Andreas Doctor. Tibetan Treasure Literature: Revelation, Tradition, and Accomplishment in Visionary Buddhism. Ithaca, N.Y.: Snow Lion Publications, 2005. Hardcover, 245 pp.
The Nyingma Order of Tibetan Buddhism is well known for its literature of “hidden treasures” (terma), which are usually precious spiritual teachings that have been concealed by great adepts during the seventh to ninth centuries A.D., notably by Guru Padmasambhava, and that are then rediscovered by treasure finders or revealers (ling-pa).
The Nyingmapas regard Sangye Lama (eleventh century) as the first treasure revealer, but the terma movement came into its own with Nyangral Nyima Özer a century later, and it is still in motion today, though treasure finders are becoming more and more rare.
Because the Tibetans turned what in India was still an open-ended revealed literature into a fixed canon, it was not long before the authenticity of the tradition of hidden treasures came to be called into question. The author very ably and with commendable clarity reviews the traditional concerns and polemics surrounding the terma institution.
This work contains Doctor’s English translations of several significant texts relating to the terma tradition. Included are the great Ju Mipham’s (1846-1912) discussion of the criteria for determining the authenticity of termas, Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa’s (1829-1870) survey of the Tibetan treasure literature along with Khenpo Rinchen Namgyal commentary on his master’s deliberations.
This book offers a most lucid exposition of this rather complex and relatively obscure subject.
Copyright ©2006 by Georg Feuerstein. All rights reserved.
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