Classic and Contemporary Buddhist Works

Mahāmudrā and Related Instructions - Preface

Core Teachings of the Kagyü Schools

General Editor’s Preface

The publication of this volume marks an important milestone in making key classical Tibetan texts available in contemporary languages. This volume, Mahāmudrā and Related Instructions: Core Teachings of the Kagyü Schools, which is volume 5 of The Library of Tibetan Classics, brings into the world’s literary heritage a collection of a very special genre of spiritual writings of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Compiled by the Most Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoché, a senior master of the Kagyü school, the texts featured in this anthology present the heart of the meditative tradition of the Kagyü school. Distilled in these translations are the insights and instructions of the Tibetan spiritual lineage of such great luminaries as Marpa Lotsāwa, Milarepa, and Gampopa, a school that is acclaimed for its profound and rich meditative practices. It is with both joy and honor that the Institute of Tibetan Classics offers the translation of these precious Tibetan texts to the contemporary reader, especially to those who seek to engage deeply with the Tibetan tradition and its wisdom.

Two primary objectives have driven the creation and development of The Library of Tibetan Classics. The first aim is to help revitalize the appreciation and the study of the Tibetan classical heritage within Tibetan-speaking communities worldwide. The younger generation in particular struggle with the tension between traditional Tibetan culture and the realities of modern consumerism. To this end, efforts have been made to develop a comprehensive yet manageable body of texts, one that features the works of Tibet’s best-known authors and covers the gamut of classical Tibetan knowledge. The second objective of The Library of Tibetan Classics is to help make these texts part of global literary and intellectual heritage. In this regard, we have tried to make the English translation reader-friendly and, as much as possible, keep the body of the text free of unnecessary scholarly apparatus, which can intimidate general readers. For specialists who wish to compare the translation with the Tibetan original, page references of the critical edition of the Tibetan text are provided in brackets.

The texts in this thirty-two-volume series span more than a millennium— from the development of the Tibetan script in the seventh century to the first part of the twentieth century, when Tibetan society and culture first encountered industrial modernity. The volumes are thematically organized and cover many of the categories of classical Tibetan knowledge—from the teachings specific to each Tibetan school to the classical works on philosophy, psychology, and phenomenology. The first category includes teachings of the Kadam, Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyü, Geluk, and Jonang schools, of miscellaneous Buddhist lineages, and of the Bön school. Texts in these volumes have been largely selected by senior lineage holders of the individual schools. Texts in the other categories have been selected primarily in recognition of the historical reality of the individual disciplines. For example, in the field of epistemology, works from the Sakya and Geluk schools have been selected, while the volume on buddha nature features the writings of Butön Rinchen Drup and various Kagyü masters. Where fields are of more common interest, such as the three codes or the bodhisattva ideal, efforts have been made to represent the perspectives of all four major Tibetan Buddhist schools. The Library of Tibetan Classics can function as a comprehensive library of the Tibetan literary heritage for libraries, educational and cultural institutions, and interested individuals.

It has been a profound honor for me to be part of this important translation project. I wish first of all to express my deep personal gratitude to H. H. the Dalai Lama for always being such a profound source of inspiration. I would also like to offer my sincere thanks to Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoché for his being such an exemplary representative of the Kagyü tradition, for his selection of the texts featured in this volume, and for providing a special foreword to this translation as well as contributing an introductory essay to the original Tibetan edition of the volume. I thank Peter Alan Roberts for his masterful translation of these precious Tibetan texts into English with such care, respect, and scholarly refinement. To the following individuals and organizations, I owe my sincere thanks: to David Kittelstrom at Wisdom for his incisive editing; to Gene Smith at the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center for providing assistance with obtaining crucial Tibetan texts needed for the editing of the Tibetan texts; to the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, for proving full access to its library to the Tibetan editors working on the critical editing of these texts; and to my wife Sophie Boyer-Langri for taking on the numerous administrative chores that are part of a collaborative project such as this.

Finally, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to Tsadra Foundation, who most generously provided the entire funding for this translation project. Without this support, no amount of dedication on the part of the Institute or the depth of talent and skill on the part of the translator would have resulted in such successful conclusion of the project. In particular, I would like to express my personal admiration of Eric Colombel for the profound vision and the deep dedication to the Tibetan Vajrayana tradition that underlie the mission of Tsadra Foundation. I would also like to thank the Hershey Family Foundation for its longstanding support of the Institute of Tibetan Classics, without which the task of creating The Library of Tibetan Classics simply would not have gotten off the ground. It is my sincere hope that the translations offered in this volume will be of benefit to many people. Through the efforts of all those who have been involved in this noble venture, may all beings enjoy peace and happiness.

 

Thupten Jinpa
Montreal, 2010

 

How to cite this document:
© Institute of Tibetan Classics, Mahāmudrā and Related Instructions (Wisdom Publications, 2011)

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