14th September 2013

SOAS / SSIUK Padmasambhava Conference: Titles, Abstracts and Biographies

Padmasambhava Conference 14th September

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Keynote address by Chogyal Namkhai Norbu connected to this conference will take place at ASIA House on 3rd October.

 

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Lama Jampa ThayeLama Jampa Thaye

Title 
'Sakya perspectives on Padmasambhava and his legacy'
Abstract

In this brief paper the relationship between the Sakya tradition of Buddhism and Padmasambhava will be discussed. Although the Sakya school is generally seen as part of the 'reformist' movement within Tibetan Buddhism, this paper argues that the tradition's links to Padmasambhava make such a characterisatiom more complex and suggests that the Sakya reaction to Padmasambhava's legacy is much more nuanced than is usually supposed.

Biography

Lama Jampa Thaye is an English scholar and meditation master educated in the Sakya and Karma Kagyu traditions by HH Sakya Trizin and Karma Thinley Rinpoche, with whom he has studied for the past forty years. He received his doctorate from the University of Manchester in 1986 for his work on Tibetan religious history. Under Karma Thinley Rinpoche's spiritual authority he has established numerous centres and groups and teaches in many countries.


 

cathy cantwell crop

Dr Cathy Cantwell

Title
The Formative Impact of Guru Chöwang's (gu ru chos kyi dbang phyug, 1212-1270)
Secret Embodiment of the Lama (bla ma gsang 'dus) on the Padmasambhava Ritual Traditions
 
Abstract

This paper considers the features of a seminal Revelation, the Secret Embodiment of the Lama (bla ma gsang 'dus), of the thirteenth century forefather of the Nyingmapa, Guru Chöwang (gu ru chos kyi dbang phyug, 1212-1270).  The Guru Rinpoche meditative, ritual, and artistic traditions associated with the Secret Embodiment of the Lama (bla ma gsang 'dus) have lived on, not only in the continued practice of the Secret Embodiment of the Lama itself, but also within Revelations of lamas of subsequent generations.  Here, the textual corpus, including its representation within the works of the seventeenth century, Terdak Lingpa (gter bdag gling pa), is explored with reference to the Revelatory traditions of the Jewel Ocean (nor bu rgya mtsho) of Pema Lingpa (padma gling pa, 1450-1521), the Complete Embodiment of Enlightened Intention (dgongs pa yongs 'dus) of Dudul Dorje (bdud 'dul rdo rje, 1615-1672), and the Embodiment of Seven Revelations (gter kha bdun 'dus) of Dudjom Jigdral Yeshe Dorje (bdud 'joms 'jigs bral ye shes rdo rje, 1904-1987).


Biography

Dr Cathy Cantwell is a Research Officer, and Member of the Buddhist Studies Unit at the Oriental Institute, University of Oxford.  She has worked on Tibetan tantric ritual traditions of different periods, ancient and contemporary, with a particular focus on the development and practice of rNying ma traditions.  Recent publications have included, A Noble Noose of Methods, the Lotus Garland Synopsis: A Mahāyoga Tantra and its Commentary (2012) and Early Tibetan Documents on Phur pa from Dunhuang (2008), both co-authored with Robert Mayer (Austrian Academy of Sciences Press), as well as, Buddhism: The Basics (Routledge 2010).  She has had a particular interest in the ritual, imagery, and narrative traditions associated with Padmasambhava since her doctoral fieldwork in the early 1980s at a sacred site associated with Padmasambhava in Northern India.



rmayer 1Prof Dr Robert Mayer

Title
Padmasambhava and the evolution of bla ma'i rnal 'byor (guru yoga)
Abstract

The incorporation of Padmasambhava into tantric ritual revealed in several early Dunhuang texts, and his associated apotheosis as described in IOLTibJ321, seems to be unique. No other figure is honoured that way in the literature of the period, nor are we aware of any comparable evidence from contemporaneous India. For even if the sentiment of guru veneration was widely attested in India, the formal incorporation of a specific named guru into ritual liturgy as found in the early Tibetan Padmasambhava texts appears to be unprecedented. What can we conclude from this? Did the formalised, textualised ritual liturgies of Guru Yoga (bla ma'i rnal 'byor), which became a definitive practice of Tibetan tantrism, begin initially with the figure of Padmasambhava? Guru Yoga of the Tibetan type does not seem to be attested in Indian texts, and so far at least, we know of no earlier evidence from Tibet.

Biography

Dr. Robert Mayer is a University Research Lecturer and Research Officer at the Oriental Institute, University of Oxford, and is currently Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Bochum (Käte Hamburger Kolleg).  Robert Mayer is a specialist in the rNying ma school of Tibetan Buddhism, with particular interest in its early development.  He has worked on the critical editing of the rNying ma canon and on the Dunhuang corpus and other early Tibetan texts.  His recent major publications include, A Noble Noose of Methods, the Lotus Garland Synopsis: A Mahāyoga Tantra and its Commentary (2012) and Early Tibetan Documents on Phur pa from Dunhuang (2008), both co-authored with Cathy Cantwell (Austrian Academy of Sciences Press).  He is at present writing a monograph about the inter-religious dynamics between Tibetan Buddhism and Bon.



fabian1 croppedDr Fabian Sanders

Title
"The Farmer of Time and Space, some remarks on gter mas and sbas yuls"
Abstract

One of the possible ways to interpret the figure and deeds of Guru Padmasambhava is to see them as dense symbolic expressions of many crucial doctrinal principles and cosmological interpretations embedded in Tibetan Buddhism. This talk will discuss the many ways in which it is understood that he represents the actual presence of dharma in this world and makes it accessible to his devotees. In particular we will focus on his exploit to prepare the periodical refreshment of the teachings in the future through gter mas or to provide shelter for beings aspiring to enlightenment during troublesome ages, in form of sbas yuls.

Biography

After studying for more than twenty five years the languages and cultures of Tibet, China and India in both academic and traditional settings, Dr. Sanders teaches Tibetan Language and Culture at the Universita` Ca` Foscari in Venice. He has also been teaching language and translation courses for the International Shang Shung Institute for many years. He has in recent years made numerous field trips to Tibet, China and India in pursuit of his research into Tibetan Oracles and related themes.



Martin BoordDr Martin Boord (Rigdzin Dorje)

Title
Padmasambhava as "the second buddha" according to his biography: O rgyan guru padma 'byung gnas zhes bya ba'i rnam thar bcu gnyis dri ma med pa'i rgyan, revealed by bSam-gtan gling-pa (gter ston sTag-sham nus-ldan rdo-rje, born 1655)
Abstract

It is said that each and every one of the thousand buddhas who are destined to appear throughout the vast cosmos of a thousand million worlds during the course of the Auspicious Age, whenever and wherever they appear, will enact the twelve deeds of a supreme nirmāṇakāya.  Accordingly, when transcribing the life story of Guru Padmasambhava, "the second buddha" of our own world system, the 17th century Terton Samten Lingpa sought to highlight the buddha qualities of his subject by arranging the 50 chapters of his Stainless Ornament biography into 12 sections.  Looking closely at this text, we will consider the comparisons.

Biography

Dr. Martin Boord is a Buddhist Nyingmapa scholar who has studied with a number of Tibetan lamas from all the schools.  In the ‘70’s, he lived at Viśvabharati University in West Bengal with Prof. C.R.Lama, the incarnate throne holder of Khordong Monastery in East Tibet and a master of the Northern Treasures (Byang-gter) school.  Returning to the UK, he enrolled as a student at SOAS and in 1992 was awarded a Ph.D for his work on the wrathful deity Vajrakīla in the Byang-gter tradition (The Cult of the Deity Vajrakīla (Buddhica Britannica Series Continua IV), The Institute of Buddhist Studies, Tring,1993.  Re-published as Volume One of Vajrakila Texts of the Northern Treasures Tradition: Gathering the Elements. The Cult of the Wrathful Deity Vajrakila).

Having lived and worked in Oxford for almost 20 years, Dr Boord moved to the Cotswolds where he is currently engaged in a study of the homa rituals (burned offerings) of Vajrakīla. Other published works of his include: A Bolt of Lightning From the Blue, edition khordong, Berlin, 2003 and A Roll of Thunder from the Void, (Vajrakīla Texts of the Northern Treasures Tradition, Volume 2, 2010), as well as various translations in collaboration with Prof. C.R. Lama on Padmasambhava: Teachings on the downfalls of tobacco, The Dragon Roar that fulfills all wishes (Protector text), The Violent Storm of Meteoric Vajras (sādhana of rDo rje gro lod), A Gentle Rainfall of Honey (sādhana of Guru mTshan brgyad).


 

s200 lewis.doneyDr Lewis Doney

Title
The first Padmasambhava Biography
Abstract

Previous Tibetologists assumed that all versions of the Zangs gling ma "discovered" by the great gter-ston Nyang ral Nyi ma 'od zer (1124–1196) were the same. Erik Pema Kunsang translated the version found in the nineteenth-century Rin chen gter mdzod into English as “The Lotus-Born” in 1993. Yet it now appears that this exemplar constitutes a later, redacted and expanded version of this first full-length Padmasambhava biography. Four newly uncovered, unaugmented manuscripts, from Nepal and Bhutan, shed light on the process by which Nyang ral’s original text underwent a process of interpolation prior to being included in the Rin chen gter mdzod. By distinguishing the earliest recension of this narrative from later interpolated versions of the hagiography, it will be possible to chart the changing depiction of Padmasambhava up to the fourteenth century's expansive bKa' thangs with more accuracy than was hitherto possible.   

Biography

Lewis Doney is Postdoctoral Researcher on the project "Kingship and Religion in Tibet" at LMU, Munich. He received his BA (Religious Studies 2002) from Lancaster University and his MA and PhD (Study of Religions 2004 and 2011) from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. His thesis charts the metamorphosis of kingship ideals in Tibetan histories between the 8th and the 12th century, through the prism of representations of Khri Srong lde brtsan (742–c.800 CE). Doney is now working on a publication for the series Monumenta Tibetica Historica, outlining the recensional tradition of the Zangs gling ma (the earliest full-length biography of Khri Srong lde brtsan's supposed tantric master, Padmasambhava). At LMU he co-teaches courses on Old Tibetan, the imperial-period inscriptions of the eighth and ninth centuries, and Tibetan translated literature from the Dunhuang "library cave." He also maintains a side interest in the depiction of Tibet in graphic novels, comics and contemporary art from around the world. His page at the Institut für Indologie und Tibetologie can be found here.



Mike Dickman croppedMike Dickman  

Title
What Use is Guru Padmasambhava?
Abstract

The various biographies of Guru Padmasambhava present us with a plethora of often conflicting ‘facts’ and cannot seem to agree even on where or how he was born, how many texts may actually be historically ascribed to him or even how long he actually spent in Tibet (which would seem to be a fundamental question). To compound the confusion, there are various ‘series’ of Guru Padmasambhava–emanations ranging from the generally accepted standard group of eight through the fourteen of the ‘Spontaneous Realisation of All Intention’ (bsam pa lhung grub ma) and three principal deities of the bar chad lam sel or ‘Clearing of Obstacles on the Path’ series. Add to this the somewhat confusing fact of his often being embodied as guru, deva and dakini in certain cycles and as the embodiment of all enlightened intent or of all masters of pure awareness, one is left, perhaps, wondering quite who he was or is and what purpose he serves, or, otherwise put, quite how to practise him. In the guruyoga section of the Düd'jom Tersar (bdud 'joms gter gsar), he is practised as fourfold: the yogin–heruka Saroruhavajra (mtsho skyes rdo rje) in union with the consort Mandarava, two secondary emanations, Orgyen Menla (o rgyan smam bla) as ‘medicine buddha’ and Orgyen Khan'dro Norlha (o rgyan mkha' 'gro nor lha) as so–called ‘wealth deity’, and, ultimately, as the wrathful Hayagriva emanation, Dorje Drolö (rdo rje gro bo lod). I shall try to give a general idea of how and why these are linked to form this series of practiceswhose avowed goal is that of merging one's mind with that of the relative and absolute guru.


Biography

Mike Dickman's interest in Buddhism was first awakened (or more accurately, piqued) when he was fourteen years old and became interested in the civilisations of China and Japan. In the late 1960s, he read the statutory Lama Govinda and Evans-Wentz editions of Dawa Samdup's translations of two texts from the bar do thgos grol cycle and found them “vaguely interesting, perhaps, from a Jungian point of view, but hardly his cup of tea”. Some fifty years later and much to his amusement, he finds himself a fully–fledged Tibetan Buddhist practitioner and translator of the Tibetan language, with the great good fortune to be able to study with, as well as receive teachings and empowerments from some of the most famous and important Nyingma lamas of the recent Tibetan diaspora. He has translated for chief holders of the Düd'jom lineage, for Künzang Dechen Rinpoche and Khetsün Sangpo Rinpoche, and is currently at work on the 'Drigung Yangzab Cycle for lama–holders of that lineage and also those of the 'Drigung Ka'gyü School. He has also published a translation of the Seven–Chapter Prayer or le'u bdun ma and has translated Vimalamitra's commentary on the Mañjushrinamasamgiti.



Jamyang croppedJamyang Oliphant

Title:

The significance of Padmasambhava in the bcud len tradition

Abstract

This talk will focus on the significance of Padmasambhava in the practice known in the Tibetan tradition as bcud len.

Bcud len consists of varied methods whose goal is to extract through alchemical processes, ritual and contemplation, nutrition or ‘essence’ from sources that may include plants, flowers, barks and roots, rock, sperm and blood, or human flesh as well as other less tangible substances, such as the ‘essence of the space’ and the stars.

Bcud len exercises and techniques are varied and can involve preparations of alchemical compounds and medicinal concoctions, recitation of mantra, adherence to specific dietary regimes and a variety of exercises, mental, respiratory and physical.

The final aim of the bcud len practice is realisation, and its effects are  to increase wisdom, to sharpen mental faculties and to enhance the practitioner’s health, rejuvenating the vital organs, allowing him or her to live on negligible amounts of food. The physical body and the energy flow are thereby purified. 

Instances of bcud len literature exist in each of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism as well as in the Bon tradition; however, Padmasambhava's importance is at the heart of the rNying-ma bcud len literature and this is the main concern of this paper.

Biography

Jamyang Oliphant is currently enrolled in a doctoral studies program at the University of Oxford centred on bcud len literature. In 2009 he received a Master of Studies degree in Oriental Studies from the University of Oxford where his research focused on legal anthropology in the Tibetan context. He completed a Bachelor's degree in Religious Studies and Tibetan at SOAS in 2007.


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