The Role of Devotion (mos gus) in Tibetan Heart Essence Traditions: Devotional Affect and Its Relationship to Dzogchen’s Foundational Practices (rdzogs chen)
Ford, Renee L
Klein, Anne C
Doctor of Philosophy
The Role of Devotion (mos gus) in Tibetan Heart Essence Traditions: Devotional Affect and Its Relationship to Dzogchen’s Foundational Practices (rdzogs chen) examines how devotion, faith (dad pa), and awakened mind (byang chub kyi sems) function philosophically and epistemologically and in contemplative practices for the Nyingma (rnying ma) Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Specifically, this project emphasizes how and for what reasons reflection on refuge, awakened mind, and guru yoga (bla ma rnal ‘byor) in and out of contemplative practices found in Jigme Lingpa’s (‘jig med gling pa, 1730 – 1785) Foundational Practices (sngon ‘gro) incorporate devotion. The emphasis on devotion found within these practices – as well as their philosophical, historical, and textual context – must be rigorously considered in order to fully understand the rich complexity of Foundational, Mahāyoga and Great Completeness contemplative practices. To this end, I analyze how Longchen Rabjam’s (klong chen rab ‘byams, 1308 – 1364) philosophical frameworks support and expand on the necessity for devotion. Read together, we find that these contemplative practices and the texts, along with Longhenpa’s and other texts that thematize them, reveal a profound synchronicity between full-on openness to devotion and the infinitely spacious reality so central to Longchenpa’s vision of the Great Completeness. I conclude that devotion acts as a prime catalyst and an essential medium enabling practitioners affectively to embody the desired fruits of the Great Completeness (rdzogs pa chen po) practice traditions.