Category Archives: Mainly monthly postings

Historical proof by textual criticism?

Cathy and I are very gratified by the positive reception of our work in critical editing, even though I am certain I do not deserve it, and remain acutely aware of the many failings in my work. We are above … Continue reading

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Early guru yoga, indigenous ritual, and Padmasambhava

Numerous guru yoga liturgies are found throughout the many schools of Tibetan Buddhism, far more than one can hope to enumerate.  A few of them are very famous, for example, the guru yoga for Tsongkhapa known as the dGa’ ldan … Continue reading

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Padmasambhava in early Tibetan myth and ritual, Part 4: so who was Śāntigarbha?

This belated blog is, as promised, for Dan Martin, who had questions for me some weeks ago about the way Śāntigarbha is thought about in the later rNying ma tradition.  So just who was Śāntigarbha? Śāntigarbha, an Indian paṇḍit whom … Continue reading

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Padmasambhava in early Tibetan myth and ritual, Part 3: ‘miraculous births’ and ‘womb births’

In her seminal work on the Padmsambhava hagiographies, Anne-Marie Blondeau (1980) has famously described how the traditional narratives of Padmasambhava exist in parallel ‘womb birth’ (mngal skyes) and ‘miraculous birth’ (rdzus skyes) versions.[1] Deservedly, her work has been inspirational for … Continue reading

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Did Vairocana have lice?

According to Pasang Wangdu and Hildegaard Diemberger’s translation of the dBa’ bzhed, [1]  Pa gor Vairocana, the great translator and Buddhist culture hero of Imperial-period Tibet, might have been absolutely crawling with the repulsive little creatures. There is a passage in the dBa’ bzhed which … Continue reading

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The great Khu tsha zla ‘od

Much has been written about many Tibetan lamas in recent years, but one who has received perhaps less attention than he deserves is the great Khu tsha zla ‘od. According to Kongtrul (1813-1899), he lived during the second rab byung, which … Continue reading

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The wonderful Orgyan Ling Manuscript Kanjur

Tibetans, especially Nyingmapas, recount numerous legends of ‘Hidden Lands’ (sbas yul). These are places of refuge where the Dharma can be safeguarded in times of political danger and religious persecution, when temples are vandalised and religious books burned. Such ‘Hidden … Continue reading

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Padmasambhava in early Tibetan myth and ritual, Part 2: IOLTibJ321

Let me begin this reassessment of the early sources on Padmasambhava with IOL TibJ321. One of the most remarkable finds from Dunhuang, this manuscript in 85 folios[1] contains a complete Nyingma Mahāyoga tantra embedded within its commentary, with many marginal … Continue reading

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Padmasambhava in early Tibetan myth and ritual: Part 1, Introduction.

When did the figure of Padmasambhava first become mythologised, when did he first become incorporated into ritual, when did his apotheosis begin? For Tibetan tradition, the answers are simple. Padmasambhava was a peerless guru with the vidyādhara’s control over lifespan, … Continue reading

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Authors, plagiarists, or tradents?

Time and again in modern studies of Tibetan literature of whatever sort, whether histories, technical treatises, tantric commentaries or treasure texts, we find the blithe, unreflective use of words like ‘author’ or ‘revealer’. Such words are a natural part of … Continue reading

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