Tibetan Tantric Manuscripts from Dunhuang: A Descriptive Catalogue of the Stein Collection at the British Library – By Jacob Dalton and Sam van Schaik

  • Published on

  • View

  • Download


  • science. Each section of the text is preceded by a brief syn-opsis, including an indication of the sections most interest-ing and often-discussed passages, and nearly every passageis punctuated by an excerpt from commentarial literature aswell as Van Nordens own insightful comments. This editionnot only illuminates the Mengzis milieu, but also that of ZhuXi and the Neo-Confucian orthodoxy that Zhu helped tocreate in medieval China. Moreover, Van Norden demon-strates how, despite the fact that Zhus interpretation (itselfdesignated canonical in the fourteenth century CE) elevatedthe Mengzi to canonical status as one of the so-called FourBooks of the Confucian curriculum, his metaphysicsderails his otherwise keen textual insight by often readingthis early pre-Buddhist text in terms of categories inheritedfrom a millennium of Chinese contact with Buddhistthought. Those who seek to encounter the most cogent,coherent, and comprehensible of Confucian classics in aninexpensive, idiomatic, and accurate edition with an ampleyet unobtrusive textual apparatus can do no better than toseek out this translation.

    Jeffrey L. RicheyBerea College

    BuddhismTIBETAN TANTRIC MANUSCRIPTS FROM DUN-HUANG: A DESCRIPTIVE CATALOGUE OF THESTEIN COLLECTION AT THE BRITISH LIBRARY. ByJacob Dalton and Sam van Schaik. Brills Tibetan StudiesLibrary, 12. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2006. Pp. xxxiv +390; plates. $219.00.

    The study of early Tibetan history and religion was revo-lutionized in the early twentieth century by the sensationaldiscoveries at Dunhuang. These materials provide an invalu-able lens on this late rst millennium Central Asian cross-roads, including remarkable documents relating to theculture and history of the Tibetan empire. Previously, schol-ars unable to travel to Europe had to rely on a limited selec-tion of published facsimiles; and all had to make do withpartial (and imperfect) catalogs. In recent years, however,the International Dunhuang Project (http://idp.bl.uk/) hasbeen making freely available on the Internet high-qualityscans of Dunhuang manuscripts from collections around theworld. Scholars of esoteric Buddhism may now more easilyexploit those documents held by the British Library (and to alesser extent the Bibliothque Nationale) courtesy of Daltonand van Schaiks excellent catalog of the Tantric manu-scripts held therein. They have done a thorough and admi-rable job, providing for each item a number within acomprehensive and systematic cataloging system (yetincluding references from older systems), a bibliographicdescription, titles, incipits and explicits, and canonical par-allels. Two indices allow quick reference to titles, names andterms, as well as to parallel texts in the French collection. Ofparticular consequence is the invaluable progress made in

    identifying whole volumes that have been scattered acrossthe English and French collections. In all, this publication isa signal achievement and should occasion a major leapforward in the scholarly analysis of these remarkableresources for the study of esoteric Buddhism.

    Christian K. WedemeyerUniversity of Chicago

    RELIGION, MEDICINE AND THE HUMAN EMBRYOIN TIBET. By Frances Garrett. Routledge Critical Studies inBuddhism. New York: Routledge, 2008. Pp. xvi + 208.$150.00.

    Garretts intellectually ambitious and well-researchedstudy of embryologies from eleventh to seventeenth centuryTibet not only elucidates the popularity of embryology as areligious topic in Buddhist Tibet during that period, but alsocritically evaluates the categories of medicine, science,and religion as they apply to the Tibetan context. Readingthem as narratives rather than logico-scientic accounts ofactual fetuses, Garrett articulates, often in fascinating detail,how embryologies composed by religious scholars such asLongchenpa and Gampopa, or medical commentators suchas Kyempa Tsewang, expressed diverse views about thenature of human existence, its social context, its physicaland moral causes, and its potential for freedom. She empha-sizes throughout that even in a medical context (and suchdisciplinary distinctions were drawn in pre-modern Tibet),embryological knowing [was] religious knowing. Theclarity and sharpness of Garretts argument sometimessuffers from her capacious reach. She attempts to tacklemore than her share of large theoretical issues, while alsometiculously laying out in detail a highly technical literaturethat spans more than half a millennium. Nonetheless, herwork makes a signicant methodological and material con-tribution to the history of Asian medical systems, and to agrowing body of work on the relationship between Buddhismand medicine in Asia.

    Amy Paris LangenbergBrown University

    ORNAMENT OF STAINLESS LIGHT: AN EXPOSI-TION OF THE KA LACAKRA TANTRA. By KhedrupNorsang Gyatso. Translated by Gavin Kilty. The Library ofTibetan Classics, Volume 14. Boston, MA: Wisdom Publica-tions, 2004. Pp. xvi + 709. $49.95.

    Gyatsos late-fteenth century Tibetan text is a standardmedium-length explanation of the important Kalacakratantra system of Buddhist mysticism. It eschews detailedexposition of the systems scientic subjects to focus onfundamentals of theory and practice. As such, it is an excel-lent introduction to the more advanced forms of IndianTibetan Vajrayana Buddhism in general. Kiltys translationis accurate and faithful to the original. Being a translationrather than an interpretation, the book presupposes that thereader has a solid foundation in basic Buddhism and theMahayana, and some acquaintance with the Vajrayana. This

    Religious Studies Review VOLUME 35 NUMBER 1 MARCH 2009


  • book is required reading for advanced students of Indian andTibetan Buddhism; it belongs in any library seeking thor-ough coverage of the Buddhist tradition.

    John NewmanNew College of Florida

    LIVING BUDDHIST STATUES IN EARLY MEDI-EVAL AND MODERN JAPAN. By Sarah J. Horton. NewYork: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. Pp. 232 + ill. $69.95.

    Hortons thesis is that Japanese Buddhist statues arebest understood not as art objects appreciated for theirappearance, but as real presences. For Japanese worship-pers, these living images are treated as individuals witha history, personality, and certain propensities. Hortonexamines the spiritual lives of powerful statues of fourmajor Buddhist divinities: Sakyamuni, Amida, Kannon, andthe bodhisattva Jiz at famous temples like Kiyomizudera,Asakusadera, Zenkji, and so on. In her broad survey,which relies on extensive documentary research as well asher own eldwork, Horton proves that such a view ofimages is typical from early medieval Japan to the presentday. Horton, however, occasionally overlooks relevantsources, such as Faure on medieval icon worship, MiyataNoboru on premodern cults to hayarigami, and my ownwork on Kannon living icons. In addition, despite refer-ences to works like Freedbergs The Power of Images, sheoffers very little theoretically to explain how the linebetween the statue and the divinity represented disappearsin the Japanese devotional context. She concentratesinstead on relating the rich tradition of tales about thesemiraculous statues, which she supplements with materialfrom her own observation of temple rituals. Her anecdotalapproach makes this book useful in the classroom, and alsolls an important gap about how Buddhism is actually prac-ticed in Japan.

    Mark MacWilliamsSt. Lawrence University


    This excellent and pioneering book opens up anextremely important subject in the history of rNying maBuddhism: the views of the famous eleventh century teacherRongzom (Rong-zom Chos-kyi bzang-po). The book has vesections: an introduction to Rongzoms life and works, anintroduction to mantra from a Nyingma perspective, Rong-zoms views on Madhyamaka in relation to Mantra, his fourprinciples of reasoning as means for establishing purity, anda conclusion. In addition, there is a translation and compara-tive edition of Rongzoms text, Establishing Appearences asDivine (gSang sngags rdo rje theg pai tshul las snang ba lharbsgrub pa). This book, although comparatively small, is ofmajor signicance for our understanding of the early rNyingma. It opens up an understanding of Rongzoms fundamental

    views on the tantric notion of intrinsic purity, and how thiscolored his approach to Madhyamaka and to the use of rea-soning in Buddhism. Kppl has an extremely good commandof Tibetan and a deeply nuanced understanding of the con-temporary tradition. She fruitfully combines this with alively critical appraisal of the differences between Rongzomas presented by the modern tradition of Mipham, and thevoice of the actual author of this text. Since detailed histori-cal work still remains to be done, one cannot claim certaintythat this text is genuinely the unmodied work of Rongzom,although much of the contents make it seem likely that thismight be the case.

    Robert MayerWolfson College, Oxford University

    BUDDHIST RITUALS OF DEATH AND REBIRTH:CONTEMPORARY SRI LANKAN PRACTICE ANDITSORIGINS. By Rita Langer. Routledge Critical Studies inBuddhism. New York: Routledge, 2007. Pp. xii + 243.$160.00.

    This fascinating but absurdly expensive book (189pages of text) is divided into three chapters, each of whichhas three sections. The chapter titles are: Death and Dying,The Funeral, and Post-funerary Rites; the sections areentitled Contemporary Sri Lankan Practice, Commentary onthe Practice, and Some Historical Roots. The rst sectionsdraw on six months eldwork done in 1998-1999 and onquestionnaires distributed then; they are written mostly inshort, dramatic sentences, presenting the sometimes anec-dotal ethnography vividly. The second and third sections arewritten in a more distanced, interpretive style: the secondsections explore various topics, drawing on Langers ownexperience and on various textual and secondary sources.The third sections are by far the longest, and draw eclecti-cally on Vedic and later Hindu texts, on Pali and SanskritBuddhist texts, and on secondary sources dealing withhistory and archaeology, all of which are taken to providehints and suggestions as to the meaning and origin ofcontemporary practice. This approach provides a multi-directional, kaleidoscopic ensemble rather than a uniednarrative or linear argument. Langer concludes with thestatement that, whereas historical materials are usuallytaken to assist in understanding the modern world, thereverse might also be true: [a]cquainting oneself with con-temporary Buddhist culture and practice can only enhanceones understanding of the texts. That is surely true.

    Steven CollinsUniversity of Chicago

    REBUILDING BUDDHISM: THE THERAVADAMOVEMENT IN TWENTIETH-CENTURY NEPAL. BySarah LeVine and David N. Gellner. Cambridge, MA: HarvardUniversity Press, 2005. Pp ix + 377; photos, maps, charts.Cloth, $49.00; paper, $22.50.

    LeVine and Gellners book offers a new perspective onBuddhism in the Kathmandu Valley, providing a detailed

    Religious Studies Review VOLUME 35 NUMBER 1 MARCH 2009


  • local history of change over the course of the twentiethcentury, and rich ethnographic material collected from bothNepali monastics and laity. The book is particularly success-ful in its attention to the gender nuances of renunciation; itdraws attention both to the inequalities between monks andnuns, and to the gendered differences in the choice torenounce (or return to) householding. A second, highlyintriguing element of the bookthough not activelythematizedis its complex picture of international Buddhistexchanges: LeVine and Gellner reveal Nepali Buddhists trav-eling abroad for purposes ranging from pilgrimage to educa-tion to initiation, and negotiating a variety of linguisticbarriers. The book has two signicant weaknesses: its heavyreliance on the tired analogy of Buddhism to Christianity,and its apparent embrace of partisan Theravada rhetoric(i.e., that simple, scientic Theravada is superior to thedecaying, ritualistic Buddhism of Kathmandu). Althoughboth these tendencies have long pedigrees in Western schol-arship, it is perplexing to nd them in a book coauthored byGellner, whose previous work has argued for a far moresensitive conception of Buddhism in Nepal. Given a morenuanced framework, this book could have done true justiceto its fascinating dataas an account not of how Theravadarevived Kathmandu, but of how and why some Nepalis havecome to negatively evaluate local Mahayana Buddhism, andadopt in its place Theravada and the monastic lifestyle.

    Anne MockoUniversity of Chicago



    ). Translated by Joseph John Loizzo

    and the AIBS Translation Team. Edited by Robert A. F.Thurman, Thomas F. Yarnall, and Paul G. Hackett. CriticalEditions by Joseph John Loizzo and Paul G. Hackett. Treasuryof the Buddhist Sciences Series. New York: American Insti-tute of Buddhist Studies, 2007. Pp. xxix + 434. $49.00.

    Loizzo and the AIBS (American Institute of BuddhistStudies) TranslationTeams excellent English translation andmeticulous edition of the Tibetan translations of NagarjunasReason Sixty with Chandrakrtis commentary enhances ourunderstanding of this important but relatively unknownwork, rich in its philosophical and psychological insight.In a provocative introduction, Loizzo challenges previousWestern scholarly interpretations and translations of theseauthors works and argues for a cross-cultural comparison ofNagarjuna and Chandrakrti with Nietzsche, Wittgenstein,and their postmodern heirs. His close reading of the ReasonSixty and its commentary shows how these Indian philoso-phers use reason as a therapeutic tool to cut through thecognitive and affective resistances that impede the realiza-tion of compassion and nondualistic wisdom. The carefulannotation takes into account the Indian background of thetexts but also uses the writings of Geluk scholars, Gyaltsapand Tsong Khapa, to help resolve interpretative problems.This book is awelcome contribution to the growing number of

    translations of Indo-Tibetan texts of interest to both readerswith a background in Buddhism and in Western philosophy.

    Karen C. LangUniversity of Virginia

    LION OF SIDDHAS: THE LIFE AND TEACHINGS OFPADAMPA SANGYE. Translated by David Molk withLama Tsering Wangdu Rinpoche. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Pub-lications, 2008. Pp. ix + 336. Paper, $18.95.

    This work contains the English-language translations oftwo major texts associated with Padampa Sangye (d. ca.1117 CE), an Indian spiritual adept well-known for his teach-ings in Tibet, especially of the Shije and Chd traditions. ASun Ablaze with a Thousandfold Rays of Attainment is anineteenth-century biography of Padampa by C. Seng. Thisnarrative begins with Padampas previous lives, recounts hisunconventional teachings and activities as Padampa, andextends through the lives of his foremost male and femalestudentsa temporal scope not uncommon in Tibetanaccounts of spiritual adepts. Mahamudra Teachings inSymbols presents the nonverbal teachings and verbal apho-risms of Padampa as interpreted by his student Kunga, aswell as records of dialogs between Padampa and his studentson topics related to spiritual practice and quotidian behavior.Five appendices presenting traditional and modern instruc-tions on practice related to Padampas traditions comple-ment these two translations. Absent of any historical orcritical analysis, this publication relies on popular beliefs (itassumes, e.g., the direct transmission of the Chd teachingsfrom Padampa Sangye to Machig Labdrn) and it does notconsider available scholarly literature on Padampa, Shij, orChd. The work also lacks such conventional academic appa-ratus as an index, a bibliography, extensive footnotes andnonphonetic transliteration of foreign-language words.However, practitioners and scholars interested in the teach-ings associated with Padampa who do not have access to theoriginal Tibetan-language sources will appreciate thisvolume making these texts available in English for the rsttime.

    Michelle J. SorensenColumbia University

    BUDDHISM AND TAOISM FACE TO FACE. By Chris-tine Mollier. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2008.Pp. xi + 241. $55.00.

    Molliers important book is an account of the interactionsbetween Buddhism and Taoism in medieval China, con-structed as a set of ve linked case studies. Although the rootsof Taoism are very ancient, it only took on organized form inabout the second century CE, at just the time Buddhism wastaking root in China. Thus, the two traditions developed inparallel, sometimes in harmony and sometimes in conict.Molliers ve studies explore 1) Buddhist borrowing of theTaoist concept of heavenly kitchens; 2) Buddhist and Taoistanti-sorcery techniques; 3) Buddhist appropriation of a Taoistscripture on extending the life account; 4) Buddhist and

    Religious Studies Review VOLUME 35 NUMBER 1 MARCH 2009


  • Taoist versions of the cult of the Big Dipper; and 5) the rise ofthe Taoist gure of Jiuku tianzun, inspired by the popularbodhisattva Guanyin. Among her goals is to investigate theactual workings of popular religion in medieval China, as anantidote to the assumption that it was an undifferentiatedmuddle of heterodoxy and superstition. Her case studiesdemonstrate the complexity of the relationship between thetwo religions, themutual nature of their inuence (alongwithsome of the conditions that shaped it in one direction or theother), and the variety of avenues through which interactionoccurred. The book sets an important example for the criticalstudy of popular religious ideas and practices.

    Kate A. LingleyUniversity of Hawaii at Manoa

    VIRTUOUS BODIES: THE PHYSICAL DIMENSIONSOF MORALITY IN BUDDHIST ETHICS. By SusanneMrozik. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. Pp. vii +184. $65.00.

    Mroziks thoughtful book makes a strong case for howconsiderations of Buddhist ethics have neglected the bodyin centering on mental states such as intentionality. UsingShantidevas Siksasamuccaya , (The Compendium of Training)as her focus of analysis, Mrozik argues that the formationof ethical persons (in this text, the cultivation of the virtuesof a bodhisattva) is a process that involves both physicaland moral development. Thus, the effects of bodhisattvapractices are as manifest in the features, postures, andmovements of bodies as they are in the experience of par-ticular cognitive and affective states. The scholars thatMrozik draws upon in framing her approach, such as Fou-cault and Grosz, are well chosen for the task at hand, andthe book offers a nice balance of theoretical discourse andconcrete examples drawn from Buddhist texts. Mroziksbook does more than provide a corrective to overly cogni-tive theories of Buddhist ethics. It also focuses on the moreconstructive endeavor of contributing to the work of con-temporary scholars concerned with embodiment, gender,and human differences. While both the corrective and con-structive dimensions of the book make important contribu-tions to contemporary scholarship, I believe that theconstructive side is particularly original and useful.

    Liz WilsonMiami University

    ORDINARY MIND AS THE WAY: THE HONGZHOUSCHOOL AND THE GROWTH OF CHAN BUD-DHISM. By Mario Poceski. Oxford and New York: OxfordUniversity Press, 2007. Pp. xii + 287. 65.00.

    Poceskis monograph thoroughly reevaluates the per-ception that the Hongzhou School of Chan Buddhism duringthe Tang dynasty (618-907) was idiosyncratic and deanttoward conventional Mahayana Buddhist teachings inChina. The book is divided into two parts. Part one (chapters1-3) covers the life and context of the founder, Mazu Daoyi(709-788), who trained Chinese and Korean disciples in an

    innovative community, signicantly based in southernChina. Part two (chapters 4-6) comprises a careful inventoryof the signicant teachings associated with Mazu (e.g.,Mind is Buddha), considered from the alternative perspec-tive that the teachings of the Hongzhou school dovetail withcontemporary interpretations of Mahayana literature inChina. Poceskis study is based upon a comparison betweenTang sources and [t]he selective approach to collectiveremembrance of the past he sees in the bulk of Chan litera-ture from the Song (960-1279) dynasty, which apparentlypresents the Hongzhou School from an uncompromisingangle. Song sources are certainly the product of ingeniousmyth-making as well as historiography. But, without clearlypresenting the Hongzhou School and its teachings in Songsources, it can be difcult for the reader to understand whatmakes the Hongzhou School distinctive in Chinese Bud-dhism. Despite this consistent hindrance, Poceskis researchprovides an updated analysis of how the Hongzhou Schoolcorresponds with Chinese Buddhist doctrines of the Tangperiod.

    George A. KeyworthKyoto, Japan


    Morten Schltter adds a detailed and careful study tothe recent scholarship on the early history of the ChanSchool. He explains that the dispute between the Caodong (J.Soto) advocates of mozhao (silent illumination) Chan andthe Linji (J. Rinzai) advocates of kanhua (observing the keyphrase) Chan during the Song (960-1279) period in Chinawas not merely a difference in soteriology but also a factionaldispute properly understood only against the political andsocial context. Because appointments of abbots of publicmonasteries were strongly inuenced by literati governmentofcials, the different Chan lineages competed for theirpatronage. The weakened Caodong lineage began a revivalchallenging the Yunmen and Linji lineages for literatisupport. Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091-1157) taught that just tosit in silent illumination was itself enlightenmenta medita-tion practice attractive to the lay literati. Well-known Linjimaster Dahui Zonggao (1089-1163) vigorously condemnedheretical silent illumination Chan and expounded kanhuaChan where the practitioner focused intensely on the huatouor crucial phrase of a gongan (J. koan), pushing the practi-tioner to a point beyond thinking so that the great ball ofdoubt nally shattered into great enlightenment. Originallya factional dispute, this contrast in meditation practices setthe paradigm for Chan/Zen practice that still continues tothis day.

    Victor HoriMcGill University

    Religious Studies Review VOLUME 35 NUMBER 1 MARCH 2009





    . By Jonathan A. Silk.Studia Philologica Buddhica Monograph Series XIX. Tokyo:The International Institute for Buddhist Studies, 2006.Pp. 102. N.p.

    The problem of what the Buddha meant to have beendone with his bones, body, or relics, after his nirvana


    depending on what sarra actually meant, has perplexedBuddhists across Asia for millennia because the answerspeaks directly to his status before his demise. This questionhas also interested G. Schopen, the leading scholar of earlyIndian Buddhism in the west, for decades, and in this shortmonograph, Silk picks up in the early Chinese Buddhistsources where Schopen left off in Sanskrit, Pali, and Tibetan.By meticulously looking into passages from different trans-lations of the Mahaparinirvana

    and Lotus su tras in Chinese,

    and comparing them with Indic-language examples, Silksheds light on several fundamental questions in the study ofChinese Buddhism. One of these pressing questions iswhether the Chinese were aware of the nuances of vocabu-lary in Indian texts, and if they were, did they opt for Chineseantecedents to contextualize Indian terms or attempt tomaintain the Indian meanings? In the case of the Buddhassarra, Chinese could have seen his corpse rather than hisrelics or bones. Silk stipulates that they saw relics, butleaves plenty of room for other interpretations, including thepossibility that we are only beginning to understand therelationship between texts and practice in Buddhism. Thisbook is denitely intended for a specialist audience withadvanced knowledge of at least one of the canonical Bud-dhist languages. This should not deter the nonspecialistfrom picking up such an intriguing return to classicalphilology.

    George A. KeyworthKyoto, Japan

    TIBETAN BUDDHISTS IN THE MAKING OFMODERN CHINA. By Gray Tuttle. New York: ColumbiaUniversity Press, 2005. Pp. xiii + 337. Cloth, $75.00; paper,$24.50.

    Tuttles book lls a major lacuna in the study of theinterplay between Tibet and modern China. Tuttles exten-sive and rigorous archival research in both Chinese andTibetan sources sheds intriguing light on the nuanced roleprominent Tibetans played in both Chinese politics and thereligious practices of many Han Chinese citizens from thelate Qing through the 1950s. The work is full of detail aboutthe political and religious motivations of such gures as thePanchen Lama, Dorj Chpa, Taixu, the Thirteenth DalaiLama, and Sherap Gyatso, among many others. Important inthis study is the balance Tuttle brings to the overarching andsensitive issue of the contested political status of Tibet.Indeed, Tuttle aims his book (quite incisively) at bothChinese nationalists and Tibet sympathizers, both of whomwould benet from a careful study of its compelling pages. Acritical historian, Tuttle is well acquainted with the Sino-Tibetan interface and has spent considerable time afootlearning precisely what is at stake, and for whom. Perhapsthe most valuable aspect of this text, full of intriguingdetails, is its careful and honest treatment of the evidence.Tuttle, unlike countless other writers, does not attempt to tdata into preconceived conclusions; rather, he allows thedata to inform his careful conclusions. The result is a tech-nically excellent and important contribution to the history ofthe religiousand therefore politicalrelationship betweenTibet and modern China.

    Eric D. MortensenGuilford College

    Religious Studies Review VOLUME 35 NUMBER 1 MARCH 2009



View more >