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Number: 134 Page 121 of 134

Tibetan Buddhism

Product no.: 0-486-20130-9
The history of Lamaism from its first emergence in Tibet, Redcap and Yellowcap sects as well as the non-Buddhist Bonpo and the pantheon of gods, demigods and demons.

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Publisher's Synopsis
One of the most complete works ever written on this topic, from metaphysics to practical magic. Full explanation of Tibetan pantheon, with hundreds of charms and mantras, detailed coverage of doctrine of incarnation and reincarnation. Also, saints, divinity of Dalai Lama, monastic practices, sorcery and astrology, much more. 

Originally published as The Buddhism of Tibet Or Lamaism, 1895. Contents:

Historical: Changes in Primitive Buddhism Leading to Lamaism; Spread of Lamaism; Sects of Lamaism. Doctrinal: Metaphysical Sources; Doctrine and Morality; Scripture and Literature. Monastic: Order of Lamas; routine; Hierarchy. Buildings: Monasteries; Temples and Cathedrals; Shrines. Mythology and Gods: Pantheon and Images; Sacred Symbolism. Ritual and Sorcery: Worship; Astrology and Divination; Sorcery and Necromancy. Festivals and Plays: Festivals and Holidays; Sacred Dramas, Plays and Masquerades. Popular Lamaism: Domestic and Popular. 188 illustrations.


"Vajrayana or Tantrayana Buddhism involves mystical concepts and practices, some of which appear to depart sharply from central Buddhist precepts. In a relatively early book (1894) on Tibetan Buddhism, L. Austine Waddell, an English observer, called it a cult whose name, he wrote, should more properly be Lamaism, as its divergence from Buddhism was so great. Waddell thought that some of its higher rituals invited comparison with Catholicism (the resemblance is entirely superficial), but considered that many of its other practices were mere devil worship or sorcery.

Having only a shallow understanding of Vajrayana, Waddell regarded it as an inferior, even primitive spiritual order. Yet so distinctively different are some aspects of Vajrayana that even Professor Giuseppe Tucci, one of the most distinguished scholars in the field, used the term 'Lamaism' interchangeably with Buddhism."     ~Brown University

"Outside of Alexander David-Neel, Waddell's prudish critique remains the most brutally honest history of Tibetan Buddhism ever put to paper. Preceding the 20th century's wide-eyed infatuation with fictional 'Shangri-La', a utopian paradise of mystery and wonder immortalized by James Hilton's Lost Horizon, and the real-life Tibetan diaspora which replaced our beloved Hindu gurus of the 60's with powerful Dzogchen magicians in the 90's, Waddell's 19th century thesis presented a down-to-earth, no-holds-barred look at the genesis and corruption of Buddhism as it degenerated into Lamaism, yet somehow retained some of the redeeming features of Guatama Buddha's original, epoch-changing doctrines."      ~Mandala Books

"Nagarjuna claimed and secured orthodoxy for the Mahayana doctrine by producing an apocalyptic treatise which he attributed to Sakya Muni, entitled the Prajna-paramita, or 'the means of arriving at the other side of wisdom,' a treatise which he alleged the Buddha had himself composed, and had hid away in the custody of the Naga demigods until men were sufficiently enlightened to comprehend so abstruse a system. And, as his method claims to be a compromise between the extreme views then held on the nature of Nirvana, it was named the Madhyamaka, or the system 'of the Middle Path.'

This Mahayana doctrine was essentially a sophistic nihilism; and under it the goal Nirvana, or rather Pari-Nirvana, while ceasing to be extinction of Life, was considered a mystical state which admitted of no definition. By developing the supernatural side of Buddhism and its objective symbolism, by rendering its salvation more accessible and universal, and by substituting good words for the good deeds of the earlier Buddhists, the Mahayana appealed more powerfully to the multitude and secured ready popularity.

About the end of the first century of our era, then, Kanishka's Council affirmed the superiority of the Mahayana system, and published in the Sanskrit language inflated versions of the Buddhist Canon, from sources for the most part independent of the Pali versions of the southern Buddhists, though exhibiting a remarkable agreement with them.

And this new doctrine supported by Kanishka, who almost rivaled Asoka in his Buddhist zeal and munificence, became a dominant form of Buddhism throughout the greater part of India; and it was the form which first penetrated, it would seem, to China and Northern Asia.

Its idealization of Buddha and his attributes led to the creation of metaphysical Buddhas and celestial Bodhisats, actively willing and able to save, and to the introduction of innumerable demons and deities as objects of worship, with their attendant idolatry and sacerdotalism, both of which departures Buddha had expressly condemned. The gradual growth of myth and legend, and of the various theistic developments which now set in, are sketched in detail in another chapter.

As early as about the first century A.D., Buddha is made to be existent from all eternity and without beginning. And one of the earliest forms given to the greatest of these metaphysical Buddhas—Amitabha, the Buddha of Boundless Light—evidently incorporated a Sun-myth, as was indeed to be expected where the chief patrons of this early Mahayana Buddhism, the Scythians and Indo-Persians, were a race of Sun-worshippers.

About the end of the sixth century A.D., Tantrism or Sivaic mysticism, with its worship of female energies, spouses of the Hindu god Siva, began to tinge both Buddhism and Hinduism. Consorts were allotted to the several Celestial Bodhisats and most of the other gods and demons, and most of them were given forms wild and terrible, and often monstrous, according to the supposed moods of each divinity at different times. And as these goddesses and fiendesses were bestowers of supernatural power, and were especially malignant, they were especially worshiped.

Such was the distorted form of Buddhism introduced into Tibet about 640 A.D.; and during the three or four succeeding centuries Indian Buddhism became still more debased. Its mysticism became a silly mummery of unmeaning jargon and 'magic circles,' dignified by the title of Mantrayana or 'The Spell-Vehicle'; and this so-called 'esoteric,' but properly 'exoteric,' cult was given a respectable antiquity by alleging that its real founder was Nagarjuna, who had received it from the Celestial Buddha Vairocana through the divine Bodhisat Vajrasattva at 'the iron tower' in Southern India.

In the tenth century A.D., the Tantrik phase developed in Northern India, Kashmir, and Nepal, into the monstrous and polydemonist doctrine, the Kalacakra, with its demoniacal Buddhas, which incorporated the Mantrayana practices, and called itself the Vajra-yana or 'The Thunderbolt-Vehicle,' and its followers were named Vajra-carya.

In these declining days of Indian Buddhism, when its spiritual and regenerating influences were almost dead, the Muhammadan invasion swept over India, in the latter end of the twelfth century A.D., and effectually stamped Buddhism out of the country. The fanatical idol-hating Afghan soldiery especially attacked the Buddhist monasteries, with their teeming idols, and they massacred the monks wholesale; and as the Buddhist religion, unlike the more domestic Brahmanism, is dependent on its priests and monks for its vitality, it soon disappeared in the absence of these latter. It lingered only for a short rime longer in the more remote parts of the peninsula, to which the fiercely fanatical Muhammadans could not readily penetrate.

But it has now been extinct in India for several centuries, leaving, however, all over that country, a legacy of gorgeous architectural remains and monuments of decorative art, and its living effect upon its apparent offshoot Jainism, and upon Brahmanism, which it profoundly influenced for good. Although the form of Buddhism prevalent in Tibet, and which has been called after its priests 'Lamaism,' is mainly that of the mystical type, the Vajra-yana, curiously incorporated with Tibetan mythology and spirit-worship, still it preserves there, as we shall see, much of the loftier philosophy and ethics of the system taught by Buddha himself. And the Lamas have the keys to unlock the meaning of much of Buddha's doctrine, which has been almost inaccessible to Europeans."       ~Ch. II: Changes in Primitive Buddhism Leading to Lamaism

Author Waddell, L. Austine
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 598 pp.
Publisher Dover Publications 1972
Browse these categories as well: Vajrayana and Crazy Wisdom Masters, Bon and Dzogchen Shamanism, Gods, Goddesses and Archetypes, Primitive and Derivative Religions, Spiritual Biography and Autobiography

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Number: 134 Page 121 of 134