Widely recognized as one of the West's leading scholars of Tibetan Buddhism, Professor Jeffrey Hopkins is renowned for his textual translations and original scholarship. For ten years he served as the principal English translator for His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Tantric Distinction is his effort to make accessible the complexities of this highly sophisticated philosophy by sharing his personal, individual experience with Buddhist thought and practice. It lays out the entire Buddhist path as a living experience.
About one thousand years ago, the great Indian pandit and yogi, Dipamkara Shrijnana (Atisha), was invited to Tibet to re-establish the Buddhadharma, which had been suppressed and corrupted for almost two centuries. One of Atisha's main accomplishments in Tibet was his writing of the seminal text, A Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, in which he extracted the essence of all 84,000 teachings of the Buddha and organized them into a clear, step-like arrangement that makes it easy for any individual practitioner to understand and practice the Dharma. This genre of teachings is known as lam-rim, or steps of the path, and forms an essential part of every school of Tibetan Buddhism.
In this book, His Holiness the Dalai Lama gives a commentary to not only Atisha's revolutionary work but also to Lines of Experience, a short text written by Lama Tsongkhapa, who was perhaps the greatest of all Tibetan lam-rim authors. In bringing together Atisha, Lama Tsongkhapa and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, this book offers readers one of the clearest and most authoritative expositions of the Tibetan Buddhist path ever published, and it is recommended for those at the beginning of the path, the middle and the end.
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In fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Tibet there was great ferment about what makes enlightenment possible, since systems of self-liberation must show what factors pre-exist in the mind that allow for transformation into a state of freedom from suffering. This controversy about the nature of mind, which persists to the present day, raises many questions. This book first presents the final exposition of special insight by Tsong-kha-pa, the founder of the Ge-luk-pa order of Tibetan Buddhism, in his medium-length Exposition of the Stages of the Path as well as the sections on the object of negation and on the two truths in his Illumination of the Thought: Extensive Explanation of Chandrakirti's Supplement to Nagarjuna's "Treatise on the Middle." It then details the views of his predecessor Dol-po-pa Shay-rap Gyel-tsen, the seminal author of philosophical treatises of the Jo-nang-pa order, as found in his Mountain Doctrine, followed by an analysis of Tsong-kha-pa's reactions. By contrasting the two systems—Dol-po-pa's doctrine of other-emptiness and Tsong-kha-pa's doctrine of self-emptiness—both views emerge more clearly, contributing to a fuller picture of reality as viewed in Tibetan Buddhism. Tsong-kha-pa's Final Exposition of Wisdom brilliantly explicates ignorance and wisdom, explains the relationship between dependent-arising and emptiness, shows how to meditate on emptiness, and explains what it means to view phenomena as like illusions.