Sensing Sacred Texts - James W Watts

Sensing Sacred Texts - James W Watts

Seeing, Touching, Holding and Swallowing Tibetan Buddhist Texts

Sensing Sacred Texts - James W Watts

Cathy Cantwell [+-]
University of Oxford
Dr Cathy Cantwell is an academic researcher specialising in Tibetan and Himalayan tantric rituals of all periods from the 10th century CE, and especially the ritual texts and practices deriving from the “Early Transmissions” (snga 'gyur rnying ma). This work has included text critical and historical analysis, as well as ethnographic study of contemporary rituals. She was a Research Officer at the Oriental Institute, University of Oxford, from 2002-2015, and is now an Associate Faculty Member. She is President of the UK Association for Buddhist Studies and also an Honorary Fellow at the School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent. Cathy received Buddhist teachings from Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche during his visit to London in 1979, having earlier had her first introduction to the tantric deity, Vajrakīlaya, from the Sakya Gongma Ngawang Kunga, in London 1978. Beginning academic Tibetan Studies in 1979, she did her Ph.D fieldwork at a Dudjom tradition monastery in Himachal Pradesh, India, 1981-83, and has maintained a life-long interest in this religious tradition.


Cathy Cantwell surveys Tibetan ritual practices with books to show that ritualized interactions with sacred books express and reinforce Tibetan Buddhist identity and veneration of the Dharma. They also serve pragmatic medical ends. Her detailed discussion concludes by drawing comparisons and contrasts with the use of iconic books in other cultures, including the observation that Tibetan texts become more sacred through their ritual use.

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Cantwell, Cathy. Seeing, Touching, Holding and Swallowing Tibetan Buddhist Texts. Sensing Sacred Texts. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 137-160 Oct 2018. ISBN 9781781795767. Date accessed: 21 Jun 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.32104. Oct 2018

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