The Tibetan lam-rim genre : a comparative study focussing on five representative texts
Higgins, David O.
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This thesis examines and compares five major texts belonging to the lam-rim genre of Tibetan Buddhist literature. Although a few works from within this important genre have been translated into western languages, there has hitherto been no attempt to study the genre as a whole or to compare any of the diverse works found within it. The first chapter is an introduction to the study which sets out to determine this genre by showing its connection with Indian 'path literature' and then to delineate the constitutive features common to lam-rim texts. It goes on to discuss how I have approached the corpus, first indicating the reasons for choosing the five representative texts used for study and comparison and then discussing ways of dealing with the methodological problems specific to this enterprise. The second chapter traces the historical genesis and exfoliation of the lam-rim genre in Tibet. It begins with brief hagiographical accounts of the five authors, emphasizing their influence on the development of lam-rim literature. Next it explores how the scope and subject matter of the works have been shaped by the socio-cultural contexts in which they were composed as well as the intentions of their authors. The third chapter proceeds with an exegetical overview of the five texts. Their internal organization and major themes are exposed using thematic abridgments and schematic diagrams. The concluding chapter compares, on the basis of the foregoing historical and exegetical analysis, some of the major stylistic, structural and thematic features of the five representative texts. Special attention is devoted to innovative contributions in each of these regions of inquiry - distinctive ideas, motifs (stylistic and structural), and approaches to the Buddhist path.