To Awaken Beyond the Image-Free ( nirābhāsa ): The Meaning and Means of the Exoteric Path of Mahāmudrā in the Tangut Keypoints - Notes Cluster

Journal of Indian Philosophy 48 (2):119-145 (2020)
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Abstract

From the 11th through 13th centuries, the mass of yogic techniques informed by the Yoganiruttara cycle of Buddhist Tantra flowed over the Himalayan range and extended to the Hexi Corridor. The Tibetan, Tangut, and Chinese peoples who had been exposed to such a yogic and tantric culture actively drew on Indian Buddhist legacies as taxonomical and conceptual device to structure and make sense of these cutting-edge contemplative techniques. One such discursive device was the Mahāmudrā rubric considered as the pinnacle of a systematic presentation of both tantric and sūtric paths to ultimacy. In this article, I explore the sūtric path structure embedded within a 12th-century Tangut Mahāmudrā presentation—in the Keypoints of Mahāmudrā as the Ultimate along with its commentary—formulated under the Tibetan auspices. I analyze the relevance of the Keypoints exoteric expositions of Mahāmudrā to the Mahāyāna intellectual history through the lens of non-conceptual meditation scheme. In specific, I argue that the Tangut Mahāmudrā works under survey map out a “positive-mystical” paradigm of Buddhist soteriology shared across those Mahāyāna scholastic traditions inspired by the Buddha-nature doctrine to account for the tantric phenomenology.

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