Dr. Karen Derris is a scholar of South and Southeast Asian Buddhist traditions and professor of religious studies at the University of Redlands. Her research focuses on the intersection of literature and feminist ethics in pre-modern Buddhist traditions, particularly focusing upon the central importance of community in Buddhist ethical and spiritual development. Dr. Derris received her PhD from the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard University in 2000.
“Karen Derris writes of her journey through life, cancer, and facing death with such eloquence in Storied Companions. Often paired with Buddhist narratives, she tells how living with an open heart is possible even when living with a terminal illness. This is a touching and inspirational book.”
—Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Change
“This book holds an astonishing combination of hard reality with visionary light and love. Neither cancels out the other. The result is a gift to its readers, teaching us how to see our own reality, whatever that might be; teaching us how to place ourselves directly into stories of great profundity from Buddhist tradition; and teaching us how to read our own life stories through the lucid lens of honesty with which Derris tells us hers. This is a book of great compassion and clarity.”—Janet Gyatso, Hershey Professor of Buddhist Studies Harvard Divinity School
“In the right hands, Buddhist narratives can offer us abundant and consequential lessons about how to live and how to die. After reading this nuanced, layered, tender, and courageous book, we are left feeling profound gratitude. Because of Karen Derris’s deep practice of reading and re-telling Buddhist stories, we can clearly sense that she is ‘looking over her shoulder,’ extending to us her hand, and encouraging us to orientate our lives by love rather than by fear. This is an amazing gift, one beyond measure.”—Jan Willis, author of Dreaming Me; Black, Baptist, and Buddhist and Dharma Matters: Women, Race, and Tantra
“There are many miracles in Karen Derris’s life. Not the least of which is this shimmering memoir. Reading the life story of this smart, compassionate scholar and writer, as intellectually bold as she is physically courageous, I learned how the great Buddhist stories reflect and intermingle with the most profound human experiences. This is a book about love in its infinite manifestations. In the face of daunting circumstances, Derris’s voice is sweet and strong, an aria of benevolence. Reading Storied Companions made me want to be a better person.”
—Leslie Brody, author of Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author of Harriet the Spy
Cancer, Trauma, and Discovering Guides for Living in Buddhist Narratives
“With my diagnosis of grade IV brain cancer, I no longer observe the truth of impermanence from a critical, analytical distance. I am crashing into it, or it into me.”
Facing a terminal cancer diagnosis, Karen Derris—professor, mother, and Buddhist practitioner—instinctually turned to books. By rereading ancient Buddhist stories with fresh questions and a new purpose in mind, she discovered evolving ways to make them immediate and real. Storied Companions interweaves Karen’s memoir of her lived experiences of trauma and terminal illness with stories from Buddhist literary traditions, sharing with the reader how she found ways to live fully even with the reality that she won’t live as long as she needs—or wants.
Using her knowledge, practice, and imagination, Karen illustrates how placing yourself within narratives can turn them from distant and static sources into companions, and from companions into guides. Reading along with her, you’ll realize how this practice of reading and these ancient narratives can help us come to terms with impermanence, develop empathy and compassion, and realize our own interconnectedness.
Honest, powerful, and insightful, Storied Companions itself becomes an invaluable companion, guiding the reader to discover new ways of facing and experiencing life, death, and impermanence.
- 216 pages, 6 x 9 inches
- ISBN 9781614295754
- 216 pages
- ISBN 9781614295990
Realizing the Profound View
The eighth volume in the Dalai Lama’s definitive and bestselling Library of Wisdom and Compassion series, and the second of three focusing on emptiness.
In Realizing the Profound View the Dalai Lama presents the analysis and meditations necessary to realize the ultimate nature of reality. With attention to Nāgārjuna’s five-point analysis, Candrakīrti’s seven-point examination, and Pāli suttas, the His Holiness leads us to investigate who or what is the person. Are we our body? Our mind? If we are not inherently either of them, how do we exist, and what carries the karma from one life to the next? As we explore these and other fascinating questions, he skillfully guides us along the path avoiding the chasms of absolutism and nihilism and introduces us to dependent arising. We find that although all persons and phenomena lack an inherent essence, they do exist dependently. This nominally imputed mere I carries the karmic seeds. We discover that all phenomena exist by being merely designated by term and concept—they appear as like illusions, unfindable under ultimate analysis but functioning on the conventional level. Furthermore, we come to understand that emptiness dawns as the meaning of dependent arising, and dependent arising dawns as the meaning of emptiness. The ability to posit subtle dependent arisings in the face of realizing emptiness and to establish ultimate and conventional truths as noncontradictory brings us to the culmination of the correct view.
Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics, Vol. 3
Deepen your understanding of meaning and truth with the third volume of the Dalai Lama’s esteemed series Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics.
In this third volume the focus turns to exploring the philosophical schools of India. The practice of presenting the views of various schools of philosophy dates back to the first millennium in India, when proponents of competing traditions would arrange the diverse sets of philosophical positions in a hierarchy culminating in their own school’s superior tenets. Centuries later, relying on the Indian Buddhist treatises, Tibet developed its own tradition of works on tenets (grub mtha’), often centered on the four schools of Buddhist philosophy, using them to demonstrate the philosophical evolution within their own tradition, and within individual practitioners, as they progressed through increasingly more subtle expressions of the true reality.
The present work follows in this venerable tradition, but with a modern twist. Like its predecessors, it presents the views of seven non-Buddhist schools, those of the Samkhya, Vaisesika, Nyaya, Mimamsa, Vedanta, Jaina, and Lokayata, followed by the Buddhist Vaibhasika, Sautrantika, Cittamatra, and Madhyamaka schools, arranging them like steps on a ladder to the profound. But rather than following in the sharply polemical approach of its ancient predecessors, it strives to survey each tradition authentically, relying on and citing the texts sacred to each, allowing the different traditions to speak for themselves. What, it asks, are the basic components of the world we experience? What is the nature of their ultimate reality? And how can we come to experience that for ourselves? See how the rich spiritual traditions of India approached these key questions, where they agreed, and how they evolved through dialogue and debate.
This presentation of philosophical schools is introduced by His Holiness and is accompanied by an extensive introduction and survey by Professor Donald Lopez Jr. of the University of Michigan, who is uniquely qualified to communicate the scope and significance of this literary and spiritual heritage to modern readers.
Stages of the Path and the Oral Transmission
A major contribution to the literature on Buddhist practice according to the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism from its foremost interpreter.
Although it was the last major school to emerge in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the Geluk school has left an indelible mark on Buddhist thought and practice. The intellectual and spiritual brilliance of its founder, the great Tsongkhapa (1357–1419), has inspired generations of scholars and tantric yogis to place him at the heart of their daily meditative practice. The Geluk tradition’s close ties to the Dalai Lamas have also afforded it an outsized influence in all aspects of Tibetan life for centuries. At its peak, its combined monasteries boasted a population in the tens of thousands, and its sway encompassed the religious landscape of Mongolia and much of Central Asia.
This widespread religious activity fostered a rich literary tradition, and fifteen seminal works are featured here representing four genres of that tradition. The first are works on the stages of the path, or lamrim, the genre for which the Geluk is most renowned. Second are works on guru yoga, centered around the core Geluk ritual Offering to the Guru (Lama Chöpa). Third are teachings from the unique oral transmission of Geluk mahāmudrā, meditation on the nature of mind. Fourth are the “guide to the view” (tatri) instructions. The volume features well-known authors like Tsongkhapa, the First Panchen Lama, and the Fifth Dalai Lama, but also important works from lesser-known figures like Gomchen Ngawang Drakpa’s stages of the path in verse and Gyalrong Tsultrim Nyima’s extensive commentary on the Lama Chöpa that interweaves precious explanations from the Ensa Oral Tradition he received from his own teacher.
Your guide to these riches, Thupten Jinpa, maps out their historical context and spiritual significance in his extensive introduction.
Vasubandhu’s “Three Natures”
In this plain-English commentary on Vasubandhu’s classic Treatise on the Three Natures, Ben Connelly shows the power of integrating early Buddhist psychology with the Mahayana emphasis on collective liberation. You’ll discover how wisdom from fourth-century India can be harnessed to heal and transform systems of harm within ourselves and our communities.
The three natures (svabhavas)—the imaginary, dependent, and complete, realized natures—are inherent aspects of all phenomena. The imaginary nature of things is what we think they are. Their dependent nature is that they appear to arise from countless conditions. The complete, realized nature is that they aren’t as we imagine them to be: things that can be grasped or pushed away. The three natures form the backbone of Yogacara philosophy, and by showing us how to see beyond our preconceived notions of ourselves and others, beyond the things that we’re convinced are “true,” they open up a path to personal and communal healing.
Dive into this empowering approach to freedom from suffering, from harmful personal and social patterns, and to finding peace and joyfulness in the present.
The Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s Stages of the Path
Discover His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s advice for finding happiness, helping others, and applying insights from Buddhist thought to everyday life—for a life of greater harmony, meaning, and joy, for ourselves, others, and in our world.
This first volume of The Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s Stages of the Path shares His Holiness’s teachings on specific topics of vital relevance to contemporary life:
– how kindness and compassion are the foundation for individual happiness and world peace;
– how we can solve manmade problems;
– how Buddhism does not conflict with modern science and can actually contribute to its advancement;
– how gender equality is fundamental for a decent and just society;
– and much more.
His Holiness’s messages on these topics will be of value to all readers, Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. These teachings embody the Dalai Lama’s generous warmth and humor, his expertise in presenting important Buddhist ideas, and his ability to inspire us toward greater kindness and happiness.
Freedom through Correct Knowing
Discover a clear and accessible translation with commentary on key parts of Khedrup Jé’s Clearing Mental Darkness.
Composed at the request of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and with a foreword by His Holiness, this translation with commentary on key parts of Khedrup Jé’s Clearing Mental Darkness: An Ornament of Dharmakirti’s “Seven Treatises on Valid Cognition” is intended for all levels of understanding. You’ll learn how a mind realizes its object, which types of consciousness realize their objects, and when a consciousness is considered to be valid in the sense of realizing its object. Having explained valid cognizers, or direct perceivers, which are essential to understanding the four noble truths, Khedrup Jé goes on to brilliantly elucidate this essential teaching of the Buddha and offers a lucid presentation of how to progress on the spiritual paths of liberation and enlightenment, including how to generate yogic perception directly realizing selflessness. With this, one develops an unmistaken realization of the fundamental reality of selflessness of persons and phenomena, which eliminates ignorance, the root cause of all mental afflictions and samsaric suffering.
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, founder of the Buddhist Digital Resource Center, 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.
Gene Smith’s legacy lives on in the organization he founded in 1999, the Buddhist Digital Resource Center. BDRC’s founding mission was to digitally preserve the entirety of Tibetan Buddhist literature in order to secure it from destruction. In 2015, it expanded its mission to include all Buddhist traditions. More than twenty years later, BDRC has digitized and archived millions of pages of Tibetan, Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese, Khmer and Newari literature. BDRC is dedicated to seeking out, preserving, documenting, and disseminating Buddhist literature. With its text preservation programs, free online library, digital tools for researchers, and hard drive distribution programs, BDRC provides lamas, scholars, translators, Buddhist practitioners, and the general public with access to an unparalleled collection of Buddhist texts.
Calm Breath, Calm Mind
Discover ancient Tibetan breath practices for calming your mind and improving your health in this plain-English guide.
Over millennia, many Eastern traditions have developed practices that use the powerful healing energy of breath to treat physical, emotional, and mental problems. In Chinese, this energy is called chi; in Sanskrit it is called prana; and in Tibetan it is called lung.
Lung is life-giving energy that moves through our bodies. A lack or imbalance of lung can create illnesses of body and mind or cause emotional struggles such as confusion, anger, and sadness. In this book Geshe YongDong Losar, a scholar and monk in the ancient Bön tradition of Tibet, guides us through time-tested practices to help balance our lung. His deep knowledge—garnered through years of study and practice—renders the practices simple and achievable, creating a clear path for us toward greater calmness, strength, and clarity.
“Over and over I have personally witnessed, both in myself and in my students, the breath’s clear potential to heal and deeply transform lives. I truly believe that in the future such practices will play an important role as a medicine for preventing and treating physical, emotional, and mental maladies. I am glad that Geshe YongDong is making these practices widely available, and I’m sure that by doing so, he is bringing benefit to countless lives.”
—from the foreword by Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
Ornament of Dakpo Kagyü Thought
The Mahāmudrā Aspiration Prayer is one of the most brilliant and popular compositions on mahāmudrā. Written in easygoing nine-meter verse, this heartfelt prayer by Rangjung Dorjé lends itself to chanting and ritualized group prayer and is at the same time intricately organized into the most profound and thorough exposition of mahāmudrā, the pinnacle of practice in the Kagyü school of Tibetan Buddhism. The commentary on the prayer by Mendong Tsampa Rinpoché brilliantly illuminates its subtleties, making it even more accessible for the reader, and students and teachers alike will appreciate the inclusion of the Tibetan script on facing pages of the prayer and commentary.
This is a text for encouraging study, for inspiring practice, and for the awakening of the world.
“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.
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.
A Peaceful Piggy’s Guide to Sickness and Death, Sadness and Love
When someone we love gets sick, we little piggies worry! It can feel scary when a person we care about is sick or in a hospital. Luckily, there is one good thing we peaceful piggies can do: meditate.
This is a story about love.
Experiencing a loved one’s illness or death is challenging for both children and their grownups. With three distinct sections to choose from—when someone we love is sick, dying, or has died—this guide will help you easily find soothing and practical mindfulness activities focused on what your young one needs in order to guide them through their big emotions and questions. These practices will help calm and empower children—and their grownups—as they discover they can still be with their loved ones through their heart connection, no matter where they are.
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.