In Tibetan Buddhism, Mahamudra represents a perfected level of meditative realization: it is the inseparable union of wisdom and compassion, of emptiness and skillful means. These eighty-four masters, some historical, some archetypal, accomplished this practice in India where they lived between the eighth and twelfth centuries. Leading unconventional lives, the siddhas include some of the greatest Buddhist teachers; Tilopa, Naropa, and Marpa among them. Through many years of study, Keith Dowman has collected and translated their songs of realization and the legends about them. In consultation with contemporary teachers, he gives a commentary on each of the Great Adepts and culls from available resources what we can know of their history. Dowman's extensive Introduction traces the development of tantra and discusses the key concepts of the Mahamudra. In a lively and illuminating style, he unfolds the deeper understandings of mind that the texts encode. His treatment of the many parallels to contemporary psychology and experience makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of human nature.
Masters of Mahamudra, Keith Dowman, SUNY Press, Paperback, 454 pages, $31.95