Dr. John Campbell Lecture: The Esoteric Community Tantra with The Illuminating Lamp

Regarded by Indo-Tibetan tradition as the esoteric scripture wherein the Buddha revealed in greatest detail the actual psycho-physical process of his enlightenment, The Esoteric Community Tantra is a preeminent text of the class of scriptures known to Indian Buddhist scholar-adepts as great yoga tantra, and later to their Tibetan successors as unexcelled yoga tantra.

The Illuminating Lamp presents a system of interpretive guidelines according to which the cryptic meanings of all tantras might be extracted in order to engage the ritual and yogic practices taught therein. Applying its interpretive strategies to the text of The Esoteric Community Tantra, The Illuminating Lamp articulates a synthetic, “vajra vehicle” (vajrayana) discourse that locates tantric practices and ideals squarely within the cosmological and institutional frameworks of exoteric Mahayana Buddhism.

In this talk Dr. Campbell will provide an introduction to the scripture and its commentary by Master Chandrakirti, both of which proved enormously influential in the development of Mahayana Buddhism throughout Tibet, the Himalayas, and Mongolia.

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About Our Guest

John Campbell, Ph.D., holds a doctorate in Religion from Columbia University with a specialization in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies. A translator of Sanskrit and Tibetan texts, his main areas of research are Yoga and Tantric practice systems in India and the Himalayas. His translation of an early Indian Buddhist scripture along with its principal Indian and Tibetan commentaries is scheduled for publication in 2020.

A Fulbright Fellow and National Endowment for the Humanities grant recipient, he has taught Religious Studies, Sanskrit and Tibetan language, most recently at the University of Virginia. In 2011, Dr. Campbell co-founded the Contemplative Sciences Center at the University of Virginia, the first center of its kind at a major research university for the study and teaching of contemplative practices across the Arts and Sciences curriculum.

Currently, Dr. Campbell serves as the Director of Sanskrit Preservation for the Asian Legacy Library, a preservation initiative digitizing, cataloging and inputting rare text collections in South and East Asia.


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