84000 In Conversation | Wisdom in Waves

This Saga Dawa Düchen—in celebration of the Buddha’s birth, awakening, and parinirvāṇa—we are delighted to present a special event with 84000 Senior Editor Dr. John Canti.


The Perfection of Wisdom in Twenty-Five Thousand Lines is one of the most important texts in the Kangyur, as well as being the second longest, and a whole lifetime might not be enough to penetrate the full depth and reach of its teaching. Historically, its weighty influence has stimulated some of the most significant developments of Buddhist thought and practice. However, today it has the reputation of being difficult to understand, and is often simply venerated from a safe distance.

In surveying all the Perfection of Wisdom sūtras in the talk, it would be remiss of us not to mention the tradition by which six of them are identified as the “Six Mothers.” These are: 

i.e. the three “long sūtras,” together with: 

They are called “mothers” because each of them covers all the eight topics listed in Maitreya-Asaṅga’s Ornament of Clear Realization. 

The other, shorter sūtras (such as the Heart and Diamond-Cutter) are called the “Eleven Children” because, instead of all eight topics, they concentrate mainly on how phenomena are empty of substantial existence. However, since more short sūtras were added to the canon later, there are in fact seventeen works in this category and not just eleven.

Related Reading

The Long Explanation of the Noble Perfection of Wisdom in One Hundred Thousand, Twenty-Five Thousand, and Eighteen Thousand Lines

We encourage you to explore how our Reading Room links sūtras and their commentaries through intertextual linkages with this short video demonstration

John Canti | Senior Editor @84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
John Canti studied medicine and anthropology at Cambridge University (UK) and qualified as a doctor in 1975. While still a medical student he met and began to study with some of the great Tibetan Buddhist masters of the older generation, especially Kangyur Rinpoche, Dudjom Rinpoche, and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. After some years of medical work in northeastern Nepal in the late 1970s he went to the Dordogne, France, to complete two three-year retreats at Chanteloube, and has remained primarily based there ever since.

John is a founding member of the Padmakara Translation Group, was a Tsadra Foundation Fellow from 2001-2012, and was awarded the 2016 Khyentse Foundation Fellowship. In 2009, when 84000 first started, he was appointed editorial chair of 84000, and in 2023 has become senior editor.

His interest in the Kangyur and Tengyur has continued to grow as the project has taken shape, and he feels more and more fascinated by their origins and history, their range of content, and above all by the significance of the extraordinary body of literature the two collections have preserved.

Joie Chen | PhD Candidate, Buddhist Studies, Harvard University
Joie is a PhD candidate in Buddhist Studies at Harvard University, where her research looks at the confluence of various modes of learnedness in Tibetan Buddhism, in particular how the language and visual arts play into the formation of a learned Buddhist person. She holds a BA in Film Studies and English from Yale University and an MPhil in Tibetan & Himalayan Studies from the University of Oxford.

This In Conversation series is open to all and we invite you to attend and spread the word amongst your communities and networks. Each episode’s details and its registration link will be announced on our web page, news page, by email, and on social media.

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Posted: 1 Jun 2023