Contents: Preface. Introductory remarks. 1. Dharma: i. Dharma in European Buddhist studies. ii. Two meanings of the term Dharma. iii. Three operations with Dharmas. iv. Sunyata. 2. Bodhisattva: i. Bodhisattva and three Yanas. ii. Bodhisattva-Mahasattva. 3. Prajnaparamita: i. Nirvana. ii. Prajnaparamita. iii. Sarvajnata. iv. Anuttara samyaksambodhi. v. Tathata. 4. Text as a teacher: i. Terms denoting 'shock'. ii. Marakarma. 5. Heart Sutra of transcending awareness. 6. Dialogue in the Bodhicaryavatara. 7. The light path and the dark path. 8. The course of translation. 9. Buddhist mythology. 10. The cultural model of Tibet. 11. Once more about Yamantaka. 12. Semiotics as a possibility for the study of religious texts under communist dictatorship. 13. The concept of humanistic base texts. 14. Linnart Mall's contribution to oriental and Buddhist studies in Estonia. 15. Notes and references. Bibliographical data. Indexes.
"A considerable part of this book is devoted to the study of the Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita, one of the most important scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism. This text marks a breakthrough in Buddhism, since it provides an explanation for the emergence of written texts, which gradually replaced the previously predominant oral tradition. The analysis of the text is based on the key terms of the sutra: Dharma, bodhisattva and Prajnaparamita.
In focusing the term Dharma author states that Dharma is both a text and an element of a text that, in its turn, is also an element of the mind - since the mind manifests itself through an act of text-generation. Dharma can also be regarded as a text that generates other texts, i.e., as a text generating mechanism. Descriptions of bodhisattvas who have reached different levels are also quite interesting. The term Prajnaparamita refers both to a text created according to certain rules and to an aspect of the highest state of mind.
Other Buddhist texts are discussed as well, for example the Heart Sutra is used to explain the mechanism of the process of text-generation in Buddhism, and an analysis of the Bodhicaryavatara by Santideva explicates the role of the dialogue in the structure of the text.
Also some non-Buddhist texts are treated in the book, the Bhagavadgita and the Daodejing are compared as the 'light path' and the 'dark path', respectively; the Daodejing is separately analysed as a schematic text what offers new possibilities of translation.
The last part of the book presents the concept of the humanistic base texts. It focuses on some of scriptures that have emerged from Indian, Chinese and Mediterranean cultures and observes their formation process, structure and influence throughout the history following the principle that all these texts convey--the humanism.
Mall gives also an overview of Buddhist mythology and Tibetan cultural model." (jacket)