These Essays are mostly from the early years of writing essays. They are generally short and the quality varies. Subjects are very specific to my interests rather than a general exploration of Vajrayana.

Kūkai | Magic Rites | Mantra (including Sound Symbolism) | Vajrasatva Mantra | Arapacana Alphabet | Miscellaneous |


Sound, Word, Reality (14 October 2011) Commentary on Kūkai's 声字実相義 (Shōji jissō gi), one of a trilogy of texts that set out to both answer his critics and to instruct his students.

Kūkai's journey to China: Kentōshi Ships and Weather. (10 July 2009) Maps and thoughts about relevant sailing technology.

Why did Kūkai sail in Summer? (09 May 2008) Explanation for the timing of Kūkai's journey to China, so that it would coincide with a ceremony of vassal kings offering tribute to the Tang Emperor.

Kukai Bibliography. (10 September 2007) Annotated bibliography of English language sources on Kūkai.

Indra in the Writings of Kukai (29 June 2007). Some associations with the Vedic god Indra which have found their way into Tantric Buddhism.

Kukai in China. (25 March 2006) An overview of the journey.

Kukai : Buddhist hero of Japan. (29 January 2006) Introduction to the man and legend.

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Magic Rites

The Four Tantric Rites (17 September 2010). A more rigorous background to some earlier, rather impressionistic essays on Tantric magic.

The Green Rite. (22 November 2007) On the Rite of Fearlessness.

The Blue Rite. (03 September 2007) On the Rite of Subduing.

The Yellow Rite (28 April 2007). On the Rite of Prosperity.

The White Rite. (17 February 2007) On the Rite of Purification.

The Red Rite. (29 July 2006) On the Rite of Fascination.

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Mantra (including Sound Symbolism)

A Pronouncement on Pronunciation. (09 January 2009) An essay on the pronunciation of mantras and changing attitudes.

Yāska and his 'Nirukta'. 05 December 2008. Some thoughts on how sounds function as symbols in early Indian theories of language. 

Yāska, Plato, and Sound Symbolism. (10 October 2008) Some parallels between the Nirukta and the Cratylus.

Non-lexical utterances, stobhas, and mantra. (04 July 2008) Comparing non-lexical utterances, filler syllables in Vedic recitation (stobha) and the use of sound symbols in mantra. 

Mantra, Magic, and Interconnectedness. (27 June 2008) Relating mantra to Ariel Glucklich's ideas in The End of Magic.

The Meaning of oṃ maṇipadme hūṃ. (28 December 2007) more from Studholme's book.

The origins of oṃ maṇipadme hūṃ. (22 December 2007) Summarising the work of Alexander Studholme's book of the same name.

The Essence of all Mantras (01 November 2007). On the letter 'a' (akara) and how the graphical aspects of Indian writing in the Northwest affected the role of this letter in Tantric alphabet mysticism.

The Seed Syllable of Great Compassion. (14 July 2007) The most popular page on my blog! Some thoughts on the bījahrīḥ ह्रीः

The Seed Syllable of Perfect Wisdom. (06 June 2007). Some thoughts on the seed-syllable: dhīḥ धीः
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Vajrasatva mantra

Canonical Sources for the Vajrasattva Mantra. (29 June 2012). One of my more important unpublished essays, this work was done in conjunction with my friend Maitiu O'Ceileachair.

Aspects of the Hundred Syllable Vajrasattva Mantra II. (11 December 2009) Purification of karma.

Aspects of the Hundred Syllable Vajrasattva Mantra I. (04 December 2009) How the mantra became garbled through a combination of mistakes of reading and hearing.

The Hundred Syllable Vajrasattva Mantra. (30 October 2009) Ungarbling the mantra. Also published in a much fuller version as:
Attwood, Jayarava. (2010). The Hundred Syllable Vajrasattva Mantra. Western Buddhist Review, Vol. 5, 1-13.


Sometimes known as the "Wisdom Alphabet" (following Conze). This the alphabet of the Gāndhārī language of ancient Northwest India (Swat, Peshawa, Takshila, Kabul), usually written in the Kharoṣṭhī script. Strongly associated with the Perfection of Wisdom literature and early Tantras. 

From the Beginning Nothing Arises. (24 April 2009). On the phrase akāro mukhaḥ sarvadharmāṇāṃ ādyanutpannatvāt as the first line of the arapacana acrostic.

Persian Influences on Indian Buddhism. (20 June 2008) Partly looks at the development of the Kharoṣṭhī script from the Aramaic used by Persian administrators. 

Meditating on Arapacana. (01 February 2008) Some thoughts on leading a meditation using the reflections drawn from the arapacana acrostic. 

The Essence of all Mantras (01 November 2007). On the letter 'a' (akara) and how the graphical aspects of Indian writing in the Northwest affected the role of this letter in Tantric alphabet mysticism. 

The Mystical ARAPACANA Alphabet. (05 April 2007). An essay reflecting my early interest in the Arapacana alphabet. 


Early Mandalas (22 August 2007) Development of maṇḍalas, particularly with respect to the Golden Light Sutra.

Buddhism and Interfaith Dialogue. (13 March 2007) Discusses the idea of depicting Vajrapāṇi trampling on Jesus.

Buddhism as a path of gracefulness (18 July 2006) The idea of adiṣṭhāna or kāji in Japanese Tantric Buddhism.

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