Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Ornament of the Great Vehicle Sutras

Another semester is underway and a class on the Ornament of the Great Vehicle Sutras is now being offered. This important text is one of the “five treatises of Maitreya” and lays out the vast and profound path of the Great Vehicle. The text is taught with two commentaries: one by Khenpo Zhenga and one by Lama Mipam. Both Khenpo Zhenga and Lama Mipam were instrumental in revitalizing the tradition of scholarship in eastern Tibet in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and their works have continued to hold a central place in the curriculum of Buddhist monastic colleges. Their two commentaries are particularly interesting to study in tandem because of the contrasting styles of the authors: Khenpo Zhenga primarily comments on the Indian scriptures and Mipam incorporates the Tibetan commentaries of his tradition.

The class is taught by Khenpo Jampa Donden, who trained at Dzongsar College (which is one of the monastic colleges established by Khenpo Zhenga) under the late Khenpo Kunga Wangchuk. The translator is Dr. Douglas Duckworth, who has a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia and recently published a book on Mipam entitled Mipam on Buddha-Nature (SUNY, 2008). Students from all over the world have come to partake in what promises to be an “international feast on the nectar of Dharma!”

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