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Ritual And Philosophical Speculation In The Rdo Rje Sems Dpa'I Zhus Lan

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Chapter Summary

The rich history of the development of tantra in Tibet commenced with the transmission of Mahāyoga from India, but the first three centuries of the process of transmission and development, from the eighth to tenth centuries, remain shadowy at best, despite recent scholarly advances in the studies of Indian and Tibetan esoteric Buddhism. The Rdo rje sems dpa'i zhus lan is one of a mere handful of Mahāyoga texts from Dunhuang to bring the esoteric ritual and exoteric philosophical literary traditions into dialogue, directly addressing the issues of wrathful, ritualized Mahāyoga praxis in epistemological and ontological terms. Though several later Dunhuang texts mentioning Mahāyoga do not appear to have been intended for an audience of exclusively esoteric practitioners or even to be commenting upon an esoteric tradition, the Zhus lan was clearly written for those deeply involved in tantric practice.

Keywords: Buddhism; Dunhuang; esoteric ritual literature; exoteric philosophical literature; Mahāyoga texts; Rdo rje sems dpa'i zhus lan; Tibet



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