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Luminous Heart: the Third Karmapa on consciousness, wisdom, and Buddha nature

by Third Karmapa, Karl Brunnholzl (tr.)

This superb collection of writings on buddha nature by the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje (1284-1339), focuses on the transition from ordinary deluded consciousness to enlightened wisdom, the characteristics of buddhahood, and a buddha's enlightened activity. These materials, most of them never before translated, comprehensively represent the Third Karmapa's unique and well-balanced view which synthesizes Yogacara, Madhyamaka, and the classical teachings on buddha nature. Rangjung Dorje not only shows that these teachings do not contradict each other, but also that they supplement each other and share the same essential points in terms of the ultimate nature of mind and all phenomena. His fusion is remarkable because it clearly builds on Indian predecessors and precedes the later, often highly charged debates in Tibet about the views of Rangtong (self-empty) and Shentong (other-empty).

Although Rangjung Dorje is widely regarded as one of the major proponents of the Tibetan Shentong tradition (some even consider him its founder), this book show that his views differ importantly from the Shentong tradition as understood by Dolpopa, Taranatha, and the First Jamgon Kongtrul. The Third Karmapa's view is more accurately described as one in which the two categories of rangtong and shentong are not regarded as mutually exclusive but are combined in a creative synthesis. In addition, though relying strictly on classical Indian sources, the Karmapa's texts are not mere scholarly documents. For those practicing the sutrayana and the vajrayana in the Kagyu tradition, what these texts describe can be transformed into living experience.

The publication of Karl Brunnholzl's translation of this important treatise on consciousness, wisdom, and Buddha nature composed by the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, is good news for practitioners. This text goes to the heart of the subject and will greatly benefit all those who have the good fortune to read it.
—Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche

The Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, is regarded as the architect of the Karma Kagyu interpretations of the view on buddha nature.... Rangjung Dorje's three most renowned treatises are The Profound Inner Reality, The Distinction between Consciousness and Wisdom, and Pointing Out the Tathagata Heart.... The teachings from these three treatises play an essential role for practitioners of vajrayana Buddhism by providing an overview which enriches the meditator's understanding of the complete transformative path of vajrayana. The Karma Kagyu lineage is heir to both of the great mahayana traditions of emptiness—Rangtong Madhyamaka (Empty-of-self Middle Way) and Shentong Madhayamaka (Empty-of-other Middle Way).... While the Eighth Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje, and his followers emphasized the view of genuine emptiness that comes from the Madhyamaka teachings of the great Indian master Nagarjuna, Rangjung Dorje and, later, Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye emphasized the luminous empty mind of buddha nature, which is mainly presented in the treatises of the great Indian masters Maitreya and Asanga. Thus, the Karma Kagyu lineage inherits the great treasure of the complete teachings of both mahayana lineages.

It is my great delight that Dr. Brunnholzl has translated the crucial passages on the view in The Profound Inner Reality as well as the two lesser treatises with their commentaries. An accomplished translator, Karl is also skilled in presenting the most complicated and intricate subjects in a clear and direct manner. This work is an invaluable gift and great contribution to Western Buddhism. I trust that this book will bring great insight and genuine benefit for all readers.
—from the foreword by The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, author of Mind Beyond Death

Karl Brunnhölzl was trained as a physician and presently works as a Tibetan translator and Buddhist teacher. He studied Tibetology, Buddhology, and Sanskrit at Hamburg University and Tibetan language and Buddhist philosophy and practice at the Marpa Institute for Translators in Kathmandu. Currently, he works as a translator and interpreter for the Tsadra Foundation, Nalandabodhi, and the Nitartha Institute. He is the author and translator of The Center of the Sunlit Sky (2004), the first in-depth study of the Kagyu interpretation of Madhyamaka in a Western language; Straight from the Heart (2007), an anthology of Buddhist pith instructions and poetry; and Nagarjuna's In Praise of Dharmadhatu (2007) with commentary by the Third Karmapa.


An Aspiration by H.B. the Seventeenth Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje

Foreword by H.H. the Seventeenth Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje

Foreword by The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche


The Indian Yogacara Background
The Tibetan Tradition on the Five Maitreya Texts
The Third Karmapa's View

The Autocommentary on The Profound Inner Reality
The Ornament That Explains the Dharmadharmatavibhaga
Four Poems by the Third Karmapa
Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye's Commentary on The Treatise on Pointing Out the Tathagata Heart
Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye's Commentary on The Treatise on the Distinction between Consciousness and Wisdom
Karma Trinlepa's Explanation of the Sugata Heart

Appendix I: Pawo Tsugla Trengwa'sPresentation of Kayas, Wisdoms, and Enlightened Activity

Appendix II: The Treatise on Pointing Out the Tathagata Heart

Appendix III: The Treatise on the Distinction between Consciousness and Wisdom

Appendix IV: Outline of NTC

Appendix V: Outline ofNYC

Appendix VI: The Change of State of the Eight Consciousnesses into the Four (Five) Wisdoms and the Three (Four) Kayas

Glossary: English-Sanskrit- Tibetan
Glossary: Tibetan-Sanskrit-English
Selected Bibliography

Luminous Heart: the Third Karmapa on consciousness, wisdom, and Buddha nature

ISBN / Product Code: 9781559393188

Format: Hardback

Length: 484 pages

Size: 234 x 164mm

Availability: In stock

Price: $A 19.95
Was $A 62.95

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