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The Limits of Transgression: The Samaya vows of Mahāyoga

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Chapter Summary

The topic of this paper is the next major set of vows to appear after the bodhisattva vows: the samaya vows of Vajrayana Buddhism. The discussions of the samaya vows contained in the manuscripts should give us an idea of the relevance of the samaya vows to Mahāyoga practitioners, 'on the ground'. The Mahāyoga texts from Dunhuang are particularly interesting because they were composed during the so-called Tibetan Dark Age when many of what were later to become Rnying ma doctrines were being formulated. This chapter looks at the four main systems found in the manuscripts containing formulations of the Mahāyoga samaya vows : The four vajra vows, The five defiling emotions, The three root vows and The twenty-eight vows.

Keywords: Mahayoga; samaya vows; Vajrayana Buddhism



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