Examines the life and thought of Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen (1292-1361), one of the most important thinkers in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and one whose ideas have excited controversy from his day to the present.
The Buddha from Dolpo examines the life and thought of the Tibetan Buddhist master, Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen (1292–1361). Known as "The Buddha from Dolpo," he was one of the most important and original thinkers in Tibetan history, and perhaps the greatest expert on the tantric teachings of the Kalacakra or "Wheel of Time. " Based largely upon esoteric Buddhist knowledge believed to be preserved in the legendary land of Shambhala, Dolpopa's theories continue to excite controversy in Tibetan Buddhism after almost 700 years.
Dolpopa emphasized two contrasting definitions of the Buddhist teachings of emptiness: "emptiness of self-nature," which applies only to the level of relative truth, and "emptiness of other," which applies only to the level of absolute truth. Dolpopa identified ultimate reality as the Buddha-nature inherent in all living beings. This view of an "emptiness of other," known in Tibetan as Zhentong, is Dolpopa's main spiritual legacy.
This book contains the first translations into any language of major works by Dolpopa. A General Commentary on the Doctrine is one of the earliest texts in which he systematically presented his view of the entire Buddhist path to enlightenment. The Fourth Council, written at the end of his life, may be viewed as a final summation of his ideas.
Cyrus Stearns's book describes both Dolpopa's life and his ideas. Earlier Tibetan precedents for the Zhentong view are also discussed, as well as Dolpopa's own unique use of language and the major influences on the development of his controversial theories. The fate of his tradition, which was censured by the Tibetan government in the seventeenth century, is examined, and several of the most important adherents to the Zhentong theory are also discussed.
Cyrus Stearns is a longtime student of Tibetan language and religion, and has served as a translator for Tibetan teachers of all traditions. For many years he has studied with and translated for Chogye Trichen Rinpoche and the late Dezhung Tulku Rinpoche. Cyrus has a Ph. D. in Buddhist Studies from the University of Washington in Seattle, and is the author of several articles on Buddhism.
"A pioneering work on the life and ideas of one of the most important and controversial, yet little understood, figures in Tibetan Buddhist intellectual history. "—Roger Jackson, Carleton College