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Mipham's Beacon of Certainty: Illuminating the View of Dzogchen, the Great Perfection Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism (Volume II) Paperback – September 1, 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"... [a] lucid presentation of Mipham Rinpoche's thought... Quite impressive." (Prof. John Makransky, Dept. of Theology, Boston College)

"... a thorough and clear study... a great source of understanding and inspiration..." (Tulku Thondup, author of The Hidden Teachings of Tibet and The Healing Power of Mind)

"Lama Mipham was one of the most extraordinary thinkers and meditators of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. In his Beacon of Certainty he illuminates some essential points of Madhyamika philosophy according to the view of the Great Perfection (Dzogchen). John Pettit's translation and in-depth presentation is a major contribution to the field of combining Madhyamika and Dzogchen studies, that remains largely unexplored." (Matthieu Ricard, co-author of The Monk and the Philosopher)

"With this outstanding study and translation of Mipham's Beacon of Certainty John Whitney Pettit makes an especially valuable contribution to our knowledge of Buddhist philosophical thought in Tibet. Despite the abundance of recent work on the scholasticism of the dominant Gelukpa order, the philosophical traditions of the other Tibetan Buddhist schools remain largely unknown. Mipham was one of Tibet's great interpreters of the Indian Buddhist legacy, whose writings have become the primary texts studied in colleges of the ancient Nyingmapa order, to which he belonged, and are widely read by Tibetan scholars adhering to the other monastic orders as well. The remarkable text translated here is traditionally renowned as one of his foremost essays on Madhyamaka thought, one that is intimately related to the perspective of the Great Perfection teachings of contemplation. Dr. Pettit's perceptive exploration of this work will be much appreciated by all serious readers in Buddhist Studies and the Philosophy of Religion." (Matthew Kapstein)

"Lama Mipham Rinpoche was a great Nyingma scholar of the 19th century, who wrote a prodigious number of works on all subjects, as well as brilliant commentaries on both sutra and tantra. His work translated here by John Whitney Pettit as Beacon of Certainty was particularly famous and one of his most beneficial for clearing away the doubts and confusions on the view, path, and meditation. It is my earnest hope that John Pettit's translation will bring great benefit to foreign students and scholars in the study of both philosophy and meditation practice. This is a valuable work indeed. I pray that all sentient beings receive benefit from this text and ultimately attain Enlightenment." (Penor Rinpoche)

"Mipham's philosophical languaging of Dzogchen in Beacon is widely regarded as a major treasure of the Tibetan tradition and John Pettit's masterful introduction and translation bring it to Western readers for the first time. This is a riveting and wonderful work, an exploration of the crucial background texts underlying Mipham's thinking, and engagingly exploring such central topics as the relationship of reasoning to direct meditative experience in Dzogchen. Both readable and informative, Pettit's work gives the reader a real education in some of the most compelling issues of Buddhism, especially their impact on Dzogchen." (Anne Klein, Rice University)

About the Author

John Whitney Pettit received his PhD in Buddhist studies from Columbia University. He lives in Woodstock, New York.

Penor Rinpoche was the head of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. Born in 1932 in Eastern Tibet he was renowned by all as an exemplary master of the Tibetan tradition. He tirelessly taught devoted students around the world. He passed away in 2009.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications (September 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0861711572
  • ISBN-13: 978-0861711574
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #143,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A previous reviewer has pointed out that the introductory text and translation of Mipham's Beacon of Certainty are inaccessible for their use of non-standard terminology, Latin terms and so forth. The author ought to acknowledge these observations gratefully, but as someone who has written a book that is in nearly every respect identical to the one under discussion, I have some idea of what goes into the translation and writing of such a book, and also why in this case the use of Greek- and Latin-based terms and non-standard conventions of translation is desirable, if not absolutely necessary. Two or three comments are in order here.
First of all a "conventional and/or literal translation" of a philosophical term is not automatically the best translation. The early Tibetan translators were well aware of this and created an artificial vocabulary to translate Buddhist terms from Sanskrit into Tibetan -- so artificial that hardly anyone, even the most stalwart Tibetan Geshes and Khenpos, ever reads those old translations. Instead they read Tibetan-authored commentaries on the translated scriptures, which commentaries are highly technical, but nonetheless more readable than the translations. So perhaps Mipham's Beacon of Certainty is overly technical in its approach, but then Mipham's original composition is nothing if not a technical treatise.
If the author of Mipham's Beacon of Certainty had been perfectly literal in his translation of the term "zung-'jug", for example, he might have used "pair-joined" instead of "coalescent". But what makes more sense in plain English: "pair-joined", or "coalescent"?
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Format: Paperback
This study and translation of one of the more advanced texts on madhyamaka in the nyingma school is a welcome relief amid the overabundance of geluk-oriented material on the subject. Written by arguably the most influential philosopher and master practitioner of the last 20 years of nyingma history, the translated text alone makes this a valuable book. Add to that the highly readable analysis and background information, as well as the translation of another, shorter text by Mipham Rinpoche written from a contrasting point of view and you have a very well-rounded read certain to leave you with some enlightening and decidedly nyingma perspectives. Long overdue!
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Format: Paperback
Translation of Tibetan texts is notoriously difficult, both for the precise nature of some of the technical terms and for some idiosyncracies of the Tibetan language. And within Tibetan literature, two of the most difficult genres to translate are Madhyamaka and Dzogchen. John Pettit here translates a text that is a cross-section of these genres. Many other translators have approached this material and have created texts that are either turgid or so full of literary flights of fancy that the results just do not communicate. John, however, is a good English-language stylist and understands the need to balance readability and precision. Some may object to his choices for certain terms, but that loses the forest for the trees. Although the approach is academic, John has created a very readable book. Mipham's text is terse and in need of unpacking even for Tibetans. That John makes it as intellible as he does, with an intellectual backdrop that is satisfyingly rich and insightful, is a testament to his great skill as a writer and thinker.
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Format: Paperback
This study and translation of one of the more advanced texts on madhyamaka in the nyingma school is a welcome relief amid the overabundance of geluk-oriented material on the subject. Written by arguably the most influential philosopher and master practitioner of the last 20 years of nyingma history, the translated text alone makes this a valuable book. Add to that the highly readable analysis and background information, as well as the translation of another, shorter text by Mipham Rinpoche written from a contrasting point of view and you have a very well-rounded read certain to leave you with some enlightening and decidedly nyingma perspectives. Long overdue!
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By Steven on January 14, 2015
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Great product and service.
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THANK YOU
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