Article ID: CBB601902513

Faith or Fate? The Path Towards Immortality According to the Tantric Traditions of Tibet (2018)


Tantrism represents the esoteric heritage of India; it originated around 500-600 AD. Hindu Tantric scriptures were composed from the eighth century onwards, primarily in Kashmir and Nepal, and from those regions they were gradually introduced in Tibet where they were translated concurrently with the hagiographies of famous related saints. Tantric teachings are revered and practiced by all major and minor Buddhist schools as well as Bon, the autochthonous pre-Buddhist system of beliefs of Tibet which remained predominant in the country until the seventh century AD. According to the followers of the first and oldest Tibetan Buddhist school, called "rNying ma" (literally, the Old One), they were made known by the Indian Guru Padmasambhava, who was invited in the eighth century by KingTrison Detsen (Tib. Khri srong lDe’u btsan), the second of the three Dharmara¯ja who played a pivotal role in supporting the spread of Buddhism during the era of maximum influence of the Tibetan Empire (seventh-ninth century AD). On a mystical level Tantric teachings are said to have been transmitted in an ultra-mundane sphere by Buddhas, deities, and other supernatural beings who manifested themselves to privileged audiences under specific symbolic forms, which in turn became the object of meditation, contemplation, liturgies, and bio-spiritual praxes, depending on the teacher or lineage followed. TheTantric Path is considered the fastest one to obtain spiritual enlightenment in reason of its philosophical view, which fosters deep understanding of the nature of Reality in initiated adepts, resulting in swift development and attainment of psycho-physical powers, among which longevity and immortality. The paper will introduce the different levels of Tantric teachings along with their specific characteristics and objectives; such introduction will serve as a platform for understanding the role played by faith and fate in the quest for immortality and the purpose of longevity in the Tibetan religious traditions.

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Authors & Contributors
Gyatso, Janet
Podgorny, Irina
Garrett, Frances Mary
Pollock, Sheldon I.
Schaeffer, Kurtis R.
Cuomu, Mingji
History of Science in South Asia
Micrologus: Nature, Sciences and Medieval Societies
Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity
Nuncius: Annali di Storia della Scienza
History of Religions
Medicina nei secoli
Duke University Press
Columbia University Press
University of California Press
Columbia University
Medicine and religion
Barnes, Carl L.
Saṅs-rgya-rgya-mtsho, Sde-srid
Levi, Giuseppe
United States
Persia (Iran)
17th century
13th century
16th century
14th century
19th century

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