The Buddha from Dölpo is a revised and enlarged edition of the only book about the most controversial Buddhist master in the history of Tibet, Dölpopa Sherab Gyaltsen (1292–1361), who became perhaps the greatest Tibetan expert of the Kalacakra or Wheel of Time, a vast system of tantric teachings. Based largely on esoteric Buddhist knowledge from the legendary land of Shambhala, Dölpopa's insights have profoundly influenced the development of Tibetan Buddhism for more than 650 years. Dölpopa emphasized two contrasting definitions of the Buddhist theory of emptiness. He described relative phenomena as empty of self-nature, but absolute reality as only empty of other (i.e. relative) phenomena. He further identified absolute reality as the buddha nature or eternal essence present in all living beings. This view of an "emptiness of other," known in Tibetan as shentong, is Dölpopa's enduring legacy. The Buddha from Dölpo contains the only English translations of three of Dölpopa's crucial works. 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 and its Autocommentary (which was not in the first edition of this book) were written at the end of his life and represent a final summation of his teachings. These translations are preceded by a detailed discussion of Dölpopa's life, his revolutionary ideas, earlier precedents for the shentong view, his unique use of language, and the influence of his theories. The fate of his Jonang tradition, which was censored by the central Tibetan government in the seventeenth century but still survives, is also examined.
News & Reviews
"This revised edition of Cyrus Stearns's The Buddha from Dölpo is a must read for all interested in the intellectual history of Tibet. New translations of some of the key works of Dölpopa open philosophical and cosmological ideas of one of the great thinkers of the Tibetan tradition. This is a marvelous piece of scholarship."—E. Gene Smith, founder and senior research scholar of the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center
"Cyrus Stearns's The Buddha from Dölpo is among the major contributions to the history of Tibetan Buddhism in recent years. This new, expanded edition amplifies and extends Stearns's innovative inquiry into the life and works of the remarkable fourteenth-century teacher Dölpopa Sherab Gyaltsen, master of the Kalacakra founder of the zhentong philosophical tradition and architect without peer. The Buddha from Dölpo is essential reading for all serious students of the Dharma in the Land of Snows."—Matthew T. Kapstein, author of The Tibetans
"The first edition of The Buddha from Dölpo was like a brilliant beam of light for the first time, illuminating the dark chamber of Dölpopa's long-buried legacy, opening the eyes of many to the inspiring life and teachings of one of the greatest masters of Tibetan Buddhism. This new, carefully revised, and enlarged edition is like the sun shining through all the windows of this chamber, revealing many essential jewels in the treasury of Dölpopa's thought. It is a true masterpiece that reestablishes Dölpopa's so important but long-denied place in Tibetan Buddhist history. Highly recommended reading for all who are interested in going beyond sectarian biases and wish to understand what this towering figure had to say on his own ground and in his own terms."—Karl Brunnhölzl, author of The Center of the Sunlit Sky and Luminous Heart
"The Buddha from Dölpo is the most significant contribution to the study of the life and revelations of one of the most enigmatic personalities in Tibetan intellectual history, the Jonang master Dölpopa Sherab Gyaltsen (1292–1361). Narrating Dolpopa's life story and evolution of thought, Cyrus Stearns lucidly describes how this foremost exponent of shentong philosophical thinking and Kalachakra tantric practice served as the catalyst figure for the Jonang Buddhist tradition during its formative period in fourteenth-century Tibet. A decade after its first publication, this revised and enlarged edition includes several significant refinements and additions, including a translation of Dölpopa's own commentary on his masterful work concerning the calculations of cosmic time according to shentong literature known as the Fourth Council. With this revision, Stearns secures The Buddha from Dölpo its place within the Western-language canon of scholarship on Tibetan Buddhism, making it an essential read for understanding Dölpopa's presentation of shentong, the Kalachakra Tantra in Tibet, and the early Jonang Buddhist tradition."—Michael R. Sheehy, PhD, Senior Editor of Tibetan Literary Research at the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center and Executive Director of the Jonang Foundation