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by Cyrus Stearns

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Author: Cyrus Stearns
ISBN: 1559392754
Language: English
Pages: 700 pages
Category: Ethnic & National
Publisher: Snow Lion (November 9, 2007)
Rating: 4.6
Formats: txt lit azw mobi
FB2 size: 1987 kb | EPUB size: 1422 kb | DJVU size: 1340 kb

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FREE shipping on qualifying offers. King of the Empty Plain is familiar to every Tibetan yet nearly unknown in the rest of the world. Tangtong Gyalpo's incredible lifespan. According to one scientific opinion, the chain was manufactured by oxidizing the iron in a dough-like state, which was the only steel-manufacturing method known when high temperatures capable of smelting steel were still unattainable.

Tangtong Gyalpo's incredible lifespan, profound teachings, unprecedented engineering feats, eccentric deeds, and creation of Tibetan opera have earned this fascinating figure a unique status in Tibetan culture

Tangtong Gyalpo's incredible lifespan, profound teachings, unprecedented engineering feats, eccentric deeds, and creation of Tibetan opera have earned this fascinating figure a unique status in Tibetan culture. Believed to be the great Indian master Padmasambhava appearing again in the world to benefit living beings, he discovered techniques for achieving longevity that are still held in highest esteem and are frequently taught six hundred years later

The great siddha had said earlier, 'A skull with special features will come to this sacred place, together with a mountain . King of the Empty Plain: The Tibetan Iron Bridge Builder Tangtong Gyalpo. Snow Lion Publications.

The great siddha had said earlier, 'A skull with special features will come to this sacred place, together with a mountain dweller from Ngari', and thus the prophecy had come true, greatly enhancing the devotion of the Kongpo people. As part of her relationship with Thang Tong Gyalpo, Chökyi Drönma received the complete teachings of the Heart Practice (thugs sgrub) of treasure teachings from Trasang (bkra bzang gter kha), as well as Chöd (teachings of Machig Labdrön and Mahāmudrā instructions from hi. .

Tangtong Gyalpo's incredible lifespan, profound teachings, unprecedented engineering feats, eccentric deeds .

Tangtong Gyalpo's incredible lifespan, profound teachings, unprecedented engineering feats, eccentric deeds, and creation of Tibetan opera have earned this fascinating figure a unique status in Tibetan culture. Believed to be the great Indian master Padmasambhava appearing King of the Empty Plain is familiar to every Tibetan yet nearly unknown in the rest of the world. Tangtong Gyalpo's incredible lifespan, profound teachings, unprecedented engineering feats, eccentric deeds, and creation of Tibetan opera have earned this fascinating figure a unique status in Tibetan culture.

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The Life and Teachings of the Tibetan Saint Thang-strong rgyal-po, "King of the Empty Plain" (Univ. Washington, Master's thesis, 1980). Stearns, Cyrus (2015). King of the Empty Plain: The Tibetan Iron-Bridge Builder Tangtong Gyalpo. Shambhala Publications. ISBN 978-1-55939-837-4. p. 18. ISBN 978-1559392754. a b Stearns, Cyrus (2007). 5. a b Dudjom Jigdral Yeshe Dorje 2012, p. 802-4.

Tangtong Gyalpo's incredible lifespan, profound teachings, unprecedented engineering feats, eccentric deeds, and . Believed to be the great Indian master Padmasambhava appearing again in the world to benefit living beings, he discovered techniques for achieving longevity that are still held in highest esteem and are frequently taught six hundred years later. The book includes a complete translation of the most famous Tibetan biography of Tangtong Gyalpo, as well as the Tibetan text and English translation of a unique early manuscript describing his miraculous death.

Here Stearns brings Tangtong Gyalpo to life, covering in depth his multifaceted ability and heritage. Tangtong's Chaksam (iron bridge) tradition blended the various lineages he was given with his own teachings and practices received in visionary form. The Chaksam teachings survived to the present in virtually all the major Buddhist schools of Tibet. Most are connected with the Northern Treasure tradition of the Nyingma, the Shangpa Kagyü and with the practices of chöd (severance).

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King of the Empty Plain is familiar to every Tibetan yet nearly unknown in the rest of the world. Tangtong Gyalpo's incredible lifespan, profound teachings, unprecedented engineering feats, eccentric deeds, and creation of Tibetan opera have earned this fascinating figure a unique status in Tibetan culture. Believed to be the great Indian master Padmasambhava appearing again in the world to benefit living beings, he discovered techniques for achieving longevity that are still held in highest esteem and are frequently taught six hundred years later. His construction of fifty-eight iron suspension bridges, sixty wooden bridges, 118 ferries, 111 stupa monuments, and countless temples and monasteries in Tibet and Bhutan remains an awe-inspiring accomplishment. This book is a detailed study of the life and legacy of this great master. An extensive introduction discusses Tangtong Gyalpo's Dharma traditions, the question of his amazing longevity, his "crazy" activities manifested to enhance his own realization and to benefit others, and his astonishing engineering and architectural achievements. The book includes a complete translation of the most famous Tibetan biography of Tangtong Gyalpo, as well as the Tibetan text and English translation of a unique early manuscript describing his miraculous death. The text is further enriched with ten color plates and seventy-seven black-and-white illustrations.
Comments (7)
The Sphinx of Driz
This is a monumental work of scholarship on one of the most remarkable figures in the annals of Tibetan Buddhism. I am a scholar of Tibetan and Ladakhi culture, and have encountered a number of references to him in stories and songs. Not only was he a remarkable mystic and long-lived yogi, but he was famed for his humanitarian side in building iron-chain suspension bridges throughout Tibet, Bhutan, and into Ladakh. These bridges were special in that he devised an arsenic-iron alloy that resisted rust well into the 20th century. The list goes on and on.
Kardana
To date, Cyrus Stearns' present volume offers the most comprehensive look on Tangtong Gyalpo (1361?-1485) and his achievements. His activity was coeval with the mostly beneficial rule under the first eight Pakmodrupa ('Sow Ferrian') priest-kings in Central Tibet. The backbone of the book is a full translation of one of the great adept's (drubchen) hagiographies (completed in 1609), bearing the short title "The (New) Jewel Mirror in which All is Clear" (sp. Kun gSal Nor-bu'i Me-long gSar-pa), which was written by a descendant of his named lochen ('great translator') Gyurmé Dechen. Complementary material is gleaned from two earlier biographies composed by Tangtong Gyalpo's disciples: Sherab Palden's "Ocean of Marvels" (NGo-mTSHar rGya-mTSHo) and "Bright Lamp" (gSal-ba'i sGron-me) by Könchok Palsang and Dewa Sangpo.
His main contributions on the physical plane were the construction of 58 iron-suspension bridges, hence one of his many epithets "Iron-Bridge Man" (Chaksampa); 118 large ferries and boats; 60 wooden bridges; 120 assembly halls and temples; sacred 18-inch-tall images/statues utilizing gold-/silversmith technique never applied to precious materials like turquoise, conch shell, coral, lapis lazuli, amber before (pp. 304-7); 111 stúpas (the grandest one still stands at his monastery of Riwoché in Latö Jang) built at geomantic focal-points to avert earthquakes or to stop Mongol raids in far western Tibet in the 1440-50s, etc.
In search of iron he travelled to Kongpo and the region that later, from 1616 onward, became known as Bhutan, where he set up smitheries and worked together with local blacksmiths.

"Chemical analysis made in 1970 of a chain link from one of Tangtong Gyalpo's Bhutanese bridges showed that the chains are actually steel composed of a remarkably high percentage of iron. According to one scientific opinion, the chain was manufactured by oxidizing the iron in a dough-like state, which was the only steel-manufacturing method known when high temperatures capable of smelting steel were still unattainable. It is apparently the unusually high content of arsenic in steel that has kept the chains from corroding over the last 550 years...According to [Dezhung] Rinpoché [1906-87], the original bridges that Tantong built can be distinguished from the latter ones by the small vajras that he stamped on each link of the chains" (p. 48).

In pursuit of Buddhist teachings he also went to the Kathmandu Valley, paid visit to the power-places of India, and perhaps to those of Ceylon, in the 1390-1400s. The great adept embarked on arduous journeys with the aim to proselytize the animistic tribesmen of Lo (kLo) in what today is Arunachal Pradesh (NE India) in cca. 1428-9 (pp. 234-9), while similar attempts in the Hindu kingdom of Kámata (Cooch Bihar in NE Bengal + the westernmost part of Assam) brought only temporary success.
We can also get a glimpse of the social dynamics of 14-15th century Tibet, as in time of need Tantong Gyalpo proved to be an able organizer, for instance, when he collected gold to buy barley for the starving people of ÜTsang in 1437 (pp. 282-6).

As for his place in Tibetan Buddhism, Tangtong Gyalpo was a nonsectarian (Ris-med-pa) lineage-holder of countless transmissions, the mental emanation of Padmasambhava and as such a treasure-discoverer (tertön) who opened the gates to hidden lands (beyül). His extended lifespan was partly due to the longevity (tsedrub) practices known as the "Iron-Tree" (lCags sDong, which belongs in the Northern Treasure/Jangter tradition of the Nyingma fold) and "The Glorious Giver of Immortality" ('CHi-med dPal sTer - his own treasure-discovery).
On numerous occasions, however, Tangtong Gyalpo exhibited the trademarks of a 'crazy adept' (drubnyön) indulging in eccentric "deliberate behaviour" (brTul-ZHugs sPyod-pa; see pp. 59-62) to heighten awareness and inspire faith in others. The following episode is meant to illustrate this: It so happened that some Gyeré people mistook the Iron-Bridge Man for one of their Minyak enemies, and attacked him with various weapons. To their surprise, they were unable to elicit any reaction whatsoever from the beleaguered yogin who was experiencing "the equal taste of pleasure and pain." The assailants tied a rock to Tangtong's penis and left him hanging on a fence for the night. Next morning, the Gyeré having realized their sins, made confessions, to which the crazy adept's response was, "It was a profound practice for longevity" (p. 250, also pp. 69-70).

Exhaustive endnotes (pp. 465-586), bibliography of Tibetan and Western sources (pp. 587-614), a very detailed index (615-82), plus lots of selected illustrations enrich the book.
JoJosho
King of the Empty Plain offers a rare mix of thorough scholarship, readability, and a fascinating subject. The balance of stories, history, and teachings is nearly perfect. While the book has the usual Tibetan miraculous hagiographical elements, the story of Tangtong Gyalpo, the "Great Adept," is also backed up by historical documentation and the hard evidence of iron bridges still standing after centuries. It was obviously a labor of love by the translator, Cyrus Stearns.

I was thoroughly taken with and inspired by this book. Tangtong Gyalpo was a most unique figure (see previous reviews for details). Among other things, his biography gives a glimpse of the vastness of the bodhisattva motivation and true selflessness in action. For example, while the Buddhadharma flourished in ancient Tibet to a perhaps unparalleled degree, there was also a lot of roughness and skepticism on the part of both religious and worldly people, to the extent that the Great Adept was often brutally attacked. Yet he would rejoice in such happenings for the connections it allowed sentient beings to make with him. The biography's gritty realism juxtaposed with the mind-expanding depiction of a transcendent being makes for a readable and appealing book.

A lot more could be said, but since reading King of the Empty Plain almost two years ago I've hesitated to write a review because it seemed that no words of praise could do it justice. But with holiday season approaching, you could do worse than buying one copy for yourself and others for stocking stuffers.
Washington
Tangtong Gyalpo is one of Tibet's most famous heros. This text is essentially a meticulous translation of the traditional biography of his life written by one of his disciples which has been passed on for centuries, along with pictures and supporting information, like exhaustive footnotes.

According to the text Tangtong Gyalpo who lived around the 1400's. Records show that he lived for around 125 years, and achieved the "Rainbow Body" when he died. He built numerous ferries, bridges, statues, and other services and monuments. Like many of these marvels, many of these bridges are still standing and have not rusted - there are pictures in the book.

The text may seem at times like a dry academic affair, which may discourage some, but adds weight to this as a dedicated, careful, and scholarly translation of real historical documents.

The story is unbelievable by modern western standards, and yet the evidence stands for itself. Even if you refuse to believe the miraculous tales could possibly be true, this story is perhaps one of the most beautiful life stories in all of human history. This great saint's life is a fantastic journey which is so enthralling and amazing that it puts the greatest works of fantasy (Tolkein, etc) to shame.
Rainpick
Few Buddhist texts talk about the purpose of your life, i.e. actually penetrating into the very reason that you are present in this dimension. As far as I'm concerned this is an error, a missing and a neglect on the part of Buddhism.
In this remarkable book, we get to follow the amazing journey of Dongton Gaylpo as he penetrates into this mystery. Anyone who is willing to serve, and is as willing to grapple with finding out how, will be given the same visions and assistance as Dongton.