The Life of Padmasambhava

Jan 25, 2011 by

By Taranatha
Padmasambhava was one of the most important figures in Tibetan Buddhism, and the main proponent for Buddhism’s introduction and diffusion into Tibet. There are a number of biographies covering his life and teachings, but this volume is of significant importance in that it allows Western historians to see his relevance to contemporary life by uncovering the historical and human side of this great teacher. This contribution is especially important, since the transmission of the teachings is based on one very important thing: the human figure of the guru, or ‘spiritual teacher.’ Reading accounts of the life of spiritual masters such as Padmasambhava can be an aid on the path that leads to complete liberation by providing an example of spiritual perfection.

Taranatha, one of the major historians of his age, gives a reliable and authoritative account of Padmasambhava’s life based on the kama tradition, in which teachings are passed from master to disciple in an uninterrupted succession. His testimony is still greatly valued by Tibetans. In this work he deals with the history of Padmasambhava as a modem historian would, wishing to satisfy a need for objectivity, using the most reliable sources available to him and making accurate references to them in his text, so as to dispel any doubts regarding the authenticity of his account. His reliance on this source renders this work a more reliable and objective biography of Padmasambhava, making it especially valuable for its historical relevance to contemporary Western historians.

Cristiana De Falco analyzes the contents of Taranatha’s work from the viewpoint of Tibetan culture and mentality, and provides rich insights into why this account, and its implications, are still valid and useful for the modern world.

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