The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism
By Dudjom Jigdal Yeshe Dorje 
Volume 1: The Translations, 973 pp.
Book 1: Fundamentals of the Nyingma School
Book 2: History of the Nyingma School
Volume 2: Reference Material, 485 pp.
Translated and edited by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein.
Wisdom Publications: Boston, 1991.
132 line drawings, 88 color plates, 11 maps, $240 (Boxed set).

Every once in a while there comes a work which, by its breadth of vision and attention to detail, becomes the standard and classic in its field. The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism is such a work. Over twenty years in the making, these two volumes enable students of Tibetan Buddhism to inquire to their hearts’ content into the doctrines and history of the least understood school of Tibetan Buddhism—the Nyingma, or “Ancient Ones.”

These “Ancient Ones” are regarded as preserving the oldest Tibetan Buddhist teachings. Prior to the “new” (gsar-ma) historical revisionism of the early eleventh century, and the rise of the Kadampa, Kagyupa, and Sakyapa schools, there was no division into “old” and “new.” But with the growing influence of the revisionists, many of the esoteric scriptures (tantras) and meditative traditions based upon them, came to be regarded as the old way. This meant that many of the spiritual traditions once regarded by Nyingmapas as emanating from the primordial teacher, the Dharmakaya Buddha Samantabhadra, were now considered by the “new” schools to be fabricated and false. And by the early fourteenth century, we find the compilers of an “official” Tibetan Buddhist canon excluding many Nyingma scriptures.

But the Nyingmas persisted, maintaining their own collections of sacred scriptures and hidden treasures and promulgating what they held to be authentic spiritual teachings via “treasure finders” (those who discover treasures of spiritual import).

dudjomrinpoche
Dudjom Rinpoche (1904-1987).

To this day the legacy of suppression of Nyingma scriptures as unauthentic and the discounting of treasure finders continue. It was against this historical background that the contemporary Nyingma scholar, dzogchen meditation master, and treasure finder, His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche Jigdal Yeshe Dorje, composed two influential works on the philosophical coherence and the historical authenticity of the Nyingma. The first volume of The Nyingma School consists of English translations of these two works.

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