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Dissertation abstracts

The Lamp for the Eye of Contemplation, the bSam-gtan mig-sgron by gNubs-chen Sangs-rgyas ye-shes: Hermeneutical study with English translation and critical edition of a Tibetan Buddhist text on contemplation

Dylan Esler
Bibliographical reference

The Lamp for the Eye of Contemplation, the bSam-gtan mig-sgron by gNubs-chen Sangs-rgyas ye-shes: Hermeneutical study with English translation and critical edition of a Tibetan Buddhist text on contemplation

Author's notes

Discipline: Philology, Buddhist Studies
Institution: Université catholique de Louvain (Faculté de philosophie, arts et lettres (FIAL); Institut des Civilisations, Arts et Lettres (INCAL); Centre d’études orientales – Institut Orientaliste de Louvain (CIOL))
Defense date: 5 June 2018
Supervision: Christophe Vielle (Université catholique de Louvain) and Jean-Luc Achard (CNRS, Paris)

Full text

1This thesis is an attempt to understand, from both philological and metaphysical perspectives, an important 10th-century Tibetan Buddhist text on contemplation, the bSam-gtan mig-sgron by gNubs-chen Sangs-rgyas ye-shes (b ca 844). This text is a seminal source for the study of the various meditative currents that were transmitted to Tibet from India and China during the early dissemination of Buddhism in Tibet. It is among the earliest Tibetan doxographies and is one of the first treatises to present rDzogs-chen as an independent vehicle. Written from the perspective of rDzogs-chen or Atiyoga, the bSam-gtan mig-sgron lays forth a hierarchy of Buddhist vehicles leading to enlightenment, classified according to the following order: the classical Mahāyāna path of gradual development; the simultaneous approach of Chan; the tantric vehicle of Mahāyoga; and the path of self-liberation of rDzogs-chen.

2The thesis is divided into three parts. After a general introduction situating the author and his work, Part I provides an unabridged, annotated English translation of the text’s eight chapters. Part II contains a critical edition of the Tibetan text of the first four chapters, preceded by some introductory comments concerning the sources available for its elaboration. The detailed textual work underlying Parts I and II has entailed a thorough comparison and collation of several witnesses and, most significantly, the identification of the vast majority of the hundreds of citations quoted by the Tibetan author. Part III, which begins with an overview of the place of meditation within the Buddhist tradition, consists in a hermeneutical study of the four principal chapters of the bSam-gtan mig-sgron (ie Chapters 4–7). The study sets out to elucidate the theoretical underpinnings of the core contemplative approaches discussed in the bSam-gtan mig-sgron by offering a historically informed and philosophically nuanced appreciation of their articulation in early Tibetan Buddhism.

3While the first two parts of the thesis are more philological in nature and the third part is more metaphysical in its orientation, it is hoped that these two approaches will prove to be complementary and mutually illuminating in providing a deeper understanding of the doctrines and practices exposed in this work.

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References

Electronic reference

Dylan Esler, « The Lamp for the Eye of Contemplation, the bSam-gtan mig-sgron by gNubs-chen Sangs-rgyas ye-shes: Hermeneutical study with English translation and critical edition of a Tibetan Buddhist text on contemplation », European Bulletin of Himalayan Research [Online], 56 | 2021, Online since 10 September 2021, connection on 27 October 2021. URL : http://preo.u-bourgogne.fr/ebhr/index.php?id=129

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About the author

Dylan Esler

Dylan Esler is currently affiliated with the Center for Religious Studies (CERES) at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany, where he works on the project ‘An Enquiry into the Development of the Dzogchen Tradition in the Commentaries of the Tibetan Scholar Nubchen Sangye Yeshe (10th Century)’, sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Germany).

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Copyright

Licence Creative Commons
Les contenus de la revue European Bulletin of Himalayan Research sont mis à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International.

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