Review of Mind Seeing Mind: Mahāmudrā and the Geluk Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism by Roger R. Jackson. Journal of World Buddhist Cultures.

Jackson, Roger Reid Mind Seeing Mind: Mahāmudrā and the Geluk Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism. Somerville: Wisdom Publications, 2019. 752 pages. ISBN 978-1-61429-577-8. US $59.95 (hardcover) | US $41.49 (eBook)

Meditation is inherently a private act. Barring the employment of an explicit phenomenological method, which is necessarily reflective, meditative experience is only ever disclosed to the meditator. Of course, one could argue that all experiences are private, which to some extent is true, however sitting self-contained in silence for extended durations while watching the flickers of one’s mind lends itself to a particular kind of privacy. Besides access to the inner world of a meditator through their own first-person description, which is actually very rare, the entryway is through written meditation instructions. While written prescriptions of a specific contemplative practice don’t enable us to probe an individual’s personal meditative experience, detailed procedural instructions enable us to understand the practices that meditators are supposed to be performing. So, in addition to the pragmatics of prescribing a contemplative practice to enact, written instructions provide loose descriptive accounts of meditative experiences. Fortunately, at least for those of us interested in the study of meditation, Tibetan Buddhist contemplative authors have recorded an astounding array of written instructions on various styles and techniques of meditation. Even given this extraordinary body of Tibetan contemplative literature, with both its prescriptive and descriptive virtues, the academic field of Tibetan Studies has paid relatively little attention to the study of meditation. With notable exceptions, studies in the field have largely been philosophical, historical, or biographical, and to a lesser extent modern cultural studies, with little attention given to contemplative practices that Tibetans have described, innovated, and performed. Roger Jackson’s Mind Seeing Mind: Mahāmudrā and the Geluk Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism (Wisdom Publications, 2019) at once breaks away from this norm by providing us with an in-depth study of a specific meditation tradition in Tibet while traversing many of the familiar his