On Moonbeams

On October 10, 2019, Elizabeth Callahan and Derek Kolleeny had this really helpful discussion about MOONBEAMS OF MAHAMUDRA. Thank you to both of them and to the 60 participants who joined in.

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Derek writes:

The production and publication of a new translation by Elizabeth Callahan of Moonbeams of Mahamudra by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal is an incredibly auspicious event. In 1986 upon the occasion of the first translation of this text, being a pivotal one in the tradition of Mahamudra, which is the core practice of the practicing lineage of the Kagyu, the Vidyadhara Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche wrote in his foreword:

I am so delighted that this text is being published in the English language. It will greatly benefit English-speaking students of Buddhism. I myself have used this text in working with my students, and I have always found that it communicates, clearly and simply, the mahamudra teachings of the Practice Lineage. I am very pleased that now English-speaking students can read and study this book in their own language.

Therefore, it is a cause for great celebration that there is now a new and much improved translation of this wonderful text which serves as both an encyclopedic reference and a practice manual. The translator of this new version, Elizabeth Callahan, while of American origin has spent the past 45 some odd years studying and practicing mahamudra directly with main lineage holders of these teachings. This training has made her uniquely qualified to accomplish a much more accurate and accessible translation of this treasure, which is why Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche wisely recommended that Elizabeth produce this new translation some years ago. We are indebted to both of them, and even more so to her impeccable guide in understanding these teachings, Khenchen Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche.

Further in his foreword, Trungpa Rinpoche explains the title of Tashi Namgyal’s work, Moonbeams of Mahamdura, saying “The moon is the brightest source of light at night, and it is the light from the moon that illuminates the darkness. We are so grateful to Dagpo Tashi Namgyal for having written this book to illuminate the darkness of beings suffering in samsara.” Thus, in the tradition of adding more good fortune on top of already great good fortune, it is fitting that Elizabeth has included a translation of Dispelling the Darkness of Ignorance by Wangchuk Dorje, Karmapa IX in this volume. This is an incredibly direct and thorough instruction manual for the progressive practice of Mahamudra. It is in the form of a practice liturgy and consists of a collection of guided meditations on the stages of the practice of mahamudra preliminaries, shamatha and vipashyana.

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