Ornament of Stainless Light: An Exposition of the Kalachakra Tantra

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The premiere volume of Thupten Jinpa's thirty-two-volume Library of Tibetan Classics series, inaugurated to coincide with the Dalai Lama's conferral of the initiation rite of Kalacakra in Toronto in April 2004.

The Kalacakra, or "wheel of time," tantra likely entered Indian Mahayana Buddhism around the tenth century. In expounding the root tantra, the Indian master Pundarika, one of the legendary Kalki kings of the land of Shambhala, wrote his influential Stainless Light. ...

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The premiere volume of Thupten Jinpa's thirty-two-volume Library of Tibetan Classics series, inaugurated to coincide with the Dalai Lama's conferral of the initiation rite of Kalacakra in Toronto in April 2004.

The Kalacakra, or "wheel of time," tantra likely entered Indian Mahayana Buddhism around the tenth century. In expounding the root tantra, the Indian master Pundarika, one of the legendary Kalki kings of the land of Shambhala, wrote his influential Stainless Light. Ornament of Stainless Light is an authoritative Tibetan exposition of this important text, composed in the fifteenth century by Khedrup Norsang Gyatso, tutor to the Second Dalai Lama.

One of the central projects of Kalacakra literature is a detailed correlation between the human body and the external universe. In working out this complex correspondence, the Kalacakra texts present an amazingly detailed theory of cosmology and astronomy, especially about the movements of the various celestial bodies. The Kalacakra tantra is also a highly complex system of Buddhist theory and practice that employs vital bodily energies, deep meditative mental states, and a penetrative focus on subtle points within the body's key energy conduits known as channels. Ornament of Stainless Light addresses all these topics, elaborating on the external universe, the inner world of the individual, the Kalacakra initiation rites, and the tantric stages of generation and completion, all in a highly readable English translation.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780861714520
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications MA
  • Publication date: 8/1/2001
  • Series: Library of Tibetan Classics Series , #14
  • Pages: 736
  • Sales rank: 1,348,961
  • Product dimensions: 6.24 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 2.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Khedrup Norsang Gyatso (1423-1513), a well-known scholar and adept of the fifteenth century, was a student of the First Dalai Lama and a principal teacher of the Second Dalai Lama. Though belonging to the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism, Norsang Gyatso is recognized as a seminal figure in the promotion of a syncretic approach-between the Geluk and Kagyu schools-to the teachings and practices of mahamudra. Along with Phukpa Lhundrup Gyatso, Norsang Gyatso is credited also with the founding of the highly influential Phuk school of Tibetan astronomy and astrology. Because of his dedication to intensive meditative practice for more than four decades as a wandering hermit, Norsang Gyatso came to be revered by the Tibetan tradition as a great meditator and teacher, and he is included among the lineage masters of many important practice traditions, including the lineage of Kalachakra.

Gavin Kilty has been a full-time translator for the Institute of Tibetan Classics since 2001. Before that he lived in Dharamsala, India, for fourteen years, where he spent eight years training in the traditional Geluk monastic curriculum through the medium of class and debate at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics. He also teaches Tibetan language courses in India, Nepal, and elsewhere, and is a translation reviewer for the organization 84000, Translating the Words of the Buddha.

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Table of Contents

Ornament of stainless light : an exposition of the outer, inner, and other Kalacakra
1 Compilation of the Root and Condensed tantra 25
2 The primordial mind and body 53
3 The three themes of Kalacakra tantra 75
4 The formation of the external world and its dimensions 79
5 The inhabitants of this world 91
6 The stars and the planets 105
7 Resolving contradictions between Kalacakra and Abhidharma cosmology 145
8 The development of the body 161
9 Channels, winds, and drops 177
10 Discrepancies between Kalacakra and other tantras 195
11 Qualifications of master and disciple 211
12 Description of the mandala 225
13 The initiations 231
14 The seven childhood initiations 243
15 The four higher initiations 247
16 The higher-than-high initiations 257
17 The two stages 271
18 The generation stage 277
19 The two accumulations 281
20 The body vajra 285
21 Analysis of the colors of the lunar-day deities 303
22 Resolving doubts concerning the process of generation 317
23 The speech vajra 341
24 The mind vajra 369
25 The gnosis vajra 375
26 The six-branched yoga 391
27 Withdrawal : night yoga 411
28 Withdrawal : day yoga 439
29 The yoga of meditative absorption 461
30 Pranayama : the yoga of the winds 475
31 Vajra recitation 483
32 Vase yoga 495
33 The yoga of retention 513
34 The yoga of recollection 523
35 The yoga of meditative concentration 553
36 The fruits of the two stages 585
App. 1 Table of Tibetan translation 595
App. 2 Enumerations mentioned in the text 598
App. 3 Time measurement 602
App. 4 Linear measurement 604
App. 5 Kalacakra word-numerals 605
App. 6 Approximation and accomplishment in the six-branched yoga 610
App. 7 The six elements and the inner world 611
App. 8 Kalacakra-related chronology 612
App. 9 Diagram : the Kalacakra world realm 615
App. 10 Diagram : the sun's path over the earth and water mandalas 616
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  • Posted September 9, 2011

    For the Initiated

    Ornament of Stainless Light is one of the thousands of books painstakingly handprinted by monks in Tibetan lamaseries for centuries, so with that in mind it's exciting to see it in print in English for the first time, no matter what your opinion is of Tibetan Buddhism.

    Although it's the inaugural volume of Wisdom Publications' Library of Tibetan Classics, this book is definitely not for beginners. If you don't already know what the Kalachakra Tantra is, then it will probably be overwhelming. Khedrup Norsang Gyatso's work is a commentary on the Kalachakra, which thanks to the current Dalai Lama (who also gives an introduction) is one of the most prominent and important tantras in the West today. If one is starting to learn about Tibetan Buddhism, I wouldn't start here. But of course, if you've stumbled upon this review then you're probably versed enough not to be too intimidated by its contents. It's heavy reading, but it has wider appeal to anyone interested in Buddhist cosmology, the history of the mythical city of Shambhala, or the relationship of Buddhism to other religions, like Islam and Hinduism. Most of this is material that's simply not found anyplace else in Buddhist literature.

    Don't let the plain cover fool you, Wisdom is publishing a top-shelf library with their Tibetan Classics series. It includes helpful appendices and generous--although not always as helpful--notes, which reference the sources of the text's numerous quotations, but not much else. The ribbon marker is the finishing touch of quality (something I wish would have been incorporated into their Teachings of the Buddha series) on an edition with heavy paper and ample margins, for those who can stand to deface a lovely book with their own annotations Although this is the only edition of this work in print, it would be difficult to imagine a better one. Wisdom should be commended for producing an admirable print translation of an obscure book, which despite its limited appeal, will be invaluable to scholars and readers drawn to its subject matter.

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