José Ignacio Cabezón (author of Sexuality in Classical South Asian Buddhism and co-author of Freedom from Extremes) was co-chair of the Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism series from 2005 to 2022. He is XIVth Dalai Lama Professor of Tibetan Buddhism and Cultural Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara. Cabezón studied physics as an undergraduate at Caltech, trained as a monk at Sera Monastery in India, and translated for the Dalai Lama into Spanish on several occasions. He earned his PhD from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1987. He is the author or editor of more than a dozen books on Indo-Tibetan scholasticism, Madhyamaka philosophy, Buddhism and sexuality, and Tibetan ritual. His co-authored Sera Monastery, also published by Wisdom, is a history of one of the great monastic universities of Tibet from its founding to the present. Cabezón served as president of the American Academy of Religion in 2020.
“No great university has ever had its history written so beautifully or so authoritatively. Sera Monastic University is one of the “three seats,” the premier academic institutions in Tibet (now continuing in exile in India). It has produced a staggering number of influential scholars, adepts, and national leaders, and its history is densely interwoven with that of Tibet and the Geluk lineage. In this meticulously researched and elegantly written study, José Cabezón and Penpa Dorjee present a history of a great academic and religious institution, but also undertake a powerful investigation of the role of great institutions of higher education in the formation of national and religious identity, and of the role of academic monasteries in the history and present of Tibet. Not only that, the vibrant prose and absorbing narrative make for compelling reading.”—Jay L. Garfield, Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities, Smith College and the Harvard Divinity School
The definitive history of Sera Monastery, one of the great monastic universities of Tibet, from its founding to the present.
Founded in 1419, Sera Monastery was one of the three densas, the great seats of learning of the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism. With over 9,000 monks in residence in 1959, it was the second largest monastery in the world. Throughout its history, Sera has produced some of Tibet’s most important saints, scholars, and political leaders.
The scholars José Cabezón and Penpa Dorjee begin Sera Monastery with the history of monasticism from the time of the Buddha through its early development in Tibet and then tell the 600-year story of Sera from its founding to the present. They recount how the monastery grew and evolved during the centuries, how it has fared under Chinese rule, and how it was transplanted in the Tibetan refugee camps of South India. We are introduced to some of Sera’s most important lamas and hermits, as well as its curriculum, yearly calendar, the daily life of scholar monks, and the role Sera monks played in the political history of Tibet.
Former Sera monks themselves, Cabezón and Dorjee demonstrate their firsthand knowledge of the monastery, its traditions, and daily life on every page. Scrupulously researched over decades, Sera Monastery is the most comprehensive history of a Tibetan monastery ever written in a Western language.
- 6 x 9 inches
- ISBN 9781614296119
- ISBN 9781614296126
Penpa Dorjee is associate professor and head librarian of Shantarakshita Library of the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, India. He received the acharya degree from Sampurnanada Sanskrit University in Varanasi and his PhD from the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies. He has seventeen books to his credit as author, coauthor, translator, or editor.
Other books by Penpa Dorjee:
Ocean of Attainments
The Blazing Inner Fire of Bliss and Emptiness
Coming soon! This book will be available in May 2024. Enter your name and email below to be notified when this book is available for purchase.
The Blazing Inner Fire of Bliss and Emptiness presents lucid translations of a pair of detailed commentaries by the famed Tibetan tantric master Ngulchu Dharmabhadra (1772–1851), illuminating a set of extremely secret and restricted tantric practices of highest yoga tantra.
The first of these commentaries details the practices of the Six Yogas of Naropa, one of the most celebrated and revered systems of completion-stage practice in Tibet. Dharmabhadra presents the Six Yogas by elaborating upon Lama Tsongkhapa ’s (1357–1419) masterpiece on the subject entitled Endowed with the Three Inspirations, which served as the basis for nearly all subsequent commentaries on the Six Yogas within the Gelug tradition. Ngulchu Dharmabhadra’s commentary is unique in that it presents the Six Yogas within the context of Vajrayogini practice, making this book a perfect companion piece to The Extremely Secret Dakini of Naropa (Wisdom Publications, 2020).
Also contained in this book is Ngulchu Dharmabhadra’s lucid and concise commentary on the First Panchen Lama’s (1570–1662) famous Supplication for Liberation from [Fear of] the Perilous Journey of the Intermediate State. The prayer—a beautiful literary contribution from the First Panchen Lama in its own right—invokes the immediacy of death and the potential to use the process of dying as an opportunity for liberation. The prayer extols the efficacy of the “nine mixings” of the completion stage as direct means of transforming our ordinary death process by using advanced yogas presented in the first commentary on the Six Yogas.
Together, these works present the reader with a vast and profound vision of spiritual transformation—one in which every aspect of human experience can be used as an opportunity for transcendence and spiritual liberation.
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.
The Reason Sixty
Coming soon! This book will be available in August 2024. Enter your name and email below to be notified when this book is available for purchase.
The Reason Sixty: Second Edition presents two key Indian Buddhist philosophical masterpieces that integrate the Buddhist ethos of wisdom and compassion, with their profound relevance to contemporary thought clarified by a renowned scholar of contemplative science.
This volume contains English translations of two critical treatises of the Middle Way (Madhyamaka) Buddhist philosophical school: the Reason Sixty, by the most important of Indian thinkers Nāgārjuna (2nd century CE), and the commentary by his most influential successor, Chandrakīrti (7th century CE). These two treatises emphasize the non-foundationalist reasoning for which Madhyamaka thought is famed, here within the context of that quintessential Buddhist topic, universal compassion, thereby illuminating the nondual nature of these two fundamental components of Indian Buddhist thought. The full import of Nāgārjuna’s verses are brought to life by Chandrakīrti, whose influence in Tibetan Buddhist educational institutions remains profound to the present. Translator Joseph Loizzo, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and Columbia-trained Buddhologist, elucidates the relevance of these two treatises to the linguistic turn in contemporary philosophy and emphasizes their practical, therapeutic possibilities. Comparing in particular the deep resonances between Chandrakīrti’s commentary and Wittgenstein’s later work, Loizzo presents a masterful analysis in cross-cultural thought that highlights the transformative potential of philosophy.
This volume is part of the Treasury of the Buddhist Sciences series, copublished by the American Institute of Buddhist Studies (AIBS) and Wisdom Publications in association with the Columbia University Center for Buddhist Studies and Tibet House US. You can learn more about the series here.
Ocean of Attainments
This commentary on Guhyasamāja tantra is the seminal guide to deity yoga and tantric visualization for the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism.
Ocean of Attainments was composed by Khedrup Jé Gelek Palsang (1385–1438), one of Tsongkhapa Losang Drakpa’s most prominent disciples. Its subject is the creation stage, a quintessential Buddhist tantric meditation that together with the completion stage comprises the path of unexcelled tantra. The Guhyasamāja Tantra, referred to as the “king of all tantras,” is one of the tantras of the unexcelled mantra; it is revered in Tibet, especially by the Geluk school, for its hermeneutic methods, which are in turn applied to other tantras.
In the creation stage, meditators visualize themselves as buddhas at the center of the celestial maṇḍala, surrounded in all directions by male and female bodhisattvas and enlightened beings. Since the core of the practice is visualization, this meditation—perhaps more than other meditations—presumes the creative power of the mind. Visualizations form the basis not only of the creation stage and deity yoga but of all tantric practices and rituals, since tantric practice takes place not in mundane existence but in the illusion-like purity of the enlightened view.
While the previously published Essence of the Ocean of Attainments is a concise manual for practice of the Guhyasmamāja sādhana, Ocean of Attainments is much more detailed, providing extensive scriptural citations, clear explanation of the body maṇḍala, arguments on points of contention, reference to other tantric systems, and critiques of misinterpretations. Complemented by the extensive and clear introduction, this volume is a vital contribution to the growing body of scholarship on Guhyasamāja and on Buddhist tantra in general.
Learn more about the Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism series.
The Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s Stages of the Path, Volume 2
Central to Buddhism is knowing our own minds. Until we do, we are driven by unconscious, often destructive desire and aversion. We couldn’t have a better guide for inner transformation than the Dalai Lama.
The Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s Stages of the Path, Volume 2: An Annotated Commentary on the Fifth Dalai Lama’s Words of Mañjuśrī is the second volume of the Dalai Lama’s outline of Buddhist theory and practice. Having introduced Buddhist ideas in the context of modern society in volume 1, the Dalai Lama turns here to a traditional presentation of the complete path to enlightenment, from developing faith in the Dharma to attaining the highest wisdom. This book, compiled by the revered Tibetan lama Dagyab Rinpoché, comments on the Fifth Dalai Lama’s stages of the path titled Oral Transmission of Mañjuśrī. The volume will appeal to all readers interested in the Dalai Lama’s works, both those new to Buddhism and those looking to deepen their understanding of the Tibetan presentation of the Buddhist path.
Click here to read about His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s achievements.
The Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s Stages of the Path: Volume 1: Guidance for Modern Practitioners is available here.
Reality and Wisdom
Written in a warm and accessible style by one of today’s most respected Tibetan Buddhist masters, Reality and Wisdom leads the reader on a journey of discovery beginning with the very first teachings of the Buddha and into the profound experience of emptiness.
The first section of the book explores the bedrock Buddhist teachings of the four noble truths—insights into freedom from suffering from craving—which underpin all schools of Buddhism. Lama Migmar presents and explores these foundational Buddhist truths with humor and insight, explaining how, from a Mahayana Buddhist perspective, these truths serve as crucial supports for cultivating the transformative wisdom of emptiness.
In the book’s second half, Lama Migmar illuminates the terse and enigmatic lines of the Heart Sutra, perhaps the most studied and revered of all Mahayana Buddhist scriptures. The Heart Sutra presents the reader with a vision of reality as it is perceived by a buddha, a vision underpinned by and infused with the radical flexibility and possibility of emptiness and the engagement and responsiveness of profound compassion.
The clarity, warmth, and vibrancy of Lama Migmar’s writing combined with the comprehensiveness and detail of his presentations of key Buddhist teachings make this book a valuable resource for a range of readers, from beginners to more advanced practitioners seeking to deepen their practice.
Impermanence in Plain English
The bestselling author of Mindfulness in Plain English guides the reader toward a direct and personal realization of one of the foundational tenets of Buddhism: all things that arise must pass away.
Once-youthful bodies grow old and weary. New thoughts, feelings, and sensations arise and fade every second. Impermanence is not some abstract metaphysical idea. This is the Dhamma, and you can see it for yourself.
Drawing from Pali scriptures and writing with fresh, direct language, Bhante Gunaratana and his student Julia Harris highlight the Buddha’s exhortation that we must directly realize for ourselves the liberating insights that free us from suffering and cyclic existence, without relying only on the word of religious authorities or academic or philosophical musings.
Appearing and Empty
In Appearing and Empty the Dalai Lama skillfully reveals the Prāsaṅgikas’ view of the ultimate nature of reality so that we will gain the correct view of emptiness, the selflessness of both persons and phenomena, and have the means to eliminate our own and others’ duḥkha.
In this last of three volumes on emptiness, the Dalai Lama takes us through the Sautrāntika, Yogācāra, and Svātantrika views on the ultimate nature of reality and the Prāsaṅgikas’ thorough responses to these, so that we gain the correct view of emptiness—the selflessness of both persons and phenomena. This view entails negating inherent existence while also being able to establish conventional existence: emptiness does not mean nothingness. We then learn how to meditate on the correct view by cultivating pristine wisdom that is the union of serenity and insight as taught in the Pāli, Chinese, and Tibetan traditions. Such meditation, when combined with the altruistic intention of bodhicitta, leads to the complete eradication of all defilements that obscure our minds. This volume also introduces us to the tathāgatagarbha—the buddha essence—and how it is understood in both Tibet and China. Is it permanent? Does everyone have it? In addition, the discussion of sudden and gradual awakening in Zen (Chan) Buddhism and in Tibetan Buddhism is fascinating.
Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics, Vol. 4
This fourth and final Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics volume provides, through extensive passages, a window into the works of the great thinkers from the flowering of philosophy in classical India.
This is the second philosophy volume in the Science and Philosophy series. Whereas the first philosophy volume presented the views of the non-Buddhist and Buddhist schools in sequence, the present works selects specific topics for consideration, including the nature of the two truths, the analysis of self, the Yogacara explanation of reality, emptiness in the Madhyamaka tradition, a survey of logic and epistemology, and the Buddhist explanation of language and meaning. Like earlier volumes, it provides, through extensive extracts, a window into the works of the masters of the Nalanda tradition. The final section on language is particularly unique and largely crafted by Thupten Jinpa.
Explore the entire series here.
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 are Tsongkhapa’s Middle-Length Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment and The Swift Path, translated by Szegee Toh.
Now in Paperback!
An accessible, inspiring book on one of the most important topics in Tibetan Buddhism, written by one of its renowned masters who has an international following of thousands.
Bodhichitta is a Sanskrit word meaning “the mind of enlightenment” or “the awakening mind”—the mind that wishes to achieve enlightenment in order to lead all other beings into that same state. It is the attitude of the bodhisattva, of the person who makes the compassionate vow to save others from suffering. In this book, the renowned teacher Lama Zopa Rinpoche shows us how to achieve it.
First, Lama Zopa gives a clear and comprehensive explanation of bodhichitta, its benefits, and its importance to the path. Then, he walks us through the two main methods for achieving bodhichitta: the seven points of cause and effect, and equalizing and exchanging self and others. Finally, the book closes with meditation instructions to guide and strengthen our practice.
Readers will find Bodhichitta to be a comprehensive guide to this core Buddhist principle, one rich in both accessible philosophical explanation and concrete advice for practitioners.
How to Face Death without Fear
“Helping our loved ones at the time of death is the best service we can offer them, our greatest gift. Why? Because death is the most important time of life: it’s at death that the next rebirth is determined.”—Lama Zopa Rinpoche
For years Lama Zopa Rinpoche envisioned a practical book to inform students of how to help loved ones have a beneficial death. How to Face Death without Fear has been compiled from years of Rinpoche’s teachings and has been lovingly edited by Venerable Robina Courtin.
Rinpoche provides detailed advice on how to help your loved ones prepare for the end of their life with courage, acceptance, and a mind free of fear. With great care, he explains what to do in the months, weeks, and days before death, how to handle the moment itself, what to do after the breath has stopped, and finally, what to do after the mind has left the body. Rinpoche provides the mantras, prayers, and meditations appropriate for each stage. This new edition of Rinpoche’s modern classic How to Enjoy Death makes it easy for the reader to find the right practice at the right time.
This handbook is an essential reference for Tibetan Buddhist caregivers, hospice workers, and chaplains. But, as Rinpoche points out, it is not only for people who work with the dying; it is education we all need.
You’ll find solace in this wealth of advice, and you’ll also gain the confidence to ensure that your loved one’s death—and your own—will be joyful and meaningful.
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 their lessons for the modern reader, including:
- overcoming anger,
- accepting suffering,
- and 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
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
Dear Lama Zopa
Unconventional wisdom, affirmation, and advice from one of Tibetan Buddhism’s most influential living teachers.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche was a master at explaining Buddhism’s radical but effective methods for transforming suffering into happiness, which have been practiced and taught by Tibetans for a thousand years. It’s a challenging way to think—how can it be that the things that cause us pain are actually blessings?
In Dear Lama Zopa, Rinpoche applies that challenge to our everyday, real-life problems—from the littlest to the biggest. Every year he received thousands of letters from people around the world asking for advice—on coping with everything from addiction, grief, and depression, to war, terrorism, and death.
In his detailed and deeply caring responses to these letters, reproduced here, Rinpoche shows again and again that the best method for solving our problems is to radically change the way we perceive them; that by emphasizing their inner causes we can even change the resulting outer circumstances.
Even people familiar with notions like karma and reincarnation, which imply that we are the creators of our own experiences, may find the advice difficult. Yet uncountable thousands of people of all backgrounds have put Rinpoche’s loving guidance into practice—and have seen real and positive change in their lives. Now, with Dear Lama Zopa, you can see for yourself…
The Four Noble Truths
The Four Noble Truths begins with an excellent elucidation of the nature of the mind and its role in creating the happiness we all seek. Lama Zopa Rinpoche then turns to an in-depth analysis of the four truths. The first truth is that we are suffering because we are in cyclic existence, or samsara, the beginningless cycle of death and rebirth characterized by three types of suffering: the suffering of suffering, the suffering of change, and pervasive compounding suffering. These are not inflicted on us without cause, nor do they come from others. The second truth tells us that there is a cause for all this suffering—the delusions and karma that arise from the ignorance that fails to see the way in which things exist. Because there is a cause and because we can develop the wisdom realizing emptiness, the antidote to ignorance, we are able to actualize the third truth, the cessation of suffering. How we do that is explained in the fourth truth, the path to the cessation of suffering.
The Door to Satisfaction
In Door to Satisfaction Lama Zopa Rinpoche reveals a text he discovered in a cave in the Himalayas that captures the essential point of Buddhist training. Rinpoche says, “Only when I read this text did I come to know what the practice of Dharma really means.”
Without proper motivation, it does not matter what we do. Whether reciting prayers, meditating, or enduring great hardships, if our actions are devoid of good intention they will not become Dharma practice. Proper motivation transcends our ordinary, ephemeral desires and ultimately seeks the happiness of all living beings. “In your life,” says Rinpoche, “there is nothing to do other than to work for others, to cherish others. There is nothing more important in your life than this.”
This powerful, simple message applies to Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike—we all have the power to unlock our greatest potential. Open this book and open the door to a timeless path leading to wisdom and joy.
We experience illness on a physical level, but in order to be healed, we must understand where true healing begins: within our hearts and minds. In Ultimate Healing, internationally renowned meditation master Lama Zopa Rinpoche helps us to recognize the root of illness and gives us the tools to create our future happiness. Beginning with stories of people who have recovered from disease through meditation, Rinpoche addresses the central role played by karma and by the mental habit of “labeling” in causing illness, and shows how meditation and other thought techniques for developing compassion and insight can eliminate the ultimate cause of all disease.
Ultimate Healing shows us that by transforming our minds, especially through the development of compassion, we can eliminate the ultimate cause of all disease. In addition to relating stories of people who have recovered from disease through meditation, Lama Zopa presents practical healing meditations, including white-light healing, compassion meditation, “taking and giving”, and techniques to cure depression.
With the right perspective, our anxiety around sickness, old age, and death can be a “wholesome fear”—a fear with a positive quality that ultimately enriches and nourishes our lives. Lama Zopa Rinpoche shows us how we can use our anxiety as a high-octane fuel to really live what’s most important. Alongside Rinpoche’s teachings, Kathleen McDonald presents meditations that lead to peace, compassion, and joy for ourselves and others. Approaching our physical realities in this way will help us to live well and, when the time comes as it inevitably will, to die well too. It’s never too early to start making this most important of efforts—and, fortunately, it is never too late. An essential guide for anyone confronting the challenges of death and dying, Wholesome Fear serves as a reminder of the gift and truth of impermanence.
Tibet’s Buddhist monasteries were deeply embedded in the life of the nation, encompassing the religious, the educational, the political, the economic, and the diplomatic. Their centrality has not been fully explained, until now. In this groundbreaking work, José Cabezón and Penpa Dorjee trace the history of Sera—the great monastery just a few miles from the Potala—from its Indian antecedents, to its founding, to its centuries of influence, to its struggle under Chinese occupation, to its renaissance in exile. There is no other work in a European language that explores Buddhist monastic life in such fascinating detail.
Donald Lopez, Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies, University of Michigan
This wonderful work bears witness to one of the most important aspects of Tibetan tradition, its high monastic culture. By examining in detail Sera Monastery, Cabezón and Dorjee provide a unique perspective on the life and culture of a Tibetan monk in premodern Tibet and an excellent description of a distinctive institution. Their account is all the more convincing in that they locate the remarkable culture of Tibetan scholasticism within the trajectory of the history of Buddhist monasticism, thus providing not just a view of the daily monastic routine but also an in-depth understanding of its singular intellectual achievements. Not limiting themselves to the cultural and intellectual aspects of Sera monastery, they also carefully lay out its history and the place that it has played in the real world of Tibetan politics. A wonderful book to immerse oneself in the world of traditional Tibet.
Georges Dreyfus, Jackson Professor of Religion, Williams College
Sera Monastery is an exceedingly important and authoritative source for both Western and Tibetan students and scholars. Cabezón and Dorjee have long standing personal and professional ties to the monastery, giving them all the necessary credentials to write this important book, which opens up for the reader the world of Tibetan Buddhist higher education both in Tibet and in exile.
Yangsi Rinpoche, president, Maitripa College