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Buddhadharma : Win 2012
Thus, when in 1986 the great Kagyu master Kalu Rinpoche (1905–1989) asked some of his closest disciples to form a committee to translate key Tibetan works into English, the text he chose for them was Kongtrul’s Trea- sury of Knowledge (Shes bya mdzod), a ten-book summation of virtually every branch of Tibetan Buddhist learning, from the structure of the cosmos to the nature of buddhahood. Covering both the sciences and a wide range of reli- gious ideas and practices, it is as erudite and comprehensive an overview as ever has emerged from Tibet. A work of such scope and depth poses immense intellec- tual, practical, and financial challenges for any would-be translators. Thus, it is no surprise that the English version of The Treasury of Knowledge has come forth very slowly. But come forth it has, and now with the publication of the final two volumes this fall, the project is complete, and Kongtrul’s masterpiece is available to a whole new Buddhist audi- ence—far different from any he likely imagined as he sat writing it 150 years ago in his hermitage in eastern Tibet. Jamgön Kongtrul lived in Tibet in the nineteenth century—after the tumultu- ous wars and Chinese interventions of the eighteenth century and before the disasters that lay ahead in the twenti- eth. Although free from major outside intervention, during this period Tibet was a land of more than passing inter- est to the Russians, British, and Chinese, who regularly meddled in its affairs. It was politically and religiously divided, with the Gelukpa government of the Dalai Lamas and their regents domi- nant in Lhasa and much of the west and northeast but less powerful in Kham, the populous southeastern region where the Kagyu, Nyingma, and Sakya lineage schools as well as the pre-Buddhist tra- dition of Bön were influential. It was in Kham, near the major town of Dergé, that Kongtrul was born in 1813. His father was a Bön adept and so Kongtrul mastered Bön doctrines and rit- uals in his youth. His obvious intelligence and knowledge of Bön practices attracted the attention of several Nyingma lamas, and he eventually found himself at Shechen, a major Nyingma monastery near Dergé, where, at twenty, he became a monk, intent on study and practice. A year later, however, he was conscripted as a secretary by the powerful Kagyu monastery of Palpung, seat of the Situ incarnation lineage, and there was made to retake his vows. Some years later, he nearly was drafted to serve a government official in Dergé, but his identification as a reincarnate lama conveniently freed him from the obligation. At Palpung, Kongtrul studied Kagyu philosophy, tantra, and Mahamudra but also learned the doctrines and practices of many different systems and became expert in a variety of secular sciences, including medicine, architecture, poet- ics, and Sanskrit. He gained renown as a teacher, traveled widely in Kham, and became an important figure in the region’s life, devoting nearly as much time to administration and diplomacy as to study and retreat. In the 1850s, he negotiated the release of the par- ents of the young Situ tulku, who had been held hostage near Lhasa by the REVIEWS THE COMPLETE TREASURY of KNOWLEDGE SERIES Myriad Worlds Translated by the Kalu Rinpoche Translation Group Buddhism’s Journey to Tibet Translated by Ngawang Zangpo Buddhist Ethics Translated by the Kalu Rinpoche Translation Group Indo-Tibetan Classical Learning and Buddhist Phenomenology Translated by Gyurme Dorje Frameworks of Buddhist Philosophy Translated by Elizabeth M. Callahan Systems of Buddhist Tantra Translated by Ingrid Loken McLeod and Elio Guarisco Foundations of Buddhist Study and Practice Translated by Richard Barron (Chokyi Nyima) The Elements of Tantric Practice Translated by Ingrid Loken McLeod and Elio Guarisco Esoteric Instructions Translated by Sarah Harding Journey and Goal Translated by Richard Barron (Chokyi Nyima)