Sheding Light on an Early Tradition within Tibetian Buddhism


It is more than two pounds heavy and contains more than 800 pages highly in-depth research work on Tibetian Buddhism. The new book by tibetologist Jan-Ulrich Sobisch has just been published under the title "The Buddha’s Single Intention: Drigung Kyobpa Jikten Sumgön’s Vajra Statements of the Early Kagyü Tradition."

Almost 15 years of research work passed by starting from the first philological analyses of Tibetian scripts to the final publication. CERES researcher Jan-Ulrich Sobisch carefully illuminates in his book the teaching of one of the four tradions of Tibetan Buddhism, the Kagyü School. In doing so he explores the classical Tibetian works "The Single Intention" by the master Drigung Kyobpa Jikten Sumgön (1143–1217), along with its chief commentaries, principally the "Light of the Sun" by Rikzin Chökyi Drakpa (1595–1659).

Early in the history of the Kagyü School, the teachings of one of its scholars, Jikten Sumgön, were condensed into 150 core formulations called vajra statements. These pithy, revelatory statements comprise the "The Single Intention" (Dgongs gcig), which presents the thought of the Buddha and the nature of the ineffable (brjod du med pa) in concise and direct expression. "The Single Intention" weaves the thread of ineffable mahāmudrā through the entire fabric of Buddhism. It presents mahāmudrā as pervading disciplined conduct, meditative concentration, and discriminative knowledge; ground, path, and result; view, practice, and conduct; and the "three vows" of prātimokṣa, of the bodhisattvas, and of mantra. Jikten Sumgön taught how the fundamental values and insights revealed by the Buddha are woven into reality and therefore accessible to all.

Jan-Ulrich Sobisch is researcher at the Center for Religious Studies (CERES) at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany. He studied Tibetology, Indology, and philosophy at Hamburg University from 1985 to 1992. From 2003 to 2016, he was a professor at the University of Copenhagen. In 2016 he received the prestigious Humboldt Research Award in recognition of his scholarly achievements. Since then, he has been researcher at CERES in close collaboration with the project BuddhistRoad led by Carmen Meinert. Currently he conducts a DFG funded research project on the formation of the Buddhist tradition of the Kagyü School. 

Bibliographical Information: 

Sobisch, Jan-Ulrich (2020): The Buddha’s Single Intention: Drigung Kyobpa Jikten Sumgön’s Vajra Statements of the Early Kagyü Tradition. Wisdom Publications, 864 pages, ISBN 978-1614296393