A Religious History of Pure Land Literature in Tibet

Luminous Bliss
Pure Land Buddhism as a whole has received comparatively little attention in Western studies on Buddhism despite the importance of “buddha-fields” (pure lands) for the growth and expression of Mahāyāna Buddhism. In Luminous Bliss: A Religious History of Pure Land Literature in Tibet, the first religious history of Tibetan Pure Land literature, Georgios Halkias delves into a rich collection of literary, historical, and archaeological sources to highlight important aspects of this neglected pan-Asian Buddhist tradition. He clarifies many of the misconceptions concerning the interpretation of “other-world” soteriology in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism and provides translations of original Tibetan sources from the ninth century to the present that represent exoteric and esoteric doctrines that continue to be cherished by Tibetan Buddhists for their joyful descriptions of the Buddhist path. The book is informed by interviews with Tibetan scholars and Buddhist practitioners and by Halkias’ own participant-observation in Tibetan Pure Land rituals and teachings conducted in Europe and the Indian subcontinent.

“By providing both a sweeping historical overview of its development, and a detailed survey of its wide-ranging textual corpus, Luminous Bliss takes the study of the Tibetan Pure Land tradition to a whole new level. And in doing so Halkias reveals not only how the soteriology of Sukhavati shaped the practice of Buddhism in Tibet, but also how it informed Tibetan conceptualizations of the environment, society, and the state.” —Johan Elverskog, Southern Methodist University

Pure Land Buddhist Studies
September 2012 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3590-3 / $49.00 (CLOTH)