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R E V I S E DE D I T I O NJohn Powers
Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism
Introduction toTibetan Buddhismr e v i s e d e d i t i o nby John PowersSnow Lion Publicationsithaca, new yorkboulder, colorado
Snow Lion PublicationsP.O. Box 6483Ithaca, NY 14851 USA(607) 273-8519© 1995, 2007 by John PowersAll rights reserved. First edition 1995Second edition 2007No portion of this book may be reproduced by any means withoutprior written permission from the publisher.Printed in Canada on acid-free recycled paper.Designed and typeset by Gopa & Ted2, Inc.Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataPowers, John, 1957-Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism / by John Powers. — Rev. ed.p. cm.Includes bibliographical references and indexes.ISBN-13: 978-1-55939-282-2 (alk. paper)ISBN-10: 1-55939-282-7 (alk. paper)1.Buddhism—China—Tibet. 2.Tibet (China)—Religion.I. Title.BQ7604.P69 2007294.3’923—dc222007019309
Table of ContentsPreface11Technical Note17Introduction21Part One:The Indian Background1. Buddhism in India31The Buddha31The Buddha’s Life and Lives34Epilogue562. Some Important Buddhist Doctrines63Cyclic Existence63Appearance and Reality713. Meditation81The Role of Meditation in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism81Stabilizing and Analytical Meditation85The Five Buddhist Paths914. Maha¯ya¯na101Origins101Mah›y›na Doctrines105The Bodhisattva Path113
Part Two:Tibetan History and Culture5. Tibetan Religious History137Tibet: Geography and Environment137The Early History of Tibet139The Period of the Religious Kings144The Second Dissemination of Buddhism155Mongol Influence and Sakya Supremacy159The Gélukpa Ascent to Power163The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries1696.The Twentieth Century181Foreign Conflicts181The Fourteenth Dalai Lama187The Interregnum Period195The Fourteenth Dalai Lama Assumes Power197The Chinese Occupation of Tibet2057. Festivals and Holy Days219Mönlam219The Butter-Sculpture Festival of Kumbum222Sacred Dance226Other Religious Festivals228Common Elements in Tibetan Religious Ceremonies2298. Geography and Architecture233The Religious Environment233Construction of Religious Structures236StÒpas2426/introduction to tibetan buddhism
Part Three:Tibetan Buddhist Doctrines and Practices9. Tantra249The Place of the Tantras in Buddhist Literature249Tantra as a Branch of Mah›y›na257Tantric Symbols262Entering Tantric Practice267The Four Classes of Tantra279The Preliminary Practices294The Fourteen Root Downfalls31510.Death and Dying in Tibetan Buddhism325Introduction325Death Meditation: Exoteric and Esoteric Traditions330The Bardo Process341Tibetan Rituals of Death and Dying348Part Four:The Schools of Tibetan Buddhism11.The Four Orders355The Nonsectarian Movement35912.Nyingma367History and Doctrines367The Nine Vehicles375Terma: Hidden Treasures378Distinctive Practices: Dzogchen38313. Kagyu399History and Doctrines399Meditation Practices405contents/7
14. Sakya433Origins of the Sakya Tradition433The Development and Dissemination ofSakya Doctrines and Practices437Sakya Becomes a Political Force442The Sakya Monastic Order445

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