A Study in Authoring, Compiling, and Editing Texts in the Tibetan Revelatory Tradition
(with a chapter by Robert Mayer)
It is often assumed that a revelation must be new and innovative, and that the point of a new sacred text must be to revitalize the heritage. Yet, in the Tibetan Nyingma Treasure Revelatory tradition, the ongoing vitality of textual production often has more to do with the fresh blessings rather than altogether novel content. This book is the first to analyse precise continuities and changes in comparing the new and the old, considering examples of the creation and development of tantric revelations, including further reworkings in subsequent generations. In doing so, the focus enlarges to encompass materials from the broader religious heritage, as well as from specific lineages of related visionary lamas. By identifying such exact linkages and departures, it is possible to answer questions both of how and why developments may occur, not limiting the purview merely to the individual stories of the virtuoso lamas producing the books, but looking also to the tantric communities of which they are a part.
The case studies in the book stem from the prolific writings of the famous twentieth-century scholar-lama Dudjom Jigdral Yeshe Dorje Rinpoche, who contributed to numerous revelatory traditions of the past, as well as producing his own revelations. They concern a single tantric deity, Vajrakīlaya, the most popular Nyingma deity, whose tantras and ritual practices stem from the earliest formulations of Tibetan tantric Buddhism, and who is closely connected with the culture heros and founding fathers of the Nyingmapa. This particular focus gives us the opportunity to discover patterns in the creation of new tantric texts which have significance beyond the specific examples.
Ethnoreligious Nationalism of the Sinhala Saṅgha and Peacemaking in Sri Lanka, 1995-2010
The war in Sri Lanka was violent and costly in human and material terms. This was one of the longest wars in modern South Asia. Often referred to as an ‘ethnic’ conflict between the majority Sinhalas and the minority Tamils, the war had a profound religious dimension. The majority of Sinhala Buddhist monks (the Saṅgha) not only opposed any meaningful powersharing but latterly advocated an all-out military solution. Such a nexus between Buddhism and violence is paradoxical; nevertheless it has a historical continuity. In 2009 when the war ended amid serious questions of war crimes and crimes against humanity, monks defended the military and its Buddhist leadership.
Taking the lives of three key Saṅgha activists as the modern framework of a Sinhala Buddhist worldview, this book examines the limitations of Western theories of peacebuilding and such solutions as federalism and multinationalism. It analyzes Sinhala Buddhist ethnoreligious nationalism and argues for the urgent need to engage Buddhist politics – in Lanka and elsewhere – with approaches and mechanisms that accommodate the Saṅgha as key actors in political reform.
Sinhala Buddhism is often studied from a sociological or anthropological standpoint. This book fills a gap by examining the faith and practice of the Sinhala Saṅgha and their followers from a political science perspective.
How Buddhism Acquired a Soul on the Way to China tells the story of the spread of Buddhist religious thinking and practice from India to China and how, along the way, a religion was changed. While Indian Buddhists had constructed their ideas of self by means of empiricism, anti-Brahmanism and analytic reasoning, Chinese Buddhists did so by means of non-analytic insights, utilising pre-established epistemology and cosmogony. Furthermore, many specific Buddhist ideas were transformed when exchanged from an Indian to a Chinese context, often through the work of translators concept-matching Buddhist and Daoist terms.
One of the key changes was the Chinese reinterpretation of the concept of shen – originally an agent of thought which died with the body – into an eternal essence of human spirit, a soul. Though the notion of an imperishable soul was later disputed by Chinese Buddhist scholars the idea of a permanent agent of perception flourished in China. This historical analysis of the concept of self as it developed between Indian and Chinese Buddhism will be of interest to readers of Buddhist Philosophy as well as the History of Ideas.
Ven. Seongchul; ed. L Covill; Translated by Hwang Soon-Il, Assistant Professor of Indian Philosophy at the College of Buddhist Studies, and Associate Dean of International Programmes and Education, at Dongguk University, Seoul
Sermon of One Hundred Days is the first translation into English from Korean of a seminal text in Korean Buddhism. Buddhism was introduced into Korea through China in about the 4th-5th century C.E. and within 200 years became so advanced that it influenced the development of Chinese Buddhism. Chan Buddhism was introduced into Korea around the 8th century and Seon Master Jinul (1158-1210) is honoured as having set the curriculum for the education of Buddhist monks and established Korean Buddhism as it was known for the next millennium.
In this Sermon of One Hundred Days, published in 1967, Master Seongcheol (1912-93) develops Korean Buddhism further by teaching what Buddhist truth is. This Sermon comprehends the vast developments of Buddhism in India and China, including early Buddhism, Abhidharma, Madhyamaka, Yogācāra Buddhism, Chinese doctrinal schools of Tiantai and Huayan and Chinese Chan and Korean Seon Buddhism. The Master analyses the logical structure of various historical teachings, which are connected by the principle of ‘the middle way,’ and encourages his audience to pursue solely the truth to which the Buddha awakened.
edd. L Covill; U Roesler; S Shaw
A collection of cross-traditional accounts of the lives of Buddhist practitioners. From the Buddha in ancient India to Sri Lanka, to a nun living in modern day Los Angeles, this book spans time, tradition, and culture. In fascinating presentations of how those following the Buddhist path are lived and remembered, this book defines what Buddhism really is through examining the lives of those who live it fully. By tracing diverses voices through many times and places this book forms an accurate assessment of the process of living in the world as a Buddhist in any when, where, or how.
Includes: And That Was I: How the Buddha Himself Creates a Path between Biography and Autobiography by Sarah Shaw; Early Chinese Biographies of the Buddha: The Late Birth of Rahula and Yasodhara’s Extended Pregnancy by Max Deeg; Truth Under the Guise of Poetry: Asvaghosa’s Life of the Buddha by Roland Steiner; Handsome is as Handsome Does: Asvaghosa’s Story of the Buddha’s Younger Brother (Nanda) by Linda Covill; the Autobiography of a Burmese Monastic Thinker in the Twentieth Century by ven.Khammai Dhammasami; How Ganesh Kumari Shakya Became Bhikkhuni Dhammawati (a Postmodern Journey from Uku Baha, Lalitpur, to Hsi Lai Monastery, Hacienda Heights, California) by Sarah LeVine; the Evolution of the Biographies of Milarepa and Rechungpa by Peter Roberts; Tibetan Sources on the Life of Serdog Panchen Shakya Chogden by Volker Caumanns; Narratives of Reincarnation, Politics of Power, and the Emergence of a Scholar: The Very Early Years of Karmapa Mikyo Dorje by Jim Rheingans; and the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: the Circumscription of Saintly Evil in Tibetan Biography by Charles Ramble.
Winner of Choice Outstanding Academic Title award 2010
In What the Buddha Thought, Richard Gombrich argues that the Buddha was one of the most brilliant and original thinkers of all time.
Intended to serve as an introduction to the Buddha’s thought, and hence even to Buddhism itself, the book also has larger aims: it argues that we can know far more about the Buddha than it is fashionable among scholars to admit, and that his thought has a greater coherence than is usually recognised. It contains much new material. Interpreters both ancient and modern have taken little account of the historical context of the Buddha’s teachings; but by relating them to early brahminical texts, and also to ancient Jainism, Gombrich gives a much richer picture of the Buddha’s meaning, especially when his satire and irony are appreciated. Incidentally, since many of the Buddha’s allusions can only be traced in the Pali versions of surviving texts, the book establishes the importance of the Pali Canon as evidence.
The book contains much new material. The author stresses the Buddha’s capacity for abstraction: though he made extensive use of metaphor, he did not found his arguments upon it, as earlier thinkers had done. He ethicized and radically reinterpreted older ideas of karma (human action) and rebirth. Similarly, building on older texts, he argued for the fundamental importance of love and compassion, and analysed fire as a process which could stand as a model for every component of conscious experience. Morally, the Buddha’s theory of karma provided a principle of individuation and asserted each individual’s responsibility for his own destiny. To make the book completely accessible to the general reader, the author provides an introductory section of ‘Background Information,’ for easy reference.
This book identifies what is meant by sati (smrti), usually translated as ‘mindfulness’, in early Buddhism, and examines its soteriological functions and its central role in the early Buddhist practice and philosophy. Using textual analysis and criticism, it takes new approaches to the subject through a comparative study of Buddhist texts in Pali, Chinese and Sanskrit. It also furnishes new perspectives on the ancient teaching by applying the findings in modern psychology. In contemporary Buddhism, the practice of mindfulness is zealously advocated by the Theravada tradition, which is the only early Buddhist school that still exists today. Through detailed analysis of Theravada’s Pali Canon and the four Chinese Agamas – which correspond to the four main Nikayas in Pali and belong to some early schools that no longer exist – this book shows that mindfulness is not only limited to the role as a method of insight (vipassana) meditation, as presented by many Theravada advocates, but it also has a key role in serenity (samatha) meditation. It elucidates how mindfulness functions in the path to liberation from a psychological perspective, that is, how it helps to achieve an optimal cognitive capability and emotional state, and thereby enables one to attain the ultimate religious goal. Furthermore, the author argues that the well-known formula of ekaayano maggo, which is often interpreted as ‘the only way’, implies that the four satipa.t.thaanas(establishments of mindfulness) constitute a comprehensive path to liberation, and refer to the same as kaayagataa sati, which has long been understood as ‘mindfulness of the body’ by the tradition. The analysis shows that kaayagataa sati and the four satipa.t.thaanas are two different ways of formulating the teaching on mindfulness according to different schemes of classification of phenomena.
Having identified early material that goes back to the Buddha himself, the author argues that the two teachers of the Buddha were historical figures. Based on the early Brahminic literature, namely the early Upanishads and Moksadharma, the author asserts the origin of the method of meditation learned by the Buddha from these teachers, and attempts to use them to identify some authentic teachings of the Buddha on meditation.
Stimulating debate within the field of Buddhist Studies, the following claims are put forward:
- the Buddha was taught by Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, as stated in the literature of numerous early Buddhist sects, is historically authentic
- Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta taught a form of early Brahminic meditation
- the Buddha must consequently have been trained in a meditative school whose ideology was provided by the philosophical portions of early Upanishads
Shedding new light on a fascinating aspect of the origins of Buddhism, this book will be of interest to academics in the field of Buddhist studies, Asian religion and South Asian studies.
Peter Alan Roberts
This book traces the lifestory of Rechungpa (1084-1161) – the student of the famous teacher Milarepa – using rare and little-known manuscripts, and discovers how the image of both Milarepa and Rechungpa underwent fundamental transformations over a period of over three centuries.
Peter Alan Roberts compares significant episodes in the life of Rechungpa as portrayed in a succession of texts, and thus demonstrates the evolution of Rechungpa’s biography. This is the first survey of the surviving literature which includes a detailed analysis of their dates, authorship and interrelationships. It shows how Rechungpa was increasingly portrayed as a rebellious, volatile and difficult pupil, as a lineage from a fellow-pupil prospered to become dominant in Tibet.
Written in a style that makes it accessible to broad readership, Roberts’ book will be of great value to anyone with an interest in the fields of Tibetan literature, history or religion.
Will Tuladhar-Douglas sheds new light on an important branch of Mahayana Buddhism and establishes the existence, character and causes of a renaissance of Buddhism in the fifteenth century in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal. He provides the basis for the historical study of Newar Buddhism as one distinct tradition among the many that comprise Indic Buddhism. Through a thorough study of the relevant texts in the classical Himalayan languages (Sanskrit, Newari, Tibetan and Nepali), the book puts forward a new thesis about how the Newars legitimated and reinvented their tradition by devising new concepts of canonicity, as such it will appeal to scholars of the history and philology of Buddhism.
Soonil Hwang studies the doctrinal development of nirvana in the Pali Nikaaya and subsequent tradition and compares it with the Chinese aagama and its traditional interpretation. He clarifies early doctrinal developments of Nirvana and traces the word and related terms back to their original metaphorical contexts, elucidating diverse interpretations and doctrinal and philosophical developments in theabhidharma exegeses and treatises of Southern and Northern Buddhist schools. The book finally examines which school, if any, kept the original meaning and reference of Nirvana.
Meditative practice lies at the heart of the Buddhist tradition. This introductory anthology gives a representative sample of the various kinds of meditations described in the earliest body of Buddhist scripture, the Pali canon.
It provides a broad introduction to their traditional context and practice and supplies explanation, context and doctrinal background to the subject of meditation. The main themes of the book are the diversity and flexibility of the way that the Buddha teaches meditation from the evidence of the canon. Covering fundamental features of Buddhist practice such as posture, lay meditation, and meditative technique it provides comments both from the principal early commentators on Buddhist practice, Upatissa and Buddhaghosa, and from reputable modern meditation teachers in a number of Theravadin traditions.
This is the first book on Pali Buddhism which introduces the reader to the wide range of the canon. It demonstrates that the Buddha’s meditative tradition still offers a path of practice as mysterious, awe-inspiring yet as freshly accessible as it was centuries ago, and will be of interest to students and scholars of Buddhism as well as Buddhist practitioners.
Richard F. Gombrich
Written by one of the world’s top scholars in the field of Pali Buddhism, this new and updated edition of How Buddhism Began, discusses various important doctrines and themes in early Buddhism. It takes ‘early Buddhism’ to be that reflected in the Pali canon, and to some extent assumes that these doctrines reflect the teachings of the Buddha himself. Two themes predominate. Firstly, the author argues that we cannot understand the Buddha unless we understand that he was debating with other religious teachers, notably Brahmins. The other main theme concerns metaphor, allegory and literalism. This accessible, well-written book is mandatory reading for all serious students of Buddhism.
This is an introduction to the Buddhist philosophy of Emptiness which explores a number of themes in connection with the concept of Emptiness, a highly technical but very central notion in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. It examines the critique by the leading Nyingma school philosopher Mipham (1846-1912) formulated in his diverse writings. The book focuses on related issues such as what is negated by the doctrine of emptiness, the nature of ultimate reality, and the difference between ‘extrinsic’ and ‘intrinsic’ emptiness. Karma Phuntsho’s book aptly undertakes a thematic and selective discussion of these debates and Mipham’s qualms about the Gelukpa understanding of Emptiness in a mixture of narrative and analytic style.
Early Buddhist Metaphysics provides a philosophical account of the major doctrinal shift in the history of early Theravada tradition in India: the transition from the earliest stratum of Buddhist thought to the systematic and allegedly scholastic philosophy of the Pali Abhidhamma movement. Entwining comparative philosophy and Buddhology, the author probes the Abhidhamma’s metaphysical transition in terms of the Aristotelian tradition and vis-à-vis modern philosophy, exploits Western philosophical literature from Plato to contemporary texts in the fields of philosophy of mind and cultural criticism.