TRANSLATION: “Traversing the Path of Meditation”

Dr. Sheehy published a translation and introduction to two Tibetan texts, “Traversing the Path of Meditation” on Bamda Thupten Gelek Gyatso’s (1844-1904) concise meditation instructions. Published in the book collection, A Gathering of Brilliant Moons: Practice Advice from the Rimé Masters of TibetWisdom Publications, 2017.

Bamda  Thupten Gelek Gyatso  (1844-1904)  was  born  in  the  hamlet  of  Bamda  in  Amdo,  a  short horse ride through the barley fields to the monastic complex at Dzamthang, headquarters of  the  Jonang  tradition.  At  an  early  age  he  was  recognized  as  a  re-embodiment  of  the famed  Jonangpa  scholar  Tāranātha  (1575-1634)  and  was  raised  in  the  formal  monastic curriculum  at  Dzamthang  Tsangwa  Monastery.  When  he  was  nineteen,  Bamda  Gelek traveled  to  live  in  Degé  district  where  he  became  integrally  involved  in  the  Kham intellectual  scene  throughout  his  twenties,  studying  closely  with  many  of  the  Rimè luminaries  of  that  period.  In  particular,  Bamda  Gelek  studied with  Jamgon  Kongtrul Lodro  Taye  (1813-1890),  Dza  Patrul  (1808-1887),  the  Fourth  Jamyang  Zhepa Kelzang Tubtan  Wangchuk  (1856-1916),  and  the  eighth  throne-holder  of  Dzogchen  Monastery, Pema  Badzra  (1867-1934).  With  such  diverse  influences, trained  within  the  Jonang, Shangpa,  Dzokchen  and  Geluk  traditions, Bamda  Gelek’s twenty-two  volumes  of collected  writings  span  a  wide  range  of  subjects.  Among  his extensive  treatises  are preserved  two  short  sweet  texts  that  record  instructions  spoken  by  Bamda  Gelek: these two texts are introduced and translated here, “Extracting the Essence of Freedoms and Fortunes: Advice on the Precious Mind, Vajrayāna, and Dzokchen,” and his “Concise Personal Advice: Listening, Reflecting, and Meditating on the Path.” Taught  aloud  in  real-time  to  spur  his  disciples  along  their path  of  spiritual  transformation,  these  texts  assume  a heightened  degree  of  receptivity from  the  audience  due  to  their  personal  nature  while  stylistically  each  reflect  the intimacy,  directness,  and  idiosyncrasy  that  is  so often  attributed to this  Tibetan  genre  of personal advice (zhal gdams).