The Sutric, the Tantric and Beyond: A Mahamudra paradigm - as well as its Indian and Tibetan Sources of Inspiration - in the Keypoints of Mahamudra as the Ultimate compiled by Dehui

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Zhang, Linghui, Religious Studies - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Germano, David, AS-Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Schaeffer, Kurtis, AS-Religious Studies, University of Virginia

This dissertation is a historical, philosophical, and textual study of the 12th-century Tangut work Keypoints of Mahāmudrā as the Ultimate compiled by Dehui (fl. mid- to late-12th century) – a Xixia-based Buddhist scholar – from his Tibetan teacher brTson-’grus’s lectures, together with its commentarial expositions in the Notes on the Keypoints of Mahāmudrā as the Ultimate omposed by Dehui’s circle if not directly by Dehui himself. The main goals of this research are twofold: first, I trace the formative process of Mahāmudrā as to how the discourse emerged out of the Yoganiruttara cycle of Indian Buddhist Tantra, and how it took shape in the post-tantric environment across the Himalaya; second, I analyze the twofold scheme of sūtric and tantric paths towards Mahāmudrā as presented in the Keypoints and a piece of exoteric doxography (siddhānta) in the Notes against the Indian and Tibetan Mahāmudrā topography I have unpacked as the first goal.
In demonstrating how the multiple philosophical and practical threads from Buddhist Tantra and Mahāyāna scholasticism were integrated into the creation of the Tangut Mahāmudrā architecture, this research argues that the Keypoints juxtaposes two soteriological approaches – those of the visionary and the embodied modes respectively – to non-conceptual realization, the experiential domain wherein the sūtric and tantric paths are bridged.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Mahāmudrā, Tangut Buddhist literature, Buddhist Tantra, Mahāyāna scholastism, non-conceptual realization
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