Sobisch, Jan-Ulrich

Three-Vow Theories in Tibetan Buddhism

A Comparative Study of Major Traditions from the Twelfth through Nineteenth Centuries

17.0 x 24.0 cm, 596 p., 2 illustrations b/w, cloth
58,00 €

ISBN: 9783895002632
Table of Contents

Short Description

Since the 12th century, a central feature of Buddhism in Tibet was its harmonizing of tantric practice with the moral codes of monastic discipline and Bodhisattva altruism. All masters maintained the vajrayana or tantric path to be superior to the two „lower“ codes, but they described this superiority differently. In the present study, Jan-Ulrich Sobisch explores for the first time in detail the three main strategies maintained by the oldest Tibetan schools for explaining the relations of the three codes.


„Three Vow Theories in Tibetan Buddhism“ is the first comparative study of the interrelations of the three Buddhist systems of vows as explained by some of the greatest scholars and adepts of Tibet. Although conventional monastic Buddhism insists on a strict avoidance of evil deeds, the Mahayana, which stresses as foremost the welfare of others, allows the occasional ignoring of moral rules if altruistically motivated, whereas the Vajrayana goes so far as to teach that the yogi is sometimes obliged to transgress a moral code.
The attempts in Tibet since the twelfth century to harmonize the different vows of Pratimoksa, Mahayana, an Vajrayana led to lively controversies and ingenious exegetic strategies. One strategy was to postulate the superiority of Vajrayana either trough an automatic „upward transformation“ of the „lower vows“ or a complete „outshining“ of conventional moral codes. Many masters stressed that particular practices of the Vajrayana, such as sexual yoga, were exceptions that only a few excedingly accomplished yogis could carry out.
To clarify the historical background, brief biographies of the main authors on this theme are presented, including for the Indian pandita Vibhuticandra, the Tibetan masters Gorampa (Sakya), Gampopa (Kayu), Karma Thrinlay and Karma Ngedön (Karma Kabrgyu), Kongtrül (Rime), Jigten Gönpo and Dorje Sherab (Drigung Kargyu), and Ngari Panchen and Lochen Dharmashri (Nyingma).
The present book is the doctoral dissertation (U. Hamburg, 1999) of Dr. Jan-Ulrich Sobisch, whose investigation at the University of Munich of the 16th-century Sakya master Ameshab is now nearing completion.


16th century, c 1500 to c 1599 (150) || 17th century, c 1600 to c 1699 (109) || 18th century, c 1700 to c 1799 (51) || 19th century, c 1800 to c 1899 (66) || Buddhism (39) || Buddhism: branches & groups (12) || Buddhist life & practice (3) || China (47) || East Asia, Far East (40) || History of religion (69) || Mahayana Buddhism (12) || Religion & beliefs (226) || Religion: general (94) || Tantra || Tibet (31) || Tibetan Buddhism (12) || c 1000 CE to c 1500 (376)