Book: Teaching Awareness in the Buddhist Tradition
Chapter: 7. A Joyful Song Celebrating Buddhist Practice
This contribution offers to Corrado Pensa the edition and translation of a Tibetan religious song dating from the 13th century, which celebrates the benefits and joys of Buddhist practice. This is introduced by a discussion of the literary genre of songs (mgur) — drawing from two 16th century works devoted to their composition and performance — and by an overview of the corpus from which the translated song stems. Namely, this is a collection of versified compositions attributed to the master Yang dgon pa rGyal mtshan dpal bzang po (1213–1258), compiled and printed in 1524; further manuscript copies of the master’s collected songs have also been consulted for the text edition. Yang dgon pa is known as an ascetic, eclectic in his formation and teaching, who founded hermitages and led a small community of practitioners engaging in long retreats on Tsib-ri mountain, in the region of La stod lHo in south-western Tibet. The song was intoned to encourage and motivate five disciples entering retreat on the mountain, to practice the received instructions and sustain the experience of non-attachment. Hence, the composition is joyful and draws from the beauties of the surrounding natural world to celebrate the practice and fruits of solitary contemplation.