Tantra in Tibet consists of three parts published under the auspices of the Dalai Lama: Essence of Tantra by H.H. the Dalai Lama reveals the highly practical and compassionate use of this science of spiritual development. Contents include: Tantra for Practice, Refuge, The Three Paths, Greatness of Mantra, Clear Light and Initiation.
The Great Exposition of Secret Mantra— part I by Tsong-ka-pa, is one of the principal classic texts on tantra. It presents the main features common to all the Buddhist tantra systems as well as the differences between sutra and tantra. Contents include: Paths to Buddhahood, Vajra Vehicle, Deity Yoga and Method in the Four Tantras.
A Supplement by Jeffrey Hopkins discusses the Meaning of Emptiness, Transformation, and the Purpose of the Four Tantras.
Homage to Vajradhara.
The Great Exposition of Secret Mantra by Tsong-ka-pa (1357—1419), founder of the Gelukpa order of Tibetan Buddhism, presents the main features of all the Buddhist tantra systems as well as the difference between sutra and tantra, the two divisions of Buddha’s word. In 1972 when I was in Dharamsala, northern India, on a Fulbright Fellowship, His Holiness the Dalai Lama asked me to translate The Great Exposition of Secret Mantra, the first section of which is the second part of this book. The first part is the Dalai Lama’s own commentary which he graciously consented to give in August 1974, upon my return to Dharamsala. His commentary, which was recorded, translated and edited, provides invaluable insight into tantra in general and Tsong-ka-pa’s work in particular. Presenting the rich Tibetan oral tradition, his words reveal the highly practical and compassionate use of this ancient science of spiritual development.
The third part of the book is a short supplement which I hope will clarify three key points of Tsong-ka-pa’s teaching. The supplement is drawn from the oral teachings of Kensur Lekden (1900—71), abbot of the Tantric College of Lower Lhasa, and Professor Geshe Gedun Lodro of the University of Hamburg as well as from general explanations of tantra found in each of the four orders of Tibetan Buddhism:
Long-chen, rap-jam’s Precious Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle and Treasury of Tenets;
Pad-ma-kar-po’s General Presentation of the Tantra Sets, Captivating the Wise;
So-nam-tse-mo’s General Presentation of the Tantra Sets;
Bu-tön’s General Presentation of the Tantra Sets— condensed, middling and extensive versions; Geluk
Lo-sang-chö-ki-gye-tsen’s Presentation of the General Teaching and the Four Tantra Sets; Long-dol Ngak-wang-lo-sang’ s Terminology in Secret Mantra, the Scriptural Division Knowledge Bearers; Pa-bong-ka-pa’s Miscellaneous Notes from Jo-nay Pandita’s Explanation of the Great Exposition of Secret Mantra.
The first two parts were orally re-translated into Tibetan for Lati Rinpochay, a philosophy master and tantric lama from the Dalai Lama’s monastery in Dharamsala, for the sake of correction and verification. Geshe Gedun Lodrö, a Tibetan scholar of scholars at present teaching at the University of Hamburg, provided invaluable information and interpretation for the translation of Tsong-ka-pa’s text. Barbara Frye, a student of Tibetan Buddhism for several years, provided crucial help in editing the Dalai Lama’s commentary.
A guide to Tsong-ka-pa’s text, following his own mode of division of the contents, is given in tabular form in an appendix. The eight chapter divisions and their titles in the Dalai Lama’s commentary and in Tsong-ka-pa’s text were added to facilitate understanding. The transliteration scheme for Sanskrit names and titles is aimed at easy pronunciation, using sh, sh, and ch rather than 1, s, and c. With the first occurrence of each Indian title, the Sanskrit Is given, if available. Often Tsong-ka-pa refers only to the title or the author of a work, whereas both are given in translation to obviate the need for checking back and forth.
The full Sanskrit and Tibetan titles are to be found in the bibliography, which is arranged alphabetically according to the English titles of sutras and tantras and according to the authors of other works. The Sanskrit and Tibetan originals of key terms have been given in a glossary at the end.
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