Tibetan Pure Land Buddhism : Mipham Rinpoche on Self Power and Other Power


TIBETAN Pure Land BUDDHISM examines self-power and other-power in a Tibetan Buddhist context. The tension between self power and other-power concerns the process of rebirth in the pure land Sukh?vat?; that is, whether rebirth is achieved through one's own volition (self-power) or, conversely, through an external force such as the supernatural powers of Amit?bha (other-power). Self-power and other-power are discussed at length in Japanese Buddhist Studies where they are called jiriki and tariki, respectively, and even has some distant parallels in Christian theology (namely, works and grace). Nevertheless, these two terms appear to go unmentioned in Tibetan Buddhist literature with one exception. The only Tibetan author to explicitly discuss self-power and other-power is the ecumenical scholar-practitioner 'Ju mi pham (1846-1912) in his work, Sun- like Instructions of a Sage: A Clarification of Faith which Purifies the Pure Land, the Land of Bliss (Bde ba can gyi zhing sbyong ba'i dad pa gsal bar byed pa drang srong lung gi nyi ma). This fourteen-folio treatise affirms that faith and aspiration (dad 'dun) are the primary cause for rebirth in Sukh?vat? and defends this position in a series of polemics against detractors of other-power.

LOWELL COOK is an independent scholar who loves, reads, and researches of the entire breadth of Tibetan literature, from the ancient Dunhuang manuscripts to contemporary poetry. His aspiration is to be able to share some of the richness of Tibetan literature with the world. He completed his MA in Translation, Philology, and Textual Interpretation at the Rangjung Yeshe Institute in Kathmandu, Nepal.


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