Cathy Cantwell


Associate Faculty Member 

Faculty / College Address:

Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies / Wolfson College


catherine dot cantwell at ames dot ox dot ac dot uk

Research Interests:

  • Early rNying ma tantric tradition
  • Critically editing old Tibetan texts
  • Dunhuang tantric texts
  • Contemporary Tibetan ritual
  • bDud 'joms gter ma tradition

Current Projects:

  • Explorations in the works of Myang ral Nyi ma 'od zer (1124-1192) and Gu ru Chos dbang (1212-1270)
  • Follow-up work from the project, Authorship, originality and innovation in Tibetan Scriptural Revelations:  A case study from the Dudjom Corpus (AHRC 2010-2015; with Professor Vesna Wallace and Dr Robert Mayer)

Courses Taught:

  • Contributions to Issues in the Study of Tibetan Religion (Lecture series, 2020)


  • 2020 Dudjom Rinpoche's Vajrakīlaya Works: A Study in Authoring, Compiling and Editing Texts in the Tibetan Revelatory Tradition, Equinox, (Output of our AHRC project on Authorship, originality and innovation in Tibetan Scriptural Revelations:  A case study from the Dudjom Corpus.)
  • (with Robert Mayer) 2012 A Noble Noose of Methods, the Lotus Garland Synopsis: A Mahāyoga Tantra and its Commentary, Vienna, The Austrian Academy of Sciences Press.  (Output of our AHRC project, A Critical Edition of the Thabs-kyi zhags-pa padmo 'phreng-ba and a Comparative Study of its Commentary, 2006-2010.)
  • Buddhism: The Basics, 2009 Routledge, London.
  • (with Robert Mayer) 2008 Early Tibetan Documents on Phur pa from Dunhuang, Vienna, The Austrian Academy of Sciences Press.  (Output of our AHRC project, A Detailed Study of the Complete Dunhuang Phur-pa Materials, 2004-2007.)
  •  (with Rob Mayer) 2007 The Kīlaya Nirvāna Tantra and the Vajra Wrath Tantra: two texts from the Ancient Tantra Collection, Vienna, The Austrian Academy of Sciences Press. vi, 289 pages, plus editions of texts on cd (529 pages).

Forthcoming Book:

  • (with Geoffrey Samuel, with contributions by Robert Mayer and P. Ogyan Tanzin) The Seed of Immortal Life: Contexts and Meanings of a Tibetan Longevity Practice. (Output of our AHRC project with Professor Geoffrey Samuel at the University of Cardiff, Longevity Practices and Concepts in Tibet: A Study of Long-Life Practices in the Dudjom Tradition, 2006-2009.)

Electronic Publications:

  • The Medicinal Accomplishment (sman sgrub) practice in the Dudjom Meteoric Iron Razor (gnam lcags spu gri) tradition: Reflections on the ritual and meditative practice at a monastery in Southern Bhutan, Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies (JOCBS) 2015, Volume 8: 49-95. Available on Open Access:
  • (with Rob Mayer and Michael Fischer) The Rig 'dzin Tshe dbang nor bu Edition of the rNying ma'i rgyud 'bum: An Illustrated Inventory, CSAC (University of Kent) in association with The British Library (2002-3). Over 1600 pages,
  • "The Dance of the Guru's Eight Aspects", CSAC (University of Kent at Canterbury), 2003,


  • "The Ceremony for Imbibing the Siddhis, with particular reference to examples from Nyang ral Nyi ma 'od zer's bKa' brgyad bde gshegs 'dus pa" in Revue d'Etudes Tibetaines (CNRS, Paris) 50, June 2019, Special Issue, Tibetan Religion and the Senses, edited by James Gentry: 150-165.
  • "Reflections on rasāyana, bcud len and related practices in Nyingma (rnying ma) tantric ritual", in History of Science in South Asia, 2017(2018) Special issue edited by Dagmar Wujastyk, Suzanne Newcombe, and Christèle Barois, Transmutations: Rejuvenation, Longevity, and Immortality Practices in South and Inner Asia, 5.2: 181-203.  ISSN 2369-775X.
  • "Reflections on Pema Lingpa's Key to the Eight Principal Tantric Medicines, and its relevance today", in Dasho Karma Ura, Dorji Penjore and Chhimi Dem (eds) 2017 A Maṇḍala of 21st Century Perspectives: Proceedings of the International Conference on Tradition and Innovation in Vajrayāna Buddhism, July 2016, Centre for Bhutan Studies & GNH Research, Thimphu, Bhutan: 163-175. ISBN 978-99936-14-88-3. Available on Open Access from:ṛnceProceedings/Mandala%2021st%20Century/Mandala%20of%2021st%20Century%20Perspectives.pdf
  • "Re-presenting a Famous Revelation: Dudjom Rinpoche’s Work on the Ultra Secret Razor Lifeforce Vajrakīlaya (yang gsang srog gi spu gri) of Pema Lingpa (padma gling pa, 1450–1521)", in Special Edition of Buddhist Studies Review on the subject of Reuse and Intertextuality in the Context of Buddhist Texts, edited by Cathy Cantwell, Elisa Freschi and Jowita Kramer, Volume 33, 1-2, 2016 (2017): 181-202, and an Introduction, jointly written with Elisa Freschi: 1-7.  ISSN 0265-2897.
  • "Seeing, Touching, Holding, and Swallowing Tibetan Buddhist Texts" in 2017 James W. Watts (ed.), Sensing Sacred Texts, London, Equinox Publishing: Chapter 7, 137-160.
  • "Different kinds of composition/compilation within the Dudjom Revelatory tradition", in the Journal of the International Association of  Buddhist Studies Volume 36/37, 2013/2014 (2015): 243-279.
  • (with Robert Mayer) "Longevity Rituals in the Bon Phur pa tradition: Chapter 25 of the Black Pillar", in Charles Ramble and Ulrike Roesler (eds) Tibetan and Himalayan Healing: an Anthology for Anthony Aris, 2015, Vajra Books, Kathmandu: 107-118.
  • "Development of a Tantric Meditation Practice: Three Generations of Tibetan Lamas" 2014 in Buddhist Meditative Traditions: Their Origin and Development  (Dharma Drum Buddhist College Special Series, no. 2; Editor-in-Chief, Kuo-pin Chuang).  Taipei, Shin Wen Feng Print Co.: 373-403.
  • (with Robert Mayer) "Neither the same nor different: The Bon Ka ba Nag po in relation to contemporaneous rNying ma Phur pa texts", in Brandon Dotson, Kazushi Iwao and Tsuguhito Takeuchi (eds) 2013, Scribes, Texts, and Rituals in Early Tibet and Dunhuang, Wiesbaden, Reichert Verlag: 87-100.
  • (with Robert Mayer) "A Dunhuang Phurpa Consecration Rite: IOL Tib J 331.III's Consecrations Section", in Matthew Kapstein and Sam van Schaik (eds) Esoteric Buddhism at Dunhuang: Rites and Teachings for this Life and Beyond, Brill, Leiden 2010: 3-60.
  • (with Robert Mayer) "The creation and transmission of a textual corpus in the twentieth century: the 'Chi med srog thig", in Anne Chayet, Cristina Scherrer-Schaub, Françoise Robin, Jean-Luc Achard (eds) 2010, Edition, éditions: l'écrit au Tibet, évolution et devenir.  Munich: Indus Verlag, Collectanea Himalayica: 65-83.
  • (with Robert Mayer) "Continuity and Change in Tibetan Mahāyoga Ritual: Some Evidence from the Tabzhag (Thabs zhags) Manuscript and other Dunhuang Texts", in José Cabezón 2010, Tibetan Ritual, New York, OUP: 69-88.
  • (with Robert Mayer) "A Noble Noose of Methods, the Lotus Garland Synopsis: Methodological issues in the study of a Mahāyoga text from Dunhuang", Journal of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Issue 5 (December 2009): 1-51,
  • (with Robert Mayer) "The Dunhuang Phur pa Corpus: A Survey", and "Why did the Phur pa tradition become so prominent in Tibet?", in Orna Almogi, ed. 2009 Contributions to Tibetan Buddhist Literature. PIATS 2006: Tibetan Studies: Proceedings of the Eleventh Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Königswinter 2006. Beiträge zur Zentralasienforschung 14. Halle: International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies (pp. 248-276 and 277-314).
  • (with Robert Mayer) "Enduring myths: smrangrabs and ritual in the Dunhuang texts on Padmasambhava", in Françoise Pommaret and Jean-Luc Achard (eds) 2008 Tibetan Studies in Honor of Samten KarmayRevue d'Etudes Tibétaines (Langues et Cultures de l'Aire Tibétaines, CNRS, Paris, available online:, Vol.15, November 2008: 289-312.
  • "The case of the shuffled folios and other mysteries: First steps in critically editing the phur bu mya ngan las 'das pa'i rgyud chen po in the rNying ma'i rgyud 'bum". In Tibetan Buddhist Literature and Praxis, Ron Davidson and C. Wedemeyer (eds), Brill, Leiden, 2006: 75-93.
  • (with Rob Mayer) "Two Proposals for Critically Editing the Texts of the rNying ma'i rGyud 'bum", Revue d'Etudes Tibétaines (Langues et Cultures de l'Aire Tibétaines, CNRS, Paris), Vol.10, April 2006: 56-70.
  • (with Jean-Luc Achard, Rob Mayer, Michael Kowalewski) "The sGang steng-b rNying ma'i rGyud 'bum manuscript from Bhutan", Revue d'Etudes Tibétaines (Langues et Cultures de l'Aire Tibétaines, CNRS, Paris), Special Edition, Vol.11, June 2006. ISSN:1768-2959.
  • "The Tibetan Earth Ritual: Subjugation and Transformation of the Environment", in Revue D'Etudes Tibétaines 7 Langues et Cultures de l'Aire Tibétaines, CNRS, Paris), Avril 2005: 4-21. ISSN:1768-2959.
  • "Distinctive Features of the Rig 'dzin Tshe dbang nor bu (Waddell) Edition of the Rnying ma'i rgyud 'bum", in D. Germano & H. Eimer (eds) The Many Canons of Tibetan Buddhism, Brill, Leiden, 2002: 359-376.
  • (with Hiroko Kawanami) Chapter on Buddhism, in Linda Woodhead (ed.) Religions in the Modern World: Traditions and Transformations. Routledge, 2001 (second edition in press).
  • "Reflections on Ecological Ethics and the Tibetan Earth Ritual", The Eastern Buddhist, Vol.33:1, 2001: 106-127.

Further Info:

  • President of the U.K. Association for Buddhist Studies <> (2015-2019; Acting President from October 2014-July 2015; Secretary 2008-2014)
Photograph of Cathy Cantwell