The Cultivation of Sustained Voluntary Attention in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism

Dissertation, Stanford University (1995)

This dissertation consists of two parts, the first entitled "Tsongkhapa's Vision of Reality," and the second entitled "The Cultivation of Quiescence." The first part begins with a discussion of methodologies in the field of Buddhist Studies, especially as they pertain to scholarly treatments of Buddhist meditation. The emphasis of this discussion is on the importance of bringing traditional Buddhist theories about consciousness, attention, and introspection into dialogue with modern scientific and philosophical discussions of these topics. ;The main body of Part I is a presentation of the Buddhist Four Noble Truths as these are presented in the writings of the Tibetan Buddhist scholar and contemplative Tsongkhapa . Tsongkhapa's views are frequently brought into juxtaposition with assertions by major figures in the history of Christianity, and Western philosophy and science. The purpose of such references to Western thinkers is to highlight areas of common concern and to promote deeper cross-cultural and interdisciplinary dialogue between modern Western culture and Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. Part I includes a detailed analysis of the nature of introspection in terms of modern philosophy of mind and cognitive psychology, and the Prasangika Madhyamaka view promoted by Tsongkhapa. This section concludes with a presentation of the role of introspection and mindfulness in the cultivation of meditative quiescence in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. This discussion draws from both the writings of Tsongkhapa and the Mahamudra and Atiyoga Buddhist traditions, showing the complementarity of these approaches for the contemplative cultivation of sustained voluntary attention. ;The second part of this dissertation includes a translation of Tsongkhapa's presentation of the cultivation of quiescence in his Small Exposition of the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment . This translation from the original Tibetan is accompanied by my own commentary, presented from the perspective of the Prasangika Madhyamaka view as propounded in the Gelugpa order founded by Tsongkhapa. The translation and commentary are extensively annotated with references to the original Sanskrit Buddhist sources from which Tsongkhaya draws, and to analogous writings in the Theravada Buddhist tradition
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