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Publisher's description: Tsong Khapa’s Great Treatise on the Stages of Mantra (Sngags rim chen mo)—considered by the present Dalai Lama to be one of Tsong Khapa’s two most im­portant books (along with his Lam rim chen mo)—is his masterful synthesis of the prin­ciples and practices of all four classes of Tantra, which formed the basis of his innovation in creat­ing the esoteric “Tantric College” institution and cur­ricu­lum in the early fifteenth century. With detailed reference to hundreds of works from the Tibetan Kangyur and Tengyur, the chapters presented and studied in this volume concern his treatment of the creation stage (bskyed rim) meditations of Unexcelled Yoga Tantra. This includes a detailed analysis emphasizing how and why such creation stage practices—uti­lizing deity yoga to transform death, the between, and life into the three bodies of buddhahood—are indispensible to creat­­ing a foundation for successfully enter­ing the culminal yogic practices of the perfection stage. (A subsequent volume will present the perfection stage chapters of this essential masterwork.) An important work for both scholars and practitioners, this annotated translation is sup­ple­men­ted with extensive support materials. A companion volume of the critically edited Tibetan text—annotated with the found quotes from Tengyur and Kangyur texts in Tibetan (and Sanskrit where available)—also will be published in a limited edition, and as an e-book.

This dissertation examines the development of theories about meditative practices and their soteriological goals in Indian Buddhist thought. It traces this development from the earliest stage accessible to us as far as the systematizations of Asanga and Vasubandhu in the fifth century AD. The first two chapters apply the techniques of form-criticism to the first four Nikayas of the Pali canon in an attempt to isolate the types of meditative technique described in this literature. The preliminary attempts at systematization in the Samannaphalasutta and Mahasatipatthanasutta are subjected to detailed analysis. It is found that a wide variety of techniques are recommended in this literature, that these techniques cannot easily be combined into a coherent system of soteriological practice, and that the attempts to so combine them in the Nikayas are frequently inconsistent with each other. The third chapter analyzes in detail Vasubandhu's contribution to this issue as seen in the path-structure set forth in the Abhidharmakosabhasya. Substantial sections of that work are translated, together with the commentaries of Yasomitra and Sthiramati. The fourth chapter analyzes the margasatya section of Asanga's Abhidharmasamuccaya, and gives a complete edition and translation of this section of the work, together with its bhasya, based on the surviving Sanskrit fragments and the Tibetan translation. It is found that the attempts of Asanga and Vasubandhu to resolve the tensions uncovered in the first two chapters are neither fully successful nor compatible with one another. The fifth chapter relates the findings of the first four chapters to current psychological research on the effects of meditative techniques, and discusses in outline the epistemological implications of these findings. It is found that the tensions apparent in the Buddhist texts are reflected in large part by the empirical findings of psychological studies, and that the epistemological implications of these findings have not been properly understood, either by Buddhist philosophers or contemporary psychological theorists.

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