By Dr. Jeffrey Schoening
Entryway to the Dharma (PDF) introduces the reader to the Buddha’s teachings. The text was written by the second Sakya founding lama, son of Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, Precious Teaching Master Sonam Tsemo (1142-1182), in 1167/1168 CE. The text combines the author’s concise prose with many quotations from Indian Buddhist sutras and treatises. Here is presented a translation of the first half of the text. The translation includes explanatory footnotes and endnotes concerning the texts being quoted.
The second pdf document contains a Glossary and a List of Names (PDF). The Glossary entries are bolded the first time they appear in the translation. The List of Names includes Quoted Texts, People, and Places. After each entry, its location in the text is given by using the Thematic Subdivision of the text; these Subdivisions are similar to a table of content and are found at the beginning of the text, before the translation.
The main body of the text has three general points introducing the Buddha Dharma and then five specific points explaining the practice of the Dharma and its history. The three general points concerning the Dharma are its Essential Nature, Purpose, and Divisions. The five specific points are Dharma, Spiritual Friend, Hearing (i.e. study), Benefits, and Removing Doubts. The last point, Removing Doubts, has four parts and makes up the bulk of the treatise. These are the four questions addressed by the four points, respectively: How are beings freed from suffering? Does this path have faults? Who teaches this path? How was it transmitted?
The translation concludes with the awakening of the Buddha through his defeat of Mara.
The translation of the section on the Teacher benefited from the suggestions made by Jeffrey Bennett, Tom Linder, and William Sternhagen in my Classical Literary Tibetan class.