Dan Hirshberg is the founder and Executive Director of SŌTERIC Contemplative Training in Boulder, CO. He completed a BA in Religion at Wesleyan University, an MA in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism (Shedra Track) at Naropa University, and a PhD in Tibetan Studies at Harvard University. He has held year-long fellowships at UC Santa Barbara, LMU Munich, and UVa’s Contemplative Sciences Center. Having practiced and studied Buddhist contemplative traditions for nearly three decades, he has traveled extensively throughout Asia and serves as a Karunika (“compassionate” teacher) for Nalandabodhi under the direction of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche. Before moving to Boulder, Dan was an associate professor of religious studies at the University of Mary Washington, where he designed and directed one of the first Contemplative Studies programs for undergrads, established a Japanese-style garden on campus, and led study abroad programs to Nepal and Japan. His research centers on cultural memory, the story of Tibet’s 8th ce. conversion to Buddhism, and the apotheosis of its protagonist, Padmasambhava, in both narrative and iconography. Dan is Visiting Faculty for Tibet Himalaya Initiative at the University of Colorado, Boulder and the Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies Program at Naropa University. He also serves on the Executive Board of the North American Japanese Garden Association and in 2022 was appointed Editor and Chair of its peer-reviewed Journal.
“Nyangrel Nyima Öser (1124–92) is one of the more perplexing figures in Tibet’s cultural history. His importance for being the first to introduce Padmasambhava as the Tibetan culture hero cannot be overestimated, as are the revelatory texts and perhaps also the history of Buddhism in India and Tibet with which he is credited. Yet not much is known about his intellectual and spiritual development. In his splendid study, Hirshberg sums up his importance in the following words: ‘Nyangrel was both the architect of his enlightened identity and the product of his time. He was at once an excavator of Tibet's past and the author of its future.’ Hirshberg's meticulous analyses go a long way in leading us to understand the text-historical issues that beset his hagiography of Padmasambhava and his chronicle of Buddhism. No one engaged in the serious study of Tibetan culture can ignore this masterful work that is destined to change minds.”
—Leonard van der Kuijp, Harvard University
REMEMBERING THE LOTUS-BORN
Padmasambhava in the History of Tibet’s Golden Age
Tibetan and Western scholars alike have long assumed that the Copper Island Biography of Padmasambhava was originally presented as a treasure text (terma). However, investigating the sources of this narrative shows that rather than wholesale invention or simple revelation, the Copper Island was a product of the Tibetan assimilation and innovation of core Indian Buddhist literary traditions. These traditions were well known to Nyangrel, who is renowned as the first of the great Buddhist treasure revealers. Remembering the Lotus-Born takes an unprecedented look at Nyangrel’s work in the Copper Island, including his contributions to hagiography, reincarnation theory, treasure recovery, and historiography.
Drawing all these threads together, it concludes by comparing all the available versions of Nyangrel’s Padmasambhava narrative to challenge long-held assumptions and clarify its origin and transmission.
It received an Honorable Mention from the E. Gene Smith Book Prize Competition in 2018 by the Association of Asian Studies.
Learn more about the Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism series.
- 470 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 inches
- ISBN 9781614292319
- 470 pages
- ISBN 9781614292463
Kālacakra and the Tibetan Calendar
Kālacakra and the Tibetan Calendar describes the contents of current Tibetan almanacs, from the most basic mathematics to the symbolic and historical information they contain. Essential for understanding the Kālacakra Tantra’s first chapter, it traces and describes the origin of the calendrical systems in the Kālacakra Tantra, and it translates and elucidates the key relevant sections from the famous commentary to this Tantra, the Vimalaprabhā.
The main calendars in use in Tibet today have remained unchanged since the fifteenth century, when lamas in several different traditions tried to make sense of the calculation systems they had inherited from India, and to adjust them to remove increasingly obvious errors in their results. This book analyzes the main systems that survive today, assessing their accuracy and comparing them with the methods described in the original Tantra.
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.
“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.