KING OF THE EMPTY PLAIN: The Tibetan Iron Bridge Builder Tangtong Gyalpo
Author: Cyrus Stearns
The legendary Buddhist master Tangtong Gyalpo (1361?-1485) King of the Empty Plain is familiar to every Tibetan, yet nearly unknown in the rest of the world. His incredible lifespan, profound teachings, unprecedented engineering feats, eccentric deeds, and creation of Tibetan opera have earned this fascinating figure a unique status in Tibetan culture. Believed to be the great Indian master Padmasambhava appearing again in the world to benefit living beings, Tangtong Gyalpo discovered techniques for achieving longevity that are still held in highest esteem and frequently taught six hundred years later. His construction of fifty-eight iron suspension bridges, sixty wooden bridges, 118 ferries, 111 stupa monuments, and countless temples and monasteries in Tibet and Bhutan remains an awe-inspiring accomplishment.