MASTERS OF ENCHANTMENT: The Lives and Legends of the Mahasiddhas

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9780140191653: MASTERS OF ENCHANTMENT: The Lives and Legends of the Mahasiddhas

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Language Notes:

Text: English, Tibetan (translation)

Review:

These are extraordinary, riveting tales of men and women of ancient India who achieved self-realization and perfection of consciousness in the human form. The book itself is a marvel of inspired creation-a ten-year project, according to its patient publisher. The collaboration of Dowman, an eminent translator-interpreter of Tibetan Buddhism, and Beer, a master thangka painter and artistic visionary, has produced a book of high merit and high adventures, stories through whose cosmic transparency shines the illimitable Buddha-nature. The original twelfth-century A.D. text, "Me Legends of the Eighty-Four Mahasiddhas," comprised orally transmitted accounts of the meditations and biographies of the great saint-magicians of a much earlier India. Dowman has engagingly retold fifty-four of these tales of the holy madmen to which Beer has contributed thirty evocative full-color paintings and numerous line drawings. From their efforts we gain a glimpse of the startling reality of the mahasiddha, an enlightened human who uses his/her spiritual-magical prowess for teaching purposes. The mahasiddha has a great, even flamboyant, disregard for convention and spiritual protocol coupled with an unquenchable intention to achieve mahamudra, complete illumination of the Buddha-Mind, and release from the endless wheel of birth, suffering, death, and rebirth. The format of the biographies of these masters of enchantment is fairly uniform. A person is profoundly dissatisfied with life, whether it is a ceaseless round of drudgery or a worry-free regime of high opulence. The guru, or spiritual master, provides the practices, called sadhanas ("psycho-experimental techniques of personality transcendance and ecstasy," says Dowman) which the disciple then practices in solitude for at least twelve years. Often he receives assistance-or hindrance-from the dakinis, the alluring, powerful, otherworldly goddesses. Finally, illumination and siddhis are achieved, and the newly-born mahasiddha may find himself able to walk on water, levitate, fly, materialize objects, walk through matter, even make an elixir of immortality. The secret is simple: Everything is Mind and Mind is empty. Ultimately, after a long period of service, sometimes hundreds of years, the mahasiddha ascends with his/her retinue into the Paradise of the Dakinis. -- From Independent Publisher

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Dowman, Keith (trans)
Published by Arkana (1988)
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Dowman, Keith (trans)
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Dowman, Keith(translater); Robert Beer [Illustrator]
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