Eighteen major scriptures, Eighteen teachings, Eighteen great texts, Eighteen esoteric instructions: 5 definitions

Introduction:

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In Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism)

[«previous next»] — Eighteen major scriptures in Tibetan Buddhism glossary
Source: WikiPedia: Tibetan Buddhism

The Eighteen Great Scriptures (Tibetan: lung-chen bco-brgyad) refers to a list of ancient texts related to Mind Section or Semde [sems sde] textual tradition (one of the scriptural divisions of Dzogchen).—[...] While the terms "Mind Section" [sems sde] and "Mind Orientation" [sems phyogs] are not attested prior to the 11th century (and are thus not found in the earliest Dzogchen texts), they are used by Tibetan and Western scholars retroactively to refer to a class of texts. The most of important of these are the "Eighteen Great Scriptures" [lung-chen bco-brgyad] [=lung chen po bco brgyad], which came be to called "mind series" [sems de] texts at a later date. Manuscripts of some of these texts have been found in the Dunhuang caves. The “Eighteen Minor texts on the Mind” (which refers to lung-chen bco-brgyad—the Eighteen Great Scriptures) are listed by by Nubchen Sangye Yeshe's late 9th century Lamp for the Eyes of Contemplation (Samten Migdrön).

The are also known as: “Eighteen Major Scriptural Transmissions” [Tibetan: sems sde lung chen po bco brgyad] or “Eighteen Dzogchen Tantras”.

Source: Rangjung Yeshe Wiki: Dharma Dictionary

The Eighteen Major Scriptures (Tibetan: lung chen po bco brgyad), also known as the Eighteen Dzogchen Tantras (of the Mind Section), were taught by Shri Singha to Vairotsana and Lekdrub. Listed in chapter 14 of The Lotus-Born. Found in Vol. KA of the Nyingma Gyübum (Cf. Erik Pema Kunsang).

They are:

  1. All-embodying Jewel Scripture - [rin chen kun 'dus kyi lung];
  2. All-encompassing Bliss Scripture - [bde ba rab 'byams kyi lung];
  3. Awareness Cuckoo Scripture - [rig pa khu byug gi lung];
  4. Epitome of Teachings Scripture - [bka' lung gi spyi chings];
  5. Great Garuda View Scripture - [lta ba khyung chen gyi lung];
  6. Great Space King Scripture - [nam mkha' che rgyal po'i lung];
  7. Great Space Never Waning Banner Scripture - [mi nub rgyal mtshan nam mkha' che'i lung];
  8. Great Strength of Awareness Scripture - [rig pa rtsal chen gyi lung];
  9. Jewel Studded Bliss Scripture - [bde ba phra bkod kyi lung];
  10. Meditation Accomplishment Scripture - [bsgom don grub pa'i lung];
  11. Nonarising Tilaka Scripture - [skye med ti la ka'i lung];
  12. Pure Gold on Stone Scripture - [rdo la gser zhun gyi lung];
  13. Spontaneous Summit Scripture - [rtse mo byung rgyal gyi lung];
  14. Supreme King Scripture - [rje btsan dam pa'i lung];
  15. Variegated Great Treasury Scripture - [sna tshogs gter chen gyi lung];
  16. Wheel of Life Scripture - [srog gi 'khor lo'i lung];
  17. Wishfulfilling Jewel Scripture - [yi bzhin nor bu'i lung];
  18. Wonderful Wisdom Scripture - [ye shes rmad du byung ba'i lung];
Source: Academia: The " Twenty or Eighteen " Texts of the Mind Series

The Eighteen Texts of the Mind Series (Tibetan: sems sde bco rgyad) is the earliest known corpus of Great Perfection (dzogchen) literature.—The many lists of the Eighteen Texts that emerged between the 9th and the 14th century differ in their contents, there is no canonical collection of texts within the rNying ma tradition that includes all of the eighteen texts. [...] The early Dzogchen (“Great Perfection”) literature, as represented by the Eighteen Texts [sems sde bco rgyad], reflects a tradition that focuses on the nature of the mind, is gnostic in nature, gives primacy to spontaneity over structure, values innate, primordial wisdom, and promotes a complete rejection, at least rhetorically, of practice that guides the practitioner not through a gradual set of contemplative practices, but through poetic, inspirational instructions that helps the practitioner recontextualize his/her understanding of the nature of self and reality.

Note: The Great Perfection tradition talks about the Eighteen Texts of the Mind Series and the Twenty-Five Tantras as its early canonical literature, but: “it seems likely that while the eighteen texts were partially of Indic origin, the Twenty-five Tantras were subsequent Tibetan compositions. This is indicated by their absence in other accounts of Śrī Siṃha's transmission, as well as Nub's omission of them within The Lamp Eye of Contemplation” (Cf. Germano’s Mysticism and Rhetoric [unpublished], p. 112).

(First list of the Eighteen Texts [sems sde bco rgyad]) — According to 9th century text “The Lamp for the Eye in Meditation” (Tibetan: bSam gtan mig sgron), a treatise written by the Tibetan scholar gNubs chen Sangs rgyas ye she.

  1. The Cuckoo of Awareness (Rig pa'i khu byug, here as Khu byug);
  2. Great Potency (rTsal chen sprugs pa, here as bTsal chen sprugs pa);
  3. The Great Soaring Garuḍa (Khyung chen lding ba, here as Khyung chen);
  4. Meditation on the Enlightened Mind (Byang chub sems bsgom pa; here as Sems bsgom, as well as its alternative title of rDo la gser zhun);
  5. The Never Declining Banner of the Great Sky (Mi nub rgyal mtshan, here as Nam mkha' che);
  6. The Supreme Lord (rJe btsan dam pa);
  7. The Wish-fulfilling Gem (Yid bzhin nor bu);
  8. The Victorious Emergence of the Peak (rTse mo byung rgyal);
  9. The Inlaid Jewels of Bliss (bDe ba 'phra bkod);
  10. The King of the Sky (Nam mkha' rgyal po);
  11. The Wheel of Life (Srog gi 'khor lo);
  12. The Epitome (sPyi ‘chings, here as sPyi chings and sPhyi bcangs);
  13. The Infinity of Bliss (bDe 'byams);
  14. The Quintessential King (Yang tig rgyal po or Mi 'gyur thig le tig or Byang chub sems tig);
  15. The Marvelous (rMad du byung ba);
  16. The Six Spheres (Thig le drug pa);
  17. The Accomplishment of Meditation (bsGom don grub pa, here as don grub);
  18. The Compendium (Kun 'dus, here as Rin po che kun 'dus rig pa).

An additional two texts that make this early corpus one of twenty texts:

  1. The Universally Definitive Perfection (rDzogs pa spyi spyod, here as sPhyi bcod)
  2. The Small Hidden Grain (sBas pa'i rgum chung)..

(Second list of the Eighteen Texts [sems sde bco rgyad]) — According to the “Eighteen Texts in The Copper Continent” compiled by the 12th century Tibetan scholar Nyang ral Nyi ma 'od zer.

  1. The Cuckoo of Awareness (Rig pa khu byug, here as Rig pa khu byug gi lung);
  2. Great Potency (rTsal chen sprugs pa, here as Rig pa rTsal chen gi lung);
  3. The Great Soaring Garuḍa (Khyung chen lding ba, here as lTa ba khyung chen gi lung);
  4. Meditation on the Enlightened Mind (Byang chub sems sgom pa, here as rDo la gser zhun gi lung);
  5. The Never Declining Banner of the Great Sky (Mi nub rgyal mtshan, here as Mi nub pa'i rgyal mtshan nam mkha' che);
  6. The Marvelous (rMad du byung ba, here as Ye shes rmad byung ba'i lung);
  7. The Accomplishment of Meditation (bsGom don grub pa'i lung);
  8. The Supreme Lord (rJe btsan dam pa, here as rJe btsun dam pa'i lung);
  9. The Quintessential King (Yang tig rgyal po, here as sKye med ti la ka'i lung or the Mi 'gyur thig le tig);
  10. The Wheel of Life (Srog gi 'khor lo'i lung);
  11. The Wish-fulfilling Gem (Yid bzhin nor bu'i lung);
  12. The Compendium (Kun 'dus, here as Rin po che kun 'dus kyi lung);
  13. The King of the Sky (Nam mkha' rgyal po, here as Nam mkha' che ba rgyal po'i lung);
  14. The Victorious Emergence of the Peak (rTse mo byung rgyal gyi lung);
  15. The Infinity of Bliss (bDe ba rab 'byams kyi lung);
  16. The Inlaid Jewels of Bliss (bDe ba 'phra bkod, here as bDe ba phra bkod kyi lung);
  17. The Great Treasure of Variety (sNa tshogs gter chen kyi lung);
  18. The Epitome of Teachings Scripture (bKa' lung gi spyi chings dang lung).

(Third list of the Eighteen Texts [sems sde bco rgyad]) — According to the “Eighteen Texts in the Religious History” compiled by the 12th century Tibetan scholar Nyang ral Nyi ma 'od zer.

  1. The Cuckoo of Awareness (Rig pa khu byug, here as Rig pa khu byug gi lung);
  2. Great Potency (rTsal chen sprugs pa, here as Rig pa rTsal chen gi lung);
  3. The Great Soaring Garuḍa (Khyung chen lding ba, here as lTa ba khyung chen gi lung);
  4. Meditation on the Enlightened Mind (Byang chub sems sgom pa, here as rDo la gser zhun gi lung);
  5. The Never Declining Banner of the Great Sky (Mi nub rgyal mtshan, here as Mi nub pa'i rgyal mtshan nam mkha' che);
  6. Arriving at the Crucial Point (gNad du gyur pa);
  7. The Supreme Lord (rJe btsan dam pa);
  8. The Quintessential King (Yang ti rgyal po, here as Yang tig);
  9. The Wheel of Life (Srog gi 'khor lo);
  10. The Wish-fulfilling Gem (Yid bzhin nor bu);
  11. The Compendium (Kun 'dus);
  12. The King of the Sky (Nam mkha' rgyal po);
  13. The Victorious Emergence of the Peak (rTse mo byung rgyal);
  14. The Infinity of Bliss (bDe 'byams);
  15. The Inlaid Jewels of Bliss (bDe ba 'phra bkod, here as bDe ba phra bkod);
  16. Great Realization (rTogs chen);
  17. The Epitome (sPyi ‘chings, here as Chings).

(Fourth list of the Eighteen Texts [sems sde bco rgyad]) — According to the 13th century “Mask of Bai ro tsa na” [bairo'i 'dra 'bag chen mo], which is included as the last volume (in fact as the last text) in the anomalous collection of bairo'i rgyud 'bum.

  1. The Cuckoo of Awareness (Rig pa khu byug);
  2. Great Potency (rTsal chen sprugs pa);
  3. The Six Spheres (Thig le drug pa);
  4. The Great Soaring Garuḍa (Khyung chen lding ba);
  5. The Never Declining Banner of the Great Sky (Mi nub rgyal mtshan);
  6. The Wish-fulfilling Gem (Yid bzhin nor bu);
  7. The Supreme Lord (rJe btsan dam pa);
  8. The Universally Definitive Perfection (rDzogs pa spyi gcod spyod, here as Spyi gcod rgyal po);
  9. The Compendium (Kun 'dus, here as Kun 'dus rig pa);
  10. The Infinity of Bliss (bDe 'byam);
  11. The Wheel of Life (Srog gi 'khor lo);
  12. The Essence of Bodhicitta (the Byang chub sems tig, here as Sems gi tig);
  13. The King of the Sky (Nam mkha' rgyal po);
  14. The Inlaid Jewels of Bliss (bDe ba 'phra bkod);
  15. The Epitome (sPyi chings);
  16. Gold Refined from Ore (rDo la gser zhun, another name for the Byang chub sems bsgom pa);
  17. The Victorious Emergence of the Peak (rTse mo byung rgyal);
  18. The Marvelous (rMad du byung ba).

(Fifth list of the Eighteen Texts [sems sde bco rgyad]) — According to the 13th century “lDe’u jo sras history”.

Five Early Translations (lNga 'gyur lnga'o)

  1. The Never Declining Banner of the Great Sky (Mi nub rgyal mtshan, here as Nam ka che);
  2. Great Potency (rTsal chen sprugs pa, here as rTsal chen);
  3. The Great Soaring Garuḍa (Khyung chen lding ba, here as Khyung chen);
  4. The Cuckoo of Awareness (Rig pa'i khu byug, here as Rig pa khu yug);
  5. Meditation on the Enlightened Mind (Byang chub sems bsgom pa, here as Byang chub sems bsgom pa).

Thirteen Later Translations (Phyis 'gyur bcu gsum zhes bya'o)

  1. Byang chub sems myu gu (this text is in Tk. 29 within a collection of the Thirteen Later Translations);
  2. Tig (could refer to the Yang tig rgyal po or the Thig le drug pa);
  3. The Compendium (Kun 'dus, here as Kun 'dus);
  4. The Infinity of Bliss (bDe ba rab 'byams kyi lung, here as bDe 'jam);
  5. Gnas yar 'debs (I have not been able to identify this text);
  6. The King of the Sky (Nam mkha' rgyal po, here as Nam ka'i rgyal po);
  7. The Universally Definitive Perfection (rDzogs pa spyi gcod spyod, here as rdzogs pa spyir gcod);
  8. The Victorious Emergence of the Peak (rTse mo byung rgyal gyi lung, here as rTse mo byung rgyal);
  9. The Supreme Lord (rJe btsan dam pa, here as rJe gtsun dam pa);
  10. The Wheel of Life (Srog gi 'khor lo'i lung, here as Srog gi 'khor lo);
  11. The Inlaid Jewels of Bliss (bDe ba 'phra bkod, here as bDe ba phra bkod).

(Sixth list of the Eighteen Texts [sems sde bco rgyad]) — According to the first set of the 14th century “Treasury of Spiritual and Philosophical Systems” (grub mtha' mdzod) by Tibetan scholar Klong chen pa.

"The Five Early Translations" (sNga 'gyur lnga)

  1. The Cuckoo of Awareness (Rig pa'i khu byug);
  2. Great Potency (rTsal chen sprugs pa);
  3. The Great Soaring Garuḍa (Khyung chen lding ba);
  4. Meditation on the Enlightened Mind (Byang chub sems bsgom pa, although the title here is rDo la gser zhun);
  5. The Never Declining Banner of the Great Sky (Mi nub rgyal mtshan, here as Mi nub pa'i rgyal mtshan nam mkha' che).

The Thirteen Later Translations (Phyir 'gyur bcu gsum)

  1. The Victorious Emergence of the Peak (rTse mo byung rgyal);
  2. The King of the Sky (Nam mkha' rgyal po);
  3. The Inlaid Jewels of Bliss (bDe ba 'phra bkod here as bDe ba 'phrul bkod);
  4. The Epitome (sPyi chings, here as rDzogs pa spyi chings);
  5. The Quintessential King (Yang tig rgyal po, here as Byang chub sems tig);
  6. The Infinity of Bliss (bDe 'byams, here as bDe bar 'byams);
  7. The Wheel of Life (Srog gi 'khor lo);
  8. The Six Spheres (Thig le drug pa);
  9. The Universally Definitive Perfection (rDzogs pa spyi gcod spyod);
  10. The Wish-fulfilling Gem (Yid bzhin nor bu);
  11. The Compendium (Kun 'dus, here as Kun 'dus rig pa);
  12. The Supreme Lord (rJe btsan dam pa);
  13. The Accomplishment of Meditation (sGom don grub pa).

And he adds the following three to transform the list of eighteen into one of twenty-one:

  1. The All Creating King (Kun byed);
  2. The Marvelous (rMad byung);
  3. The Ten Sūtras (mDo bcu).

(Seventh list of the Eighteen Texts [sems sde bco rgyad]) — According to the second set of the previous source, described as the “Eighteen Sectioned Transmissions” (lung bam po bco brgyad):

  1. The Cuckoo of Awareness (Rig pa'i khu byug);
  2. Great Potency (rTsal chen sprugs pa);
  3. The Great Soaring Garuḍa (Khyung chen lding ba, here as Khyung chen rdzogs pa);
  4. Meditation on the Enlightened Mind (Byang chub sems bsgom pa, here as rDo la gser zhun);
  5. The Never Declining Banner of the Great Sky (Mi nub rgyal mtshan);
  6. The Supreme Lord (rJe btsan dam pa, here as Ye shes dam pa);
  7. The Wish-fulfilling Gem (Yid bzhin nor bu);
  8. The Victorious Emergence of the Peak (rTse mo byung rgyal);
  9. The Inlaid Jewels of Bliss (bDe ba 'phra bkod);
  10. The King of the Sky (Nam mkha' rgyal po);
  11. The Wheel of Life (Srog gi 'khor lo);
  12. The Epitome (sPyi chings, here as Lhun rdzogs spyi chings);
  13. The Infinity of Bliss (Bde 'byams, here as bDe bar rab 'byams);
  14. The Quintessential King (Yang tig rgyal po);
  15. The Marvelous (rMad du byung ba, here as rMad byung rgyal po);
  16. The Six Spheres (Thig le drug pa, here as Thig le kun 'dus);
  17. The Tantra of the Edge and the Center of the Sky (Nam mkha' mtha' dbus kyi rgyud, this is an unusual text).

(Eighth list of the Eighteen Texts [sems sde bco rgyad]) — According to the mTshams brag edition of the rNying ma canon.

  1. The Cuckoo of Awareness (Rig pa khu byug, Tb. 19);
  2. Great Potency (rTsal chen sprugs pa, Tb. 20);
  3. The Great Soaring Garuḍa (Khyung chen lding ba, Tb. 21);
  4. Meditation on the Enlightened Mind (Byang chub sems bsgom pa, Tb. 22);
  5. The Never Declining Banner of the Great Sky (Mi nub rgyal mtshan, Tb. 23);
  6. The Supreme Lord (rJe btsan dam pa, Tb. 25);
  7. The Quintessential King (Yang tig rgyal po, here as Mi 'gyur ba'i thig le tig, Tb. 26);
  8. The Wheel of Life (Srog gi 'khor lo, Tb. 27);
  9. The King of the Sky (Nam mkha' rgyal po, also as Nam mkha'i rgyal po, Tb. 28);
  10. The Victorious Emergence of the Peak (rTse mo byung rgyal, Tb. 29);
  11. The Infinity of Bliss (bDe 'jams, Tb. 30);
  12. The Inlaid Jewels of Bliss (bDe ba 'phra bkod, here as bDe ba phra bkod, Tb. 31);
  13. The Compendium (Kun 'dus, Tb. 32);
  14. The Universally Definitive Perfection (rDzogs pa spyi gcod spyod, Tb. 35);
  15. The Marvelous (rMad du byung ba, Tb. 54 / 55/ 56).

Note: The Six Spheres (Thig le drug pa) is included in the text Nyi zla dang mnyam pa dri ma med pa'i rgyud (Tb. 40)

Source: Wisdom Experience: The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism

The Eighteen Esoteric Instructions (of the Mental Class) are known in Tibetan as: sems-sde bco-brgyad.—[Cf. (1) gdams-ngag mdzod or “Store of Precious Instructions”, Vol. 1, pp. 159-371. (2) rnying-ma bka'-ma rgyas-pa or “Collected Transmitted Precepts of the Nyingmapa” Vol. 17].

Longcenpa in “The Treasury of Spiritual and Philosophical Systems”, pp. 357-8, lists the Tantras from which they are derived as:

  1. rig-pa'i khu-byug,
  2. rtsal-chen 'brug-pa,
  3. khyung-chen lding-ba,
  4. rdo-la gser-zhun,
  5. mi-nub rgyal-mtshan nam mkha' che (which five constitute the earlier translations made by Vairocana),
  6. rtse-mo byung-rgyal,
  7. nam-mkha'i rgyal-po,
  8. bde-ba 'phrul-bkod,
  9. rdzogs-pa spyi-chings,
  10. byang-chub sems-tig,
  11. bde-ba rab-'byams,
  12. srog-gi 'khor-lo,
  13. thig-le drug-pa,
  14. rdzogs-pa spyi-spyod,
  15. yid-bzhin nor-bu,
  16. kun-tu rig-pa,
  17. rje-btsun dam-pa and
  18. sgom-pa don grub (which thirteen constitute the later translations made by Vimalamitra, Nyak Jñānakumāra and Yudra Nyingpo).

Also referred to as the “Eighteen Teachings of the Mental Class”.

Source: SOAS: A critical study of the thirteen later translations of the Dzogchen mind series

The Eighteen Major Scriptures of the Mind Series are known in Tibetan as: sems sde lung chen po bco brgyad.—Tibetan Buddhism, like Buddhism in general, is replete with lists of teachings and texts. 'od zer refers to [the eighteen major scriptures] group in his twelfth century Zangs gling ma as the “Eighteen Marvels of the Mind” (sems rmad du byung ba bco rgyad). The Eighteen Scriptures were internally divided into two sub-groups: Five Earlier and Thirteen Later Translations. Thus they were classified on the ostensible basis of chronological order of translation. Probably the earliest reference to the Eighteen Texts as a group is in the bSam gtan mig sgron, by the tenth-century author gNubs Sangs rgyas ye shes. However, this work confirms the suspicion that the number and designation of these texts (and of early sems sde texts in general), was for some time fluid and changeable, since it refers to them as “the twenty or eighteen minor Mind [series] texts”. Apart from the reference in the bsam gtan mig sgron, all the eighteen texts were generally dubbed “chen po”, “great” or “major”, rather than minor

The Eighteen Texts found in the mTshams brag edition of the rNying ma'i rgyud 'bum (the largest now extant) which reflects independent Bhutanese editorial traditions.

  1. Rig pa'i khu byug gi rgyud;
  2. rTsal chen gyi rgyud;
  3. Khyung chen gyi rgyud;
  4. Byang chub sems bsgom pa;
  5. Mi nub rgyal mtshan rje btsan dam pa rdo rje 'od 'phro ba'i rgyud;
  6. rDo rje sems dpa' nam mkha' che rgyas pa'i yi ge med pa'i rgyud;
  7. rJe btsan dam pa;
  8. Mi 'gyur ba'i thig le tig;
  9. Srog gi 'khor lo;
  10. Nam mkha'i rgyal po;
  11. rTse mo byung rgyal;
  12. bDe 'jam;
  13. bDe ba phra bkod;
  14. Kun 'dus;
  15. gNam spar 'debs;
  16. bDe ba'i myu gu;
  17. rDzogs pa spyi gcod;
  18. Khams gsum sgron ma;

The Eighteen Texts found in the gting skyes edition of the rNying ma'i rgyud 'bum, belonging to the early exegetical tradition preceding the actual root texts of the Eighteen:

  1. rDzogs pa chen po sa gcig pa; or: swa sti dpal gyi dpal;
  2. Khyung chen ldings pa;
  3. rTsal chen sprugs pa;
  4. rDo rje sems dpa'i lta ba;
  5. bDe 'jam;
  6. Byang chub sems rtse mo byung rgyal zhes bya ba bsam gtan;
  7. Jje btsan dam pa [=rje btsan dam pa ?];
  8. Kun 'dus;
  9. Srog gi 'khor lo;
  10. Byang chub kyi sems bde ba'i myu gu;
  11. bDe ba phra bkod;
  12. rDzogs pa spyi gcod;
  13. Byang chub kyi sems khams gsum sgron ma;
  14. Byang chub kyi sems mi 'gyur ba'i thig le tig;
  15. Byang chub sems nam mkha'i rgyal po;
  16. Byang chub kyi sems rtsal chen gyi rgyud;
  17. Khyung chen gyi rgyud rgyas pa chen po'i mtha';
  18. rDo rje sems dpa' nam mkha' che rgyas pa yi ge med pa'i rgyud;
  19. Byang chub sems sgom pa;
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Tibetan Buddhism includes schools such as Nyingma, Kadampa, Kagyu and Gelug. Their primary canon of literature is divided in two broad categories: The Kangyur, which consists of Buddha’s words, and the Tengyur, which includes commentaries from various sources. Esotericism and tantra techniques (vajrayāna) are collected indepently.

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