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Padmasambhava and the Treasure Tradition

Padmasambhava Seminar

Sunday, October 14, 2018
3:00 PM–4:30 PM

Presented by David Germano

Discussants: Jue Liang and Janet Gyatso

Facilitator: Elena Pakhoutova


Padmasambhava’s teachings are primarily preserved in texts classified as treasures (terma). This unique tradition asserts that he concealed his teachings, both in the physical landscape and in the minds of his disciples in 8th-century Tibet, and prophesied their future revelation. Padmasambhava’s Tibetan consort Yeshe Tsogyal is said to have been instrumental in the gathering and continuation of his teachings. This session will explore the treasure tradition’s historical development by focusing on the complex issue of the discoverer’s identity and the process of revelation, as evidenced in the Heart Essence of the ḌÄkinÄ«s (mkha’ ‘gro snying thig) and the Innermost Essence of the ḌÄkinÄ«s (mkha’ ‘gro yang thig), two collections of terma teachings from the 14th century. The presentation will be followed by responses from the two discussants, paying special attention to the important role of consorts in the concealment and revelation of treasures.

Seminar tickets include admission to the Rubin’s exhibitions, including The Second Buddha: Master of Time.


Support for the seminar was provided by the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange


About the Speakers

David Germano, PhD, is a senior American Tibetologist and Professor of Tibetan and Buddhist Studies at the University of Virginia, the largest Tibetan Studies program in the Americas, where he has taught and researched since 1992. In 2000, he founded the Tibetan and Himalayan Library, a digital initiative for the collaborative building of knowledge on the region. He leads the Tibet Center, the Contemplative Sciences Center, and SHANTI (Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts Network of Technological Initiatives) at the University of Virginia. His personal research interests are focused on the Nyingma and Bön lineages of Tibetan Buddhism, tantric traditions overall, Buddhist philosophy, and Tibetan historical literature and concerns, particularly from the 8th to the 15th century. He also conducts research on the contemporary state of Tibetan religion in relationship to China and non-monastic yogic communities in cultural Tibet, and has broad intellectual interests in international philosophical and literary traditions, including hermeneutics, phenomenology, literary criticism, and systems theory.

Jue Liang is a PhD candidate at the University of Virginia, where she is expected to graduate with a Doctor of Philosophy in Religious Studies in 2018. She completed a Masters of Arts in Religious Studies at the University of Chicago Divinity School in 2013. Her research interests include Tantric Buddhist literature, Tibetan (auto-)biographies, and female practitioners in Tibet.

Janet Gyatso, PhD, is Hershey Professor of Buddhist Studies at the Harvard Divinity School and a specialist in Buddhist studies with a concentration on Tibetan and South Asian cultural and intellectual history. Her books include Apparitions of the Self: The Secret Autobiographies of a Tibetan Visionary; Women of Tibet (Princeton University Press, 1999) and Being Human in a Buddhist World: An Intellectual History of Medicine in Early Modern Tibet (Columbia University Press, 2015). She has also written on sex and gender in Buddhist monasticism and on the current female ordination movement in Buddhism.


Suggested Readings

Doctor, Andreas. 2013. Tibetan Treasure Literature: Revelation, Tradition, and Accomplishment in Visionary Buddhism. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications.

Germano, David, and Janet Gyatso. 2000. “Longchenpa and the Possession of the DÄkinÄ«s.” In Tantra in Practice, edited by David Gordon White, 241­”“265. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Gyatso, Janet. 1993. “The Logic of Legitimation in the Tibetan Treasure Tradition.” History of Religions 33.1: 97″“134.

Gyatso, Janet. 1996. “Drawn from the Tibetan Treasury: The Gter-ma Literature.” In Tibetan Literature: Studies in Genre, edited by José Ignacio Cabezón and Roger Jackson, 147­”“169. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Gyatso, Janet. “A Partial Genealogy of the Lifestory of Ye shes mtsho rgyal.” Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, no. 2 (August 2006): 1″“27.

Mayer, Robert. 2015. “gTer ston and Tradent: Innovation and Conservation in Tibetan Treasure Literature.” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 36/37: 227″“242.


Ticket per Session: $20.00

Member Ticket per Session: $16.00


Seminar Tickets: $65.00

Seminar Member Tickets: $52.00

Seminar Student Tickets: $25.00


Have any questions? Contact the Museum Box Office at 212-620-5000 ext. 344 or email us at