Apparitions of the Self: The Secret Autobiographies of a Tibetan Visionary available in Paperback
- Pub. Date:
- Princeton University Press
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 fitas well as the misfitof 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.
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
Technical Note on Translation Policies xxi
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
Tibetan Sources 311
Secondary Sources and Critical Editions 321
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.