Pure Land Buddhism as a whole has received comparatively little attention in Western studies on Buddhism despite the importance of "buddha-fields" (pure lands) for the growth and expression of Mahayana Buddhism. In this first religious history of Tibetan Pure Land literature, Georgios Halkias delves into a rich collection of literary, historical, and archaeological sources to highlight important aspects of this neglected pan-Asian Buddhist tradition. He clarifies many of the misconceptions concerning the interpretation of "other-world" soteriology in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism and provides translations of original Tibetan sources from the ninth century to the present that represent exoteric and esoteric doctrines that continue to be cherished by Tibetan Buddhists for their joyful descriptions of the Buddhist path. The book is informed by interviews with Tibetan scholars and Buddhist practitioners and by Halkias' own participant-observation in Tibetan Pure Land rituals and teachings conducted in Europe and the Indian subcontinent.
Divided into three sections, Luminous Bliss shows that Tibetan Pure Land literature exemplifies a synthesis of Mahayana sutra-based conceptions with a Vajrayana world-view that fits progressive and sudden approaches to the realization of Pure Land teachings. Part I covers the origins and development of Pure Land in India and the historical circumstances of its adaptation in Tibet and Central Asia. Part II offers an English translation of the short Sukhavativyuha-sutra (imported from India during the Tibetan Empire) and contains a survey of original Tibetan Pure Land scriptures and meditative techniques from the dGe-lugs-pa, bKa'-brgyud, rNying-ma, and Sa-skya schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Part III introduces some of the most innovative and popular mortuary cycles and practices related to the Tantric cult of Buddha Amitabha and his Pure Land from the Treasure traditions in the bKa'-brgyud and rNying-ma schools.
Luminous Bliss locates Pure Land Buddhism at the core of Tibet's religious heritage and demonstrates how this tradition constitutes an integral part of both Tibetan and East Asian Buddhism.
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
Number of pages: 368
Weight: 590 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 25 mm
Halkias' work truly is a rich and well-rounded pioneer-study of a comparatively neglected field that introduces the pure-land traditions of India and Tibet with considerable analytical versatility and compelling intelligence. A decade of sustained research on Pure-Land traditions inside and outside Indo-Tibetan cultural areas enables Halkias to draw on considerable historical and doctrinal details which allows him to fully contextualize and deepen findings explored in a number of noteworthy articles. . . . Luminous Bliss comprises a diverse and original body of previously unstudied sources and provides a rich nexus of departure points for further researchers.-- "Journal of the Religions of South Asia"
Luminous Bliss is a tremendous addition to the neglected field of Tibetan Pure Land Buddhism, and Pure Land Buddhism in general. The book displays the malleability of Pure Land Buddhism through its usage in tantric rituals in Tibet. Furthermore, Halkias relays the richness of Tibetan Pure Land literature. The amount of texts discussed, outlined, or translated in the book is wholly admirable, and ensures that Luminous Bliss will be an important resource for current and future scholars.-- "Kendall Marchman Reviews"
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