Atisha Dipankara Srijnana
Atisha was born 980 in Vikramapura in Bengal and died in Tibet 1054. According to Tibetan sources, he was ordained into the Mahāsāṃghika lineage at the age of twenty-eight by the Abbot Shīlarakṣita and studied almost all Buddhist and non-Buddhist schools of his time, including teachings from Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Tantric Hinduism and other practices. He also studied the sixty-four kinds of art, the art of music and the art of logic and accomplished these studies until the age of twenty-two. Among the many Buddhist lineages he studied, practiced and transmitted the three main lineages were the Lineage of the Profound Action transmitted by Asaṅga and Vasubandhu, the Lineage of Profound View transmitted by Nagarjuna and Chandrakīrti, and the Lineage of Profound Experience transmitted by Tilopa and Naropa. Atisha left us many writings, here is a little excerpt:
When that [experience] arises in one’s mental continuum,
then all past phenomena turn into emptiness and conventional
proliferations are severed. Like an impoverished person finding a
treasure, through cultivating this, all appearances of the worlds of
inanimate and sentient beings are understood as one’s own mind,
and the nature of one’s own mind is understood to be
unproduced—that is the yoga of multiplicity as having one taste.
When that arises in the mental continuum, then,
through the realization that appearances that variously appear as
the concepts of graspable object and grasping subject are the mind
itself, co-emergent as the dharmakaya, purified thoughts return to
their own abode. When you meditate in this way, then your own
cognition is liberated from meditator and meditation object, and as
equipoise and post-meditation do not exist, objects and their
subjects are cognized as non-dual—that is called the yoga of nonmeditation.
Lama Govinda, who explored Tibet between 1947 and 1949, tells us in “The Way Of The White Clouds”, how Atisha came to Tibet:
The king of Guge, who was then residing in Tholing, sent a delegation to Bengal to ask the famous pundit Atisha to come to his court. Atisha declined the invitation, for his services were equally needed in his own country. The King thought that his presents had been too small and therefore organised an expedition to the northern border of his country, where gold could be found. But unfortunately he fell into the hands of his enemy, the King of Garlog, whose country lay across the borders and who demanded a huge sum as ransom. His son thereupon collected funds for the release of his father; but when he reached Garlog, it was found that the amount was not sufficient. Before returning, in order to procure the missing sum, he met his father. The King, however, exhorted him not to spend all his gold on an old man like him, who at the best had only a few years more to live, but to send it instead to Atisha and to tell him that he prized his visit more than his life, which he would gladly sacrifice for the cause of the Dharma. The son took leave from his father with a heavy heart. He was never to see him again. Another delegation was sent to India. When they told Atisha all that had happened, the great teacher was deeply moved and exclaimed: “That king was really a Bodhisattva! What else can I do but obey the will of such great a saint!”
The ruins of Tsaparang, once the capital of the kingdom of Guge in West-Tibet, where Atisha lived for several years.
(picture by Helfried Weyer in "Tsaparang - Tibets großes Geheimnis")