The Jewel Ornament of Liberation - The Wish-Fulfilling Gem of the Noble Teachings
— by Gampopa
A masterwork of Tibetan Buddhism – providing the complete foundation for study and practice – from beginning to Buddhahood.
For more than eight centuries, this text has provided the backbone of study particularly in the Kagyu tradition – covering the initial entry into the path and continuing through finding a spiritual master, teachings on impermanence, karma, bodhicitta, Buddha nature, six perfections, ten bodhisattva bhumis, Buddhahood and the activities of Buddha.
The Jewel Ornament of Liberation
- The Wish-Fulfilling Gem of the Noble Teachings
— by Gampopa
- translated by Konchog Gyaltsen
"This text is an excellent work that reflects the blending of two systems of teaching – the Kadampa tradition and the mahamudra tradition.
This text is therefore a Lam Rim text and reflects the Madhyamika philosophical view, but it also implicitly reflects the teachings of highest yoga tantra and mahamudra."
— Dalai Lama
"Anyone who knows the Jewel Ornament well can say that they really understand Buddhism."
— Khenpo Konchog Gyaltsen
Contains a wealth of useful material for anyone committed to the study and practice of the path and stages, or the Great Vehicle. The introduction is a fine overview of the text, given in a form accessible to the Western non-scholar practitioner. In fact, the introduction constitutes the contents of a single course on the Great Vehicle. Provides a fine biography of Gampopa.
Full tittle is :
"The Explanation of the Stages on the Mahayanic Path towards Liberation, called a Jewel Ornament of Liberation or the Wish-Fulfilling Gem of the Noble Doctrine"
A masterwork of Tibetan Buddhism - providing the complete foundation for study and practice - from beginning to Buddhahood. Includes teachings on Buddha-nature, finding the spiritual master, impermanence, karma, cultivation of bodhicitta, development of the six perfections, the ten bodhisattva bhumis, Buddhahood, and the activities of the Buddha.
In this skillful translation, Herbert Guenther offers English-speaking readers Gampopa's comprehensive and authoritative exposition of the stages of the Buddhist path. A masterly survey of Tibetan Buddhism, The Jewel Ornament of Liberation explains how an enlightened attitude is strengthened by practicing the six perfections (generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, meditation, and knowledge) and offers a concise presentation of Buddhism as a living experience.
As Chogyam Trungpa writes in his foreword: "It is in the flow of karma that this book materialized in 1959 on the very eve of the destruction of the spiritual land of Tibet. Professor H.V. Guenther was instrumental in making available the only commentary and guide in English to the bodhisattva tradition of Tibet, Japan, and China. The book remains the classic text of all Buddhists."
— From the back cover
Gampopa, a physician from Dagpo region in S. Tibet, was the foremost student of the Tibetan Buddhist teacher - Milarepa. He was renowned for the clarity of his perception and his knowledge of both Kadampa, and later - Mahamudra methods.
As a youth, he studied medicine, then married a daughter of a man named Chim Jose Darma Wo and had a child, but they both died, causing him to renounce the householder's life. In 1104, at the age of 25, he took ordination, either in Dakpo or in Penyul, at Gyachak Ri monastery, receiving the name Sonam Rinchen.
Gampopa's position in the transmission lineage of the esoteric Mahamudra teaching is as follows:
- Tilopa (988-1069), the Indian yogi who experienced the original transmission of the Mahamudra.
- Naropa (1016–1100), who perfected the methods of accelerated enlightenment, described in his six yogas of Naropa.
- Marpa (1012–1097), the first Tibetan in the lineage, who translated the Vajrayana and Mahamudra texts into Old Tibetan.
- Milarepa (1052–1135), poet and master who overcame Marpa's reluctance to teach but nonetheless attained enlightenment in a single lifetime.
- Gampopa - Milarepa's most important student, who integrated Atisha's Kadampa teaching and Tilopa's Mahamudra teaching to establish the Kagyu school.
This lineage sequence, taken together, is called the "Five Founding Masters" by the Kagyu followers.
Prior to studying under Milarepa, Gampopa had studied the Kadampa traditions, which is a gradual path based on the lamrim teachings. He searched for, and eventually met Milarepa, and attained realization of ultimate reality under his guidance.
Gampopa wrote The Jewel Ornament of Liberation and founded the Dagpo Kagyu school in 1125. It was the integrative teaching of Gampopa which unified Kadampa and Mahamudra teachings into the distinctive Kagyu approach. He also established various monastic institutions, taught extensively, and attracted many students. Four of his disciples founded the four "major" Kagyu schools:
- Barom Kagyu - founded by Barompa Darma Wangchug (1127-1194)
- Phagdru Kagyu - founded by Phagmo Drupa Dorje Gyalpo (1110-1170)
- Karma Kagyu - founded by Düsum Khyenpa, the 1st Karmapa (1110-1193)
- Tsalpa Kagyu - founded by Zhang Yudragpa Tsondru Drag (1123-1193)