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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.

This thesis is composed of two parts, one a translation, the other a commentary on the material that has been translated--a set of three well known identically entitled works by the famous Indian Buddhist scholar, Kamalasila (c. 740-795 C.E.). The Bhavanakramas are here translated from both Sanskrit and Tibetan sources. The commentary takes the form of an extended critical Prologue to the texts and is centred around an examination of the notions of meditation and insight as found therein. The first chapter of the commentary examines the various terms for meditation found in the texts and argues for a specific way of translating them that regards as normative only one of these, that is, bhavana . The argument is made that if one is to take the basic Buddhist distinction between intellectual and experiential wisdom seriously, no other concept of meditation will prove satisfactory. The concept of bhavana is contrasted with that of dhyana , and explained in light of other important terms, notably samadhi, samatha and vipasyana . Two different conceptions of samadhi are identified as existing within the texts, one corresponding with dhyana and one with bhavana . The latter is identified as predominant. This conception holds that meditation is not to be principally identified as non-conceptual in nature, but rather encompasses both nonconceptual states and conceptual processes. These latter, however, are not to be identified with ordinary reasoning processes ( cintamayi prajña ) but rather with a form of experiential knowing (bhavanamayi prajña, vipasyana ) that is conceptual in nature. It is in accordance with this conception that the actual translation of the texts has been undertaken.

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