The Crystal Mirror of Philosophical Systems, by Thuken Losang Chokyi Nyima (1737-1802), is arguably the widest-ranging account of religious philosophies ever written in pre-modern Tibet. Like most Tibetan texts on philosophical systems, this work covers the major schools of India, both Buddhist and non-Buddhist, but then goes on to discuss in detail the entire range of Tibetan traditions as well, with separate chapters on the Nyingma, Kadam, Kagyu, Shije, Sakya, Jonang, Geluk, and Bon schools. Not resting there, Thuken goes on to describe the major traditions of China--Confucian, Daoist, and the multiple varieties of Buddhist--as well as those of Mongolia, Khotan, and even Shambhala. The Crystal Mirror of Philosophical Systems is unusual, too, in its concern not just to describe and analyze doctrines, but to trace the historical development of the various traditions. The Crystal Mirror of Philosophical Systems is an eloquent and erudite presentation exploring the religious history and philosophical systems of an array of Asian Cultures--and offering evidence that the serious and sympathetic study of the history of religions has not been a monopoly of Western scholarship.
"An impressive translation of a fascinating and vitally important book. This will be of great interest to students of Tibetan Buddhism. Its broad scope and keen observation makes it an invaluable resource. And for scholars interested in the history of comparative religion, it shows how sophisticated, eighteenth-century Tibetan Buddhists could come to terms with diverse world religious traditions."
– Guy Newland, Central Michigan University, author of Introduction to Emptiness
"Thuken's Crystal Mirror of Philosophical Systems is a unique work, seeking to document the full range of philosophical traditions known in Tibet, including Indian, Chinese and, above all, indigenous Tibetan traditions. This translation is precise and a pleasure to read."
– Matthew T. Kapstein, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes and the University of Chicago, editor of Buddhism Between Tibet and China
"This notable work, completed at the beginning of the nineteenth century, presents an in-depth treatment of the key schools of Tibetan Buddhism--Nyingma, Kadam, Sakya, Kagyu, Gelug, and Jonang, as well as Bon. The reader-friendly translations introduce the texts to the general reader, making this a valuable contribution to our understanding of the richness of Tibetan Buddhism."