Dzong-ka-ba's The Essence of Eloquence is still considered so important to Tibetan Buddhists that the Dalai Lama keeps a copy with him wherever he goes. This book examines many fascinating points raised in six centuries of Tibetan and Mongolian commentary concerning the first two sections of this text: the Prologue, and the section on the Mind-Only School. By providing vivid detail, Jeffrey Hopkins reveals the liveliness of Tibetan scholastic controversies, showing the dynamism of thoughtful commentary and stimulating the reader's metaphysical imagination. In the process of examining 170 issues, this volume treats many engaging points on Great Vehicle presentations of the three natures and the three non-natures, including how to apply these to all phenomena, the selflessness of persons, and the emptiness of emptiness. It concludes with a delineation of the approaches through which the Mind-Only School interprets scriptures.
This stand-alone book is the final volume of a trilogy on Mind-Only that Hopkins composed over a period of twenty-two years. His heavily annotated translation of the first two sections of Dzong-ka-ba's text is contained in the first volume, Emptiness in the Mind-Only School of Buddhism, along with a historical and doctrinal introduction, a detailed synopsis of the text, and a critical edition. The second volume, Reflections on Reality: The Three Natures and Non-Natures in the Mind-Only School, provides historical and social context, a basic presentation of the three natures, the two types of emptiness in the Mind-Only School, and the contrasting views of Dol-bo-ba Shay-rap-gyel-tsen of the Jo-nang-ba order of Tibetan Buddhism.
"No comparable work exists on this topic, which is highly important but indeed specialized. Enhanced by an extensive bibliography, comprehensive notes, and an English/Tibetan/Sanskrit glossary, which researchers will appreciate, this work is best suited for academic and Buddhist religious collections."—Library Journal
"Offers a fascinating exploration of how provocative issues about reality are refined and debated by Tibetan scholar-practitioners."—Eastern Horizon"Provide[s] a synopsis of the rich heritage of commentary and debate in the monastic tradition of Tibet and central Asia...also opens up Dzong-ka-ba's rich synthetic and scholastic insights into the whole of Buddhism to greater critical inquiry. . . . Hopkins' work will be a treasure trove for students of Buddhism for years to come."—Wordtrade
"Written especially for advanced scholars of Buddhism and its sacred texts and featuring a delineation of the different approaches through which the Mind-Only School interprets scriptures. Absorption in No External World can be read as a stand-alone book or as the final volume in the author's trilogy on Mind-Only."—Wisconsin Bookwatch
"In this volume, Hopkins presents opinions on crucial issues from twenty-two commentaries on Dzong-ka-ba's The Essence of Eloquence, considered by his followers to be so challenging that it is called his steel bow and steel arrow: hard to pull but powerful when one succeeds. The careful analysis with which these scholar-yogis probe the issues provides an avenue into patterns of thought that constitute the environment of the text over this long period of intense interest to the present day. Hopkins' lively style draws the reader into the drama, revealing horizons of transformative meaning. This is without question the finest and most complete discussion of the renowned Mind-Only School and its Tibetan Context."—Anne C. Klein, author of Knowledge and Liberation: Tibetan Buddhist Epistemology in Support of Transformative Religious Experience
"An exceptionally clear and detailed account of a central debate in Tibetan Buddhist scholastic philosophy."—Matthew Kapstein, professor of Buddhist studies at the University of Chicago