Stages of the Buddha’s Teachings


Three Key Texts

Gampopa Sakya Pandita Dölpa Ulrike Roesler Ken Holmes David P. Jackson

Runner-up for 2017 Shantarakshita Award for Excellence in Translation from the Tsadra Foundation

The “stages of the teachings” or tenrim genre of Tibetan spiritual writing expounds the Mahayana Buddhist teachings as a systematic progression, from the practices required at the start of the bodhisattva’s career to the final perfect awakening of buddhahood. The texts in the present volume each exerted seminal influence in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The first text, The Blue Compendium, presents the instructions of the Kadam teacher Potowa (1027/31–1105) as recorded by his student Dölpa (1059–1131). This verse work is followed by Gampopa’s (1079–1153) revered Ornament of Precious Liberation, which remains the most authoritative text on the path to enlightenment within the Kagyü school with its extensive quotations from the Indian scriptures. The final selection is Clarifying the Sage’s Intent, a masterwork by the preeminent sage of the Sakya tradition, Sakya Paṇḍita (1182–1251).

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book information
  • Hardcover
  • 816 pages, 6.25 x 9.25 inches
  • $59.95
  • ISBN 9780861714490
  • ebook
  • 816 pages
  • $34.99
  • ISBN 9780861717989
about the author
Stages of the Buddha’s Teachings

“Gampopa, who was also known as Dakpo Rinpoché, was born in 1079 in Dakpo district of central Tibet. He originally trained to be a physician; hence the other common title he is known by, Dakpo Lhajé (“Doctor of Dakpo”). He began his adult life as a married layman and only began intensive religious practice after experiencing the shock of his beloved wife’s sudden death when he was still in his early twenties (ca. 1100). He eventually became one of the foremost disciples of the venerable Milarepa (1040–1123), but only after extensive studies in other traditions. Before meeting Milarepa, he had received full monastic ordination at the age of twenty-five (1104) and had sought out tantric initiations in Lower Dakpo from the master Maryul Loden. He had also studied intensively in Phenyul under masters of the Kadam tradition such as Jayulpa, Nyukrumpa, and Chakri Gongkhawa. Jayulpa (or Jayulwa) Shönu Ö (1075–1138) was a student of Chengawa (one of the above-mentioned “three spiritual brothers,” along with Potowa, who were Dromtönpa’s principal students), and Nyukrumpa was in the lineage of Geshé Naljorpa Chenpo (1015–78). Gampopa sought out Milarepa only later, finally receiving the key instructions from him (especially on “inner heat,” gtum mo) for thirteen months in 1110–11. After meditating for an additional three years, he attained awakening. He tried to return to see his master Milarepa twelve years later (1123), but the master had already passed away. He continued a primarily contemplative life for some years but then began his career as spiritual teacher, which became more and more illustrious with each passing year. Gampopa established the first Kagyü monastery, Daklha Gampo, which attracted a multitude of disciples during his lifetime. It is not for nothing  that virtually the entire Kagyü lineage in Tibet calls itself the Dakpo Kagyü (literally, “teaching lineage of Dakpo”) in his honor. Through him, a discrete lineage composed of a series of secret tantric traditions from India, and limited to a handful of advanced followers, became integrated with the main elements of basic and Mahayana Buddhism, forming the broad and accessible basis of the Kagyü teaching tradition as it is today. This broad-spectrum Buddhism was then nurtured by his four main disciples, and in particular by the Karmapa lineage of reincarnations.”
—from Stages of the Buddha’s Teachings

Other books by Gampopa:
Ornament of Precious Liberation

Stages of the Buddha’s Teachings

Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen (1182–1251) was a renowned scholar and Tibetan statesman who staved off a Mongolian invasion by converting Emperor Godan Khan to Buddhism. A luminary of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism, his peerless erudition stands out even among a tradition known for its scholastic adepts, and many of his works have been bedrock texts for study and practice since the thirteenth century.

Other books by Sakya Pandita:
Clarifying the Sage’s Intent
Ordinary Wisdom

Stages of the Buddha’s Teachings

“Dölpa was a prominent transmitter of the Kadam teachings, is known by several names, including Dölpa Marshurwa, Sherap Gyatso, and simply ‘Spiritual mentor of Döl’ (Geshé Dölpa), after his home region. After studying with a number of teachers, he met the highly influential Kadampa master Potowa Rinchen Sal (1027/31–1105) and stayed with him for twenty-two years. In later years Geshé Dölpa founded his own monastery of Yangang in Döl. The chronicles mention that he had more than a thousand disciples, including the famous Kagyü hierarch Phakmodrupa Dorjé Gyalpo (1110–70).”
—from Stages of the Buddha’s Teachings

Stages of the Buddha’s Teachings

Ulrike Roesler teaches Indian studies at the University of Freiburg in Germany and specializes in the history of the Tibetan Kadampa tradition.

Other books by Ulrike Roesler:
Lives Lived, Lives Imagined

Stages of the Buddha’s Teachings

Ken Holmes studied Tibetan Buddhism in Dharamsala, India, before joining Samye Ling in Scotland, the first Tibetan monastery in the West, in 1970. As the center’s director of studies, Ken spends much of the year teaching at Samye Ling’s branches in Europe and Africa. Previous publications include Maitreya on Buddha Nature, Karmapa, and the novel Tibet or Not Tibet.

Other books by Ken Holmes:
Ornament of Precious Liberation

Stages of the Buddha’s Teachings

David P. Jackson received his doctorate in 1985 from the University of Washington and studied and translated for many years in Seattle for the polymath Tibetan scholar Dezhung Rinpoche. Until 2007, he was a professor of Tibetan Studies at Hamburg University in Germany and is now a curator for Rubin Museum of Art, New York. He is the author of numerous articles and books on Tibetan art, literature, and history, including A Saint in SeattleTibetan Thangka PaintingThe Mollas of Mustang, and Enlightenment by a Single Means. He lives in Washington State.

Other books by David P. Jackson:
Clarifying the Sage’s Intent
A Saint in Seattle

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