A complete translation of Asanga’s classic work on the distinguishing qualities of bodhisattvas that describes how to awaken, develop, and perfect the mind of enlightenment in the Great Vehicle, or Mahayana, Buddhist tradition.
Arya Asanga, famous for having been the conduit through which the teachings contained in the Five Texts of Maitreya were received and recorded, is also considered to be the author in his own right of several other foundational works of Yogācāra philosophy. One of these, considered the definitive text of the Yogācāra school of Buddhism, is the encyclopedic synthesis of Mahayana Buddhist doctrines and practices known as the Yogācārabhūmi, or “Stages of Spiritual Practice.” The Bodhisattvabhūmi, or “Stages of the Bodhisattva Path,” is one portion of that massive work, though it is considered a stand-alone text in the Tibetan traditions–for example, it is counted among the six core texts of the Kadampas. However, despite the text’s centrality to the Yogācāra school and its seminal importance in the Tibetan traditions, it has remained unavailable in English except in piecemeal translations; Engle’s translation will therefore be especially welcomed by scholars and students alike.
A new translation of the primary Indian Buddhist text on buddha nature, with Tibetan commentaries explaining how this text can be used to contemplate and realize one’s own buddha nature.
”Buddha nature” (tathāgatagarbha) is the innate potential in all living beings to become a fully awakened buddha. This book discusses a wide range of topics connected with the notion of buddha nature as presented in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism and includes an overview of the sūtra sources of the tathāgatagarbha teachings and the different ways of explaining the meaning of this term. It includes new translations of the Maitreya treatise Mahāyānottaratantra (Ratnagotravibhāga), the primary Indian text on the subject, its Indian commentaries, and two (hitherto untranslated) commentaries from the Tibetan Kagyü tradition. Most important, the translator’s introduction investigates in detail the meditative tradition of using the Mahāyānottaratantra as a basis for Mahāmudrā instructions and the Shentong approach. This is supplemented by translations of a number of short Tibetan meditation manuals from the Kadampa, Kagyü, and Jonang schools that use the Mahāyānottaratantra as a work to contemplate and realize one’s own buddha nature.
This 14th century lively history introduces basic Buddhism as practiced throughout India and Tibet and describes the process of entering the Buddhist path through study and reflection. In the first chapter, we read about the structure of Buddhist education and the range of its subjects, and we’re treated to a rousing litany of the merits of such instruction. In the second chapter, Butön introduces us to the buddhas of our world and eon, three of whom have already lived, taught, and passed into transcendence, before examining in detail the fourth, our own Buddha Shakyamuni. Butön tells the story of Shakyamuni in his past lives, then presents the path the Buddha followed (the same that all historical buddhas, including future ones, must follow). Only at the conclusion of the discussion of the result—enlightenment—do we return to the specific case of the Buddha and his twelve deeds. This marks the start of the history of the Buddha as most of us imagine it.
After the Buddha’s story, Butön recounts three compilations of Buddhist scriptures, and then quotes from sacred texts that foretell the lives and contributions of great Indian Buddhist masters, which he then relates. The chapter concludes with the tale of the Buddhist doctrine’s eventual demise and disappearance, a concept and a tale squarely within the Mahayana. The final chapter, the shortest of the three, gives an account of the inception and spread of Buddhism in Tibet, focused mainly on the country’s kings and early adopters of the foreign faith. The watershed debate at Samyé Monastery between representatives of Chinese and Indian styles of Buddhist practice is given the most attention in this chapter. An afterword by Ngawang Zangpo, one of the translators, discusses and contextualizes Butön’s exemplary life, his turbulent times, and his prolific works.
Fear, anger, and negativity are states that each of us have to contend with. Machik’s Complete Explanation, the most famous book of the teachings of Machik Lapdrön, the great female saint and yogini of eleventh- to twelfth-century Tibet, addresses these issues in a practical, direct way.
Machik developed a system, the Mahamudra Chöd, that takes the Buddha’s teachings as a basis and applies them to the immediate experiences of negative mind states and malignant forces. Her unique feminine approach is to invoke and nurture the very “demons” that we fear and hate, transforming those reactive emotions into love. It is the tantric version of developing compassion and fearlessness, a radical method of cutting through ego-fixation.
This expanded edition includes Machik Lapdrön’s earliest known teaching, the original source text for the tradition, The Great Bundle of Precepts on Severance (Chöd). This pithy set of instructions reveals that the teachings of the perfection of wisdom are the true inspiration for Chöd. It is beautifully clarified in a short commentary by Rangjung Dorje, the Third Karmapa.
Maitreya’s Distinction between Phenomena and the Nature of Phenomena distinguishes the illusory phenomenal world of saṃsāra produced by the confused dualistic mind from the ultimate reality that is mind’s true nature. The transition from the one to the other is the process of “mining for wisdom within delusion.” Maitreya’s text calls this “the fundamental change,” which refers to the vanishing of delusive appearances through practicing the path, thus revealing the underlying changeless nature of these appearances. In this context, the main part of the text consists of the most detailed explanation of nonconceptual wisdom—the primary driving force of the path as well as its ultimate result—in Buddhist literature.
The introduction of the book discusses these two topics (fundamental change and nonconceptual wisdom) at length and shows how they are treated in a number of other Buddhist scriptures. The three translated commentaries, by Vasubandhu, the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, and Gö Lotsāwa, as well as excerpts from all other available commentaries on Maitreya’s text, put it in the larger context of the Indian Yogācāra School and further clarify its main themes. They also show how this text is not a mere scholarly document, but an essential foundation for practicing both the sūtrayāna and the vajrayāna and thus making what it describes a living experience. The book also discusses the remaining four of the five works of Maitreya, their transmission from India to Tibet, and various views about them in the Tibetan tradition.
Providing a rare glimpse of feminine Buddhist history, Niguma, Lady of Illusion brings to the forefront the life and teachings of a mysterious eleventh-century Kashmiri woman who became the source of a major Tibetan Buddhist practice lineage. The circumstances of her life and extraordinary qualities ascribed to her are analyzed in the greater context of spiritual biography and Buddhist doctrine. More than a historical presentation, Niguma’s story raises the question of women as real spiritual leaders versus male images of feminine principle and other related contemporary issues. This volume includes the thirteen works that have been attributed to Niguma in the Tibetan Buddhist canon. These collected works form the basis of an ancient lineage Shangpa, which continues to be actively studied and practiced today. These works include the source verses for such esoteric practices as the Six Yogas, the Great Seal, and the Chakrasamvara and Hevajra tantric practices that are widespread in Tibetan traditions. Also included is the only extant biography, which is enhanced by the few other sources of information on her life and work.
The Buddha from Dölpo is a revised and enlarged edition of the only book about the most controversial Buddhist master in the history of Tibet, Dölpopa Sherab Gyaltsen (1292–1361), who became perhaps the greatest Tibetan expert of the Kalacakra or Wheel of Time, a vast system of tantric teachings. Based largely on esoteric Buddhist knowledge from the legendary land of Shambhala, Dölpopa’s insights have profoundly influenced the development of Tibetan Buddhism for more than 650 years. Dölpopa emphasized two contrasting definitions of the Buddhist theory of emptiness. He described relative phenomena as empty of self-nature, but absolute reality as only empty of other (i.e. relative) phenomena. He further identified absolute reality as the buddha nature or eternal essence present in all living beings. This view of an “emptiness of other,” known in Tibetan as shentong, is Dölpopa’s enduring legacy. The Buddha from Dölpo contains the only English translations of three of Dölpopa’s crucial works. A General Commentary on the Doctrine is one of the earliest texts in which he systematically presented his view of the entire Buddhist path to enlightenment. The Fourth Council and its Autocommentary (which was not in the first edition of this book) were written at the end of his life and represent a final summation of his teachings. These translations are preceded by a detailed discussion of Dölpopa’s life, his revolutionary ideas, earlier precedents for the shentong view, his unique use of language, and the influence of his theories. The fate of his Jonang tradition, which was censored by the central Tibetan government in the seventeenth century but still survives, is also examined.
The Inner Science of Buddhist Practice contains translations of texts by two historically important Indian Buddhist scholars: Vasubhandhu’s “Summary of the Five Heaps” and Sthiramati’s commentary on Vasubandhu’s root text. These works present the traditional Buddhist analysis of ordinary experience and provide rich resources for studying Buddhist and Western interpretations of the psychology of spiritual development. According to Buddhist doctrine, the mind of an ordinary person even at birth holds deeply ingrained predispositions that lead us to perceive the elements of everyday experience mistakenly and to believe, for instance, that entities persist through time that the pleasures we pursue are genuinely satisfying, that our own personal being is governed by a real self, and that all physical and mental phenomena have a distinct, independent, and real essence. Our everyday language only serves to reinforce and deepen these erring notions. Buddhist teaching reveals how to reject these flawed beliefs and replace them with a model that both more accurately represents our experience and is indispensable to the realizations that will free us from cyclic existence. The ability to accomplish this rests largely with learning the unique vocabulary and explanations found in Buddhist literature, since that is how we will discover what is mistaken about our untutored beliefs and where we will gain the intellectual skills that are needed to construct a new and more refined conceptual infrastructure. Engle’s introduction explores how the material contained in the two translations can specifically improve practice of the Tibetan teaching system known as Lamrim, or Stages of the Path. Each of the levels of motivation described by the Lamrim teachings is examined in light of the doctrine of the five heaps—form, feeling, conception, formations, and consciousness—to show how greater understanding of the classical Buddhist doctrines can enhance practice of that portion of the instruction.
King of the Empty Plain is familiar to every Tibetan yet nearly unknown in the rest of the world. Tangtong Gyalpo’s incredible lifespan, profound teachings, unprecedented engineering feats, eccentric deeds, and creation of Tibetan opera have earned this fascinating figure a unique status in Tibetan culture. Believed to be the great Indian master Padmasambhava appearing again in the world to benefit living beings, he discovered techniques for achieving longevity that are still held in highest esteem and are frequently taught six hundred years later. His construction of fifty-eight iron suspension bridges, sixty wooden bridges, 118 ferries, 111 stupa monuments, and countless temples and monasteries in Tibet and Bhutan remains an awe-inspiring accomplishment.
This book is a detailed study of the life and legacy of this great master. An extensive introduction discusses Tangtong Gyalpo’s Dharma traditions, the question of his amazing longevity, his “crazy” activities manifested to enhance his own realization and to benefit others, and his astonishing engineering and architectural achievements. The book includes a complete translation of the most famous Tibetan biography of Tangtong Gyalpo, as well as the Tibetan text and English translation of a unique early manuscript describing his miraculous death. The text is further enriched with ten color plates and seventy-seven black-and-white illustrations.
Dudjom Rinpoche was one of the seminal figures in Tibetan Buddhism in the twentieth century, yet very few of his religious writings have been translated into English. This volume contains a generous selection of his inspiring teachings and writings, the core of which is a lengthy discussion of the entire path of Dzogchen, including key instructions on view, meditation, and conduct, along with direct advice on how to bring one’s experiences onto the path.
Also included in this book in their entirety are the oral instructions, tantric songs, and songs of realization from His Holiness’s Collected Works, along with a generous selection of the aspiration and supplication prayers.
Throughout history awakened ones have celebrated the rapture of mystical states with inspired verse sung extemporaneously. This book offers a rare glimpse into the mysticism of the Shangpa Kagyu lineage a tradition based mainly on the profound teaching of two women. This compendium of spontaneous verse sung by tantric Buddhist masters from the 10th century to the present includes translations as well as short descriptions of each poet’s life and a historical overview of the lineage.
Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Taye (1813–1899) was one of the most influential figures and prolific writers in the Tibetan Buddhist world. He was a founder and the single most important proponent of the nonsectarian movement that flourished in eastern Tibet and remains popular today. Two additional texts discuss his previous lives and recount Kongtrul’s final days. The Autobiography of Jamgön Kongtrul is part of The Tsadra Foundation Series published by Snow Lion Publications.
To Tibetan Buddhists, Guru Rinpoche is a Buddha. This book recounts Guru Rinpoche’s historic visit to Tibet and explains his continuing significance to Buddhists. In doing so, it illustrates how a country whose powerful armies overran the capital of China and installed a puppet emperor came to abandon its aggressive military campaigns: this transformation was due to Guru Rinpoche, who tamed and converted Tibet to Buddhism and thereby changed the course of Asian history.
Four very different Tibetan accounts of his story are presented: one by Jamgon Kongtrul; one according to the pre-Buddhist Tibetan religion Bön, by Jamyang Kyentse Wongpo; one based on Indian and early Tibetan historical documents, by Taranata; and one by Dorje Tso. In addition, there are supplications by Guru Rinpoche and visualizations to accompany them by Jamgon Kongtrul.
Guru Rinpoche is part of The Tsadra Foundation series published by Snow Lion Publications. The Tsadra Foundation takes its inspiration from the nineteenth-century nonsectarian Tibetan scholar and meditation master Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye, and is named after his hermitage in eastern Tibet, Tsadra Rinchen Drak. The Foundation’s programs reflect his values of excellence in both scholarship and contemplative practice, and a recognition of their mutual complementarity.
Sacred Ground describes two journeys: a journey outward to specific pilgrimage places in eastern Tibet, and a journey inward to the sacred world of tantra, accessible through contemplation and meditation. It sheds light on Himalayan Buddhists’ concepts of sacred land, places of pilgrimage in tantric Buddhism, and how pilgrimage is undertaken. It enhances our appreciation of the world and its sacred aspect everywhere—first and foremost, where we sit now. On the basis of this judicious choice of rare Tibetan texts, translated here for the first time, correlating inner and outer pilgrimage, this book is of considerable value to the Buddhist practitioner.