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
The Range of the Bodhisattva, A Mahāyāna Sutra (byang chub sems dpa’i spyod yul)
This is the companion volume to The Range of the Bodhisattva: Introduction and Translation, a critical Tibetan edition of the Mahāyāna Sūtra, the Bodhisattva-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 Shākyamuni Buddha to be a bodhisattva of high attainment. The author’s critical edition synthesizes the readings of five different recensions of the text to produce an edition of the sūtra that runs parallel to the published English translation.
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 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.
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, 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.
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.
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 is also 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.
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.