Kurt Keutzer

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Short description

I first got interested in Tibet as a child while watching a documentary by Lowell Thomas. Since meeting Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa in Nashville, Indiana in 1974, I have had the good fortune to study with teachers across all schools of Tibetan Buddhism as well as with teachers from Śaiva traditions. A scientist by training I have never focused on sectarian differences or disputes; rather, I have tried to identify and focus on the key principles underlying each tradition.

Regarding my study of Tibetan: I began my study of the Tibetan language at Indiana University in 1979 when I was studying for my PhD in Computer Science. I eventually received a doctoral minor in Tibetan Studies. I had the good fortune to read dozens of folio with the Dalai Lama's elder brother Tagster Rinpoche as well as with Prof. Helmut Hoffman. I also used to get together with Chris Beckwith, Yael Bentor, Dan Martin, Tsuguhito Takeuchi, and Michael Walter on Monday nights to drink beer and read Tibetan. Dan Martin was especially helpful in my Tibetan language studies. My Tibetan studies continued with Geshe Lozang Jamspal and Jared Rhoton. My language studies intensified when I moved to Berkeley and over a period of twelve years I read about one thousand folio of Sakya writings on Vajrayogini and Path and Result (lam 'bras) with Lama Kunga here. Most recently I have plunged into the Bon scripture. I have principally focused on the literature of the Zhang Zhung Aural Transmission, and over the years I have received a complete set of empowerments and transmissions for this system. I have also studied and practiced Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen's System of the Self-Arising Three Enlightened Bodies. My studies of Bon liteature were first facilitated by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche and then Ponlop Trinley Nyima,Geshe Chaphur Rinpoche, and Geshe Namgyal Dangsong. The French translator Jean-Luc Achard has also been very generous with his time and extremely helpful. In particular, with an improved understanding of Tibetan grammar provided by Jean-Luc, Geshe Chaphur Rinpoche, and Geshe Namgyal Dangsong, I have been able to improve the precision of my translations.

With regard to translation: I translate texts to the best of my ability where help is needed. My aim is always to support understanding and practice, but I try my best to bring an analytical and scholarly approach to the topic. I feel we are in the first 50 years of what is likely to be a 150 year project to translate Tibetan works into English and as a result I aspire to only create bi-lingual editions that will encourage others to improve on what I have done.

I am also engaged in the use of technology to aid Tibetan Studies, and, particularly, translation. I worked with Zach Rowinski and David Germano to develop Namsel, an OCR system for Tibetan. This system OCR's approximately a million pages of Tibetan material that is now available for search at the Buddhist Digital Resource Center (formerly, Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center) [1]. I also serve on the Board of Directors of BDRC.

Main Teachers

The following gives my main teachers in the traditions that I have studied. They are listed according to the age that the traditions ascribe to themselves.

The Dzogchen tradition of the Oral Transmission of Zhang Zhung; My teacher: Ponlop Trinley Nyima, Lama Tashi Gyaltsen, Geshe Chaphur Rinpoche, Geshe Namgyal Dangsong, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche Mentors/senior spiritual friends: Jean-Luc Achard,

The Dzogchen Tradition of the Longchen Nyingtig; My teachers: Kunzang Dechen Lingpa, Kahtog Khenpo Lama Loga, Traga Rinpoche. Mentors/senior spiritual friends: Ngagpa Pema Wangdi

The Dzogchen Traditions of the Chogyur Lingpa My teacher: Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche. Mentors/senior spiritual friends: Erik Schmidt

The Path and Result Tradition of Virupa My teachers: Ngor Thartse Lama Kunga, Luding Khen Rinpoche, HH Sakya Trizin, Ratna Vajra Rinpoche. Mentors/senior spiritual friends: Cyrus Stearns

The Tradition of Naropa's Khecari from the Sakya Lineages My teachers: Ngor Thartse Lama Kunga, Luding Khen Rinpoche, HH Sakya Trizin, Jetsun Kushok. Sakya mentors/senior spiritual friends: Cyrus Stearns

The Tradition of Naropa's Khecari from the Gelugpa Lineages My teachers: Zong Rinpoche, Khensur Losang Tharchin. Gelugpa mentors/senior spiritual friends: Art Engle, Glenn Mullin

The Six Yogas/Doctrines of Naropa as Taught within the Gelugpa Lineages; My teachers: Lati Rinpoche, Geshe Sonam Senge,Lithang Rinpoche (Yelo Tulku). Mentors/senior spiritual friends: Glenn Mullin

The Kagyu Tradition of Mahamudra My teachers: Thrangu Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche

The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition of Mahamudra My teachers: Geshe Losang Jamspal, Geshe Losang Tarchin. Mentors/senior spiritual friends: Alex Berzin

The Practice of the Rwa Tradition of Vajrabhairava My teachers: Ling Rinpoche, Denma Locho Rinpoche, Geshe Ngawang Dhargye, Takster Rinpoche, Lati Rinpoche, Kirti Tshenzhab Rinpoche. Mentors/senior spiritual friends: Alex Berzin

Madhyamaka and the Perfection of Wisdom My teachers: HH the Dalai Lama, Geshe Lozang Jamspal, Geshe Gedun Samdup, Jeffrey Hopkins

Published Works

Bon: Aural Transmission of Zhang Zhung:

The following is available from the translator to those who have received the transmission of the 21 Nails:

  • The Twenty-One Nails: A Dzogchen Text from the Oral Transmission of Zhang Zhung (First published 2002-2003)

rdzogs pa chen po zhang zhung snyan rgyud las gzer bu gnyis shu rtsa gcig Translated by Kurt Keutzer and Geshe Tenzin Wangyal.

From: History and doctrine of Bon-po Nispanna-yoga : original Tibetan texts on the transmission, teaching, rites, and deities of the Rdzogs chen Zhan Zhun school of the Bon-po’s, Collected by Tenzin Namdak and Lokesh Chandra, Sata-pitaka series; Volume 73, International Academy of Indian Culture, New Delhi 1968, pages 503-519. of that text. A commentary on the Twenty-One Nails that was used in this translation follows on pages 521-582 of that volume.

The following translations have been privately circulated during teachings by Chaphur Rinpoche, Loppon Thinley Nyima, and Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche:

  • Chapters from the Practice Manual of Dru Gyalwa (First published 2003-2005)

by Dru Gyalwa Yungdrung nyams rgyud rgyal ba’i phyag khrid by ‘bru rgyal ba g.yung drung (Tibetan published by Tenzin Dargye At Triten Norbutse Bonpo Monastery. 280 pages. Note that the title of a number of the later chapters is actually inconsistent with the content.) Translated by Kurt Keutzer and Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.

The Base: Guidance on the View of Seeing Nakedly, pages 185 – 199.

The Path: Guidance on Meditation on Clear Light, pages 200 – 214.

Guidance on Behavior: Training in Dynamic Energy, pages 216 – 234.

Fruition: Gaining Profound Certainty That the Three Enlightened Bodies are Within You, pages 235 – 246.

Practices of the Seven Cycles of Clear Light: 268 – 276.

The following is available from the translator to those who have received the transmission of the text:

  • The Experiential Transmission of the Masters of the Zhang Zhung Nyen Gyud (First published 2007)

Translated by Kurt Keutzer and Ponlop Trinley Nyima. With corrections, commentary, and alternative translations by Jean-Luc Achard. Edited by Mark Dahlby. From: zhang zhung snyan rgyud kyi bla ma’i nyams rgyud bring po sor bzag pa dang bsdus pa thor bu bcas kyi gsung pod : two collections of instructions incorporating the insights of the successive masters of the Zhang-zhung snyan-rgyud teachings of the rdzogs-chen approach to Bon. Tibetan Bonpo Monastic Centre, 1973. pp 363 - 373.

The following is available from the translator to those who have received the complete empowerment of Zhang Zhung Me Ri: (First published 2010)

  • An Essential Heart Practice for Accomplishing Me Ri Gyad Phur Translated by Kurt Keutzer with Ponlop Trinley Nyima. Volume 22 of the Bon Tengyur as described in Kurt Keutzer & Kevin 0’Neill, A Handlist of the Bonpo Kangyur and Tengyur in [2]

Bon: Daily Practices

  • Bon Daily Prayers

A collection of approximately 25 daily prayers used by Bon practitioners.

Bon: Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen

The following are available from the translator to those who have received the transmission and commentary:

  • The Fireball of Primordial Wisdom (ye shes me dpung) (First published 2008)

by Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen. Translated by Kurt Keutzer and Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. (rdzogs pa chen po sku gsum rang shar las thun mong gtummo'i nyams len ye shes me dpung bzhugs so) From: rdgogs pa chen po sku gsum rang shar gyi khrid gdams skor by shar dza bkra shis rgyual mtshan pages 551- 597.

  • A Guide to Practicing [the System Expressed in] Dzogchen: The Self-Arising of the Three Enlightened Bodies. (First published 2010)

Translated by Kurt Keutzer. From Yang Zab Nam Mkha’ Mzod Chen Volume 2, The Most Profound Treasury of Space. Volume 9 of Shardza’s Collected Works. Appeared in The Newsletter of the Bon International Translation Committee.

Bon: Other Works on Dzogchen

The following are available from the Gyalshen Institute and the translator to those who have received the transmission and commentary:

  • Quintessential Instructions from the Golden Advice (First published 2013)

by Drenpa Namkha. Translated by Geshe Chaphur Rinpoche and Kurt Keutzer (man ngag gser gdams) From Bon bka' rten texts, Volume 86, pages 61-102.

Bon: Other Works for Daily Practice The following are available from the Gyalshen Institute: Bon Prayer Book (First published 2011) (g.yung drung bon gyi zhal 'don phyogs bsdus) A collection of daily practices in Tibetan and English translation. These practices include, sang, sur, chod tor, chod, and protector practices.

Sakya: Vajrayogini and Hevajra Materials: Privately Circulated to Ngor Thartse Lama Kunga’s students at Ewam Choden Tibetan Buddhist Center All translations are with Lama Kunga

  • An Uncommon Sadhana of Nāropa’s Khecarī, the Exalted Vajrayogini, Arranged for Daily Recitationby Nesarwa Kunga Leg pay Jung Nay

rje btsun rdo rje rnal ‘byor ma na ro mkha’ spyod kyi sgrub thabs thun mong ma yin pa’i rgyun khyer ngag ‘don bklags chog tu bkod pa bzhugs so. (from an undated manuscript, number folios 1a-23a) By gnas gsar ba kun dga' legs pa'i 'byung gnas

Scholarly Works

The following articles are freely available by download

Immeasurable, Yet No Bigger than Your Thumb: The Tshon Gang in Bon Dzogchen, Revue d'Etudes Tibétaines, Number 24, pp. 165-201, October, 2012.

The Nine Cycles of the Hidden, The Nine Mirrors, and Nine Minor Texts on Mind: Early Mind Section Literature in Bon, Revue d'Etudes Tibétaines, Number 44, pp. 178-230, March, 2018. [3]

A Handlist of the Bon Kanjur and Tengyur by Kurt Keutzer and Kevin O'Neill in Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines, Number 17, October 2009. [4]

Active Projects

The Practice Manual of Drugyelwa Yungdrung Kevin O'Neill and I created a variorum edition of this text based on all available editions. I am now working on a complete translation of this text with Jean-Luc Achard.

History and doctrine of Bon-po Nispanna-yoga : original Tibetan texts on the transmission, teaching, rites, and deities of the Rdzogs chen Zhan Zhun school of the Bon-po’s, Collected by Tenzin Namdak and Lokesh Chandra, Sata-pitaka series; Volume 73, International Academy of Indian Culture, New Delhi 1968, pages 503-519. of that text.

Bon: The Heart Drops of Kuntuzangpo by Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen

Translated by Kurt Keutzer, Jean-Luc Achard, Geshe Chaphur Rinpoche, Geshe Namgyal Dangsong, and Ponlop Trinley Nyima. (working on third draft). od gsal rdzogs pa chen po’i lam gyi rim pa’i khrid yig kun tu bzang po’i snying tig ces bya ba. ER16. 93 pages. In Yang Zab Nam Mkha’ Mzod Chen Volume 2, The Most Profound Treasury of Space. Volume 9 of Shardza’s Collected Works.

Bon: Oral Transmission of Zhang Zhung:

  • A Commentary on The Twenty-One Nails (gzer bu gnyis shu rtsa gcig)

by Nangzer Löpo. Translated by Kurt Keutzer. (Revising first complete draft). (rdzogs pa chen po zhang zhung snyan rgyud las gzer bu gnyis shu rtsa gcig gi grel ba bzhugs so) From: History and doctrine of Bon-po Nispanna-yoga : original Tibetan texts on the transmission, teaching, rites, and deities of the Rdzogs chen Zhan Zhun school of the Bon-po’s, Collected by Tenzin Namdak and Lokesh Chandra, Sata-pitaka series; Volume 73, International Academy of Indian Culture, New Delhi 1968, pages 521-582.

  • The Six Lamps (root) and The Ornament of Sunlight: A Commentary to the Six Lamps

Translated by Laura Shekerjian and Kurt Keutzer. (Revising first complete draft). (rdzogs pa chen po zhang zhung snyan rgyud las sgron ma drug and rdzogs pa chen po zhang zhung snyan rgyud las sgron ma'i 'grel pa nyi 'od rgyan) From: History and doctrine of Bon-po Nispanna-yoga : original Tibetan texts on the transmission, teaching, rites, and deities of the Rdzogs chen Zhan Zhun school of the Bon-po’s, Collected by Tenzin Namdak and Lokesh Chandra, Sata-pitaka series; Volume 73, International Academy of Indian Culture, New Delhi 1968. pages 269 - 354.

Bon: The The Three Self-Arising Enlightened Bodies by Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen

The Practice of the Four Appearances of Thogal: A Festival of Wondrous Appearance. Translated by Jean-Luc Achard and Kurt Keutzer with Ponlop Trinley Nyima. (Revising second complete draft). From: rdgogs pa chen po sku gsum rang shar gyi khrid gdams skor by shar dza bkra shis rgyual mtshan pages 229 - 281.

Sakya: Privately Circulated to Ngor Thartse Lama Kunga’s students at Ewam Choden Tibetan Buddhist Center All translations are with Lama Kunga

  • The Beautifying Ornament that Serves as a Guide to Khecara:

Guidance while Focusing on the Generation and Completion Stages of Naropa’s Khecari, the Exalted VajrayoginiNotes on teachings by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo by Ngawang Dam Cho Gyatso. rje btsun rdo rje rnal 'byor ma nA ro mkha' spyod kyi bskyed rdzogs dmigs khrid mkha' spyod 'khrid pa'i sa mkhan mdzes par byed pa'i rgyan (thimphu: kunsang topgyal, 1981)

  • Guidance on the Central ChannelBy Jetsun Dagpa Gyaltsen

rtsa dbu ma'i khrid yig, rje rtsun grags pa rgyal mtshan Volume 8: 143-170

  • A Sadhana for Attaining Khecharā without Abandoning the Bodyby Ludrup Mangthö Gyatso

lus ma spangs mar mkha spyod sgrub pa’i thabs bzhugs so) by klu sgrub mang thos rgya mtsho Found in Volume (OM:) pages 134 to 140 of a series of Vajrayogini texts known as rje tsun rdo rje rnal ‘byor ma na ro mka’ spyod dpal ldan sa skya pai’ lugs,.

  • A Brief Practice on the ``Direct Demonstration of Dharmata’’,

from a Commentary on the Avadhuti Completion-Stage of Nāropa’s Khecharī, the Exalted Vajrayoginī by Losal Tankyong as recorded by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo rje btsun rdo rje rnal ‘byor ma na ro mkha spyod kyi rdzogs rim rtsa dbu ma’i khrid kyi chos nyid dngos ston zhes pa’i nyams len nyung bsdus bzhugs so. It is Found in Volume 6 ( HUM:) pages 89 to 102 of a series of Vajrayogini texts known as rje tsun rdo rje rnal ‘byor ma na ro mka’ spyod dpal ldan sa skya pai’ lugs.

  • The Sun Rays (zab mo lus dkyil gyi rnam par bshad pa skal bzang snying gi padmo bzhad pa)’’,

Tsarchen Losel Gyatso's commentary on the body maṇḍala of Hevajra. Original found in Vol 10 (Tha) 52, slob bshad pp. 514-479.

  • A Commentary on the Stages of Imagination of the Generation and Completion Stages of the Blessed Vajrayoginī, Naropa’s Khecharī (rje btsun rdo rje rnal 'byor ma nA ro mkha' spyod kyi bskyed rdzogs dmigs khrid mkha' spyod 'khrid pa'i sa mkhan mdzes par byed pa'i rgyan)’’,

Original reproduced from a manuscript copy of a print from the De-Ge blocks. TBRC Resource ID W27417.

External Links

My professional web page (see personal interests) [5]

Email: kurtkeutzer (you know the drill at) gmail