The Third Karmapa and the Invention of a Tradition
Oxford University Press 2018
Ruth Gamble’s Reincarnation in Tibetan Buddhism: The Third Karmapa and the Invention of a Tradition (Oxford University Press, 2018) is a thorough and accessible study on reincarnation, the tulku tradition in Tibet, and the life of the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorjé (1284-1339). In this book, Gamble gives an account of Rangjung Dorjé’s life based on his autobiographical liberation stories and songs, connecting him to the teaching and practice lineages with which he was involved, the communities that supported him, and the physical and sacred spaces that he inhabited. The book highlights the ways in which Rangjung Dorjé’s autobiographical writing and his later biographies worked to deliberately construct and solidify his authority and place within the Karmapa lineage.
In our conversation, Gamble discusses the broader context of her book, as well as the relevance of Rangjung Dorjé’s life to contemporary issues in Tibetan Buddhist lineages. She also explains how snowboarding has influenced her scholarly work.
Connie Kassor is an assistant professor of Asian Religions at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. You can find her on Twitter at @constancekassor.