The Life of Shabkar

The Autobiography of a Tibetan Yogin

Translated by Matthieu Ricard
Introduction by the Dalai Lama

Subjects: Buddhism
Series: SUNY series in Buddhist Studies
Paperback : 9780791418369, 738 pages, August 1994
Hardcover : 9780791418352, 738 pages, September 1994

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Table of contents

Foreword, His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama

Preface, Matthew Kapstein


Translator's Introduction, Matthieu Ricard

A Celebration of Shabkar, H. H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

The Life Story


1 Early Years
2 Renouncing the World
3 Meeting My Teacher
4 Retreat at the Hermit's Cave
5 Meditation at Tigress Fort
6 At The Heart of the Lake
7 Meditation at Mount Machen
8 At White Rock Monkey Fortress
9 Pilgrimage to Central Tibet
10 The Ravines of Tsari
11 At Mount Kailash
12 Pilgrimage to Nepal
13 Meditation at Lapchi
14 Return to Central Tibet
15 Return to Domey


1 Introduction to the teachings dealt with in thebiography
2 Shabkar's spiritual teachers
3 Chögyal Ngakyi Wangpo's ancestry
4 Kunzang Dechen Gyalpo and the Wish-fulfillingGem, Hayagriva and Varahi
5 Shabkar's writings
6 Shabkar's disciples

List of Abbreviations

Glossary of Enumerations



Table of Songs, Letters, Teachings, and Major Events

1 General index
2 Index of persons, deities, and sacred images
3 Index of places
4 Index of Tibetan works


The Life of Shabkar has long been recognized by Tibetans as one of the master works of their religious heritage. Following his inspired youth and early training in his native province of Amdo under the guidance of several extraordinary Buddhist masters, Shabkar Tsodruk Rangdrol devoted himself to many years of meditation in solitary retreat. With determination and courage, he mastered the highest and most esoteric practices of the Tibetan tradition of the Great Perfection. He then wandered far and wide over the Himalayan region expressing his realization. His autobiography vividly reflects the values and visionary imagery of Tibetan Buddhism as well as the social and cultural life of early nineteenth century Tibet.


"It is alive, a tale with compelling magical adventures, the force of narrative, and great variety. "—Steven D. Goodman, Institute of Buddhist Studies, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley

"This is an accurate, readable translation of an important Tibetan autobiography, rich with details about Tibetan culture, religion, attitudes, and practices. "—Janet Gyatso, Amherst College