SOAS University of London

Centre of Buddhist Studies

'Jig rten gsum mgon's “Single Intention” (dgongs gcig) - An Introduction

Dr Jan-Ulrich Sobisch (Ruhr-Universität Bochum)

Date: 20 February 2020Time: 5:30 PM

Finishes: 20 February 2020Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: BG01

Type of Event: 0


Until the end of the 12th c., the major Mahāyāna buddhist teachings and the most important buddhist tantric lineages had been translated and implemented in Tibet within the newly forming schools of Tibetan Buddhism. A new period began, during which these schools began to build their traditions. One aspect in this process is delimitation: Accents are set which help to develop an own profile and to stand out from other schools of thought.

One of the newly arising schools were the Drikung Kagyupa, and their major tool of tradition building was to summarize the teachings of their founder, Jigten Sumgon (1143-1217), as the so-called Single Intention, and it is probably no coincidence that one of the major works of the great Sakya Paṇḍita’s is called in contrast the Clear Differentiation: While Sapaṇ strives to give each subject of the Buddha’s teachings a specific location within the three turnings of the wheel and the three vehicles of the śrāvakas, bodhisattvas, and tantric adepts, the Single Intention weaves the thread of ineffable mahāmudrā through the entire fabric of Buddhism, presenting it as pervading disciplined conduct, meditative concentration, and discriminative knowledge; ground, path, and result; view, practice, and conduct; and so forth, as their single intention.


Jan-Ulrich Sobisch is on the faculty of the Center for Religious Studies at Ruhr-University, Bochum. He studied Tibetology, Indology, and philosophy at Hamburg University from 1985 to 1992 with David Seyfort Ruegg, Lambert Schmithausen, and David Jackson, under whom he completed his dissertation on the three-vows literature. From 1994 to 1999, he was working under Albrecht Wezler for the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project when he discovered and cataloged the complete thirty volumes of the writings of Amé Shab (1597–1659). From 2003 to 2016, he was a professor at the University of Copenhagen, during which time he published on the Hevajra Tantra and its associated Tibetan teachings in the Sakya school. For the past ten years, he has been focused on the unique dGongs gcig tradition of the Drigung Kagyü school. In 2016 he received the prestigious Humboldt Research Award in recognition of his scholarly achievements.

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