The Ri-me Philosophy of Jamgon Kongtrul the Great: A Study of the Buddhist Lineages of Tibet [NOOK Book]


compelling study of the Ri-me movement and of the major Buddhist lineages of
Tibet is comprehensive and accessible. It
includes an introduction to the history and...

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The Ri-me Philosophy of Jamgon Kongtrul the Great: A Study of the Buddhist Lineages of Tibet

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compelling study of the Ri-me movement and of the major Buddhist lineages of
Tibet is comprehensive and accessible. It
includes an introduction to the history and philosophy of the Ri-me movement; a
biography of the movement's leader, the meditation master and philosopher known
as Jamgön Kongtrul the Great; helpful summaries of the eight
lineages' practice-and-study systems, which point out the different emphases of
the schools; an explanation of the most hotly disputed concepts; and an
overview of the old and new tantras.

Kongtrul the Great (1813–1899) is a giant in Tibetan history,
renowned for his scholarly and meditative achievements, but also for his
energetic yet evenhanded work to unify and strengthen the different lineages of
Buddhism. The Ri-me movement, led by Kongtrul and several other leading
scholars of the time, was a unifying effort to cut through interscholastic
divisions and disputes that were occurring between the different lineages.
These leaders sought appreciation of the differences and acknowledgment of the
importance of variety in benefiting practitioners with different needs. The
Ri-me teachers also took great care that the teachings and practices of the
different schools and lineages, and their unique styles, did not become
confused with one another. This lucid survey of the Ri-me movement will be of
interest to serious scholars and practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780834826632
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/18/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 427 KB

Meet the Author

Born in Eastern Tibet in 1952, Ringu Tulku has been a professor of Tibetan studies for seventeen years and a visiting professor at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, for five years. He is the director of seven meditation centers in Europe, the United States, and India, and he travels and teaches extensively in Europe and the United States.
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The first chapter, “The Meaning of Ri-me,” describes the nonsectarian understanding and the manner in which Jamgön Kongtrul and other masters show that there are no fundamental contradictions among the Buddhist teachings that came to Tibet. The Ri-me approach is an inclusive one, recognizing the distinctions of the various lineages and teachings, while seeing them all as valid instructions that lead to the same ultimate understanding. This approach is not a new one. It is the foundation of all the teachings of the Buddha. Jamgön Kongtrul and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo reiterated and highlighted this principle and lived it themselves.

This impartial appreciation of all schools of Tibetan Buddhism is exemplified in the life story of Jamgön Kongtrul the Great, which is the subject of chapter 2. Jamgön Kongtrul was a living example of a Ri-me master, and just by reading his biography one can come to understand the Ri-me philosophy. Jamgön Kongtrul, along with his teacher and colleague Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, are especially renowned for the way that they received, practiced, and preserved the teachings of all the main practice lineages of Tibet. Their collaboration in this effort is a highlight of this biography. With Khyentse’s urging and support, Kongtrul compiled over ninety volumes in five large collections known as the Five Great Treasuries: the Treasury of Instructions, the Treasury of Kagyu Vajrayana Instructions, the Treasury of Knowledge, the Treasury of Precious Terma, and the Treasury of Vast Teachings. The most important of these collections for the Ri-me movement, the Treasury of Instructions, has eighteen volumes of teachings, which include all eight practice lineages. Not only did Kongtrul and Khyentse collect and preserve these teachings, but they practiced them and transmitted them to their students.

Although Jamyang Khyentse was a great source of inspiration and encouragement, it was Jamgön Kongtrul who compiled the Five Great Treasuries, taught them many times, and got all of them published. The information in chapter 2 is drawn from Kongtrul’s own autobiography, and from the account of Kongtrul’s passing and funeral observances by his student Tashi Chöphel. This chapter gives a clear overview of Kongtrul’s most important relationships, writings, and activities.

Chapter 3 covers the history of the teaching lineages of sutra and tantra in India and Tibet, and chapter 4 covers the history of the eight practice lineages and their introduction into Tibet from India. The sutra teachings focus on the Vinaya, Abhidharma, Pramana, Prajnaparamita, and Madhyamaka; the tantra teachings, as well as those of the eight practice lineages, cover a vast array of vajrayana scriptures and practices. Each of these lineages has its own authoritative texts, seminal founders, and representative masters, who continue to be revered in the Tibetan tradition. These chapters are presented in chronological order. One reason for giving these lineage histories is to show that the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha are the sole source of Tibetan Buddhism, and that the Tibetans also inherited the clarifications of the Buddha’s teachings by great Indian masters whose knowledge and realization are undisputed. All the great charioteers who brought these teachings to Tibet were predicted by the Buddha; without question they were realized beings who had reached the level of the bodhisattva bhumis.

A second reason for presenting the history is to make it clear that the Buddhist teachings brought to Tibet have not degenerated or been defiled or distorted in any way. And third, I have endeavored to show that the individual traditions which continue to this day are unbroken lineages, that the noble scholars and meditation masters who hold these teachings have continued to maintain and spread them in a very pure way. The lineage histories also show that although all the schools of Tibetan Buddhism stem from Shakyamuni Buddha, each of them contains a variety of lineages that are interconnected and intermingled.

Next, chapter 5 introduces the main teachings of the eight practice lineages. It is very helpful for students of a particular lineage to have an overview of the practices and important texts of not only their own lineage but also the other main lineages. In chapter 5 I have highlighted the particular methods and paths used by each of these spiritual traditions in order to bring an individual to enlightenment. When all these teachings are seen side by side, it becomes evident that there are no discordant elements among them; the essence of their understanding is ultimately the same. In fact, one could say that the whole of Tibetan Buddhism can be categorized within these eight practice lineages, and when one understands their teachings, it becomes evident that they have no basis for dispute.

Of course, there have been disagreements among proponents of the various schools, and the final chapters focus on two areas that have been widely debated. It could be said that the topics in these chapters subsume and deal with all the major disputes between the different schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Chapter 6 discusses the controversy concerning Rangtong and Shentong Madhyamaka. According to Kongtrul, their basic disagreement is whether or not the dharmata, or true nature, is there, and whether or not primordial wisdom is truly established. Aside from exploring this debate, this chapter covers Madhyamaka history, logic, and key figures such as Chandrakirti, Tsongkhapa, Shakya Chogden, and Taranatha.

Chapter 7 discusses some of the misunderstandings and allegations that some followers of Sarma tantras levied on the Nyingma masters. The Nyingma tantras appeared in Tibet before the tenth century, while the Sarma tantras were brought from India after that time. Many scholars questioned the validity of the Nyingma tantras to the extent that they were omitted from the early versions of the Kangyur, the translated words of the Buddha. Both chapters 6 and 7 include the main points used by each side for affirmation and refutation in the debates, and show how some of the most brilliant scholars have displayed their skill in using scripture and reasoning. These debates also point out how their views ultimately arrive at the same essential point.

Translation Notes

Ann Helm and I have translated into English almost all of the Tibetan text titles mentioned in this book. A few titles were put into Sanskrit rather than English, such as the Kalachakra Tantra and the Prajnaparamita Sutra, because the Sanskrit names are already more familiar in English-speaking countries. At the end of the book there is a Sources section that gives all the text titles in English alphabetical order, along with the Tibetan transliteration, the Sanskrit title if originally written in Sanskrit, and the author’s name if known. We made this list so that readers can read without being distracted by clumps of foreign syllables in parentheses and so that the original titles are available for those who know the Tibetan or Sanskrit names.

Although there are many quotations in this book, there may arise some questions about the relatively small number of specific citations. Tibetans seem to have a much looser attitude than Westerners about quoting, copying, and citing others’ texts. Before 1960, there were no copyrights in Tibet, and it was enough to merely state, “As Chandrakirti says,” without giving a book title, chapter, or page reference. Sometimes writers did not even do that much, and freely incorporated passages into their own texts without saying they were quoting someone else. This is done because one never claims that what he writes is his own but that all dharma comes from an authentic source. In my 1985 Tibetan edition of this book, there are only about thirty citations with page numbers from the works of Kongtrul and other scholars. But the fact is that the whole book is based on the works of Kongtrul and some of his lineage holders, and there is nothing here that I invented on my own. Moreover, since the Tibetan edition was completed twenty years ago and my notes are no longer available, it does not seem feasible to reconstruct all the references.

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Table of Contents

Homage xi
Preface xiii

Chapter 1. The Meaning of Ri-me 1
Chapter 2. The Biography of Kongtrul Yönten Gyatso 15
Chapter 3. The History of the Teaching Lineages That Came to Tibet 55
The Teaching Lineages of the Sutras 55
Vinaya 55
Abhidharma 58
Pramana 60
Prajnaparamita 65
Madhyamaka 68
The Teaching Lineages of the Tantras 74
The Teaching Lineages of the Nyingma Tantras 74
The Sarma Teachings of the Mother and Father Tantras 79
The Three Lower Tantras 93
Chapter 4. The History of the Eight Practice Lineages 97
The Teachings of the Nyingma Lineage 97
The Mind Transmission Lineage 97
The Symbolic Transmission Lineage 98
The Hearing Transmission Lineage 98
The Six Transmission Lineages 99
Kama: The Oral Tradition 105
Terma: The Hidden Treasures 117
The History of the Kadampa Tradition 121
Jowo Je Atisha 121
Atisha's Main Students 122
The Gelugpa Tradition 124
Tsongkhapa Lozang Dragpa 124
Tsongkhapa's Students and Lineage Holders 126
The History of the Lamdre Practice Lineage 127
Virupa and Drogmi 127
Sachen Kunga Nyingpo 129
Sakya Pandita and Chögyal Phagpa 131
Other Sakya Lineage Holders 132
The History of the Marpa Kagyu Lineage 133
Marpa Lotsawa 134
Milarepa 135
Rechungpa and His Lineage 135
Gampopa and His Lineage 136
The Tsalpa Kagyu and Barom Kagyu 137
The Kamtsang Kagyu and the Karmapas 138
The Phagdru Kagyu Lineage 140
The First Three of the Eight Kagyu Subschools 141
The Drugpa Kagyu Lineage 142
The Last Four Kagyu Subschools 143
The History of the Shangpa Kagyu Lineage 143
The History of the Shije, or Pacification, Lineage 146
The Chöd Lineage 148
Jordruk: The Lineage of the Six-Branched Practice of Vajra Yoga 150
The History of the Approach and Accomplishment of the Three Vajras 153
Chapter 5. The Essential Teachings of the Eight Practice Lineages 155
Ngagyur Nyingma: The Early Translation Tradition 155
Dzogchen 155
Kama 158
Terma 158
Pure Vision 160
Refutation of Criticism of the Nyingma Teachings 161
The Main Teachings of the Kadampa 161
Specific Scriptures, Instructions, and Oral Instructions 162
Teachings of the Three Types of Individuals 162
The Essence of the Teachings of the Gelugpa 164
The Three Foundations of Practice 165
Ground, Path, and Result 165
The Teachings of the Glorious Sakyapa 167
The Three Visions 167
The Presentation of the Path 168
Tantric Practice 169
The Golden Teachings of the Sakya 171
The Teachings of the Dagpo Kagyu 172
Ground, Path, and Result 172
The Six Yogas of Naropa 173
Sutra Mahamudra 174
Tantra Mahamudra 175
Special Teachings of the Individual Kagyu Lineages 177
The Teachings of the Shangpa Kagyu 180
The Six Yogas of the Shangpa Kagyu 180
Mahamudra in the Shangpa Kagyu Tradition 181
Descriptions of Accomplishment 181
The Teachings of the Pacification Lineage 182
The Teachings of the Chöd Lineage 184
The Six-Branched Practice of Vajra Yoga 187
The Approach and Accomplishment of the Three Vajras 189
Chapter 6. Rangtong and Shentong Madhyamaka 193
An Overview of Madhyamaka 193
Rangtong Madhyamaka 195
The Svatantrika Tradition 195
The Prasangika Lineage in Tibet 196
The Common View of Prasangika and Svatantrika 197
The Five Great Reasonings of Madhyamaka 199
Distinctions between Prasangika and Svatantrika Madyamaka 202
An Overview of the Prasangika Analysis 204
The Three Special Points of Chandrakirti 208
The Eight Special Points of Tsongkhapa 209
The Five Special Points of Kongtrul 210
Tagtsang Lotsawa's Way of Teaching Prasangika Madhyamaka 213
Shentong Madhyamaka 214
The Sources of Shentong 214
The Views of Shakya Chogden and Dölpopa 216
The Shentong View of the Ground Madhyamaka 218
The Shentong Understanding of the Three Natures 220
Shentong Is Not the Same as Chittamatra 223
Taranatha's Refutation of Shentong as Vedanta 224
The Main Differences between Rangtong and Shentong 226
Equal Respect for the Traditions of Nagarjuna and Asanga 227
Distinguishing Vijnanavada and Chittamatra 230
Tantra Madhyamaka 232
Chapter 7. The Traditions of the Nyingma and Sarma Tantras 237
Classifications of the Tantras 237
Commonalities of the Nyingma and Sarma Tantras 239
Distinctions in the Nyingma and Sarma Tantras 241
Mipham Rinpoche's Rebuttal of the Criticism of the Nyingma Tantras 244
Thukan Chökyi Dorje's Refutation 251
Atisha's Statements on the Early Tantras 255
Specific Criticism of the Dzogchen Teachings 257
Shechen Gyaltsap's Refutation of the Criticism of the Dzogchen Teachings 260

Acknowledgments 287
Notes 289
Sources 293
Index 311

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