Tsongkhapa’s A Lamp to Illuminate the Five Stages (1419) is a comprehensive presentation of the highest yoga class of Buddhist tantra, especially the key practices—the so-called five stages (pancakrama)—of the advanced phase of Guhyasamāja tantra. Beginning with a thorough examination of the Indian sources, Tsongkhapa draws particularly from the writings of Nāgārjuna, Aryadeva, Candrakīrti, and Nāropā to develop a definitive understanding of the Vajrayana completion stage. Whereas in the generation stage, meditators visualize the Buddha in the form of the deity residing in a mandala palace, in the completion stage discussed in the present volume, meditators transcend ordinary consciousness and actualize the state of a buddha themselves. Among other things, Tsongkhapa’s work covers the subtle human physiology of channels and winds along with the process of dying, the bardo, and rebirth. This definitive statement on Guhyasamaja tantra profoundly affected the course of Buddhist practice in Tibet.
A Lamp to Illuminate the Five Stages
“Tsongkhapa’s Lamp to Illuminate the Five Stages stands as one of the greatest literary contributions to the genre of highest yoga tantra ever written. In his translation of this extremely profound text, Gavin Kilty has successfully captured both its meaning and eloquence with such precision and grace that it will stand as the benchmark to which future translations of similar material must aspire.”—David Gonsalez, translator of Source of Supreme Bliss