José Ignacio Cabezón is XIVth Dalai Lama Professor of Tibetan Buddhism and Cultural Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara. He studied physics as an undergraduate at Caltech, trained as a monk at Sera Monastery in India, translated for the Dalai Lama into Spanish, and in 1987 earned his PhD from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Before coming to Santa Barbara, he was on the faculty of the Iliff School of Theology in Denver from 1989–2001. Cabezón is the author or editor of a dozen books and many more articles on various aspects of Tibetan religion and religious studies, with research interests as diverse as Madhyamaka philosophy, Buddhism and sex, and Tibetan ritual. His latest publication, the Sera Project, is a peer-reviewed database of essays, over 1400 images, and an interactive map of Sera Monastery in Lhasa, Tibet.
“Over a distinguished career, José Cabezón has produced a range of studies that have enriched and broadened our knowledge of the Buddhist tradition. Here, in what will be regarded as his most important work, he masterfully explores the multiple worlds of Buddhist sexuality. A learned combination of compendium and critique, this book immediately becomes the standard work to which all readers will turn.”—Donald Lopez, University of Michigan
“A tour de force! The book bravely engages its subject in a way that prevents us from imposing our contemporary understandings of sexuality onto ancient ideas while also analyzing what Buddhist texts can offer to modern-day conversations on such themes as the purpose and origins of sex, the nature of sexual desire, gender and biological sex, sexual deviance, sexual ethics, celibacy, and much more.”— Sara McClintock, Emory University
SEXUALITY IN CLASSICAL SOUTH ASIAN BUDDHISM
In this extremely readable book, Jose Cabezon, the XIVth Dalai Lama Professor at the University of California Santa Barbara, takes us on a tour-de-force journey through Buddhist literature. More than twenty-five years in the making, this detailed sourcebook on the depiction of sexual identity, desire, restriction, and deviance in the classical South Asian traditions is filled with both engaging translations and original and provocative analysis. Cabezón speaks not as a distant observer but from within the tradition as a Buddhist “theologian,” keeping the material relevant to the modern reader, but he does so with a steady and unsentimental gaze. His knowledge is so broad that he is able to marshal an incredible array of scriptures, legal texts, and philosophical treatises that will be of immense interest not only to scholars of both Buddhism and gender studies but also to lay readers who want to learn more about traditional Buddhist attitudes toward sex. This singular book will stand as a landmark in the field for many years to come.
- 632 pages, 6.25 x 9.25 inches
- ISBN 9781614293507
- 632 pages
- ISBN 9781614293682
Sounds of Innate Freedom
Sounds of Innate Freedom: The Indian Texts of Mahāmudrā are historic volumes containing many of the first English translations of classic mahāmudrā 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 Mahāmudrā 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.
This first volume in publication contains the majority of songs of realization, consisting of dohās (couplets), vajragītis (vajra songs), and caryāgītis (conduct songs), all lucidly expressing the inexpressible. These songs offer readers a feast of profound and powerful pith instructions uttered by numerous male and female mahasiddhas, yogīs, 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 in meditation, will open doors to spiritual experience for us today just as it has for countless practitioners in the past.
The Esoteric Community Tantra with The Illuminating Lamp
This volume is a translation of the first twelve chapters of The Glorious Esoteric Community Great King of Tantras (Śrī Guhyasamāja Mahā-tantra-rāja), along with the commentary called The Illuminating Lamp (Pradīpoddyotana-nāma-ṭīkā), a commentary in Sanskrit on this tantra by the seventh-century Buddhist intellectual and tantric scholar-adept Chandrakīrti. Regarded by Indo-Tibetan tradition as the esoteric scripture wherein the Buddha revealed in greatest detail the actual psycho-physical process of his enlightenment, The Esoteric Community Tantra is a preeminent text of the class of scriptures known to Indian Buddhist scholar-adepts as great yoga tantra, and later to their Tibetan successors as unexcelled yoga tantra. The Illuminating Lamp presents a system of interpretive guidelines according to which the cryptic meanings of all tantras might be extracted in order to engage the ritual and yogic practices taught therein. Applying its interpretive strategies to the text of The Esoteric Community Tantra, The Illuminating Lamp articulates a synthetic, “vajra vehicle” (vajrayāna) discourse that locates tantric practices and ideals squarely within the cosmological and institutional frameworks of exoteric Mahāyāna Buddhism.
Illuminating the Intent
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This work is perhaps the most influential explanation of Candrakirti’s seventh-century classic Entering the Middle Way (Madhyamakavatara).
Written as a supplement to Nagarjuna’s Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way, Candrakirti’s text integrates the central insight of Nagarjuna’s thought—the rejection of any metaphysical notion of intrinsic existence—with the well-known Mahayana framework of the ten levels of the bodhisattva, and it became the most studied presentation of Madhyamaka thought in Tibet.
Completed the year before the author’s death, Tsongkhapa’s exposition of Candrakirti’s text is recognized by the Tibetan tradition as the final standpoint of Tsongkhapa on many philosophical questions, particularly the clear distinctions it draws between the standpoints of the Madhyamaka and Cittamatra schools.
Written in exemplary Tibetan, Tsongkhapa’s work presents a wonderful marriage of rigorous Madhyamaka philosophical analysis with a detailed and subtle account of the progressively advancing mental states and spiritual maturity realized by sincere Madhyamaka practitioners.
The work remains the principal textbook for the study of Indian Madhyamaka philosophy in many Tibetan monastic colleges, and it is a principal source for many Tibetan teachers seeking to convey the intricacies of Madhyamaka philosophy to non-Tibetan audiences.
Though it is often cited and well known, this is the first full translation of this key work in a Western language.
The 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
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.