Deity, Mantra and Wisdom: Development Stage Meditation and Tibetan Buddhist Tantra

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A collection of Development Stage texts, forthcoming in early 2007 by Snow Lion Publications.

This collection includes:


This collection of writings present seminal texts on the development stage of Tibetan Buddhist meditation (bskyed rim). Though this type of practice is one of the most widely practiced forms of meditation, there is very little information in the English language concerning the theory and practical application of these profound teachings. The texts that will be translated for this volume have become the standard texts within the Nyingma tradition to present the development stage.

Development Stage Rituals. Composed by Kathog Khenpo Gyurme Tsewang Chokdrub (1764-1829), this text presents a general overview of the development stage as practiced in the Nyingma School. First, the outer, inner, and specific preliminary practices necessary for the practice of the development stage are covered. Then, as the main part of the text, the nature of visualization, mantra recitation, and samadhi are discussed in detail. Over the last two centuries, this text has become the primary introduction manual of the Nyingma School for beginning practitioners of the development stage.

Ladder to Akanishta: A Thorough Presentation of the Development Stage's Deity Yoga . Jigme Lingpa (1730-1798) composed this text to lay out the general principles of development stage practice. He begins his presentation by describing the basis for the practice, first outlining the four types of birth and how they are purified, and then proceeding to an explication of the three samadhis. The second section, which forms the bulk of his explanation, addresses the path, i.e., how to practice deity yoga. Here, Jigme Lingpa focuses primarily on visualization, showing not only how both beginning and advanced students can progress in the practice, but also the various errors and missteps that can occur along the way and how to deal with them. The text concludes by setting out the result of practice, the four vidhyadhara levels and five kayas. Jigme Lingpa’s presentation draws upon both the traditional Mahayoga scriptures, as well as Dzogchen Tantras, thus providing a unique Dzogchen slant on the topic.

A Brief Explication of Some of the Difficult Points of the Development Stage. Dza Paltrul Rinpoche (1808-1887) wrote this text to supplement Jigmé Lingpa’s Ladder to A kanishta. In the first text, the author picks some key points not explicitly covered in Jigme Lingpa’s commentary and expands upon them. In his characteristics style, Patrul writes about this profound subject in a clear, accessible manner.

Four Stakes that Bind the Life-Force. In this text, Paltrul Rinpoche explicates the key points for successful development stage practice - the so-called four stakes that bind the life-force. These four, which relate to meditative stabilization, mantra, the intent of deity yoga, and enlightened activity, respectively, are an important, unique feature of the Nyingmapa approach to deity yoga. Concerning this topic, the late master Dilgo Khyentse stated: “This is the extraordinary key point of the unity of development and completion and the special feature of the Old School of the Early Translations.”