Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness
The realisation of emptiness is central to all schools of Buddhism. This profound teaching is made accessible to the meditator in stages of increasing subtlety.
The Venerable Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rimpoche came to Europe at the request of H. H. Karmapa 16th in 1977. He is one the most erudite scholars and accomplished yogis of the Karma Kagyu lineage. He is especially well-known for his breadth of vision and the clarity of his Dharma expositions.
He first taught the Progressive Stages on Emptiness in Europe in 1978 and over the years he taught it again on a number of occasions in different countries, including America in 1985. In 1979 he asked me to write a small booklet by transcribing his teachings given that year to the Kagyupa Institute of Mahayana Buddhist Studies (Kagyu Tekchen Shedra) in Brussels. Due the circumstances which forced me to produce the booklet very hurriedly, it was inadequate in many ways. Nonetheless it was well received and immediately translated into French and Greek. The French translator, Jerome Edou, had the opportunity to expand several points in the book during consultations with Khenpo Tsultrim and those have been included in this second edition of the English version.
Over the several years that have elapsed since the appearance of the first edition Khenpo Rimpoche has further clarified a number of questions for me and has asked me to include the clarifications in this edition. With Khenpo Rimpoche's permission I have also included a number of points that arose in the discussions my husband Michael Hookham and I had with Khenpo Rimpoche in Brussels and Oxford in 1 984 and 1985.
The present text represents, therefore, a more refined and extensive version of the original transcribed course. In order to incorporate the new material at appropriate moments in the text without disturbing the flow, the whole text has been re-written and re-arranged. I hope in this way to have succeeded in presenting all Rimpoche's points clearly and accurately in a readable form.
In addition discussion of views commonly held by westerners has also been included. I found that a number of intelligent and perceptive proof-readers had difficulty in relating to the subject matter, because of certain assumptions they were making as westerners, concerning what Khenpo Tsultrim was saying. Since I find these questions often arise, I have tried to circumvent misunderstanding by actually formulating them in ways I have heard expressed and then showing how they relate to the subject matter in hand. In general, where the views of westerners are referred to, these sections represent my own additions.
It should be noted that much of Khenpo Tsultrim's presentation is derived from Kongtrul's Encyclopaedia of Knowledge (Shes bya kun khyab). Kongtrul was a great Kagyu teacher of the late 19th century, famous for his non-sectarian approach.
Stage One: The Sravaka Meditation on Not-Self
Stage Two: The Cittamatra Approach
Stage Three: The Svatantrika Approach
Stage Four: The Prasangika Approach
Stage Five: The Emptiness of Other (Shentong) Approach