Tibetan autobiography, or, rangnam (Tibetan: ་་རང་རྣམ, ་Wylie: rang-rnam), is a form of autobiography native to Tibetan Buddhism.
The Wylie transliteration system is a method for transliterating Tibetan script using only the letters available on a typical English language typewriter. It bears the name of American tibetologist Turrell V. Wylie, who described the scheme in an article, A Standard System of Tibetan Transcription, published in 1959. It has subsequently become a standard transliteration scheme in Tibetan studies, especially in the United States.
An autobiography is a self-written account of the life of oneself. The word "autobiography" was first used deprecatingly by William Taylor in 1797 in the English periodical The Monthly Review, when he suggested the word as a hybrid, but condemned it as "pedantic". However, its next recorded use was in its present sense, by Robert Southey in 1809. Despite only being named early in the nineteenth century, first-person autobiographical writing originates in antiquity. Roy Pascal differentiates autobiography from the periodic self-reflective mode of journal or diary writing by noting that "[autobiography] is a review of a life from a particular moment in time, while the diary, however reflective it may be, moves through a series of moments in time". Autobiography thus takes stock of the autobiographer's life from the moment of composition. While biographers generally rely on a wide variety of documents and viewpoints, autobiography may be based entirely on the writer's memory. The memoir form is closely associated with autobiography but it tends, as Pascal claims, to focus less on the self and more on others during the autobiographer's review of his or her life.
Tibetan Buddhism is the form of Buddhism named after Tibet where it is the dominant religion. It is also found in the regions surrounding the Himalayas, much of Chinese Central Asia, the Southern Siberian regions such as Tuva, as well as Mongolia.
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Although autobiography is traditionally considered to be a Western genre, the Tibetan autobiography arose separately from the Western form, with examples of the genre dating back to as early as the eleventh century,with a significant increase in production in the sixteenth century and a boom in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Unlike many other branches of Tibetan literature which originated in Indic or Chinese culture, there are no analogous genres in either canon. However, according to Janet Gyatso, "there remains a possible influence from Persian Islamic literature, in which didactic religious autobiographies are also known from the tenth century onwards, but such a connection remains to be demonstrated" (Gyatso 1992, 467).
Genre is any form or type of communication in any mode with socially-agreed-upon conventions developed over time. Genre is most popularly known as a category of literature, music, or other forms of art or entertainment, whether written or spoken, audio or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria, yet genres can be aesthetic, rhetorical, communicative, or functional. Genres form by conventions that change over time as cultures invent new genres and discontinue the use of old ones. Often, works fit into multiple genres by way of borrowing and recombining these conventions. Stand-alone texts, works, or pieces of communication may have individual styles, but genres are amalgams of these texts based on agreed-upon or socially inferred conventions. Some genres may have rigid, strictly adhered-to guidelines, while others may show great flexibility.
Indian literature refers to the literature produced on the Indian subcontinent until 1947 and in the Republic of India thereafter. The Republic of India has 22 officially recognized languages.
The history of Chinese literature extends thousands of years, from the earliest recorded dynastic court archives to the mature vernacular fiction novels that arose during the Ming dynasty to entertain the masses of literate Chinese. The introduction of widespread woodblock printing during the Tang dynasty (618–907) and the invention of movable type printing by Bi Sheng (990–1051) during the Song dynasty (960–1279) rapidly spread written knowledge throughout China. In more modern times, the author Lu Xun (1881–1936) is considered the founder of baihua literature in China.
Throughout the canon of Tibetan autobiography, authors present a wide span of attitudes towards themselves and their accounts of their lives, ranging from extraordinarily self-deprecating to excessively self-praising. Tertöns tend towards humility and self-deprecation, typically stemming from uncertainty in their realizations in treasure revelation. On the opposite side of the spectrum, many authors, such as Kalu Rinpoche detail numerous acts of compassion and great meditative abilities in their autobiographies, while others add hagiographical elements to their autobiographies to elevate perceptions of them. While this variety in tone typically stems from the autobiographer himself, disciples do frequently impact tone (See Authorship ) and add honorific titles in praise of their instructors.
Tertön is a term within Tibetan Buddhism. It means a person who is a discoverer of ancient hidden texts or terma. Many tertöns are considered to be incarnations of the twenty five main disciples of Padmasambhava. A vast system of transmission lineages developed. Nyingma scriptures were updated by terma discoveries, and terma teachings have guided many Buddhist and Bon practitioners.
Kalu Rinpoche was a Buddhist lama, meditation master, scholar and teacher. He was one of the first Tibetan masters to teach in the West.
A hagiography is a biography of a saint or an ecclesiastical leader. The term hagiography may be used to refer to the biography of a saint or highly developed spiritual being in any of the world's spiritual traditions.
Tibetan: གསན་བའི་རང་རྣམ་, Wylie: gsan-ba'i rang rnam
Similarly to secret biography within Namtar, secret autobiography focuses on inner religious experiences, such as visions, realizations, and spiritual thoughts.
Tibetan: ནང་གི་རང་རྣམ་, Wylie: nang gi rang rnam
The inner autobiography contains details on meditative cycles and initiations.
Tibetan: ཕྱའི་རང་རྣམ་, Wylie: phyi'i rang rnam
Much like in the outer biography within Namtar, the outer autobiography reflects upon the writer's "publicly observable deeds—such as childhood events, education, travels...although...the outer account can reflect on inner thoughts and feelings as well" (use the footnoted gyatso or do i need to use Harvard style bracketing?).
The majority of Tibetan autobiographers were Buddhist practitioners who wrote about their personal experiences for their instructional value to their disciples, as well as any other readers. However, although most autobiographers were members of the clergy, members of all classes and religiosity have written autobiography.
Tibetan autobiographers frequently include accounts of past lives, which in addition to glorifying and legitimating the author's actions, models Buddhist Jataka tales.
While autobiography is traditionally considered to be an account of someone's life written by the subject of the work, authorship in Tibetan autobiography frequently blends material written by the subject with that of other authors. Especially given the role of many Tibetan autobiographers as instructors and teachers, disciples often influence autobiographical content. Many autobiographers dictate their autobiographies to their students, who, in turn, tend to add their own elements to the work. While more blatantly EXTERNAL components, such as chapters regarding the death of the autobiographer, as in the autobiographies of Milarepa
Disciples often add honorific titles in praise of the autobiographer attesting to the merit of their teacher, which would superficially seem to be an obvious external contribution; however, Tibetan autobiographers exhibit a wide array of egotism, ranging from the expected Buddhist diffidence to grandiose self-admiration (see Tone. Components that would be expected to come directly from the autobiographer, such as accounts of dreams and visions in the secret autobiography, may, in some cases, actually be recorded by disciples that learned of them orally.
Stemming from the Nyingma school of Buddhism, Terma (Tibetan : གཏེར་མ་, Wylie : gter ma; "hidden treasure") literature consists of systematically hidden "treasures", "blessed words and objects said to originate in the enlightened intent of buddhas and bodhisattvas". (Doctor, 17) intended to be discovered by a predestined tertön, a treasure revealer, at a designated time in the future when the information will be most pertinent to the Tibetan people.
A namtar (Tibetan : རྣམ་ཐར་, Wylie : rNam-thar), sometimes spelled namthar is a spiritual biography or hagiography in Tibetan Buddhism.
Namtar is a contraction of nampar tharpa (Tibetan : རྣམ་པར་ཐར་པ་, Wylie : rnam-par thar-pa), which literally means 'complete liberation', which, similarly to the cases of the vast majority of Tibetan autobiographers, refers to the genre's focus on individuals who have achieved total enlightenment.
As in Tibetan autobiography, Namtar is divided into three subcategories, all of which are present in every work of Namtar:
Jigme Lingpa was a noteworthy tertön - a revealer of terma texts - from the Nyingma sect of Buddhism who lived in the 18th century (from wiki page). In addition to his autobiography, his body of work includes his "Heart Sphere" writings, nine-volume "Collected Works", and various works on Tibetan history.
The autobiography of Milarepa documents the autobiographer's life and his transformation from representing the epitome of an immortal life to enlightenment through devout tantric Buddhist practices. After significant abuse throughout his childhood from greedy relatives, Milarepa commits mass slaughter against those who wronged him, as well as other acts of black magic; his ability to find salvation in the dharma despite his severe wrongdoing shows how, through adherence to Buddhism, anyone can reach enlightenment.
Born in 1675, Orgyan Chokyi is the earliest known female Tibetan autobiographer, one of only three or four total out of around 150 known Tibetan autobiographers. Her work primarily focuses on suffering and impermanence of life, as well as gender roles within both Tibetan and Buddhist culture. An important concept that Orgyan Chokyi deals with in the gendering of suffering, claiming an intrinsic connection between the female body and Samsara and suffering.
Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, was an 8th-century Buddhist master from the Indian subcontinent. Although there was a historical Padmasambhava, little is known of him apart from helping the construction of the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet at Samye, at the behest of Trisong Detsen, and shortly thereafter leaving Tibet due to court intrigues.
Terma are various forms of hidden teachings that are key to Vajrayana or Tibetan Buddhist and Bon religious traditions. The belief is that these teachings were originally esoterically hidden by various adepts such as Padmasambhava and dakini such as Yeshe Tsogyal (consorts) during the 8th century, for future discovery at auspicious times by other adepts, who are known as tertöns. As such, terma represent a tradition of continuous revelation in Vajrayana or Tibetan Buddhism. Termas are a part of tantric literature.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche was a Vajrayana master, scholar, poet, teacher, and head of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism from 1987 to 1991.
The Nyingma tradition is the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. "Nyingma" literally means "ancient," and is often referred to as Ngangyur because it is founded on the first translations of Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Old Tibetan in the eighth century. The Tibetan alphabet and grammar was created for this endeavour.
Yeshe Tsogyal (also known as "Victorious Ocean of Wisdom", "Wisdom Lake Queen", was the Mother of Tibetan Buddhism. Some sources regard her as a wife of Trisong Detsen, emperor of Tibet. Her main karmamudrā consort was Padmasambhava, a founder-figure of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. She is known to have revealed terma with Padmasambhava and was also the main scribe for these terma. Later, Yeshe Tsogyal also hid many of Padmasambhava's terma on her own, under the instructions of Padmasambhava for future generations.
Jigme Lingpa (1730–1798) was a Tibetan tertön of the Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism. He was the promulgator of the Longchen Nyingthik, the Heart Essence teachings of Longchenpa, from whom, according to tradition, he received a vision in which the teachings were revealed. The Longchen Nyingthik eventually became the most famous and widely practiced cycle of Dzogchen teachings.
Rechung Dorje Drakpa, known as Rechungpa, was one of the two most important students of the 11th century yogi and poet Milarepa and founder of the Shamngpa Kagyu lineage or Rechung lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism..
Pema Lingpa or Padma Lingpa was a Bhutanese saint and siddha of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. He is considered a terchen or "preeminent tertön" and is considered to be foremost of the "Five Tertön Kings". In the history of the Nyingma school in Bhutan, Pema Lingpa is second only in importance to Padmasambhava.
A namtar, sometimes spelled namthar is a spiritual biography or hagiography in Tibetan Buddhism.
Milarepa is a 2006 Tibetan-language film about the life of the most famous Tibetan tantric yogi, eponymous Milarepa. The film was shot in the Spiti Valley, high in the Himalayas in the Zanskar region close to the border between India and Tibet due to the location's resemblance to the Tibetan landscape.
In Tibetan Buddhism and Bon, Menngakde, is the name of one of three scriptural and lineage divisions within Dzogchen.
Tertön Sogyal Lerab Lingpa was a Tibetan Buddhist tertön and a teacher of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama.
Palyul Monastery, also known as Palyul Namgyal Jangchub Choling Monastery and sometimes romanized as Pelyul Monastery, is one of the six mother monasteries of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. It was founded in 1665 by Rigzin Kunzang Sherab in Dege, on the eastern edge of Tibet, a town in today's Baiyü County, Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in China's Sichuan province. The monastery is the seat of the Nam Chö Terma of Terton Migyur Dorje. Drubwang Padma Norbu was the 11th throneholder of the Palyul lineage. Upon his mahaparinirvana in March, 2009, Karma Kuchen Rinpoche became the 12th throneholder.
Rongzom Chökyi Zangpo (1040-1159), widely known as Rongzom Mahapandita, Rongzom Dharmabhadra, or simply as Rongzompa, was one of the most important scholars of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. Together with Longchenpa and Ju Mipham, he is often considered to be one of the three "omniscient" writers of the school. His elder contemporary Atiśa (980–1054) considered Rongzompa to be an incarnation of the Indian ācārya Kṛṣṇapāda, the Great. The Tibetan historian Gö Lotsawa (1392–1481) said of Rongzom that no scholar in Tibet was his equal.
Namchö Mingyur Dorje was an important tertön or "treasure revealer" in Tibetan Buddhism. His extraordinary "pure vision" revelations, which mostly occurred around the age of 16, are known as the Namchö (Wylie: gnam-chos "Sky Dharma" terma. He first transmitted these to his teacher Karma Chakmé, the illustrious Buddhist scholar of the Kagyu school, who wrote them down. The collection of his revelations fill thirteen Tibetan volumes and are the basis of one of the main practice traditions of the Palyul lineage, a major branch of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. He was considered to be a reincarnation of Palgyi Senge of Shubu, one of the ministers the 8th-century Tibetan King Trisong Detsen sent to invite Padmasambhava to Tibet. He recognized Kunzang Sherab as the Lineage Holder of the Namchö terma. Loden Chegse, one of Padmasambhava's eight emanations, had a vision which helped him learn to read and write. At age 7, his Dakini visions helped focus on reliance upon the lama. At age 10, after a vision and with a Dharma Protector's help, he met his root lama Karma Chagme. Karma Chakmé recognized him as manifestation of Padmasambhava, Senge Dradok. Mingyur Dorje revealed the Namchö treasures at age thirteen, which were written down with Karma Chakmé's help while they stayed in retreat together for three years.
Dudjom Lingpa (1835–1904) was a Tibetan meditation master, spiritual teacher and tertön. He stands out from the norm of Tibetan Buddhist teachers in the sense that he had no formal education, nor did he take ordination as a monk or belong to any established Buddhist school or tradition of his time. He was met with great skepticism by many of his contemporaries, due to the fact that, despite not studying under any established Buddhist teachers of his time, he claimed to receive teachings on meditation and spiritual practice directly from non-physical masters like Guru Rinpoche and Yeshe Tsogyal, as well as deities such as Avalokitesvara and Manjushri. It wasn't until his disciples started showing clear signs of spiritual maturity, that he was accepted by his contemporaries as an authentic teacher and tertön. Today his teachings and literary works, especially those on non-mediation (dzogchen), are highly regarded within the Nyingma-tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche was a scholar and lama in the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism.
Katok Monastery, also transliterated as Kathok or Kathog Monastery, is one of the six principal ("mother") monasteries of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. It is located in Baiyu County, Garze Prefecture, Sichuan, China.
Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol (1781-1851) was a Tibetan Buddhist yogi and poet from Amdo. Shabkar's yogic and poetic skill is considered second only to Milarepa.
gter ma: Terma. 'Treasure.'