Tibet and India: Buddhist Traditions and Transformations

As Buddhism spread out from north India, the place of its origin in the sixth century BC, the core ideas of this great religious tradition were often expressed through images. This Bulletin and the exhibition it accompanies, “Tibet and India: Buddhist Traditions and Transformations,” focus on Indian and Tibetan Buddhist art of the eleventh and twelfth centuries… (Free PDF download) Beautiful Buddhist works of art

Cover of Tibet and India @ Metropolitan Museum of ArtAs Buddhism spread out from north India, the place of its origin in the sixth century BC, the core ideas of this great religious tradition were often expressed through images. This Bulletin and the exhibition it accompanies, “Tibet and India: Buddhist Traditions and Transformations,” focus on Indian and Tibetan Buddhist art of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, a period that witnessed both the end of the rich north Indian Buddhist tradition and the beginning of popular Buddhist practice in Tibet. At this critical juncture in Buddhist history, a number of Tibetan monks traveled down out of the Himalayas to study at the famed monasteries of north India, where many also set about translating the vast corpus of Buddhist texts. Continue reading “Tibet and India: Buddhist Traditions and Transformations”

Wisdom Embodied: Chinese Buddhist and Daoist Sculpture

As illuminating for new enthusiasts of Chinese Buddhist art as for scholars and connoisseurs, Wisdom Embodied is a glorious tour of the Metropolitan’s unparalleled collection, certain to ear its place as a classic in the field…

Wisdom Embodied: Chinese Buddhist and Daoist Sculpture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Wisdom Embodied: Chinese Buddhist and Daoist Sculpture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum’s collection of Chinese Buddhist and Daoist sculpture is the largest in the western world. In this lavish, comprehensive volume, archaeological discoveries and scientific testing and analysis serve as the basis for a reassessment of 120 works ranging in date from the fourth to the twentieth century, many of them previously unpublished and all of them newly and beautifully photographed. An introductory essay provides an indispensable overview of Buddhist practices and iconography—acquainting us with the panoply of past, present, and future Buddhas, bodhisattvas, monks and arhats, guardians and adepts, pilgrims and immortals—and explores the fascinating dialogue between Indian and Chinese culture that underlies the transmission of Buddhism into China.
Continue reading “Wisdom Embodied: Chinese Buddhist and Daoist Sculpture”

Work with an Empty-Free Mind, by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

If you don’t want to suffer, then work with an empty mind. Then work will be fun and the results will be excellent.

Work Must Be Practice

Blue Hydrangea.Work is an important problem for most of us, because we work to live. We can say our life has value because of work. This makes it a most important issue. Consequently, I like to raise work as a crucial issue.

An important problem for people is the issue of work, because we work to live. We can say our life has value because of work. This makes it a most important issue for us. Consequently, I like to focus on work as a crucial issue. On the back covers of our “Looking Within” series, I asked the publishers to print a little verse that concerns our topic.

Do work of all kinds with a free heart,
Offer the fruits of work to voidness,
Eat the food of emptiness as the noble ones do,
Die to one’s self from the very beginning. Continue reading “Work with an Empty-Free Mind, by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu”

The Tibetan Chan Manuscripts

These manuscripts, found in the caves of Dunhuang, include the only surviving texts of a living ‘Tibetan Chan’ tradition. They give us a snapshot of the early Chan tradition from the eighth and tenth centuries…

Cove: The Tibetan Chan Manuscripts Papers on Central Eurasia No. 41, Sam van Schaik, The Tibetan Chan Manuscripts: A Complete Descriptive Catalogue of Tibetan Chan Texts in the Dunhuang Manuscript Collections.
The Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies, ISBN 2333-648X 100 pp. 2014, $18 paper, $5 pdf.

The author, Sam van Schaik, describes his book as follows:

‘Tibetan Chan Manuscripts is a catalogue of the Tibetan Chan texts found in the Dunhuang manuscript collections. The catalogue discusses 42 manuscripts, many of which are compendia containing several Chan texts. I’ve included some previously unknown Chan manuscripts (including the one on the cover) and put together some manuscripts that had been separated between the London and Paris collections. I’ve also looked at writing styles, both to date manuscripts and to suggest when two or more might have been written by the same person. The catalogue also has an introduction to the Tibetan Chan manuscripts and previous scholarship on them, plus an index of titles in Tibetan, Chinese and Sanskrit.’

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I have to admit to getting a bit of a buzz when I got this book for review. Those of us who follow Sam van Schaik’s blog Early Tibet have enjoyed his translations and comments on the Dunhuang manuscripts for quite a while. His translations range from the Tibetan debate on Indian versus Chinese Chan Buddhism to one of my favourites about Silk Road phrase books. He has the knack of bringing these subjects alive.

Continue reading “The Tibetan Chan Manuscripts”

Intuitive Insight, by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

There is a word in Buddhism that covers this completely, the word sunnata, or emptiness, emptiness of selfhood, emptiness of any essence that we might have a right to cling to with all our might as being ‘mine’…

Shakyamuni Triad with the Sixteen Protectors of the Great Wisdom Sutra. Nanbokuchō period (1336–92)Now intuitive insight, or what we call ‘seeing Dhamma’, is not by any means the same thing as rational thinking. One will never come to see Dhamma by means of rational thinking. Intuitive insight can be gained only by means of a true inner realisation. For instance, suppose we are examining a situation where we had thoughtlessly become quite wrapped up in something which later caused us suffering. If, on looking closely at the actual course of events, we become genuinely fed up, disillusioned and disenchanted with that thing, we can be said to have seen Dhamma, or to have gained clear insight. This clear insight may develop in time until it is perfected and has the power to bring liberation from all things. If a person recites aloud: ‘anicca, dukkha, anatta’ or examines these characteristics day and night without ever becoming disenchanted with things, without ever losing the desire to get things or to be something, or the desire to cling to things, that person has not yet attained to insight. In short, then, insight into impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and non-selfhood amounts to realising that nothing is worth getting or worth being.

Continue reading “Intuitive Insight, by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu”

It’s Like This, by Ajahn Chah

The crude, beginning level of the practice is a little hard to maintain, but the refined levels of virtue, concentration, and discernment all come out of this…

Download PDF copy of ‘It’s Like This’, by Ajahn Chah

It's Like This coverCoconut Water
The crude, beginning level of the practice is a little hard to maintain, but the refined levels of virtue, concentration, and discernment all come out of this. It’s as if they’re distilled from this same thing. To put it in simple terms, it’s like a coconut tree. A coconut tree absorbs ordinary water up through its trunk, but when the water reaches the coconuts, it’s sweet and clean. It comes from ordinary water, the trunk, the crude dirt. But as the water gets absorbed up the tree, it gets distilled. It’s the same water but when it reaches the coconuts it’s cleaner than before. And sweet. In the same way, the virtue, concentration, and discernment of your path are crude, but if the mind contemplates these things until they’re more and more refined, their crudeness will disappear. They get more and more refined, so that the area you have to maintain grows smaller and smaller, into the mind. Then it’s easy.

Download PDF copy of It’s Like This, by Ajahn Chah

Also mobi or ePub from Abhayagiri.org

Ajahn Chah was a master at using the apt and unusual simile to explain points of Dhamma. The translations of these similes have been polished as little as possible, for their unpolished nature is precisely what reveals unexpected layers of meaning.

Ajahn Chah
Year Published: 2013

With thanks to Abhayagiri

This book is a companion to In Simple Terms.