Naked Seeing: The Great Perfection, The Wheel of Time, and Visionary Philosophy in Renaissance Tibet

Hatchell, Christopher Patrick, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Germano, David, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

This dissertation investigates practices of vision in the Tibetan Bon and Buddhist traditions. The study focuses on two tantric systems known as Kalacakra (dus kyi 'kh0r lo) and the Great Perfection (rdzogs chen). Both of these traditions contain visionary yogas in which a practitioner dwells in a dark room or gazes at the open sky, with the goal of experiencing luminous visions. The dissertation discusses these yogas from a technical perspective, and also investigates the physiology on which they are based, but focuses mainly on the intellectual and literary traditions that surround them. In particular, it pays attention to how visionary yoga was used as a starting point for philosophical discussion, and how that discussion opened up new directions in Tibetan thought. The study is organized around three literary sources, one from each of Tibet's three broad religious traditions: Sarma, Nyingma, and Bon. These sources are: (1) a Kalacakra treatise by Yumo Mikyo Dorje, The Lamp Illuminating Emptiness (sT0ng nyid gsal sgron), (2) a Nyingma Great Perfection work called The Tantra of the Blazing Lamps (sGr0n ma 'bar ba'i rgyud), (3) and a Bon Great Perfection work called Advice on the Six Lamps (sGr0n ma drug gi gdams pa), along with a detailed commentary on this by Drugom Gyalwa Yungdrung. The study begins with three chapters that treat the histories and doctrines particular to each of these sources. Three chapters then approach them interpretively and comparatively, tracing their themes of darkness, light, and sexuality. Finally, the appendices provide full English translations.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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