Eros and Thanatos in Tibetan Buddhist Esoterism – vendredi 29 janvier 2016

Giacomella Orofino de l’Université L’orientale (Naples) donnera une conférence à l’Inalco le vendredi 29 janvier 2016 de 17h30 à 18h30 en salle 3.13 sur Eros et Thanatos dans le bouddhisme ésotérique tibétain (conférence en anglais: Eros and Thanatos in Tibetan Buddhist Esoterism).


The iconography, rites and soteriological practises of Tibetan vajrayāna traditions are powerful replete with erotic symbols, understood both in allegorical forms as the union of opposites (method and gnosis, sun and moon, vajra and ghaṇṭā) and in practice. Symbols of death, such as skull and bones are linked with these in the context of death, conceived of as transitory state-not only as part of the constant into being of phenomenal existence, but also as the moment in which the ultimate truth may be revealed to those capable if perceiving it. At the foundation of the conceptions informing these symbols in the entire esoteric development of Buddhism is the paradoxical notion that the transfiguration or sublimation of desire is obtained through desire itself, during the sexual act. Analogously, the overcoming of death, or the achievement of immortality, occurs at the moment of death itself, when the vital functions have ceased, and one enters into the condition known as the essential reality (tathatā). At that moment and through a supreme act of gnosis, death is definitely overcome.

Both the visionary experiences that results from practices which imply the engagement of sexual energy, such as the higher initiation rites and the techniques of utpannakrama and the visions of the moment of death, find a common root in the praxis and in the doctrines of yoga upon which the vajrayāna schools have drawn since the earliest formation.

In this lecture we will explore the close correlation that exists in Tibetan esoterism between the techniques for the transcendence of both forces that in Freudian terms are common to all living forms: the libido and death instinct and will call attention to the later influence exerted by the Indian streams of the Mahāsiddhas. Not only they did have an effect upon the background theories of the later Tibetan literature on death, but also, influenced the apocryphal literature of the heterodox schools.


Giacomella Orofino is Professor of Tibetan Studies  at the University of Naples “L’Orientale”. She has worked extensively on Tibetan religious history and literature. Her most recent publications include: “The Long Voyage of a Trickster Story from Ancient Greece to Tibet” in  Jim Rheingans (ed.) Tibetan Literary Genres, Textes, and Text Types. From Genre Classification to Transformation (2015) and “A Note on Two Theogonic Myths Found in a Bon Magic Ritual”, in  Havnevik, H. and  Ramble C. (eds), From Bhakti to Bon. Festschrift for Per Kværne (2015). She is also co-founder of the NGO ASIA, that supports the preservation of the identity and cultural heritage of the peoples in the Himalayan regions, and President of the “Centre of Buddhist Studies” at the University of Naples “L’Orientale”, promoting knowledge of Buddhist philosophy, literature, art and culture from an interdisciplinary perspective.
Cette conférence sera suivie à 18h30 par Les conteurs de l’épopée de Gesar de Ling, qui sont-ils aujourd’hui ?, conférence de Mme Karma Lhamo, chercheuse au Bureau de la Culture de Yulshul

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