David B. Gray is Bernard J. Hanley Professor of Religious Studies at Santa Clara University. He is the author of The Cakrasamvara Tantra (The Discourse of Sri Heruka): A Study and Annotated Translation (AIBS 2007); The Cakrasamvara Tantra (The Discourse of Sri Heruka): Editions of the Sanskrit and Tibetan Texts (AIBS 2009); Tsong Khapa’s Illumination of the Hidden Meaning: Mandala, Mantra, and the Cult of the Yoginis (Chapters 1–24) (AIBS 2015); Tsong Khapa’s Illumination of the Hidden Meaning: Yogic Vows, Conduct, and Ritual Praxis (Chapters 25–51) (AIBS/WP 2019).
THE CAKRASAMVARA TANTRA (THE DISCOURSE OF SRI HERUKA)
A Study and Annotated Translation
Composed in India during the late eighth or early ninth century, this text is a foundational scripture of one of the most important Indian Buddhist tantric traditions, as evidenced by the vast number of commentaries and ritual literature associated with it. Along with the Hevajra Tantra, it is one of the earliest and most influential of the Yogini Tantras, a genre of tantric Buddhist scripture that emphasizes female deities, particularly the often fiercely depicted yoginis and dakinis.
The author’s introductory essay provides an analysis of the historical and intellectual contexts in which the tantra was composed, including its complex interrelationship with Hindu Saiva traditions, and investigates the history of its adaptation by Buddhists. The translation was made on the basis of the surviving Sanskrit manuscripts of the tantra and its commentaries, as well as parallel passages in related explanatory tantras (vyakhyatantra). It is also takes into consideration two different Tibetan translations of the root text, and several Tibetan commentaries. The translation itself is heavily annotated, with extensive translations from the Indian and Tibetan commentaries on the text. Includes a trilingual glossary and index.
The author has now also translated the commentary on this tantra by the great Tibetan scholar Tsong Khapa (1357–1419), which appears in two volumes as Illumination of the Hidden Meaning. Taken together, these three volumes provide the reader with the first full study in English of this pivotal tantra.
- 472 pages
- 472 pages, 1.2 x 6 inches
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.
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.
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.”
The Essence of the Vast and Profound
The Essence of the Vast and Profound will soon find its place as one of the greatest lamrim commentaries ever given.
Drawn from teachings by Pabongkha Rinpoche, which were given over the course of thirty-six days in 1934 in Tibet’s capital city of Lhasa, The Essence of the Vast and Profound masterfully weaves together Tsongkhapa’s Middle-Length Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, the Second Panchen Lama’s Swift Path, and the Third Dalai Lama’s Essence of Refined Gold. Rinpoche offers wise and compassionate guidance on such crucial subjects as how to rely on a spiritual teacher, how to develop certainty on the path, what it means to take refuge, how to understand karma, and the importance of compassion—explaining the entire spectrum of the Buddhist path, and also inspiring the reader to follow it.
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.
Beautiful Adornment of Mount Meru
The lucid literary style of Beautiful Adornment of Mount Meru has made it a classic in the study of Indian philosophical thought, both in Tibetan monasteries and contemporary academic circles.
Beautiful Adornment of Mount Meru is a work of doxography, presenting the distinctive philosophical tenets of the Indian Buddhist and non-Buddhist schools in a systematic manner that ascends through increasingly more subtle views. It is a Tibetan corollary to contemporary histories of philosophy. The “Mount Meru” of the title is the Buddha’s teachings, and Changkya’s work excels in particular in its treatment of the two Mahayana Buddhist schools, the Yogācāra (here called the Vijñaptimātra) and the Madhyamaka. Beautiful Adornment is often praised for the clarity of its prose and its economical use of citations from Indian texts. It skillfully examines core philosophical issues, supplemented with several intriguing ancillary discussions, and draws heavily on the works of Tsongkhapa and his disciples in the Geluk tradition he founded.
Mind Seeing Mind
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A definitive study of one of the most important practice lineages in Tibetan Buddhism, with translations of its key texts.
Mahāmudrā, the “great seal,” refers to the ultimate nature of mind and reality, to a meditative practice for realizing that ultimate reality, and to the final fruition of buddhahood. It is especially prominent in the Kagyü tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, so it sometimes comes as a surprise that mahāmudrā has played an important role in the Geluk school, where it is part of a special transmission received in a vision by the tradition’s founder, Tsongkhapa. Mahāmudrā is a significant component of Geluk ritual and meditative life, widely studied and taught by contemporary masters such as the Dalai Lama.
Roger Jackson’s Mind Seeing Mind offers us both a definitive scholarly study of the history, texts, and doctrines of Geluk mahāmudrā and masterful translations of its seminal texts. It provides a skillful survey of the Indian sources of the teaching, illuminates the place of mahāmudrā among Tibetan Buddhist schools, and details the history and major textual sources of Geluk mahāmudrā. Jackson also addresses critical questions, such as the relation between Geluk and Kagyü mahāmudrā, and places mahāmudrā in the context of contemporary religious studies. The translation portion of Mind Seeing Mind includes ten texts on mahāmudrā history, ritual, and practice.
Mind Seeing Mind adds considerably to our understanding of Tibetan Buddhist spirituality and shows how mahāmudrā came to be woven throughout the fabric of the Geluk tradition.
Reasons and Lives in Buddhist Traditions
Particularly known for his groundbreaking and influential work in Tibetan studies, Matthew Kapstein is a true polymath in Buddhist and Asian studies more generally; possessing unsurpassed knowledge of Tibetan culture and civilization, he is also deeply grounded in Sanskrit and Indology, and his highly accomplished work in these cultural and civilizational areas has exemplified a whole range of disciplinary perspectives.
Reflecting something of the astonishing range of Matthew Kapstein’s work and interests, this collection of essays pays tribute to a luminary in the field by exemplifying some of the diverse work in Buddhist and Asian studies that has been impacted by his scholarship and teaching. Engaging matters as diverse as the legal foundations of Tibetan religious thought, the teaching careers of modern Chinese Buddhists, the history of Bhutan, and the hermeneutical insights of Vasubandhu, these essays by students and colleagues of Matthew Kapstein are offered as testament to a singular scholar and teacher whose wide-ranging work is unified by a rare intellectual selflessness.
Tales from the Tibetan Operas
In Tales from the Tibetan Operas, timeless Buddhist ideas are brought to life through enchanting myths and vivid stories. Poetically vibrant, these eight classic lhamo stories have continued to delight and edify Tibetan audiences of all backgrounds, from village children to learned scholar-monks and Dalai Lamas.
Western readers can now get a glimpse into ancient Indian and Tibetan mythology through the cultural touchstone of eight classic lhamo stories. On visual display are the human and nonhuman characters of history and folklore — kings, queens, conniving ministers, ordinary folk, yogis, monks, and powerful beings from other realms such as gods and nāgas — engaged in plotting, kidnapping, fighting, journeys to faraway lands, separation, and reconciliation, often with a quest for seemingly impossible treasure. The suspenseful tales have many dramatic plot twists, but they all end in happiness, where the good achieve their goals and the bad receive their just desserts. The operas thus bring to the people the fundamental ethical laws of behavior and teachings of natural justice based on Buddhist doctrine.
The book features more than 50 gorgeous photos of the operas performed on location in Tibet and India.
Brilliantly Illuminating Lamp of the Five Stages
The Brilliantly Illuminating Lamp of the Five Stages (rim lnga rab tu gsal ba’i sgron me) is Tsong Khapa’s master commentary on the perfection-stage practices of the Esoteric Community (Guhyasamāja), the tantra he considered fundamental for the “father tantra” class of unexcelled yoga tantras, as the primary source for the development of the “magic body” technique for attaining buddhahood. Based on Nāgārjuna’s Five Stages (Pañcakrama) and Āryadeva’s Lamp That Integrates the Practices (Caryāmelāpakapradīpa), as well as a vast range of other works by Indian and Tibetan scholars and adepts, it also reveals openly the experiences of the author, himself a master practitioner.
This blockbuster work of Jey Tsong Khapa opens a window on one of the most amazing, incredibly advanced attainments ever claimed to be possible for a human being within a single lifetime. The author explains in detail the relation between exoteric and esoteric teachings and practices on the path to complete enlightenment, with its seemingly superhuman awarenesses and abilities. He clarifies the interconnections between the various categories of secret tantras, inspires by showing how far-reaching are the systematic methods of positive personal transformation developed and taught in India and Tibet, and openly shows what this tradition considered possible, giving us a whole new vision of life’s meaning and a strengthened confidence in our horizon of opportunities. This bold and well-reasoned work presents a fascinating new way to understand our own body and mind, to manage more confidently our own life and death trajectories, and to rejoice in the sense of the extreme value of our human lifetime as a platform for realizing our personal evolutionary potential.
Illumination of the Hidden Meaning, Vol. 2
This is the second of two volumes presenting Dr. David Gray’s study and translation of the Illumination of the Hidden Meaning (sbas don kun gsal) by the Tibetan Buddhist scholar-yogi Tsong Khapa Losang Drakpa (1357–1419). The Illumination contains Tsong Khapa’s magnificent commentary on the Indian Buddhist Cakrasamvara Tantra, one of the earliest and most influential of the yoginī tantras, a genre of tantric Buddhist scripture that emphasizes female deities, particularly the often fiercely depicted yoginīs and ḍākinīs. Together with the first volume, this contains the first English translation of this important work that marks a milestone in the history of the Tibetan assimilation of the Indian Buddhist tantras.
This second volume, which includes Tsong Khapa’s detailed introduction to chapters 25–51 of the 51-chapter Cakrasamvara root tantra, covers the vows, observances, and conduct of the initiated yogī, particularly in relation to the yoginīs, whose favor he must cultivate. It describes in great detail the rites of the tradition, including homa fire sacrifice and the uses of the mantras of the maṇḍala’s main deities. The author provides a trilingual English–Tibetan–Sanskrit glossary.
Together with the author’s related publications in this series—including translations of the root Cakrasamvara Tantra (2007, 2010, 2019); the critically edited Sanskrit and Tibetan texts of the root tantra (2012); and the first volume of this master Tibetan commentary (chapters 1–24), subtitled Maṇḍala, Mantra, and the Cult of the Yoginīs (2017)—the reader will have the first full study of this important tantra available in English.
Illumination of the Hidden Meaning, Vol. 1
This is the first volume of the annotated translation of Tsong Khapa’s Illumination of the Hidden Meaning (sbas don kun gsal), a magnificent commentary on the Cakrasamvara Tantra. This is the first English translation of this important work, which marked a milestone in the history of the Tibetan understanding and practice of the Indian Buddhist tantras.
This first volume, which includes Tsong Khapa’s detailed introduction to chapters 1–24 of the 51-chapter Cakrasamvara root tantra, covers the history of the tradition, its interpretation, and a wide range of topics including the construction of the maṇḍala, the consecration therein, the decoding of mantras and their ritual applications, and details concerning the clans of the yoginīs.
The author situates the work in context, and explores in depth the sources used by Tsong Khapa in composing this commentary. He also provides detailed notes, a trilingual English–Tibetan–Sanskrit glossary, and an appendix that includes a translation of Sumatikīrti’s synopsis of the Cakrasamvara Tantra entitled the Laghusaṃvaratantrapaṭalābhisandhi, which is quoted by Tsong Khapa in its entirety in his commentary.
Together with the author’s related publications in this series—including translations of the root Cakrasamvara Tantra (2007, 2010, 2019); the critically edited Sanskrit and Tibetan texts of the root tantra (2012); and the second volume of this master Tibetan commentary (chapters 25–51), subtitled Yogic Vows, Conduct, and Ritual Praxis (2019)—the reader will have the first full study of this important tantra available in English.
The concept of nonduality lies at the very heart of Mahayana Buddhism. In the West, it’s usually associated with various kinds of absolute idealism in the West, or mystical traditions in the East—and as a result, many modern philosophers are poorly informed on the topic. Increasingly, however, nonduality is finding its way into Western philosophical debates. In this “scholarly but leisurely and very readable” (Spectrum Review) analysis of the philosophies of nondualism of (Hindu) Vedanta, Mahayana Buddhism, and Taoism, renowned thinker David R. Loy extracts what he calls “a core doctrine” of nonduality. Loy clarifies this easily misunderstood topic with thorough, subtle, and understandable analysis.
The Crystal Mirror of Philosophical Systems
The Crystal Mirror of Philosophical Systems, by Thuken Losang Chökyi Nyima (1737–1802), is arguably the widest-ranging account of religious philosophies ever written in pre-modern Tibet. Like most Tibetan texts on philosophical systems, this work covers the major schools of India, both Buddhist and non-Buddhist, but then goes on to discuss in detail the entire range of Tibetan traditions as well, with separate chapters on the Nyingma, Kadam, Kagyü, Shijé, Sakya, Jonang, Geluk, and Bön schools. Not resting there, Thuken goes on to describe the major traditions of China—Confucian, Daoist, and the multiple varieties of Buddhist—as well as those of Mongolia, Khotan, and even Shambhala. The Crystal Mirror of Philosophical Systems is unusual, too, in its concern not just to describe and analyze doctrines, but to trace the historical development of the various traditions. The Crystal Mirror of Philosophical Systems is an eloquent and erudite presentation exploring the religious history and philosophical systems of an array of Asian Cultures—and offering evidence that the serious and sympathetic study of the history of religions has not been a monopoly of Western scholarship.
Buddhist Teaching in India
The earliest records we have today of what the Buddha said were written down several centuries after his death, and the body of teachings attributed to him continued to evolve in India for centuries afterward across a shifting cultural and political landscape. As one tradition within a diverse religious milieu that included even the Greek kingdoms of northwestern India, Buddhism had many opportunities to both influence and be influenced by competing schools of thought. Even within Buddhism, a proliferation of interpretive traditions produced a dynamic intellectual climate. Johannes Bronkhorst here tracks the development of Buddhist teachings both within the larger Indian context and among Buddhism’s many schools, shedding light on the sources and trajectory of such ideas as dharma theory, emptiness, the bodhisattva ideal, buddha nature, formal logic, and idealism. In these pages, we discover the roots of the doctrinal debates that have animated the Buddhist tradition up until the present day.
The Buddhist Philosophy of the Middle
Madhyamaka, the “philosophy of the middle,” systematized the Buddha’s fundamental teaching on no-self with its profound non-essentialist reading of reality. Founded in India by Nāgārjuna in about the second century CE, Madhyamaka philosophy went on to become the dominant strain of Buddhist thought in Tibet and exerted a profound influence on all the cultures of East Asia. Within the extensive Western scholarship inspired by this school of thought, David Seyfort Ruegg’s work is unparalleled in its incisiveness, diligence, and scope. The Buddhist Philosophy of the Middle brings together Ruegg’s greatest essays on Madhyamaka, expert writings which have and will continue to contribute to our progressing understanding of this rich tradition.
Buddhism Between Tibet and China
Exploring the long history of cultural exchange between ‘the Roof of the World’ and ‘the Middle Kingdom,’ Buddhism Between Tibet and China features a collection of noteworthy essays that probe the nature of their relationship, spanning from the Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE) to the present day. Annotated and contextualized by noted scholar Matthew Kapstein and others, the historical accounts that comprise this volume display the rich dialogue between Tibet and China in the areas of scholarship, the fine arts, politics, philosophy, and religion. This thoughtful book provides insight into the surprisingly complex history behind the relationship from a variety of geographical regions.
Includes contributions from Rob Linrothe, Karl Debreczeny, Elliot Sperling, Paul Nietupski, Carmen Meinert, Gray Tuttle, Zhihua Yao, Ester Bianchi, Fabienne Jagou, Abraham Zablocki, and Matthew Kapstein.
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The Book of Kadam
The Kadam school of Tibetan Buddhism emerged in the eleventh century from the teachings of the Indian master Atiśa and his principal Tibetan student, Dromtönpa. Although it no longer exists as an independent school, Kadam’s teachings were incorporated into the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism and are still prized today for their unique practical application of the bodhisattva’s altruistic ideal in everyday life. One of the most cherished teachings stemming from Atiśa and Dromtönpa is the collection of esoteric oral transmissions enshrined in The Book of Kadam. This volume includes the core texts of the Book of Kadam, notably the twenty-three-chapter dialogue between Atiśa and Dromtönpa that is woven around Atiśa’s Bodhisattva’s Jewel Garland, as well as complementary texts that illuminate the history and practices of the Kadam tradition.
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Approaching the Great Perfection
Dzogchen, the Great Perfection, is the highest meditative practice of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism. Approaching the Great Perfection looks at a seminal figure of this lineage, Jigme Lingpa, an eighteenth-century scholar and meditation master whose cycle of teachings, the Longchen Nyingtig, has been handed down through generations as a complete path to enlightenment. Ten of Jigme Lingpa’s texts are presented here, along with extensive analysis by van Schaik of a core tension within Buddhism: Does enlightenment develop gradually, or does it come all at once? Though these two positions are often portrayed by modern scholars as entrenched polemical views, van Schaik explains that both tendencies are present within each of the Tibetan Buddhist schools. He demonstrates how Jigme Lingpa is a great illustration of this balancing act, using the rhetoric of both sides to propel his students along the path of the Great Perfection.
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