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Princeton University Press
Apparitions of the Self: The Secret Autobiographies of a Tibetan Visionary

Apparitions of the Self: The Secret Autobiographies of a Tibetan Visionary

by Janet GyatsoJanet Gyatso


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Apparitions of the Self is a groundbreaking investigation into what is known in Tibet as "secret autobiography," an exceptional, rarely studied literary genre that presents a personal exploration of intimate religious experiences. In this volume, Janet Gyatso translates and studies the outstanding pair of secret autobiographies by the famed Tibetan Buddhist visionary, Jigme Lingpa (1730-1798), whose poetic and self-conscious writings are as much about the nature of his own identity, memory, and the undecidabilities of autobiographical truth as they are narrations of the actual content of his experiences. Their translation in this book marks the first time that works of this sort have been translated in a Western language.

Gyatso is among the first to consider Tibetan literature from a comparative perspective, examining the surprising fit—as well as the misfit—of Western literary theory with Tibetan autobiography. She examines the intriguing questions of why Tibetan Buddhists produced so many autobiographies (far more than other Asian Buddhists) and how autobiographical self-assertion is possible even while Buddhists believe that the self is ultimately an illusion. Also explored are Jigme Lingpa's historical milieu, his revelatory visions of the ancient Tibetan dynasty, and his meditative practices of personal cultivation. The book concludes with a study of the subversive female figure of the "Dakini" in Jigme Lingpa's writings, and the implications of her gender, her sexuality, and her unsettling discourse for the autobiographical subject in Tibet.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691009483
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 11/21/1999
Series: Secret Autobiographies of a Tibetan Visionary
Edition description: Revised ed.
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Janet Gyatso is Associate Professor of Religion at Amherst College. She is the editor of In the Mirror of Memory: Reflections on Mindfulness and Remembrance in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xvii

Technical Note on Translation Policies xxi

Abbreviations xxiv

Introduction. The Secret Autobiographies of Jigme Lingpa 3


A Word to the Reader 14

Dancing Moon in the Water 15

Dakki's Grand Secret-Talk 55

Notes to the Translation 63


Chapter 1. Autobiography in Tibet 101

Chapter 2. The Outer Face: The Life of Jigme Lingpa 124

Chapter 3. Treasure Discoverer 145

Chapter 4. Master of Experience 182


Chapter 5. No-Self Self and Other Dancing Moons 2H

Chapter 6. The Dakini Talks: On Gender, Language, and the

Secret Autobiographer 243

Epilogue. Subjectivity without Essence 265

Appendix 1. The Autobiographies and Biographies of Jigme Lingpa 273

Appendix 2. Lists of the Former Lives of Jigme Lingpa 275

Appendix 3. Table of Episodes in the Secret Autobiographies of

Jigme Lingpa 278

Notes 281

Bibliography 311

Tibetan Sources 311

Secondary Sources and Critical Editions 321

Interviews 338

Index 339

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Apparitions of the Self: The Secret Autobiographies of a Tibetan Visionary 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
jvalamala on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Remarkable in every respect. Biographies are rare in themselves, but a secret autobiography of one of the most commended lineage masters is something truly special. With a biography you profit from the engaged narrative of intractable culture, where the value is in the scope. In a scholarly treatise you receive symbolic understanding, the factorized essentials of profound understanding. But in secret autobiography the mystical insights mingle spontaneously with the atmosphere of an undeniable experience. No scavenging for anecdotes or critical mind belong here. Only the recognition of a vision as glorious or as modest as the reader could allow.