Cyrus Stearns’ foreword for new Bamda Gelek Kālacakra book and his work on Jonang and Dolpopa

A week or so ago the renowned scholar and translator, Dr. Cyrus Stearns read the final draft of my translation of the Jonang master Bamda Gelek Gyatso’ s text ‘The Chariot that Transports One to the Four Kayas‘ (up to the end of the common preliminaries). He told me he thought it was ‘excellent’ and kindly agreed to write a short foreword for it (see below). This text has not been translated or published in the English language before but it is one of the main texts used to teach the Kālacakra Six Yogas in the Jonang tradition to this day. I am very happy that this forthcoming book will make these teachings more accessible to teachers and students outside of Tibet.

I have been an admirer of Cyrus Stearns, ever since I read his interesting and excellent book on Dolpopa, The Buddha from Dolpo: A Study of the Life and Thought of the Tibetan Master Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen (Shambhala, 2010) one of the most important figures in the Jonang and Shentong Madhyamaka lineages. In fact, it would be fair to say that this book on Dolpopa, is the only, and main, English-language work that discusses Dolpopa’s life and works in significant detail.


Another less well known piece of work by Cyrus Stearns is also an excellent and informative article on one of the main lineages holders of the seventeen lineages of the Kālacakra Six Yogas, the Indian master, Vibhūticandra, called The Life and Tibetan Legacy of the Indian Mahāpaṇḍita Vibhūticandra. For anyone interested in the background to two main lineages of Kalacakra, this article and footnotes, provide a wealth of information on it and some of the translators and Indian masters involved in transmitting Kālacakra Six Yogas to Tibet from India. Taranatha also discusses the two Vibhuticandra lineages in detail in his major work on Kālacakra and the Six Yogas, One Hundred Blazing Lights, for my translation of this section see here. It was from Cyrus Stearns’ article, that I learned that the place in Nepal where Vibhūticandra spent a significant amount of time called Stam Bihar, is located in Thamel, Kathmandu. I have never visited this place before, but have made a mental note to visit it on my next trip there. Watch this space!

Stearns told me that in the late 1980s he was able to study the the major root text ‘Seeing the Meaningful’ in Nepal with his teacher, Chogye Trichen Rinpoche, and translated it orally three times when he taught the entire work in Nepal, Borneo, and the U.S. He stated that this text, and the supplementary commentary ‘One Hundred Blazing Lights’, are two of the most amazing works he’s ever studied. I agree with him, amazing and not easy to translate either!

Stearns has also written thirty-three biographies of many major Jonang and Kalacakra masters, including Kunpang Tsondru, Dolpopa, Dolpopa’s fourteen major disciples, Tāranātha and others, all of which are available to read for free on Treasury of Lives, see here for the full list. For other published works by Stearns, see also his biography at Shambhala Publications.

So this brief post, is a big thanks to Cyrus Stearns for his excellent and beneficial work on Jonang and Kālacakra. May it be of benefit and may the Kālacakra and Shentong Madhyamaka teachings flourish!

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