Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts and Contemporary Worlds, Vol 8, No 1-2 (2012)

Seeing, Touching, Holding, and Swallowing Tibetan Buddhist Texts

Cathy Cantwell
Issued Date: 19 Aug 2017

Abstract


The iconic dimension of holy books has drawn increasing scholarly attention in recent years (e.g. Iconic Books and Texts, James Watts, ed., London, Equinox, 2013). Asian Buddhism provides rich material for considering the ritualization of engagement with sacred texts. In Tibetan Buddhism, this aspect of book culture is perhaps especially pronounced (see, for instance, Schaeffer 2009, especially Chapter 6; Elliott, Diemberger and Clemente 2014). This paper explores the topic in relation to the engagement of the senses in Tibetan context, through seeing, touching, holding and tasting texts. It would seem that it is not the sensory experience in itself, but rather the physical experience of a transmission and incorporation of the sacred qualities from the books into the person which is emphasized in these practices. Parallels and contrasts with examples from elsewhere are mentioned, and there is some consideration of the breadth of the category of sacred books in the Tibetan context in which Dharma teachings may take many forms.

Download Media

PDF (Price: £17.50 )

DOI: 10.1558/post.32531

References


Bari Lotsawa (ba ri lo tsā ba). 1974. Be’u bum of Ba-ri Lo-tsa-ba Rin-chen-grags: A collection of magico-medical spells, incantations and esoteric formulae transmitted in Tibet through the Lo-tsā-ba of Ba-ri, Rin-chen-grags, reproduced from a rare manuscript from Darjeeling by Lama Jurme Drakpa, Delhi (TBRC W15562).


Boyd, Helen R. 2004. The Future of Tibet: The Government-in-exile Meets the Challenge of Democratization. New York: Peter Lang.


Central Tibetan Administration. 2007. Tibet: A Human Development and Enviroment Report. Dharamsala.


Childs, Geoff. 2005. “How to Fund a Ritual: Notes on the Social Usage of the Kanjur (bKa’ ’gyur) in a Tibetan Village.” Tibet Journal 30(2): 41–48.


Choedon, Dhondub. 1978. Life in the Red Flag People’s Commune. Dharamsala: Information Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama.


Conze, Edward, trans. 1975. The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines and its Verse Summary. Bolinas, CA: Four Seasons Foundation.


Dudjom Lingpa. 2004. Collected Works: gter chos/ bdud ’joms gling pa; sprul pa’i gter chen bdud ’joms gling pa’i zab gter gsang ba’i chos sde. 21 volumes, Lama Kuenzang Wangdue, Thimphu, Bhutan (TBRC W28732).


Dudjom Rinpoche. 1979–1985. Collected Works: The collected writings and revelations of H. H. bDud-’joms Rin-po-che ’Jigs bral ye shes rdo rje, bDud ’joms ’jigs bral ye shes rdo rje’i gsung ’bum. 25 volumes, Dupjung Lama, Kalimpong. (TBRC W20869 0334-0358).


Elliott, M., H. Diemberger and M. Clemente, eds. 2014. Buddha’s Word: The Life of Books in Tibet and Beyond. Cambridge: Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.


Epstein, Lawence. 1977. “Causation in Tibetan religion: Duality and its transformations.” Unpublished Ph.D thesis, University of Washington.


Garrett, Frances 2010. “Eating letters in the Tibetan treasure tradition.” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 32(1-2): 85–183.


Great Compassion Dharani Sutra (“Thousand-Handed and Thousand-Eyed Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva’s Vast, Perfect, Unimpeded, Great-Compassionate Heart Dharani Sutra”). English translation available in pdf form from The Huntington Archive (The John C. and Susan L. Huntington Photographic Archive of Buddhist and Asian Art, accessed 01/06/2016), http://huntingtonarchive.org/resources/downloads/sutras/05bodhisattvaYana/Great%20Compassion%20Dharani%20Sutra.doc.pdf


Mills, Martin A. 2003. Identity, Ritual and State in Tibetan Buddhism: The Foundations of Authority in Gelukpa Monasticism. London: RoutledgeCurzon.


Mollier, Christine, 2008. Buddhism and Taoism Face to Face: Scripture, Ritual, and Iconographic Exchange in Medieval China. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. https://doi.org/10.21313/hawaii/9780824831691.001.0001


Myrvold, Kristina. 2013. “Engaging with the Guru: Sikh beliefs and practices of Guru Granth Sahib.” In Iconic Books and Texts, edited by James W. Watts, 261–281. London: Equinox.


Paljor, Kunsang. 1977. Tibet: The Undying Flame. Dharamsala: Information Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama.


Patrul Rinpoche. 1994. The Words of My Perfect Teacher. Padmakara Translation Group. San Francisco: Harper Collins.


Pema Lingpa (padma gling pa). 1975. padma gling pa’i gter skor. Collected gter-ma rediscoveries of Padma-gliṅ pa: A reproduction of a rare munuscript collection from Manang, 7 volumes, New Delhi, Ngawang Topgay (TBRC W00EGS1017093).


Phuoc, Trieu. 2008. The Quintessence of Secret (Esoteric) Buddhism, (Revised Edition). Matgiao Friendship Association, California (pdf download available: https://selfdefinition.org/tantra/Quintessence-Of-Secret-Esoteric-Buddhism.pdf)


Schaeffer, Kurtis R. 2009. The Culture of the Book in Tibet. New York: Columbia University Press. https://doi.org/10.7312/scha14716


Terdak Lingpa (gter bdag gling pa). 1998. Collected Works: smin gling gter chen rig ’dzin ’gyur med rdo rje’i gsung ’bum. 16 volumes, Dehra Dun, D.G. Khochhen Tulku (TBRC W22096).


Wangyal, Phuntsog. 1982. The Report from Tibet. in From Liberation to Liberalisation: Views on ‘Liberalised’ Tibet, 127–163. Dharamsala: Information Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama.


Wilkens, Katharina. “Infusions and fumigations: Therapeutic aspects of the Quran.” Paper given to the workshop, Seeing, Touching and Holding, and Tasting Sacred Texts, Ruhr-Univeristät Bochum, April 2016.







Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email: info@equinoxpub.com

Privacy Policy