In Praise of Patriarch's Autobiography

Yutang Lin

Common in the world is self-praising with others-blaming;
Great patriarch's autobiography transcends worldly vogue.
Attainments and writings so deep and wide to inspire awe;
Truthful accounts of imperfections set model forever more.


Ordinary autobiographies or memoirs could hardly avoid deterioration into self-praising and others-blaming. Consequently, people would not care to read such writings. Recently I have been reading the English translation by Richard Barron of "The Autobiography of Jamgon Kongtrul." This Tibetan patriarch (1813-1900) was a great master. Through his autobiography we could gain some appreciation of the profound and extensive scope of his attainments and writings. In addition, to me the most venerable characteristic of this autobiography is its truthful presentation of various problems and faults. The model thus set by a sincere practitioner will shine the path of enlightenment forever!

Written in Chinese and translated on July 1, 2003
El Cerrito, California

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