances to the gradual cultivation of nondualistic wisdom and compassion.
The seventh-century Centrist master Chandrakīrti, concerned with applying his language therapeutic method to define the social epistemology of Centrism, likewise links the critical hermeneutic-pedagogy and the practical therapeutic-anthropology of his other works in his acclaimed Reason Sixty Commentary.
Includes detailed introductory essays, annotated translations, critical Tibetan editions, trilingual glossary, intellectual-historical and biographical tables, bibliography, and index.
What I Don’t Know about Death
In the winter of 2020 a renowned scholar of Asian religions, lifelong meditator, and novelist accustomed to vigorous health received a terminal diagnosis. By summer his cancer had run its course. In the short time in between, C. W. “Sandy” Huntington faced his own impending death, leading him to reconsider the teachings and practices, as well as philosophy and literature, he had spent a lifetime pursuing. In this, his last book, you’ll join Sandy as he traverses the gap between knowledge and true wisdom.
“Sandy Huntington urges his readers to face up to life’s fragility as well as its many gifts. Written with elegance and verve, What I Don’t Know about Death is a deep meditation on what it means both to wake up to and to let go of life. Drawing on his lifelong engagement with Buddhism, Huntington remains a consummate teacher who demands intellectual honesty, humility, and compassion from his readers no less than from himself. This book is an intellectual and spiritual offering to Huntington’s students, past and future.”
—Leora Batnitzky, Ronald O. Perelman Professor of Jewish Studies and professor of religion, Princeton University
“What I Don’t Know about Death is a deeply personal, intellectually rigorous, and philosophically profound exploration of death, and in particular of Sandy’s own death, which he faced with exemplary grace, honesty, and clarity as he wrote this book. This is a gift of remarkable beauty that can open our hearts and minds to this most difficult topic. Read it and weep, with tears of grief, gratitude, and illumination.”
—Jay L. Garfield, Smith College and the Harvard Divinity School
“This book is a treasure of subtle revelation.”
—Bonnie Nadzam, Lion’s Roar
The view is the wisdom of being empty
Meditation is luminosity without fixation
Conduct is a continual flow free of attachment
Fruition is nakedness bare of any stain
This is the first stanza of Milarepa’s Ultimate View, Meditation, Conduct, and Fruition: pith instructions originally sang to the great yogi Rechungpa, Milarepa’s disciple. These teachings are Milarepa’s direct offering to his disciple of his own profound realization, gained after many years of dedicated practice. Karl Brunnhölzl, acclaimed translator and senior teacher at the Nalandabodhi community of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, calls this hard-earned understanding “kungfu”: “Gong means ‘skillful work,’ ‘hard training,’ or ‘endeavor,’ and fu means ‘time spent…’ The term refers to Milarepa’s diligent and skillful training in the techniques to realize the nature of his mind and benefit countless sentient beings.”
Ultimate View, Meditation, Conduct, and Fruition is a work of remarkable depth and clarity. In just five verses, Milarepa gives incisive instructions for progressing and for avoiding pitfalls in the stages of practice:
- View: the basis or ground from which the proper meditation, conduct, and fruition of mahāmudrā can arise
- Meditation: the training in or the familiarization with that view
- Conduct: the natural outflow of having familiarized with the view in meditation
- Fruition: the final outcome of having fully assimilated and realized the view, whose essence is not different from it
Milarepa dedicates one verse to each stage, and Karl dedicates one chapter to each verse, weaving in wisdom from other Milarepa songs, comments by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyatso and from Karl’s own insight. Readers can thus fully immerse themselves in each point of Milarepa’s extraordinary teaching.
“With my diagnosis of grade IV brain cancer, I no longer observe the truth of impermanence from a critical, analytical distance. I am crashing into it, or it into me.”
Facing a terminal cancer diagnosis, Karen Derris—professor, mother, and Buddhist practitioner—instinctually turned to books. By rereading ancient Buddhist stories with fresh questions and a new purpose in mind, she discovered evolving ways to make them immediate and real. Storied Companions interweaves Karen’s memoir of her lived experiences of trauma and terminal illness with stories from Buddhist literary traditions, sharing with the reader how she found ways to live fully even with the reality that she won’t live as long as she needs—or wants.
Using her knowledge, practice, and imagination, Karen illustrates how placing yourself within narratives can turn them from distant and static sources into companions, and from companions into guides. Reading along with her, you’ll realize how this practice of reading and these ancient narratives can help us come to terms with impermanence, develop empathy and compassion, and realize our own interconnectedness.
Honest, powerful, and insightful, Storied Companions itself becomes an invaluable companion, guiding the reader to discover new ways of facing and experiencing life, death, and impermanence.
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.
The Lamp for Integrating the Practices (Caryāmelāpakapradīpa)
The Lamp for Integrating the Practices (Caryāmelāpakapradīpa) by Āryadeva, is a systematic and comprehensive exposition of the most advanced yogas of the Esoteric Community Tantra (Guhyasamāja-tantra) as espoused by the Noble (Nāgārjuna) tradition, an influential school of interpretation within Indian Buddhist mysticism. Equal in authority to Nāgārjuna’s famous Five Stages (Pañcakrama), Āryadeva’s work is perhaps the earliest prose example of the “stages of the mantra path” genre in Sanskrit. Its systematic path exerted immense influence on later Indian and Tibetan traditions, and it is widely cited by masters from all four major lineages of Tibetan Buddhism.
This volume presents the Lamp in a thoroughly annotated English translation. It includes an introductory study discussing the history of the Guhyasamāja and its exegetical traditions, surveying the scriptural and commentarial sources of the Nāgārjuna tradition, and analyzing in detail the contents of the Lamp. The book also features a detailed, trilingual glossary.
Simultaneously presented online for scholars are a version of its Sanskrit original, critically edited from recently identified manuscripts, and a critical edition of the eleventh-century Tibetan translation by Rinchen Zangpo, including notes on readings found in “lost,” alternative translations.
“In this wonderful gem of a book, Andy Rotman offers us a compelling translation of a set of ten Sanskrit Buddhist stories about ‘hungry ghosts’ (preta) taken from the Avadānaśataka (“One Hundred Stories”), an important early Indian anthology of Buddhist narratives. Rotman has brought them into the limelight and shown how important they are for Buddhists and for all of us. Hungry Ghosts will become a standard work on the subject.”
—John Strong, Charles A. Dana Emeritus Professor of Religious and Asian Studies, Bates College
The realm of hungry ghosts is one of the unfortunate realms of rebirth in the Buddhist cycle of existence, and those reborn there are said to have led lives consumed by greed and spite. In one of the earliest sources about hungry ghosts, translated here, hungry ghosts know the error of their ways, and they sometimes appear among humans, like the ghosts that haunt Ebenezer Scrooge, as augurs of what may await. Artistic depictions of the travails of hungry ghosts are found throughout the Buddhist world, and some of the best examples are reproduced and richly described here. Discover how an understanding of the meanness (matsārya) that afflicts hungry ghosts illuminates the human condition, offering insight and inspiring compassion for readers both in ancient times and today.
“Rotman brings new life to old stories about hungry ghosts, and he provides unique insight into their development and their importance even for modern Buddhism. A must-read for students of Buddhist thought and art.”
—Monika Zin, Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Leipzig University