Liberation in One Lifetime: Biographies and Teachings of Milarepa

Liberation in One Lifetime: Biographies and Teachings of Milarepa

by Francis V. Tiso


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Milarepa (1052-1135), a major figure in the history of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and known as one of Tibet's greatest lamas and poets, continues to inspire Buddhist practitioners worldwide to the present day. Liberation in One Lifetime explores the history and spirituality of the Kagyu lineage in relationship to the narratives and teachings attributed to Milarepa by studying some of the earliest versions of these materials. Offering a detailed analysis of the biographical material that has been written about Milarepa (who was also a student of Marpa, a major figure in the development of the Bka'-brgyud-pa school of Tibetan Buddhism), author, theologian, and well-respected Tibetan Buddhist scholar, Francis V. Tiso, describes the historical context of the tradition of hagiography (biography) in Buddhism and other spiritual traditions, and provides a history of Milarepa's influence in Tibet.

Part One explains the tradition of composing stories about Milarepa's life and teachings (there have been many throughout the centuries) and includes outlines of the contents of some of them as well as an explanation of the oral versions that have been transmitted via oral epic songs and poems that Milarepa composed. Describing the spiritual components of Bka'-brgyud-pa, Part Two includes tantric practices, an outline for the path of liberation, definitions of "voidness," and the characteristics of fully enlightened Buddhahood. Part Three includes translated biographies and oral teachings of Milarepa (in poetic form) that are considered sacred texts. The book also includes a foreword by Roberto Vitali, a prominent Tibetan Buddhist scholar as well as an extensive bibliography of primary and secondary sources.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781583947937
Publisher: North Atlantic Books
Publication date: 06/24/2014
Pages: 432
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

A priest of the Diocese of Isernia-Venafro in Italy, FRANCIS V. TISO holds advanced degrees from Cornell and Harvard Universities, and a doctorate in Buddhist Studies from Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary. He has translated several early biographies of Milarepa and has led research expeditions in South and East Asia. The author lives in Isernia, Italy.

Table of Contents

Foreword Roberto Vitali ix

Preface xiv

Abbreviations xii

Timeline: The Life of Milarepa xx


1 The Historical Context of the Biographical Tradition 1

Part 1 Literary Aspects of the Biographies of Milarepa

2 Hagiography and Tradition 17

3 Redaction Critical Study of the Milarepa Biographies 29

4 Survey of Sources 43

5 Toward Identifying the "Voice" of Milarepa 69

6 Conclusions on the Literary and Teaching Voice of Milarepa 85

7 Final Remarks on the Literary Tradition 91

Part 2 Bka' Brgyud Pa Spirituality

8 The Theme of Tradition in Anthropological and Historical Perspective 97

9 Liberation in the Vajrayana.- A Survey of Tannic Practice in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism 102

10 The Buddha Within: Ground or Basis of the Path 108

11 The Path to Liberation and Its Features 113

12 The Fruition: Fully Enlightened Buddhahood 116

13 The rDo rje 'Chang mam thar in bKa' brgyud Spirituality 120

14 Tantric Practice in the bKa' brgyud 129

15 bKa' brgyud pa Tantric Practice: Enlightenment "in One Lifetime, in One Body" 133

16 Oral Teachings of Khandro Rinpoche on the Stage of Creation for the Practice of Vajravarahi 137

17 Oral Teachings of H. H. Gyalwa Drukchen on Cakrasamvara 142

18 The Six Yogas of Naropa, Mahamudra, and the bKa' brgyud Teachings on the Stage of Completion 149

19 The Enlightenment of Milarepa 158

20 Tables: Spiritual Transformation 166

Part 3 Texts in Translation

21 The Biography of Milarepa by rGyal thang pa bDe chen rDo rJe 173

22 The Lives of Marpa and Milarepa by sGam po pa 247

23 A Translation of the Biography of Vajradhara by rGyal thang pa 259

24 Milarepa's Oral Teachings from the gDams ngag mdzod 274

Notes 293

Glossary 353

Selected Bibliography 359

Index 384

About the Author 412

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