Library of Ancient Wisdom



Different cultures throughout the world have spiritual traditions of wisdom that teach man how he can live in peace and in harmony with his surroundings. These traditions have taught methods of how to examine their circumstances. Establishing a mirror that allows the reflections of the layers of obscurations and negative thoughts and feelings that temporally stain what is the real nature. The traditions of wisdom are important because they show how human beings can develop real inner peace and true unlimited compassion. In contrast to today's ramppied materialism that is flooding the planet this wisdom leads us back to the true nature of who we are. It is unveiling the chaos and confusion that will liberate all beings from this age of unnecessary suffering. This wisdom has been passed down in indigenous societies for the most part as oral traditions. In the chaos of our modern world these truths have been lost or forgotten. Fortunately, from very early times this wisdom was transmitted from teacher to disciple maintaining an unbroken lineage. It was written down from the first century on in the Indian subcontinent. In the 1st century AD the great mahasiddha Nagarjuna and others developed the great monastic universities which emphasized thousands of treatises on epistemology, astrology, medicine, metaphysics, the inner energies of the body in yoga, and, of course, meditation. Over 95% of these texts were destroyed in India by the 12th century through successions of Moslem invasions. However from the 8th through the 12 Th. centuries practitioners from Tibet came and learned and gathered these teachings and took them back to Tibet. In the isolation and protected environment of this Himalayan country this ancient knowledge flourished and continued until the Chinese invasion. Until 1959 this wisdom was carefully preserved in over 6,000 monasteries and many individual's homes in Tibet. In fact many of these texts which were translated faithfully word-for-word were disseminated to the whole Himalayan Region of Nepal, Bhutan, and Mustang. The actual practice instructions were faithfully transmitted through well-defined lineages complementing the written treatises brought from India by Guru Rinpoche Marpa the translator and other great teachers. Then another cataclysm occurred and Tibet was invaded by the Chinese and during the Cultural Revolution the books in these 6,000 monasteries housing this wisdom were taken out and burned and the monasteries were reduced to rubble.

Here is an old photograph of a Tibetan library. This entire room houses the 205 volumes of the Tengyur--an extremely old compendium of wisdom--in the form of wood blocks. These blocks were used for printing and distributed to monasteries. When Thrangu Rinpoche and Khenpo Kathar escaped from Tibet in 1959, they and other lamas who managed to escape found that these texts of ancient wisdom had been lost or destroyed. There was a good possibility that the Kagyu lineage would disappear. However, with the efforts of His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, the monasteries and libraries of countries bordering Tibet were examined and copies of these rare wisdom texts were made. To maintain the oral transmission of this wisdom, His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa asked Thrangu Rinpoche, Khenpo Kathar, and Khenpo Tsultrim to teach this to the Kagyu tulkus. After doing this for 20 years and continuing the search for rare texts, Thrangu Rinpoche then began teaching in the Far East and the West. His vast scholarship and meditative accomplishment makes him a precious resource rare in today's world. Because of his awareness of what has been lost to mankind, he has also put great effort into finding as many lost texts as possible. He is the author of 26 books in Western languages on the Mahamudra instructions. He has a small library in Sarnath, India and would like to establish a similar library in the United States insuring the preservation of these teachings. The Vajra Vidya Retreat Center library would become an archive of these teachings. Thrangu Rinpoche has seen how modern technology can help in the preservation and dissemination of this knowledge. Therefore he has suggested that the library input these texts into the computer in Tibetan. The texts as well as old paintings and diagrams can be digitally scanned onto CDs. Because of the capacity of the Internet he has suggested that these resources be placed on the Internet so that they will be available to the whole world. The meaning of this ancient wisdom was traditionally transmitted orally. The Vajra Vidya Retreat Center library would also have the archives of the audio and videotapes of lineage masters teaching. Thrangu Rinpoche has taught that if this ancient wisdom is simply preserved and studied by scholastics, the actual wisdom will again be lost. For the wisdom to actually continue the instructions have to be practiced. This is why it is fitting that in the same building a retreat center will also contain a practice environment with support from traditionally trained monastics. The Vajra Vidya Retreat Center will be built will the vision to integrate all aspects of the nature of the profound view, meditation and fruition as found in the ancient wisdom preserved from the grips of extinction. Access to the instructions of this profound path makes it possible for beings to achieve liberation.


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