Ocean of Attainments

The Creation Stage of Guhyasamaja Tantra According to Khedrup Jé

Description

This commentary on Guhyasamaja tantra is the seminal guide to deity yoga and tantric visualization for the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism.

Ocean of Attainments was composed by Khedrup Jé Gelek Palsang (1385–1438), one of Tsongkhapa Losang Drakpa’s most prominent disciples. Its subject is the creation stage, a quintessential Buddhist tantric meditation that together with the completion stage comprises the path of unexcelled tantra. The Guhyasamaja Tantra, referred to as the “king of all tantras,” is revered in Tibet, especially by the Geluk school, for its hermeneutic methods, which are in turn applied to other tantras.

In the creation stage, meditators visualize themselves as buddhas at the center of the celestial mandala, surrounded in all directions by male and female bodhisattvas and enlightened beings. Since the core of the practice is visualization, this meditation—perhaps more than other meditations—presumes the creative power of the mind. Visualizations form the basis not only of the creation stage and deity yoga but of all tantric practices and rituals, since tantric practice takes place not in mundane existence but in the illusion-like purity of the enlightened view.

While the previously published Essence of the Ocean of Attainments is a concise exposition on the practice of the Guhyasamaja sadhana, Ocean of Attainments is much more detailed, providing extensive scriptural citations, clear explanation of the body mandala, arguments on points of contention, reference to other tantric systems, and critiques of misinterpretations. Complemented by the extensive and clear introduction, this volume is a vital contribution to the growing body of scholarship on Guhyasamaja and on Buddhist tantra in general.

About the author(s)

Yael Bentor, professor emerita at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is a scholar of Tibetan tantric Buddhism. Her research focuses on the crystallization of tantric traditions among Geluk scholars during the early fifteenth century in Tibet. Currently she is working on the Six Dharmas of Naropa as presented by Tsongkhapa vis-à-vis the standpoints of Kagyu scholars. She lives in Jerusalem, Israel.

Penpa Dorjee, until his retirement in 2020, was a professor and head librarian of Shantarakshita Library of the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, India. He received an acharya degree from Sampurnanada Sanskrit University in Varanasi and his PhD from the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies. He has over seventeen books to his credit. At present, he is working on curriculum development for the Dalai Lama Centre for Tibetan and Ancient Indian Wisdom, Bodhgaya, India. He is also working on translating the Pali Tipitaka into Tibetan under the project initiated by The Dalai Lama Trust. He lives in Bylakuppe, India.

Reviews

Ocean of Attainments advances our knowledge not only of the Guhyasamaja tradition in Tibet but also of the Buddhist tantric view and practice in general. I highly recommend it.”

Vesna Wallace, professor of South and Central Asian religions at the University of California at Santa Barbara

“The introductory essay by Yael Bentor opens the door to an understanding of the world of Buddhist tantra, while the translation that follows renders the elegant but technical Tibetan text into eminently readable English. A major contribution.”

Per Kværne, professor emeritus, University of Oslo, and member, Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters

“Yael Bentor and Penpa Dorjee have excelled. Not only is this translation of a high standard, it is preceded by an introductory essay that covers in great depth the essential components of a successful creation-stage meditation. For anyone inspired by creation-stage meditation, this work on the Guhyasamaja Tantra, the king of tantras, is essential reading.”

Gavin Kilty, translator of Tsongkhapa’s Lamp to Illuminate the Five Stages

“Written while the Geluk school was still in formation, Khedrup Jé’s masterful Ocean of Attainments was central to the school’s emerging synthesis of tantric visualization and Madhyamaka philosophy. Bentor and Dorjee’s accurate translation of this important text is meticulously informed by the complex debates that surrounded its composition. Bentor’s introductory essay, moreover, is its own kind of masterwork, an inspired expression of a modern scholar steeped in the traditional literature, moving easily across countless difficult texts and thinking through vital issues in distinct and insightful ways.”

Jacob Dalton, Khyentse Foundation Distinguished University Professor in Tibetan Buddhism

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