Thanks to the international celebrity of the present Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism is attracting more attention than at any time in its history. Although there have been numerous specialist studies of individual Tibetan texts, however, no scholarly work has as yet done justice to the rich variety of types of Tibetan discourse. This book fills this lacuna, bringing to bear the best methodological insights of the contemporary human sciences, and at the same time conveying to non-specialist readers an impression of the broad domain of Tibetan religious and philosophical thought. For over a millenium a Tibetan Buddhist intelligentsia produced a vast literature in which they explored the legacy of Indian (and to a lesser extent Chinese) Buddhism, often with exceptional rigor and creativity. At the same time, they also articulated perspectives and raised questions that reflected a distinctly Tibetan heritage, above and beyond the impetus derived from foreign sources. The views they generated, Kapstein shows, were often strikingly original.
Despite the traditional insistence on the preeminence of the Indian tradition, therefore, the Tibetan transformation of Buddhist discourse is worthy of study in its own right. Ranging widely over the immense corpus of Tibetan literature, Kapstein brilliantly illuminates many of the distinctive Tibetan contributions and points out some of the significant sources of Tibetan Buddhism's historical dynamism.
"...a marvel of erudition....this is a fascinating and informative book."--Parabola
"This is an unusual, stimulating piece of scholarship. It is exhaustively researched, linked deeply and broadly to the larger discussions circulating through Tibetan studies and the histories of religions. It is fair-minded in relation to its sources, critical of traditional historiography without being belligerent. Not only will scholars of Tibetan Buddhism benefit from this work, but also historians of Tibet generally, practitioners of tantric Buddhism,
philosophers and mythologists should have this book on their shelves."--Transcendent Philosophy