Tsewang Norbu at Jonang

jf_tsewang norbu_01.jpg Tsewang Norbu

The one who Hugh Richardson referred to in his 1967 article as “a Tibetan antiquarian” in describing his efforts to jot down stone pillar inscriptions in Lhasa and at Samye that date from the 8th and 9th centuries, the Nyingma master Rigzin Tsewang Norbu was a lover of rare books. [1] In fact, it seems that he was a bit of a Buddhist bibliophile.

About a hundred years after Tāranātha's death in the...

Jonang Sites Interactive Map

The following post is by Connor McCarty, an honors student at the University of Alabama and contributor to Jonang Foundation. [1]

jf_mapimage_02.jpg Interactive Map of Jonang Sites

Working in collaboration with the University of Alabama, we at Jonang Foundation have developed an interactive satellite map of Jonang sites across Tibet. Providing precise geographic locations of key Jonang sites, this map allows users to navigate both historical and active Jonang monasteries, stupas, nunneries, meditation caves, and...

Reflecting 'The Crystal Mirror'

Maybe its the dark magnetism of impending all hallows' eve, but I'm feeling a mischievous urge to rile up all the ghouls and goblins of unapologetic dogmatism and have them stare in unison — — into The Crystal Mirror . That is, The Crystal Mirror of Philosophical Systems by Thuken Losang Chökyi Nyima (1737-1802). Fortunately, this classical Tibetan polemical text is now available to the English reading world due to the clear translation of Geshe Lhundup Sopa and the lucid editing of Roger Jackson under the umbrella of The Library of Tibetan Classics series (Wisdom Publications, '09). [1]

Though the earliest attempt to translate...

At the Great Stupa of Jonang

The following is a transcript of a talk, The Legacy of the Jonangpa by Michael Sheehy at the Great Stupa of Jonang in Tibet on July 17, 2009.

Jonang stupa_0539.jpg Great Stupa at Jonang, '09

So, the actual name of this place is Jomonang, which is the name of the valley. [1] It is named "Jomonang" because the female local protector deity here is known as Jomo Ngag Gyalmo, who is said to live in the upper ridge right...

Notes on Jonang Series II

The second set in the Jonang Publication Series ( Jo nang dpe tshogs ) was recently published (vols. 11-21) in Beijing. [1] This annual series is dedicated to making select works on sūtra and tantra from the Jonang exegetical tradition available in softcover book form. Each Tibetan text in the series was chosen from the corpus of Jonang Tibetan Buddhist literature, and several of the rare works included in the series have only recently been recovered through our efforts at Jonang Foundation.

Texts were digitally inputted and edited by Tibetan Jonang scholars and monks in China as part of this ongoing publication project. Selections...

Tibetan Zhentong Discourse II

Kongtrul also lists Rangjung Dorje’s and Dolpopa’s contemporary, the celebrated Nyingma master Kunkhyen Drimé Odzer or Longchen Rabjam (1308-1363). Longchenpa does use similar terminology but in a context and with an implication different from that of Dolpopa. However, Longchenpa’s view on the tathāgatagarbha does closely resemble that of Dolpopa’s, and his elaborations on the multi-stratum universal ground are remarkably similar to Dolpopa’s understanding of pristine awareness as the universal ground ( kun gzhi ye shes ). [1]

Serdok Paṇchen otherwise known as Śākya Chokden (1428-1507) is probably the most well-known non-Jonangpa author of zhentong. Fortunately, the views of this Sakya exponent of zhentong gained...

What Is / Isn't Rangtong?

Dolpopa, like many great Tibetan scholars, was interested in making distinctions. Within his writings, we find several terse compositions that employ rich Buddhist lingo in order to succinctly and deliberately analyze critical subjects such as emptiness, existence, consciousness, and the wholeness of buddhahood.

What strikes me about these writings is that they are so unambiguous. Its as if Dolpopa knew there would be speculation, and he didn't want to leave his words too open to interpretation from others.

Having mentioned rangtong in contrast with zhentong in an earlier post, I wanted to step aside and let a work by Dolpopa speak for itself. [1]...

Embodying the Kalachakra

Marveling at how the ultimate is described as expressions, and thinking about how to relate this ongoing theme to Kālachakra practice, I happened upon a short piece by the late Lama Ngawang Kalden from Dzamthang that strikes at the heart of this matter.

In a compilation of his writings and talks, there is a short text within his Cycle of Instructions for Visualizing the Profound that has a passage on how the ultimate manifests as contemplative experience through the vajrayana process of embodying the Kālachakra deity.

Here in this passage, Lama Kalden gives us an extremely concise condensation of the vajrayoga path from the preliminary practices or "ngöndro"...

Expressions of the Essence

Buddhist phenomenology tells us that one of the five fundamental constituents of the egoic complex is "form" ( rūpa , gzugs ), the configuration of tangible materiality that is so integral to ordinary sensible experience. [1] Most basically, this suggests that there must be an outside world for there to be an inside world.

With this interface, the self is at play within the familiar field of duality. However, what intrigues me more than the self in the world of form is the formless, and more specifically the question: What is it about the nature of the formless that can be known?


The First Jonangpa

Throughout my readings on the Jonangpa in English, I've noticed the (all too) common attribution of either Yumo Mikyo Dorje or Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen as the "founder" of the Jonang tradition. [1] Though Yumowa was a major figure in the transmission of the Drö Kālachakra lineage as it was received by the Jonangpa, and was a prominent forefather of the tradition, its unlikely that he even heard the word "Jonangpa" in his lifetime.

jf_kunpangpa_1.jpg Kunpangpa

The term was coined during...