The Clear Mirror of Philosophical Systems is probably the widest-ranging account of religious philosophies ever written in pre-modern Tibet. The author, Thuken Chokyi Nyima (1737-1802) was a cosmopolitan Buddhist monk from Amdo, Mongolian by heritage, Tibetan in education, and equally comfortable in a central Tibetan monastery or at the Chinese imperial court in Beijing. Like most texts on philosophical systems, his Crystal Mirror (Grub mtha' shel gyi melong) covers the major schools of India, both non-Buddhist and Buddhist, but then goes on to discuss in detail the entire range of Tibetan traditions as well, with separate chapters on the Nyingma, Kagyu, Shijey, Sakya, Jonang, Gelug, and Bon. Not resting there, Thuken goes on to describe the major traditions of China - Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist - as well as those of Mongolia, Khotan, and even Shambhala. The Crystal Mirror is unusual, too, in its concern not just to describe and analyze doctrines, but to trace the historical development of the various traditions. In evaluating philosophical systems, Thuken does favour his own Gelug school, but he treats the views of other traditions with considerable sympathy and respect as well - sometimes even defending them against criticisms from his own tradition. All this makes the Crystal Mirror an eloquent, erudite, and informative textbook on the religious history and philosophical systems of an array of Asian cultures and an important edition to the Library of Tibetan Classics series.
"A unique work, seeking to document the full range of philosophical traditions in Tibet, including Indian, Chinese, and above all, indigenous Tibetan traditions. This translation is precise and a pleasure to read." Matthew Kapstein.
"An impressive translation of a fascinating and vitally important book…Its broad scope and keen observation makes it an invaluable resource. And for scholars interested in the history of comparative religion, it shows how a sophisticated, eighteenth century Tibetan Buddhist could come to terms with diverse world religious traditions." Guy Newland.