A Scripture of the Ancient Tantra Collection: The Phur-pa by Dr Robert Mayer

By Dr Robert Mayer

Approximately part the amount is taken up via an complicated Tibetan textual content version of 4 chapters from the Phur pa bcu gnyis (PCN), a widely known yet to this point little-studied tantric textual content of the Nying-ma-pa university of Tibetan Buddhism, followed by way of a long and hugely technical dialogue of the issues excited by modifying texts of this kind ...The introductory fabric of Mayer's booklet provides a masterly and unique precis of the problems raised through those difficulties. The questions concerned, these of canonicity, authenticity, imaginative and prescient and revelation, are very important to the knowledge of Tibetan and different traditions of Buddhism within the west. Mayer's ebook is the 1st giant try and current an total photograph of those matters ...Appealing to scholars of Tibetan Buddhism to develop their horizons, Mayer offers striking proof of the benefits in doing so ...He units this paintings in a vast highbrow framework drawn from the sociology of faith.

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By listing the characteristics of these two broad groupings, who are by implication also the supporters and opponents of the rNying-ma-pa Tantras, clear patterns emerge (although this is not by any means to deny that some movements, like many of the early bKa' -brgyud-pa and bKa' -gdams-pa, might fall between or move backwards and forwards between the two lists, just as their attitudes to the rNying-ma-pa tantras tended to vary). Proponents of the open "canon" and supporters of the rNying-ma-pa Tantras tend to be: [1] Shamanic in Samuel's terms (which includes many of the terms below) [2] Accepting of prophetic and charismatic authority in Weber's terms [3] Subitist in Demi6ville's terms [4] Individuals-outside-the-world in Dumont's terms [5] Oriented more towards decentralised organisational structures [6] Philosophical idealists, cf Kapstein [7] Proponents of gzhan-stong, cf Hookham [8] Oriented more towards tantras and gter-mas [9] Oriented more towards -the Resultant Vehicle30 30 Most traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, not only the rNying-ma-pa but also other Tantric literature, make a distinction between the Resultant Vehicle (,bras-bu theg-pa) and the Causal Vehicle Crgyu mtshan-nyidJphyi'i theg-pa).

In promulgating the vinaya, the Buddha carefully transplanted his personal ascetic charisma into a monastic order with a sophisticated social aspect (cf. Weber's concept of Gentilcharisma; see Weber 1964:xxxiv),hence securing its undiluted continuity after his death. But in doing this, he did not abandon the ascetic ideals; as an "ethical prophet" to be emulated by his followers, the Buddha also established the standard pattern to be repeated throughout Buddhist history: ascetic meditators turn away from the world to create charisma through intense practice in isolation, then turn around once more and direct the charisma they have generated to society at large through the medium of the (mainly) monastic establishments.

Several common strands run . through all the above analyses, and I shall look at each of them in tum. 1 Max Weber Max Weber's broad-ranging theories of religion still remain, almost a century after their initial formulation, among the most influential for the contemporary sociology of religion. Most pertinent for this study is Weber's distinguishing of three fundamental types of social activity which are associated with different forms of religion: the rational, the traditional and the charismatic.

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