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Table of Contents

Abstract.................................................................................................................. i
Acknowledgements.............................................................................................. iii
Introduction ...........................................................................................................1
Historical Context ..............................................................................................1
Monastic Colleges and Buddhist Education ......................................................9
Epistemology and Negative Dialectics ............................................................13
Buddha-Nature ................................................................................................15
Summary of Contents......................................................................................18
Interpretive Context .........................................................................................24
Chapter 1: Buddha-Nature and the Unity of the Two Truths ...............................27
Introduction......................................................................................................27
Mi-pham’s Synthesis .......................................................................................31
Two Truths ......................................................................................................35
Buddha-Nature as the Unity of Appearance and Emptiness ...........................45
Buddha-Nature as the Definitive Meaning.......................................................56
Conclusion.......................................................................................................63
Chapter 2: Yogācāra, Prāsaṅgika, and the Middle Way .....................................64
Introduction......................................................................................................64
Middle Way and Mind-Only .............................................................................64
Foundations of Yogācāra ................................................................................67
Svātantrika-Prāsaṅgika ...................................................................................73
Dialectical Ascent ............................................................................................90
Conclusion.......................................................................................................99
Chapter 3: The Present Absence......................................................................101
Introduction....................................................................................................101
Other-Emptiness in the Jo-nang....................................................................102
Other-Emptiness and the Nying-ma: Lo-chen Dharma Śrī ............................115

Another Emptiness? Emptiness of Self/Other ...............................................122
Delineating Phenomena and Suchness ........................................................125
Delineating Emptiness...................................................................................135
Emptiness as the Unity of Appearance and Emptiness.................................141
Conclusion.....................................................................................................149
Chapter 4: Buddha-Nature and the Indivisible Ground and Fruition..................151
Introduction....................................................................................................151
Delineating the Views on Buddha-Nature......................................................151
Buddha-Nature as Heritage, Buddha-Nature as the Ground.........................160
Delineating Appearance and Reality .............................................................170
Establishing Buddha-Nature: The Immanent Buddha ...................................180
Establishing Appearances as Divine .............................................................189
Buddha-Nature and a Difference Between Sūtra and Mantra .......................200
Buddha-Nature as the Ground of the Great Perfection .................................212
Conclusion.....................................................................................................214
Concluding Remarks.........................................................................................216
Document 1 ......................................................................................................221
Introduction....................................................................................................221

Lion’s Roar: Exposition of Buddha-Nature ........................................................221
1. Stating Other Traditions ............................................................................224
2. Presenting Our Own Authentic Tradition ...................................................228
1. The Meaning of the First Verse “Because the body of the perfect Buddha
is radiant” ...................................................................................................228
2. The Meaning of the Second Verse “Because suchness is indivisible” ...235
3. The Meaning of the Third Verse “Because of possessing heritage” ......239
1. Refuting the View that [the Basic Element] is Truly Established and Not
Empty ............................................................................................................245
2. Refuting the View that [the Basic Element] is a Void Emptiness ...............247
3. Refuting the Apprehension of [the Basic Element] as Impermanent and
Conditioned ...................................................................................................248

........................................................................................ Presenting Scripture.......................................................5]......................................................................... an Explanation of the Progression of Profound Points of the Ground...............................289 1.................................... An Appended Identification of the Scriptural Collections of Definitive Meaning ................4] ......296 1.........................................272 Excerpt from Roar of the Fearless Lion [48........ In Accord with That...........................................296 2........................................................272 1.....261 Document 3 ................................ The Manner of the Teaching of the Profound Abiding Reality of the Definitive Meaning of the Perfection Vehicle..................................................................................... Establishing the Reason for That Being the Way It Is ................273 1.....................307 Bibliography ......................................................................................................................261 Notes on the Essential Points of [Mi-pham’s] Exposition [of Buddha-Nature] .....................................................272 Introduction.............................................................293 3...................................................298 2..................................................313 ....... The Way that These Commentaries on Buddha’s Viewpoint are Supreme ........ Establishing through Reasoning That Being the Way It Is...................................................Document 2 ..........................274 2........................................................................................... Presenting Scripture from the Aṅgulimālīyasūtra..261 Introduction.......................... The Progression of the Wheels of Doctrine which are the Means of Teaching the Definitive Meaning of the Abiding Reality ..........................274 1. The Wheels of Doctrine Indicated in the Dhāraṇīśvararājaparipṛcchā ...............279 2.274 1........................... Path............. The Wheels of Doctrine Indicated in the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra ..................................................274 1. Presenting Scripture from the Nirvāṇasūtra .. the Way They are Indicated in the Nirvāṇa[sūtra] and so forth [75.................. Establishing [the Reason for That Being] the Way It Is .....289 2...... The Subject of the Extensive Discussion Here......... and Fruition of the Sūtra Perfection Vehicle ......306 2. Presenting Scripture..........2-97......296 1............................................ Presenting Scripture................................300 3......................

..............................................318 ..........Tibetan Sources ..............................................313 Non-Tibetan Sources ...........................................................................

i Abstract This dissertation addresses the relationship between metaphysical presence and absence (emptiness) in Buddhism through a focus on the Nying-ma tradition as articulated in the works of Mi-pham (’ju mi pham rgya mtsho. Buddha-nature is a theme in Mi-pham’s work that has a strong association with tantra in the Nying-ma tradition. I will try to present important facets of this central theme in Mi-pham’s philosophy of Nying-ma. The tradition of the Nying-ma is a complex one. and in a fundamental way is antithetical to abstract conceptual determination. or Buddha-nature. Mi-pham was a prominent figure in the Tibetan non-sectarian (ris med) movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. and had a remarkable ability to synthesize diverse strands of thought.) in response to traditions of “other-emptiness. ca. Mi-pham was a prolific writer on a variety of topics. 1846-1912). a great synthesizer of Buddhist doctrine and Nying-ma philosophy. The Great Perfection is an antischolastic textual and meditative tradition that consistently evades systematic analysis. as the central theme in his overall interpretative scheme. Mi-pham formulates the Nying-ma tradition of his predecessors Long-chen-pa (klong chen rab ’byam. and tantra to discuss the significance of an ontological “ground” (gzhi). I draw widely from his writings on Yogācāra. He most notably brought esoteric Nying-ma doctrines into conversation with the exoteric scholastic discourses of his day. and there are many divergent and competing voices that lay claim to the tradition. in particular. and show how he uses a dialectic of presence and absence around which he discusses a unified ground. the Great Perfection (rdzogs chen). 11th c. Madhyamaka. His affirmation of the presence of Buddha-nature as intrinsic within the ground of existence shares predominant characteristics of the discourses of tantra in the Nying-ma tradition and.” through which he distinguishes his Nying-ma tradition. Mi-pham creatively . 1308-1364) and Rong-zom (rong zom chos kyi bzang po.

the Middle Way. This dissertation explores a range of topics within Mi-pham’s thought to underscore Buddha-nature and a dialectic of presence and absence as a central thread that runs through his interpretative system.ii formulates the esoteric discourses that have defined the Nying-ma tradition—the Great Perfection and the tantric tradition of the Guhyagarbha—in terms of central exoteric discourses of Buddhism: Buddha-nature. . and Buddhist epistemological systems.

I had the opportunity to study with Tulku Nyi-magyal-tsen while he was in residence at the University of Virginia for one semester. and spent my first two years of coursework living in two separate houses each with a Ge-luk scholar. I also lived for one semester in Charlottesville with a Jo-nang scholar. Professors Hopkins and Germano have both consistently challenged me to further my understanding of texts and traditions in critical and creative ways. Khen-po Cham-pa-lo-drö. Professor David Germano has also helped me over the years in many significant ways. Khen-po Tsul-trim-dar-gyey. I would like to thank my advisor. Also. My studies were made possible due to many learned Tibetan scholars who I would like to thank in the order that I met them (by sect for ease of identification): Nying-ma scholars—the late Nyo-shul Khen-po Jam-yang-dor-jey. Khen-po Shey-rap-zang-po. Khen-po Kātyāyana. the late Khen-po Cha-dral. whose legacy of academic scholarship of Buddhism is difficult to fathom. I had the fortune of sharing a house for some time with Khen-po Ye-shey-trin-ley. Khen-po Nyi-ma-tön-drup.iii Acknowledgements While I was studying in graduate school. Khen-po Wang-chuk-sö- . Professors Karen Lang and Robert Hueckstedt. Professor Jeffrey Hopkins. and his late father. without whom I would not have had the inspiration to take on such a study. the late Khen-po Pen-tsey. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche. Khen-po Pe-ma-shey-rap. Khen-po Chö-dzöd. Additionally. Khen-po Shey-rap-dor-jey. I would also like to thank the other members of my dissertation committee. Tulku Urgyen. who was instrumental in fostering my appreciation for the works of Mi-pham. Ge-shey Tar-dö and Geshey Ten-zin-dar-gyey. I was very fortunate to have had close contact with these scholars while doing my academic studies. Khen-po Nam-dröl. while I was writing my comprehensive exams. each of whom has kindly shared their expertise and gave me valuable advice.

I owe a special thanks to Professor John Dunne. Khen-po Pe-ma-gyal-tsen. and others not mentioned. Khen-po Tup-ten-ye-shey. My interest in the academic study of Buddha-nature was sparked by my undergraduate professor. Ka-gyüd scholars—Thrangu Rinpoche. who tutored me in Tibetan when I was first traveling in India after college. Khen-po Cham-pa-tön-ten. to Jann Ronis and James Gentry in particular. Also. shared with me their vast learning with great kindness. and Khen-po Ye-shey-dor-jey. who stimultated me to deepen my knowledge of the language. with whom I benefited from numerous conversations about Mi-pham. I thank Professor Karma Phuntsho. and mentor. Also. Sallie King. I owe thanks to Adam Pearcy and Thomas Doctor. the Centre for Buddhist Studies at Kathmandu University. Thomas along with Erik Schmidt. and Khenpo Shey-rap. I would also like to thank Professors Tom Tillemans and John Makransky for their excellent advice to me. are two Danish translators who taught me Tibetan while I was in Nepal. and Khen-po A-pey. friend. All these teachers. I would like to express my appreciation for the Rangjung Yeshe Institute. Khen-po Nga-wang-dor-jey. and who have tirelessly provided translations into English over the years. for providing an institution that offered me the invaluable opportunity to study Buddhism simultaneously with traditional Buddhist and academic scholars. and Khen-po Shey-rap-ö-zer. Jo-nang scholars—A-ku Rap-gyey. whose correspondences have helped my understanding of Mipham. with whom I first encountered Buddhist Studies on an abroad program they developed in Bodh Gaya with Antioch College. Additionally.iv nam. Sa-kya scholars—Khen-po Chö-ying-lhün-drup. I would also like to express my gratitude to my collegues at the University of Virginia. I would also like to thank my students whom I taught the Tibetan language to there. the late Khen-po Yön-ten-zang-po. I would also like to thank Robert Pryor and Tara Doyle. who I would like to thank as a teacher. who .

I would also like to thank the Yinshun Foundation for contributing funding during my coursework. . Ellen Bayard Weedon Travel Awards. who introduced me to Jo-nang teachers and texts. I am grateful to Fulbright-Hays for providing me with the research grant to do fieldwork in Nepal and India for this dissertation. a South Asian librarian at the University of Virginia. and funding from the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia have supported my research at Virginia and in Tibet.v read early drafts of this dissertation and have given me excellent support as scholars and friends. without whom none of this would be possible. Gene Smith. Also. I would like to express my heart-felt gratitude to my parents. and my wife. Jasmine. FLAS Awards. Last but not least. whose love and patience has guided me through it all. for helping me locate Tibetan texts. I would also like to thank Nawang Thokmey. and Paul Hackett for his help with digital Tibetan texts.

To my parents. and to anyone whose hair stands on end upon hearing about emptiness . my wife.

with a textual tradition of translations dating back to the early dissemination of Buddhism in Tibet. and Nying-ma (rnying ma) following the political ascendancy of the Ge-luk (dge lugs) tradition in Central Tibet. The efforts to affirm the legitimacy. Sakya (sa skya). The Nying-ma identifies its origins within the dynastic period of the eighth century. claim a distinctive connection with the imperial age of Tibet—a theocratic polity populated by the enlightened figures of the Dharma King Tri-song-de-tsen (khri srong lde’u btsan). of the Nying-ma tradition can be seen from early on. The Nying-ma. 1846-1912). 958-1055) in the eleventh century.1 Introduction Historical Context In the nineteenth century a remarkable “non-sectarian” (ris med) movement developed in the southeastern Tibetan province of Kham (khams). and institutional character formed among the traditions of the Ka-gyüd (bka’ brgyud). 11th c. 1124-1192). the “new schools. The nonsectarian movement engendered an intellectual and literary renaissance driven by a wave of creative doctrinal syntheses and new institutional movements towards formalized monastic education. ca. such as in the works of Rong-zom (rong zom chos kyi bzang po. The Nying-ma tradition came to play a particularly influential role in the movement. although a self-conscious Nying-ma tradition.” which began to develop in Tibet from the activities of the famous translator Rin-chenzang-po (rin chen bzang po. Padmasambhava—and translators who had a privileged access to a living tradition of Buddhism from India before it was curtailed .) and Nyang-ral (myang ral nyi ma’i ’od gzer.” actually developed in response to attacks on the legitimacy of its translations by the Sar-ma tradition. literary. and a central figure and primary architect of the time was Mi-pham (’ju mi pham rgya mtsho. Alliances of a ritual. whose works will be discussed in this dissertation. intellectual. and superiority. known as the “old school.

a tantra that was not included in the Buddhist canon compiled in Tibet in the fourteenth century by proponents of the “new schools” of translations. 2 Rong-zom. (Paro: Ngodup. 1975). 1 (Sichuan: Nationalities Press. at anytime. This was an important part of Mi-pham’s contribution to the Nying-ma tradition. 1999). the Guhyagarbhatantra.2 he notably uses Buddhist logic. 1999). phyogs bcu mun sel.1 and in his Establishing Appearances as Divine. Rong-zom’s 1 Collected Works. particularly those of the Guhyagarbhatantra. The Nying-ma have been able to periodically reinvigorate their tradition over the years to serve the contingencies of history through their “close lineage” (nye brgyud) of revealed teachings. they did not commonly write commentaries that focused on such exoteric texts.4 The Rong-zom. In the “close lineage. Mi-pham wrote catalogues (dkar chag) for the publications of the collected works of Rong-zom and the “Seven Treasuries” of Long-chen-pa. that in principle is open to anyone. While many scholars of the Nying-ma tradition certainly studied the exoteric texts of Buddhist sūtras and śāstras. 33-253.3 and is renowned for his writings on the Great Perfection. rgyud rgyal gsang ba’i snying po dkon cog ’grel. exemplifying a unique relationship between tantra and Buddhist logic in Nying-ma exegesis.2 by the Muslim invasions in the eleventh century. (reproduced from a ’dzom zylographic edition). Mi-pham’s Essential Hagiography and Catalogue of Works (gangs ri’i khrod kyi smra ba’i seng ge gcig po ’jam dgon mi . such as the “Seven Treasuries” (mdzod bdun). 3 Long-chen-pa. 1308-1364) also wrote a commentary on the Guhyagarbhatantra. 4 Kün-zang-chö-drak (sa manta bhadra dharma kirti). nor a specific individual in history. 1 (Sichuan: Nationalities Press. Rong-zom’s Collected Works vol. the Nying-ma tradition was largely defined by their esoteric transmissions. Long-chen-pa (klong chen rab 'byam. but remain within a tradition of an ongoing revelation. gsang snags rdo rje theg pa’i tshul las snang ba lhar bsgrub pa. 557-568. Rong-zom and Long-chen-pa are Mi-pham’s main Tibetan sources for his works. Before Mi-pham. vol. Rong-zom composed a commentary on the main tantra of the Nying-ma tradition.” Buddhist canonical teachings are not limited to a specific set of texts.

8 (hung). (Bylakuppe: Ngagyur Nyingma Institute). 5 1996). John Pettit translates a portion of this hagiography in Beacon of Certainty. Mi-pham also wrote texts that were explicit commentaries on Long-chen-pa’s texts: three short texts that include commentaries on the twelfth and eighteenth chapters of the yid bzhin mdzod.9 which we pham rgya mtsho’i rnam thar snying po bsdus pa dang gsung rab kyi dkar chag snga ’gyur bsan pa’i mdzes rgyan). he states that there is some doubt that Khen-po Kün-pal is in fact the author. 1487-1542).5. and an “overview” (spyi don) of Long-chen-pa’s commentary on the Guhyagarbhatantra. bdud ’joms chos ’byung (Sichuan: Nationalities Press. The author of this text is unclear. 1996). gsang bdag zhal lung and gsang bdag dgongs rgyan. nor bu baidurya’i phreng ba (rang bzhin rdzogs pa chen po’i chos ’byung rig ’dzin brgyud pa’i rnam thar ngo mtshar nor bu baidurya’i phreng ba).2. dpag bsam snye ma (sdom pa gsum rnam par nges pa’i ’grel pa legs bshad ngo mtshar dpag bsam gyi snye ma). however. 1646-1714).2-672. 497. 1654-1717). Ter-dak-ling-pa (gter bdag gling pa ’gyur med rdo rje. 1931-1999). both of whom took ordination from the fifth Dalai Lama. 27. 9 Lo-chen Dharma Śrī.59. 7 Nyo-shul Khen-po (smyo shul mkhan po ’jam dbyangs rdo rje. In many ways.8 as well as a commentary on the three vows by Ngari Paṇ-chen (nga ri paṇ chen padma dbang rgyal. Lo-chen and his brother. Beacon of Certainty (Boston: Wisdom Publications. 23-39. Throughout Mi-pham’s works. we find references to Long-chen-pa’s writings. . vol. See John Pettit. particularly Long-chen-pa and the tradition of the Great Perfection. were important figures in the transmission of the Nying-ma canon (bka’ ma). his works can be seen as an extended commentary upon the writings of Long-chen-pa.5 Another important figure in the Nying-ma tradition was Lo-chen Dharma Śrī (lo chen dharma śrī. 467n. 1904-1988). 1999). 6 Dud-jom Rin-po-chey (bdud ’joms ’jigs bral ye shes rdo rje.6 Ter-dak-ling-pa founded the Nying-ma monastery of Min-dröl-ling (o rgyan smin sgrol gling) in the Iron-dog year (1670).1-504. Mi-pham’s Collected Works. vol. 2 (Thimbu: Indraprastha Press. 8 Lo-chen Dharma Śrī. 672. 504.7 Lo-chen also wrote texts on the Guhyagarbhatantra. Pettit attributes the author to Khen-po Kün-pal. Mi-pham’s student. 399-410.3 influences of Rong-zom and Long-chen-pa are prominently reflected in Mipham’s works.

1292-1361) in particular. A major tension in Tibetan thought is found between the positions that the ultimate truth must be a simple emptiness—a negation—in contrast to the positively-framed depictions of ultimate reality as a divine presence existing at the heart of all. A central issue concerning the status of other-emptiness is a recurring dialectical tension between presence and absence. which in Buddhist terms gets expressed in various ways such as appearance and emptiness. consistently held to the notion that the ultimate 10 An excellent source for the life and works of Dol-po-pa is found in Cyrus Stearns.4 will address in the context of discussing the view of “other-emptiness” (gzhan stong) in contrast to Mi-pham’s representation of emptiness. the emblematic tradition of other-emptiness. in contrast to the Jo-nang depiction of emptiness. conventional and ultimate truth. and Dol-po-pa (dol po pa shes rab rgyal mtshan. Tsong-kha-pa. 1920-1975). as well as look into a Jo-nang scholar of the last century. Across this spectrum we find a wide array of positions. Buddha-nature and emptiness.10 We will discuss Dol-po-pa’s view of other-emptiness in chapter 3. The Buddha from Dolpo: A Study of the Life and Thought of the Tibetan Master Sherab Gyaltsen (Albany: SUNY Press. The most famous proponents of other-emptiness are found within the Jo-nang (jo nang) tradition. where a prominent Jo-nang monastery has remained active to the present day. and other-emptiness and self-emptiness. 1999). the Buddha-nature. . 1357-1419) and his Ge-luk followers had been major critics of the Jo-nang. This issue can be seen to have a history extending back to India in the competing depictions of a qualified (saguṇa) or unqualified (nirguṇa) absolute. Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa is from Dzam-thang (’dzam thang) in Eastern Tibet. Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa (’dzam thang mkhan po blo gros grags pa. Tsong-kha-pa (tsong kha pa blo bzang grags pa.

. inherent existence] upon a subject that is a basis of negation. but also as grounded within the rigorous intellectual traditions of Buddhist exoteric philosophy. madhyamaka).. lam rim chung ba. Kong-trul (kong sprul yon tan rgya mtsho. In particular. Mi-pham integrated aspects of the Buddhist epistemological tradition with a view of Mantra. pramāṇa). into his commentaries on Indian śāstras. and Buddha-nature in particular.11 We will see how other discourses on emptiness offer a less delimited portrayal of ultimate reality. the Middle Way (dbu ma. within both esoteric and exoteric discourses. one of Mipham’s teachers.6: don dam bden pa ni dgag gzhi chos 11 can la bden pa bkag pa tsam la ’jog pa’i phyir.. 396. was another important figure in the non-sectarian movement. The Great Perfection is the Nying-ma tradition’s highest esoteric teaching and Prāsaṅgika-Madhyamaka is the philosophy commonly accepted in Tibet as the highest exoteric view. Mi-pham articulated a distinctive Nying-ma view on a variety of exoteric topics through his interpretative framework drawing on the Nying-ma’s own esoteric tradition of the Great Perfection (rdzogs chen). Gene Smith credits Kong-trul’s Encyclopedia of See for instance Tsong-kha-pa statement that: “The ultimate truth is posited as solely the negation of truth [that is. and portrayed the view of the Great Perfection as compatible with Prāsaṅgika-Madhyamaka. his Encyclopedia of Knowledge (shes bya kun khyab) is a tremendous resource on different views and systems of thought in Tibet. He incorporated esoteric discourses of Mantra (sngags) characteristic of his Nying-ma predecessors.5 truth is necessarily a mere absence. particularly themes found within the Guhyagarbhatantra.” Tsong-kha-pa. An important part of Mi-pham’s works is found within the relationship between the Great Perfection and the exoteric discourses of epistemology (tshad ma. Mi-pham affirms the Nying-ma as not only a tradition of tantric exegesis and ritual practice. Through this. A central concern here is the nature of philosophical reasoning and intellectual inquiry into Buddhist scriptural traditions. 1813-1899).

8 (hung). the Middle Way.”12 Kong-trul played an important role in bringing together various compilations of numerous scholars in Tibet. 475-487. vol. and analysis of this text. . nor wrote commentaries on them. including tantras from the “new schools” (gsar ma).” (University of Calgary. 15 For instance. Another short text Mi-pham wrote concerning the treasure tradition 12 13 describes how to tell good treasure revealers from charlatans. published in spyod ’jug sher ’grel ke ta ka (Sichuan: Nationalities Press. including a sex-manual (’dod pa’i bstan bcos. 237. and commentarial treatises. 1820-1892). 13-19.15 the Guhyagarbhatantra of his own Nying- Gene Smith. 1993). Among Tibetan Texts. Mi-pham did write a topical outline (sa bcad) for a treasure text of Chok-gyur-ling-pa.6 Knowledge as likely “the earliest statement of nonsectarian thought. as well his other compositions on Hevajra. astrology. It is noteworthy that Mi-pham states: “I also have no hope for the fortune of a new treasure doctrine because I know that there is not the slightest thing missing (ma chog pa rdul rtsam med) from sūtras. tantras. “The Tibetan Treasure Literature: A Study of the Revelations of the Visionary Master Mchog gyur bde chen gling pa (1829 – 1870). he was a prolific Tibetan monk to say the least. 2001). Mi-pham neither discovered earth treasure texts (sa gter). Mi-pham is a unique figure in the non-sectarian movement because he was not endorsed as an incarnate lama (sprul sku). translation. unlike many prominent figures of his day. 2003). Jam-yang-khyen-tsey-wang-po (’jam dbyangs mkhyen brtse dbang po. the lam rim ye shes snying po’i bsdus don ldeb. he wrote numerous commentaries on a variety of diverse topics. medicine. Mipham’s Dialectics and the Debates on Emptiness (London: RoutledgeCurzon. such as Kong-trul. Mi-pham’s Collected works. Guhyasamāja. Also. Among Tibetan Texts (Boston: Wisdom Publications. For a critical edition. poetics. See Mi-pham. rab gsal de nyid snang byed (gzhan byis brtsad pa’i lan mdor bsdus pa rigs lam rab gsal de nyid snang byed).13 Rather. 14. et al. at least not while alive. ranging from logic. vol. gter ston brtag ba chu dwangs nor bu.” Mi-pham. 229-233. 339: gsar du gter gyi chos skal la re ba’ang med de/ mdo rgyud dgongs ’grel dang bcas pa ’di dag gis ma chog pa rdul tsam med par shes pa lags. kāmaśāstra). Yogācāra. Mi-pham’s Collected Works. (sde dge ed.14 He also wrote on Tibetan translations of Indian texts. 14 For detailed description of the breadth of Mi-pham’s writings. and Chok-gyur-ling-pa (mchog gyur bde chen gling pa. 1829 – 1870). his massive two-volume commentary on the Kālacakra. Cakrasaṃvara. see Karma Phuntsho. 2005).). see Andreas Doctor’s dissertation. See also Smith.

and Kongtrul. and Buddha-nature. 1808-1887). which will be the focus of this dissertation. 627. Also. (London: Curzon Press. Beacon of Certainty. a branch of She-chen (zhe chen) monastery connected with the lineage of Min-dröl-ling. Mi-pham was born to an aristocratic family in Der-gey (sde dge) in Eastern Tibet. 19 Paul Williams. 17 Ibid. Pal-trul (dpal sprul o rgyan chos kyi dbang po. entering the monastery of Ju-mo-hor-zang-chö-ling (’ju mo hor gsang chos gling). 1998). in John Pettit. Another book-length study of Mi-pham was done by Paul Williams.17 He studied with a number of prominent teachers of the non-sectarian movement.5.19 Williams makes a case that Mi-pham can be understood as a proponent of “other-emptiness. questions the usefulness of the indigenous labels of “self-emptiness” and “other-emptiness” in Kün-zang-chö-drak. along with a summary of Mi-pham’s life and works. 20 See Paul Williams. 19-39. which is a translation of one of Mipham’s texts (nges shes sgron me) with an annotated commentary. whose work deals with the notion of “reflexive awareness” (rang rig) in Mipham’s commentary on the ninth chapter of the Bodhicaryāvatāra.16 He became a novice monk when he was twelve years old. John Pettit’s Beacon of Certainty.4-629. .”20 Matthew Kapstein. 199-206. He discusses Mipham’s works in light of polemical exchanges with Ge-luk scholars.4-628.4.18 A number of scholarly works on Mi-pham have emerged over the past decade. The Reflexive Nature of Awareness. including Jam-yang-khyen-tsey-wang-po.7 ma tradition. and his work is an excellent source for Mi-pham’s treatment of emptiness. offers biographical information and provides a good general background to central issues in Mi-pham’s writings. 18 Details of Mi-pham’s life can be found in an English translation of Mi-pham’s 16 hagiography. mi pham rgya mtsho’i rnam thar snying po bsdus pa. One example is Karma Phuntsho’s recently published Mipham’s Dialectics and the Debates on Emptiness. however.. The Reflexive Nature of Awareness: A Madhyamaka Defence. 629.

I present how he shows the compatibility of esoteric discourses. he suggests that it is important to document the precise usages of such terms as they are used by the indigenous traditions. and Mi-pham’s position in particular. 2. I discuss the fundamental role of Buddha-nature in Mi-pham’s interpretation of a variety of Buddhist discourses.4-356.8 interpreting Buddhist thought. nor bu baidurya’i phreng ba.21 In chapter 3. I aim to clarify this central topic in his works.2.22 Khen-po Kün-pal was the first professor (mkhan po) appointed to the monastic college at Kaḥ-tok (kaḥ thog) monastery. with the exoteric discourses of valid cognition (tshad ma. or “the tantric college of one hundred scriptures” (rgyud sde bshad grwa gzhung brgya ma) founded by Mi-pham. 1870/2-1943) from Ge-gong (ge gong) monastery. By addressing a wide range of these issues. in order to further the understanding of how emptiness is represented in these traditions in general. 1900/1907-1959). 21 22 Nyo-shul Khen-po. particularly in Mi-pham’s works. In this dissertation. I have tried to document some ways in which “other-emptiness” and “self-emptiness” have been used by the specific Jo-nang and Nying-ma authors I address. and cites a danger in overly generalizing these categories. There has been little written concerning the explicit topic of Buddha-nature in the Nying-ma tradition. who was Mi-pham’s direct disciple. the Nor-bu-lhün-po monastic college (bshad grwa nor bu lhun po). pramāṇa) and the Middle Way within his exegesis of Buddha-nature. who commented on Mi-pham’s works. “Are We All Gzhan stong pas?” Journal of Buddhist Ethics. along with Kaḥ-tok Situ (kaḥ thog si tu Matthew Kapstein. vol. a scholar from the eastern region of Central Tibet called Dak-po (dwags po). As an alternative. such as the Great Perfection. In particular. 354. 7 (2000). Pöd-pa Tulku was a student of Khen-po Kün-pal (kun bzang dpal ldan. I frame the topic of Buddha-nature in a way that can help us better understand its central place in Mi-pham’s works. . We will also discuss Pöd-pa Tulku (bod sprul mdo sngags bstan pa’i nyi ma. 121.

we will look at his work within the context of the development of monastic education in Kham in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Among his students were the recently deceased Khen-po Dazer (mkhan zla zer). In particular. . Monastic Colleges and Buddhist Education Several monastic colleges (bshad grwa) were constructed during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the Kham region of Eastern Tibet.6. India (the Nyagyur Nyingma Institute) before he returned to teach at the Śrī Singha monastic college (shri singha bshad grwa) at Dzok-chen (rdzogs chen) monastery in Tibet.3. which was the strongest monastic presence and the epicenter of the non-sectarian movement’s activity. 356. 1880-1923/5) in the Fire-horse year (1906).24 Pöd-pa Tulku taught at the monastic college at She-chen monastery.4. 24 Ibid. Khen-po Da-zer came to teach in the monastic college of the Palyul (dpal yul) tradition in Mysore. 263.2-357.3-263.. Śrī Singha college. 25 Ibid.3. we will first discuss Mipham’s contributions to Nying-ma exegesis within the context of the nonsectarian movement. 352. and the Great Perfection in relation to Buddha-nature.26 Before we turn to the roles of valid cognition.4-352. 1800-1855?).23 Extending from this monastic college at Kaḥ-tok.2-225...5. was particularly influential. 23 26 Ibid.. Gyal-sey Shenpen-tha-yey rebuilt Dzok-chen monastery with the support of the rulers of Ibid. the Middle Way. twenty-five monastic colleges were subsequently founded through Kaḥ-tok Situ’s work.5. constructed at Dzok-chen monastery by Gyal-sey Shen-pen-tha-yey (rgyal sras gzhan phen mtha’ yas. 225.9 chos kyi rgya mtsho.25 Khen-po Pen-tsey also taught at the Śrī Singha monastic college and in India and Nepal.3-265. 263. and Khen-po Pen-tsey (padma tshe dbang lhun grub). 359.6-360.

1871-1927). 177.29 In these works. which is. History of Dzok-chen Monastery (mdo khams rdzogs chen dgon gyi lo rgyus nor bu’i phreng ba). “The Life and Works of mKhan-po gZhan-dga’ (1871-1927). 57.3-142.28 Khen-po Shen-ga compiled textbooks for monastic colleges comprising interlinear commentaries (mchan ’grel) on “the thirteen great scriptures” (gzhung chen mo bcu gsum). The Sound of Two Hands Clapping.2. madhyamaka. nor bu baidurya’i phreng ba. Dreyfus. Dri-kung (’bri gung). Masters of Meditation and Miracles (Boston: Shambhala. 28 Nyo-shul Khen-po. Indian treatises that were considered to be the important texts representing the spectrum of major Buddhist discourses— namely. which is not one of the thirteen. instead of Śāntideva’s Bodhicaryāvatāra. 29 See Georges Dreyfus. . Khen-po Shen-ga states that he wrote his commentary “without mixing even a hair of the individual opinions of the Tibetan masters” (bod gyi slob dpon so so’i ’dod pa dang spu tsam yang ma bsres par). not the Tibetan layers of commentary. 30 In his colophon of his interlinear commentary of the Madhyamakāvatāra. Among Tibetan Texts. in an attempt to interpret the Indian texts on their own terms. he concerns himself with an exposition upon Indian sources. abhidharma. 138. among others.31 Gyal-wang Chö-kyi-nyi-ma (rgyal dbang chos kyi nyi ma). 27 31 See Smith. 198-199. vol.5. See also Tulku Thondup. however.27 Khen-po Shen-ga (mkhan po gzhan dga’. (Delhi: Konchhog Lhadrepa. He also founded eighteen monastic colleges such as the colleges of Kham-jey (khams bye) below Dzong-sar (rdzong gsar) monastery. that he “did not make anything up himself” (rang bso med par). 1986). taught at the monastic college at Dzok-chen. 1996).2-395. at Pal-pung (dpal spungs). 2000). and the five treatises of Maitreya (byams chos sde lnga). misidentifies the thirteen texts by including Dharmakīrti’s Pramāṇavārttika. Cited from Master’s thesis of Achim Bayer. 129-130. vinaya. 2. after it was destroyed by an earthquake in the Water-tiger year (1842). and Kye-gu-do (skye dgu mdo). gzhan phan chos kyi snang ba. who was recognized as a reincarnation of Gyal-sey Shen-pen-tha-yey. 232-233.” (University of Hamburg.10 Der-gey. 395.30 Khen-po Shen-ga’s commentaries can be seen as a means to circumvent sectarian disputes by appealing to Indian originals rather than some specific strand of over one thousand years of Tibetan commentary. and in his commentary on the Uttaratantra.

which is the manner of explanation of the Indian scriptures such as the thirteen great scriptures. 34 Mi-pham. 33 Ibid. published in dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel (Sichuan: Nationalities Press.32 Nyo-shul Khen-po quotes Mi-pham as stating that his own works were composed to ensure the legacy (pha phog tu bzhag) of the Nying-ma tradition in future generations..34 Unlike the other prominent sectarian traditions in Tibet. his own works explicitly draw from the works of Rong-zom and Long-chen-pa. He states that traditions stemming from Kaḥ-tok follow mainly the latter tradition.4: ’jam dgon mi pham rin po ches kho bos gzhung ’grel ’di tsam brtsams pa rnams snga ’gyur pa’i bstan par phyi rabs rnams la rgyal bstan rin po che yun du gnas pa’i pha phog tu bzhag pa yin/ dpal ldan zla grags dang rong klong rnam gnyis kyi dgongs pa srog tu bzung ste phyogs kun tu bshad sgrub kyi rgyun spel ba la gzhan dga’ rin po cher dka’ babs pa ’di rgyal sras gzhan phan pa’i sngon gyi thugs smon dang skye sprul yin pa’i dbang gis yin zhes. and Nga-ri Paṇ-chen. 494: ’jam dbyangs mkhyen rtse’i dbang po zhes snyan pa’i ba dan srid par yongs . Jam-yang-khyen-tsey-wangpo. nor bu baidurya’i phreng ba. 1990). Rong-zom. 2. 266.11 Nyo-shul Khen-po (smyo shul mkhan po ’jam dbyangs rdo rje. 1931-1999) relates two traditions of explanation in the Nying-ma tradition: (1) the transmission (bka’ babs pa) of Khen-po Shen-ga. whereas Khen-po Shen-ga’s transmission “maintains the viewpoint of Candrakīrti and both Rong-zom and Longchen-pa as the life-force (srog tu bzung).”33 Mi-pham’s works thus maintain a stronger sectarian identity than Khen-po Shen-ga’s. the Nying-ma 32 Nyo-shul Khen-po. 393.6-267.3: snga ’gyur phyogs ’dir rgya ’grel dang bod ’grel gyi bshad pa’i gsung rgyun chen po khag gnyis bzhugs pa las/ dang po gzhung chen bcu gsum sogs rgya gar mkhas pa’i legs bshad rgya gzhung gi bshad tshul mkhan chen gzhan phan snang bar bka’ babs pa dang/ rong klong rnam gnyis dang mnga’ ris paṇ chen sogs bod kyi gzhung ’grel rnams gtso cher ’jam mgon mi pham rin po cher bka’ babs pa las bshad srol phyi ma gtso bor gdan sa ’di nas byung ba mang ngo. vol. Mi-pham was encouraged to write commentaries on the major Indian and Tibetan treatises by his teacher. which is the manner of explanation mainly based on Tibetan commentaries such as Long-chenpa. and spreads the continuum of explanation and practice in all directions.1-393. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel (dbu ma rgyan gyi rnam bshad ’jam dbyangs bla ma dgyed pa’i zhal lung). and (2) the transmission of Mi-pham.

the Madhyamakālaṃkāra. the ninth chapter of the su grags pa de nyid kyis/ rgya bod kyi ’grel pa’i yig cha rnams gnang nas zhib tu ltos la ’brel bshad cig gyis zhes. The Sound of Two Hands Clapping: The Education of a Tibetan Buddhist Monk (Boston: Wisdom Publications. the curriculum of the Ngagyur Nyingma Institute in Mysore. Anne Klein. 148. He encouraged followers of the Nying-ma tradition to study and contemplate the texts of their own tradition and not blindly follow hearsay. India. the Pramāṇavārttika. 2003). Mi-pham invigorated the non-sectarian movement.. by not only restating the textual traditions of the past.2. Meeting the Bliss Queen (Boston: Beacon Press. adopted a Ge-luk sūtra exegesis for their exoteric curriculum while maintaining Nying-ma tantric studies as their esoteric base. which is currently the largest Nying-ma monastic college in exile. 36 Georges Dreyfus. 35 Ibid. but through actively appropriating his own Nying-ma tradition. several Nying-ma monasteries in Am-do (a mdo).36 The reliance upon Ge-luk sūtra exegesis. Many of Mi-pham’s works came to be adopted within the curriculum of Nying-ma monastic colleges. 446: mkhan slob chos gsum gyi rjes ’jug snga ’gyur pa rnams/ rgyal ba’i bka’ dri med dang/ rgyan drug rjes ’brangs dang bcas pa’i gzhung bzang po snga ’gyur ’di tsam gda’ bas/ thos bsam de la byas pa chog gi gzhan zer rjes brjod la dga’ ba tsam gyis ci bya. . 262n. became a target of Mi-pham’s polemical works.35 Such a self-conscious approach to the Buddhist textual tradition can be seen as a general characteristic of the non-sectarian movement. the Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra. 150. For instance.12 did not have an authoritative commentarial corpus on the central exoteric Buddhist treatises from India before Mi-pham. In contrast to the uniquely Nying-ma identity concerning exoteric scholasticism that Mi-pham forged for Nying-ma monasteries in Kham. Although Mi-pham promoted an inclusivist agenda characteristic of the “non-sectarian movement. however.” he affirmed a strong Nying-ma identity. and his Nying-ma tradition in particular. includes Mi-pham’s commentaries on Indian treatises such as the Abhidharmakośa. 1995). including the Do-drup (rdo-grub) tradition.

Also. See Sanskrit edition and Engish translation of these verses in Kamaleswar Bhattacharya. Representations of exoteric Buddhist discourse in Tibet have been dominated by the commentaries of Dharmakīrti (600-660) and Candrakīrti (540-600). and Lion’s Roar: Exposition of Buddha-Nature (stong thun seng ge’i nga ro). These two figures are also held to be authoritative commentators on a univocal doctrine of Buddhism. among others. 19-33. Sword of Supreme Knowledge (shes rab ral gri). It is important to not only recognize this fact. Despite Candrakīrti’s explicit criticism of Buddhist epistemologists in his Prasannapadā. The Dialectical Method of Nāgārjuna (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. The Sound of Two Hands Clapping. 128-132. For a discussion of Candrakīrti’s critiques of epistemology. Beacon of Certainty (nges shes sgron me). See also Dreyfus.37 His works have come to play a prominent role in Nying-ma monastic education. 2002). their curriculum includes his commentaries on Long-chen-pa’s Wish-Fulfilling Treasury (yid bzhin mdzod) and Guhyagarbha commentary. 37 . In Tibet. 1990). 15-21.38 Buddhists in Tibet have integrated the theories of The curriculum of the Nyagyur Nyingma Institute is printed in a pamphlet published at the monastery that I got there. 114-124. and systematic epistemology is associated with Dharmakīrti. Epistemology and Negative Dialectics We will now turn to the Indian heritage of the Buddhist traditions of Tibet. but also to acknowledge its implications for how Buddhism is interpreted in Tibet.13 Bodhicaryāvatāra. “Mīmāṃsikās and Mādhyamikas against the Buddhist Epistemologists: A Comparative Study to Two Indian Answers to the Question of Justification” (University of Chicago.30-51. 38 Nāgārjuna also targets the epistemological systems of pramāṇa in his Vigrahavyāvartanī v. and the Kāvyādarśa. entitled snga ’gyur mtho slob mdo sngags rig pa’i ’byung gnas gling gi sgrig gzhi rtsa khrims chen po. the negative dialectics of the Middle Way are typically identified with Candrakīrti’s interpretation of Nāgārjuna. as well Mi-pham’s compositions such as Gateway to the Scholars (mkhas ’jug). see Dan Arnold’s dissertation.

2000).). 40 Mi-pham. integrating the viewpoints of the scriptures of the two chariot traditions like water mixed with water. In particular. The integration of an epistemological system within the Middle Way is an important part of Mi-pham’s philosophical edifice. 41 Ibid. 26. sūtra and tantra. Dreyfus cites three ways in which Tibetan commentators have integrated Candrakīrti and Dharmakīrti: (1) those who see Dharmakīrti’s view as inferior to Candrakīrti’s. 76: ’di lta bu’i gzhung ni theg chen spyi’i lam po che yin te/ shing rta rnam pa gnyis kyi gzhung dgongs pa chu bo gcig ’dres su sbyar zhing/ khyad par don dam pa’i tshad ma dpal ldan klu yis ji ltar bzhed pa dang/ tha snyad kyi tshad ma dpal chos kyi grags pas ji ltar bzhed pa gnyis rigs pa’i rgya mtsho chen po ro gcig tu skyil. Karma Phuntsho. 77. there is a tension between the epistemological system-building on the one hand. He calls the integration of these two systems “the intertwined necks of the lions of the Middle Way and valid cognition” (dbu tshad seng ge mjing bsnol). dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. 428. See also Khen-po Pal-den-shey-rap (dpal ldan shes rab).40 Along with Candrakīrti and Dharmakīrti.” but I have not seen a pictorial image of this. another important Indian figure for Mi-pham is Śāntarakṣita (ca. 8th c. My translation follows Karma Phuntsho’s suggestion of “two lions intertwining their necks. Recognizing Reality.. (2) 39 those who view Dharmakīrti as a Proponent of the Middle Way. Mi-pham explains that Śāntarakṣita’s Madhyamakālaṃkāra is a treatise that demonstrates the essential point of all Mahāyāna. 18.14 Candrakīrti and Dharmakīrti in unique ways. and “deconstructive” negative dialectics on the other. don rnam nges ’grel pa shes rab ral gri’i ’grel pa shes rab nyi zla ’bar ba’i sgron me (Varanasi: Nyingmapa Students’ Welfare Committee. both (1) ultimate valid cognition in the way that Nāgārjuna asserts and (2) conventional valid cognition in the way that Dharmakīrti asserts are combined as one taste in the great ocean of reason. 75: theg chen mdo sngags mtha’ dag gi bzhed pa’i rtsa bar ’gyur ba’i gnad ston pa ni gzhung ’di yin.41 He states:42 Such a scripture as this is the universal path of the Mahāyāna.. who synthesized components of epistemology with the Middle Way in a system of Yogācāra-Madhyamaka. Dreyfus. .39 Within this integration. and (3) those who synthesize Dharmakīrti’s Yogācāra with Candrakīrti’s Middle Way. 42 Ibid. Mipham’s Dialectics and the Debates on Emptiness.

” are synonymous with “Buddha. Also. or an all-embracing divine presence in the world to be discovered. Buddha--Nature Buddha We will now turn to the topic of Buddha-nature by exploring its meanings and history within Indian texts and academic studies.” and “essence. it connotes a comprehensive matrix. the synthetic approach of Yogacara is instrumental in the way that Mi-pham incorporates various systems of Buddhist thought in Tibet. in which the absolute is immanent in all beings. and an immanent Buddha thus come. Academic scholars have described Buddha-nature in a number of ways. .” “Sugata. David Ruegg addresses a dual-function of Buddha-nature in a dialectic between a soteriological point of view.” On the one hand. but it plays an important role in the narrative structure of the Buddhist path—providing a foundation of wisdom as the ground and fruition of the Buddhist path. Buddha). “garbha” can mean “embryo. 1971). “Tathāgata.” 44 David Seyfort Ruegg.e. “On the Knowability and Expressibility of Absolute Reality in 43 Buddhism. Moreover. An etymology of the term “Buddha-nature” (tathāgatagarbha)43 reflects the variable status and complexity of the subject-matter. Buddha-nature is at once a future The term sugatagarbha “the essence (garbha) of the one gone well (sugata)” is also used as a synonym for the tathāgatagarbha. 1. as an embryonic seed. and the subsequent consummation in the attainment of Buddhahood.” “womb. is the same spelling as the compound tathā + āgata. the term reveals the dual-quality of a transcendent Buddha thus gone. The Sanskrit compound tathā + gata.15 Śāntarakṣita’s system of Yogācāra-Madhyamaka is important for Mi-pham in significant ways: not only does Yogācāra play a fundamental role in his systematic presentation of exoteric Buddhism. meaning “the thus come one”. As a womb. and a gnoseological point of view. no.. in which it is altogether transcendent.44 In this way.” (IBK 20. it denotes a latent potentiality to be developed. meaning “the thus gone one” (i.

it provides a philosophical basis for altruism in the Mahāyāna. Buddha-nature is an extension of the Self/no-self debate. He also mentions that the term gotra is designated extensionally as a soteriological or gnoseological category. Existence and Enlightenment in the Laṅkāvatāra-sūtra: A 45 Study in the Ontology and Epistemology of the Yogācāra School of Mahāyāna Buddhism (Albany: SUNY Press.16 potential for transcendence. pratyekabuddha. lineage. or essential nature behind phenomena”. 1976: 341-363). clan.45 The topic of Buddhanature also is a basis for promoting “one vehicle” (ekayāna) of the Buddha. (3) germ. it functions as an intermediate step between a narrowly defined notion of Self (ātman) and a more thorough understanding of no-self (anātman). from a didactic (or practical) point of view.” an “intermediate” meaning (between the first two David Seyfort Ruegg. (2) as an “embryo” or “seed”—a dynamic. Florin Sutton delineates three other roles of Buddha-nature: from a theoretical point of view. 1991). bodhisattva). . and (3) as a “matrix” or “womb. Ruegg cites three main meanings of the term heritage in Buddhist usage: (1) mine. evolving potential. an “underlying ontological Reality. and from an ethical point of view. Buddha-nature thus functions as a mediating principle spanning both the absolute and phenomenal worlds. The role of Buddha-nature as the single heritage of all beings distinguishes the Buddha-nature from Vijñānavāda (Mind-Only) traditions that accept five distinct heritages within three final vehicles (śrāvaka. and intensionally as the spiritual factor that determines the classification into that category. 46 Floirin Giripescu Sutton. and at the same time immanently present. matrix. an inclusivist system of the Mahāyāna that incorporates all Buddhist traditions. 76-78. seed. 341-342. “providing the Yogācāras with a positive platform of defense against both the Hindu Eternalists and the Buddhist Nihilists”. “The Term Gotra and the Textual History of Ratnagotravibhāga.46 Sutton also explains Buddha-nature to function in three ways: (1) as an essence.” (BSOAS 39. (2) family. Another term for the Buddha-nature is “heritage” (gotra).

50 Furthermore. 51 Cited from Hajime Nakamura. the Truth Body (dharmakāya) and the Buddha-nature. A History of Early Vedānta Philosophy (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Śrīmālā. bliss (sukha).17 meanings). as a pure essence abiding in temporarily obscured living beings. 48 The major Buddha-nature Sūtras were translated into Tibetan around the ninth-century. 10591109). However. states: “The qualities of purity (śubha).47 Buddha-nature.. and the Mahāparinirvāṇa. 52. is a considerable diversion from the negative language found in many other Buddhist texts. 1983). . The Uttaratantra. The Buddha from Dolpo: A Study of the Life and Thought of the Tibetan Master Sherab Gyaltsen (Albany: SUNY Press. self (ātman). Gaṇḍavyūha. In theg pa chen po rgyud bla ma’i bstan bcos. 50 Cyrus Stearns. these terms are found in sūtras such as the Laṅkāvatāra. the Laṅkāvatāra uses the term “supreme Brahman” to describe the ultimate state of existence (niṣṭhābhāvaḥ paraṃ brahma). 47 Uttaratantra 1. The Uttaratantra was not translated into Tibetan until the eleventh-century. 1999). during the early dissemination period. 154. and permanence (nitya) are the transcendent results…”49 Such affirmations are conspicuously absent in many other Buddhist texts. The unchanging. and selflessness (anātman). equated with the universal ground consciousness (ālayavijñāna). by Ngok Lo-den-shey-rap (ngog blo ldan shes rab. and as well is a language that is strikingly similar to the very positions that Buddhists often argue against. where they are used to describe the Buddha (tathāgata). 49. published in rgyud bla ma rtsa ’grel 49 (Sichuan: Nationalities Press. 76. suffering (duḥkha).35: gtsang bdag bde dang rtag nyid kyi/ /yon tan pha rol phyin pa ’bras.48 the first known commentarial treatise to deal explicitly with this topic.51 Ibid. Aṅgulimālīya. 1997). permanent status attributed to Buddha-nature is certainly a radical departure from the language emphasizing impermanence within the discourses of early Buddhism. Such language demonstrates a decisive break from the early Buddhist triad of impermanence (anitya). 6.

Summary of Contents This dissertation discusses the tension between affirmations and denials of ultimate reality. 1983). 104-107. "Tibetan Hermeneutics and the Yāna Controversy. . and one that has a long history in the developments of Buddhist discourse.).52 Nathan Katz has fittingly termed this phenomenon of contradictory claims as “hermeneutical shock. While the Perfection of Wisdom (prajñāpāramitā) Sūtras can be seen to function as an overturning of early Buddhist literature in its depictions of all phenomena being empty. theology. In this light. as in the Buddha-nature Sūtras. and philosophical anthropology. and emptiness. 110.”53 The tension between the discourses of presence. and the Uttarantantra in an interpretation through which he offers his exegesis of Buddhist doctrine. Buddha Nature (Albany: SUNY Press. In doing so." in Contributions on Tibetan and Buddhist Religion and Philosophy. I gather Mi- pham’s writings on Buddha-nature from a variety of sources to more fully address the role of Buddha-nature in his works. 52 (Wein: Arbeitskreis fur Tibetische und Buddhistische Studien. 53 Nathan Katz. Tauscher (eds.18 The reconciliation of such statements in the Uttaratantra with depictions of emptiness in Candrakīrti’s Madhyamakāvatāra is a central part of Mi-pham’s exegesis.” to uproot reified conceptions of emptiness. Mi-pham weaves together aspects of Dharmakīrti. This language has been said to have soteriological “shock value. in the Perfection of Wisdom Sūtras. is a rich source from which divergent interpretations grew. Steinkeller and H. opposed opinions and sectarian debates can be seen as creating and maintaining the dynamic vitality of Buddhist traditions. I aim to show that Buddha-nature plays a fundamental role in his works. E. It focuses on the status of Buddha-nature. a ground of being that may be said to be at once the domain of metaphysics. and fill a gap in Sallie King. Candrakīrti. Buddha-nature Sūtras mark another radical inversion with the use of ātman in its depictions. 1991).

In this case. dharmacākra) and two truths. The first model can be seen as dealing with ontology. Through integrating both models of two truths from the Madhyamakāvatāra and the Uttaratantra. appearance/emptiness and authentic/inauthentic experience respectively. and the other is in terms of authentic and inauthentic experience (gnas snang bden gnyis)—whether or not appearances accord with reality. and then turns to how Mi-pham integrates the middle wheel and the last wheel of doctrines through his interpretation of Buddha-nature. Conversely. In contrast. he depicts the two truths according to the Uttaratantra as the model of authentic/inauthentic experience. We will see how Pöd-pa Tulku describes the two-truth model according to Candrakīrti’s Madhyamakāvatāra. This chapter introduces Mi-pham’s depiction of two models for the two truths. or what is. He aligns this model with the middle wheel of doctrine. in accord with the two truths in Buddha Nature Sūtras of the last wheel of doctrine. One two-truth model is in terms of appearance and emptiness (snang stong bden gnyis). The chapter begins by looking at how Long-chen-pa represents the three wheels of doctrine. Through these two models of the two truths.19 academic scholarship on the study of Buddha-nature in the Nying-ma tradition. and the latter model can be seen as dealing with epistemology. we will see how Buddha-nature is the ultimate truth as . as concerning appearance and emptiness. Mi-pham shows the compatibility of emptiness and Buddha-nature. The chapter also discusses theories of interpretation based on the categories of “definitive meaning” (nges don) and “provisional meaning” (drang don). for which the explicit teaching is emptiness. Chapter 1 discusses Mi-pham’s interpretation of Buddhist sūtras in terms of the “wheels of doctrine” (chos ’khor. inauthentic experience and distorted modes of being are relative. any appearance is necessarily a relative truth. as is the subject that experiences reality authentically. or the way we know. the ultimate truth is not only emptiness because appearances that accord with reality are the ultimate truth. as such.

Mi-pham delineates the Prāsaṅgika as a discourse emphasizing the uncategorized ultimate. He emphasizes the compatibility of Prāsaṅgika and Svātantrika by stating that the unique object of negation for the Prāsaṅgika is only the conception of the two truths as distinct. We come to see how he makes a distinction between wisdom. and ordinary consciousness. In this way. the two truths are not distinguished in the context of nonconceptual meditative equipoise (mnyam bzhag). he depicts the Svātantrika as a discourse emphasizing the categorized ultimate. he does not delineate a distinct view for Prāsaṅgika that is different from Svātantrika. however. In contrast. the two truths are distinct. wisdom (ye shes) is held to be the ultimate truth. It begins by introducing some fundamental themes in Yogācāra discourse. in contrast to consciousness (rnam shes). Other than different means for understanding the ultimate truth. We then look at Prāsaṅgika and see how Mi-pham delineates Prāsaṅgika from Svātantrika. in accord with the perspective of wisdom in meditative equipoise. as the context emphasized by Svātantrika.20 authentic experience and the unity of the two truths of appearance/emptiness. The categorized ulimate is emptiness that is known conceptually and the uncategorized ultimate is emptiness that is beyond language and thought. in the context of post-meditation (rjes thob) where the two truths are divided and the ulimate truth can only be conceptually known. however. such as the three natures (mtshan nyid gsum) and the five principles (chos lnga). In his delineation. he makes a distinction between two types of ultimate truth: the “categorized ultimate” (rnam grangs pa’i don dam) and the “uncategorized ultimate” (rnam grangs ma yin pa’i don dam). In the contexts of language and thought. . Mi-pham also depicts Prāsaṅgika as a sudden means to eliminate conceptual constructs. We will see how in Yogācāra. as the context emphasized by Prāsaṅgika. Chapter 2 discusses the Middle Way in contrasting depictions of Yogācāra and Prāsaṅgika-Madhyamaka. in contrast to the progressive path emphasized in Svātantrika.

This chapter concludes that Mi-pham is a proponent of self-emptiness in terms of the way he defines himself. He represents genuine emptiness as beyond dichotomies such as existence and non-existence. In particular. or an emptiness that does not appear. Mi-pham argues that any conception of emptiness is not the genuine emptiness. . is the unity of appearance and emptiness. He also makes an important distinction between conventional assertions—where things appear to be distinct and are said to exist as such—and assertions concerning the ultimate in which no divisions are made. Buddha-nature. Then it looks into the representations of self-emptiness and other-emptiness in the works of a Nying-ma author. By discussing these different depictions of emptiness. The chapter begins by introducing depictions of self-emptiness and other-emptiness in the works of two Jo-nang scholars: Dol-po-pa and Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa. We come to see how Mi-pham depicts Buddha-nature as the suchness (chos nyid) of mind and reality. Chapter 3 explores Mi-pham’s depiction of emptiness in more detail. it addresses the categories of “self-emptiness” (rang stong) and “other-emptiness” (gzhan stong). Chapter 4 addresses the explicit topic of Buddha-nature. Lo-chen Dharma Śrī. Mi-pham contrasts his view of Buddha-nature from other views and adopts a view of Buddha-nature that reflects Longchen-pa’s depiction of the ground (gzhi) of the Great Perfection. or substrate and quality. We will see that Mi-pham emphasizes the unity of emptiness and appearance without accepting an appearance that is not empty. we are able to provide some contrast with Mi-pham’s descriptions of emptiness and ultimate reality. like emptiness. Buddhanature thus represents the ground of indivisible truth—“primordially pure” (ka dag) and “spontaneously present” (lhun grub).21 Mi-pham emphasizes the unity of the two truths as a characteristic of Prāsaṅgika discourse. He also consistently emphasizes that emptiness is beyond any conceptual or linguistic reference.

based on “confined perception” (tshur mthong) and “pure vision” (dag gzigs). we also explore how Mi-pham delineates two types of conventional valid cognition. Mi-pham integrates an epistemological system of valid cognition with what is beyond conceptual frameworks. In chapter 4. as Mi-pham states. His two conventional valid cognitions are similar to his two ultimate valid cognitions. conceptual mode of mind and (2) an inconceivable mode of wisdom. We see how the reasoning that he uses draws upon the epistemological tradition of valid cognition. He incorporates valid cognition into his exegesis of the Great Perfection. those that concern the categorized and uncategorized ultimate. ordinary reason is only a provisional means of knowledge whereas wisdom is acknowledged to be present from the beginning.22 This chapter discusses Mi-pham’s use of reasoning to establish the existence of Buddha-nature. His use of reasoning to establish the presence of Buddha-nature is similar to the reasoning he uses to establish the purity and divine nature of appearances in the “Resultant Vehicle” (’bras bu’i theg pa) of Mantra. . which he attributes to the works of Rong-zom. We see again how he juxtaposes conceptual mind and non-conceptual wisdom. respectively. In this way. The use of valid cognition to establish appearances as divine is a unique quality of the Nying-ma tradition. in that the division is grounded in two distinct modes of understanding: (1) a delimited. In this integration.

1. Buddha Nature (Albany: SUNY Press. however. The process of recognizing the indivisible reality. this term was first used in the context of Buddhism by Robert Magolia in Derrida on the Mend (Indiana: Purdue University Press. 99-115. 1991). 55 . etc. appearance and emptiness. or an illocutionary denial. 1976). Although Mi-pham’s view certainly has such a non-dual character. because they are actually indivisible from the beginning.. we will see that the monistic54 resolution of duality is central to Mi-pham’s exegetical system. are resolved in a synthesis in which each of the two distinctions are ultimately untrue. however. 1984). Two provisionally opposed factors. We can thus say that the “non” in non-dualism is an existential negation. 54 Caveat: I use the term “monism” to describe an important aspect of Mi-pham’s view. A common theme in his exegesis is a two-fold schema.” Mi-pham. This term is used in a different context by Jean Paul Sartre in Critique de la Raison Dialectique (Paris: Editions Gallimard.55 The detour through ultimately unreal dichotomies is a process that involves everything that falls under the rubric of conventional truth— all that can be physically acted upon. Mi-pham states: “The meaning of unity is the single sphere of equal taste of all dualistic phenomena. gnyug sems book 3. saṃsāra and nirvāṇa. goes through a virtual “detour” of a dichotomy. 1960). verbally spoken of. Sallie King. To my knowledge. and thus such a system is not a simple monism but is better described as a dialectical monism.4: gnyis chos thams cad ro gcig ni zung ’jug gi don. In Mi-pham’s depictions of the indivisible reality. See for instance. such as the two truths. and mentally thought about. English edition translated by Alan SheridanSmith in Critique of Dialectical Reasoning (London: NLB. subject and object. 743.23 In the course of the chapters. we should bear in mind a distinction between monism and non-dualism. these provisional divisions are part of a process towards the complete realization of the single ultimate truth of indivisible reality. Monism is an affirmation of a single reality (closure) and non-dualism is a negation of the entire framework of single/plural (open-ended) without affirming either/or/both/neither. with an ultimately false dichotomy of two opposed factors and a third element that emerges from their dissolution. I use the term “monism” to evoke the important aspect of his emphasis on unity (zung ’jug).

hermeneutics. . 56 Without the component of Paul Ricoeur. of course.” is one of the modes by which that “modernity” transcends itself. translated by Emerson Buchanan (New York: Harper and Row. Explanatory procedures such as science. insofar as it is forgetfulness of the sacred. as in the case of the object of the reductively scientific “modern” consciousness. I believe that being can still speak to me—no longer. 1967). critical consciousness and religious meaning do not necessarily have to be polarized into a dichotomous relationship of mutual incompatibility. is of particular interest:56 Thus.24 Interpretive Context I have found the tradition of hermeneutics a fruitful avenue to approach Mi-pham’s Buddhist discourse.” Through such an approach. Paul Ricoeur’s characterization of a post-critical hermeneutics. as the reconciliation of critical consciousness with the notion of a sacred cosmos. an acquisition of “modernity. potentially can bring religious meaning into new light—the aim of a post-critical “second naïveté. all involve a process of distanciation that abstracts meaning from its necessary context as a unique moment of human experience. Such a methodology allows for a critical perspective that is useful as an explanatory procedure to provide a level of accountability to descriptions. but as the second immediacy aimed at by hermeneutics. as a provisional means by which modernity transcends itself. This second naïveté aims to be the postcritical equivalent to the precritical hierophany. such procedures falsely delimit the extent of semantic possibility to something that necessarily remains apart from a subjective mode of being (including the potential relationship with the sacred) in an event of understanding. under the precritical form of immediate belief. Critical consciousness. However. etc. grammar. The Symbolism of Evil. The possibility of a post-critical approach to being is a fruitful subject to bring into conversation with Buddhism. logic. 352. left to itself.

aims to allow for another kind of meaningful discourse to unfold. the nature of the genre of dissertation.25 understanding. disclosed in narrative and poetic forms in the volumes of scriptures and oral instructions of living Buddhist traditions. “Minds. Such distinctions are bounded up with modern (Northwest European) cultural traditions and are not always helpful in a dialogue with another cultural tradition.” published in The Mind’s I.57 Thus. In any case. 353-382. . Brains. is in some way at odds with its content. 3 (1980): 417-424. can be seen as an interrogation of Buddha-nature. a dissertation on a topic that may have otherwise been more elegantly indicated in a short poetic verse. as not only the domain of philosophy (or science).. explanatory procedures by themselves ignore the semantic grounding in subjectivity. 1981). I suggest that Buddha-nature can be seen as a topic orientated in both the objective and subjective domains of meaning. etc. An alternative approach to interpretation beyond such dichotomous discourses as religion and philosophy. Nevertheless. Buddha-nature has been traditionally explained as an ineffable sacred presence. significant issues and find that such a systematic analysis in an academic paper can serve as a valuable tool to promote understanding. I see Buddha-nature as a topic that speaks to meaningful. See John Searle. 57 originally published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences. or religion. mythos and logos. the premodern and the modern. and restrict the potential for meaning to the limits of the model. With this in mind. (New York: Basic Books. stated by someone who embodies its meaning. or in other words.). and Programs. it aims to put the discourses of (post-) modernity and Buddhism into conversation. A point of comparison here is with John Searle’s distinction between syntax and semantics within the philosophy of mind. the potential for evoking an enriched understanding of oneself and one’s relationships with others and the world are barren in an enterprise that does not take into account the concrete act of participation—the sine qua non for the possibility of meaning. and how syntax alone cannot account for semantics. the form of discourse. Daniel Dennet and Douglas Hofstadter (eds.

open ears) to fully participate in the conversation. in terms of how I approach the relationship between a critical consciousness and a participation in a meaningful existence within a sacred cosmos. in a voice that may (not) be located some place in between the objective perspective of a scholar and a subjective perspective of an insider. Moreover. My agenda is to present an interpretation of Buddha-nature that can be considered in a light of understanding that avoids the pitfalls of a naïve nostalgia for a premodern vision of sacred unity.26 Aspects of Buddha-nature that I discuss broach topics that certain advocates of the Buddhist tradition consider esoteric and inappropriate for the causal consumption of the uninitiated. and the esoteric/exoteric distinction is not rigidly pronounced. I leave this as a product of my academic endeavor in Buddhist Studies. I will try to present Buddha-nature in a scholarly way that allows for a meaningful encounter with what is arguably the most central topic of Buddhism. as well as a cool-objectivity of disembodied reason in a modern world of dispassionate truths. but I aim to move forward a dialogue between cultures—academics and Buddhists—a real possibility only when both traditions have unhindered voices (and perhaps more importantly. please forgive my audacity and any misrepresentations that result from my failure to convey such topics that may have otherwise resonated with deeper significance in the words of an accomplished scholar. However. by raising issues from esoteric texts I do not wish to express a lack of concern for tradition. For this. Thus. Furthermore. In conclusion. I feel that to avoid important aspects of Buddha-nature out of respect for the secrecy of the esoteric tradition would not have done justice to the integrity of my representation of the significance of Buddha-nature in Mi-pham’s works. . I approach the study of Buddhism grounded in what may be called a “postmodern” subjectivity. his interpretation of Buddha-nature is quite fluid across exoteric and esoteric discourses.

A section of this text outlines three distinct “wheels of doctrine. and in particular.” offering a resolution to the conflicting literal statements of Buddhist teachings. The competing interpretations of the relationship between descriptions of ultimate reality—as a presence and an absence— are fueled by the polysemy of Buddhist scriptures and the agenda to systematize them into a comprehensive whole. and the negating discourse of emptiness. in Tibet and elsewhere. The following citation from this text is a common source for the delineation of Buddha's teaching into three sections:60 The Peking edition of the Tibetan canon of Buddha’s Word in translation (bka ’gyur) is 108 volumes. . 1995). on the other.27 Chapter 1: BuddhaBuddha-Nature and the Unity of the Two Truths Introduction A central concern for Buddhists. this issue concerns the relationship between the affirmations of a true presence of wisdom on the one hand.). vol. are mine. is the nature of ultimate reality.58 This is clearly evident in how traditions in Tibet interpret Buddhist sūtras in terms of three wheels of doctrine. 29. Conflicting depictions of ultimate reality. Above translation. how they distinguish between the “middle wheel” and the “last wheel. and the translated commentaries (bstan ’gyur) contain 3626 texts in 224 58 volumes! 59 P.59 “the scripture explaining the intent.” within which the Buddha gives guidelines for interpreting scriptures. 60 Tibetan and English editions printed in John Powers. Wisdom of the Buddha: the Saṃdhinirmocana Mahāyāna Sūtra (Berkeley: Dharma Publishing.” An influential scripture for interpreting scriptures for Buddhists in Tibet is the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra. In particular. and how the ultimate should be best expressed—through negation or affirmation—is a contested issue in Mahāyāna Buddhism.774 (Peking ed. 138-141. and all subsequent translations unless otherwise noted. as evinced in scriptures such as the Perfection of Wisdom Sūtras.

this wheel of doctrine that the Blessed One turned is surpassed. sems dang ye shes kyi dri lan. and based on non-arising. Furthermore.5: dka’ dang po bden pa bzhi’i chos kyi rnam grangs las/ /gtso bor las dang po pa dang blo cung zad dman pa rnams ’jug pa la dgongs te/ spang gnyen gyi rim pas nyams su len pa’i thabs gsal bar gsungs shing/ /bka’ bar pa mtshan nyid med pa’i chos kyi rnam grangs las/ /gtso bor cung zad sbyang pa dang dbang po ’bring po rnams ’jug pa’i rim pa la dgongs te/ /ngo bo nyid med pa’i rnam grangs kyi gnyen po la bdag tu ’dzin pa rnams skye ba med par gsungs la/ /bka’ tha ma nges pa don gyi chos kyi rnam grangs las/ gtso bor yongs su rdzogs pa’i theg pa rnams dang dbang po rnon po rnams ’jug pa’i rim pas gshis la ji ltar gnas pa’i rnam grangs rgya cher gsungs te/ dang pos ’khor ba’i mtshan nyid spang bya las ldog 61 . and is the subject of dispute. taught the four noble truths to the ones who fully engage in the vehicle of the Auditors (nyan thos). Long-chen-pa (klong chen rab 'byam. characterizes the first two wheels of doctrine as involving what is to be abandoned. “Initially.28 Thereupon. human or deity. in the region of Vārāṇasī. 1308-1364). the Blessed One turned the greatly miraculous and amazing second wheel of doctrine. and based on non-arising. for those who fully engage in all of the vehicles. He fully turned the miraculous and amazing wheel of doctrine in a way unlike anything that had been turned in this world before by anyone. primordial peace. the bodhisattva Paramārthasamudgata said to the Blessed One (bcom ldan ’das). and is not the subject of dispute. the Blessed One at Deer Park. and naturally complete nirvāṇa. Furthermore. the Blessed One taught the completely amazing and miraculous third wheel endowed with the excellent differentiation. unceasing. and the last wheel as affirming what is:61 Long-chen-pa. 377.5-378. is the definitive meaning. based on the essencelessness of phenomena. Based on the essencelessness of phenomena. However. this wheel of doctrine that the Blessed One turned is surpassed. primordial peace. is the provisional meaning. This wheel of doctrine turned by the Blessed One is unsurpassed. affords no occasion [of refutation]. unceasing. affords an occasion [of refutation]. with the feature of the discourse of emptiness. an important figure in shaping the Nying-ma tradition. and naturally complete nirvāṇa. is the provisional meaning. and is the subject of dispute. affords an occasion [of refutation]. for those who fully engage in the Mahāyāna.

5. sems nyid ngal gso’i ’grel pa. the middle wheel is intended for those of mediocre faculties (dbang po ’bring po).1-897. the category of the doctrine of the definitive meaning (nges pa don gyi chos). it teaches the antidote of the category of naturelessness and the apprehensions of self as non-arising. The first [Word] shows the path that counteracts what is to be abandoned—the character of saṃsāra.3-330. from what is to be abandoned. The middle [Word] shows. The last Word. is mainly intended for the stages of application of those who have trained slightly and have mediocre faculties. it extensively teaches the category of the basic nature as it is (gshis la ji ltar gnas pa). in his auto-commentary of his Resting in the Nature of Mind. In this way. 63 Long-chen-pa. Long-chen-pa also states that the three wheels of doctrine are intended for those of differing capacities: the first wheel is intended for those of inferior faculties (dbang po dman pa). and the last wheel is intended for those of sharp faculties (dbang po rnon po). 62 Long-chen-pa. the category of the doctrine of signlessness (mtshan nyid med pa’i chos). 330. 897. it clearly teaches the methods of practicing the stages of abandonment and remedy.4: bcom ldan ’das kyis bka’ ’khor lo gsum du gsungs pa las gnas ’di ni tha ma don dam rnam par nges pa’i chos kyi ’khor lor gsungs pa yang khyod kyis ma shes/ stong nyid rkyang pa don dam yin na/ ’khor lo gsum la tha dad du bstan pa’ang ji ltar ’thad de/ stong nyid drang don du gsungs kyi de yang . he shows a progression of the three wheels of doctrine in which the first two wheels show what is to be abandoned—the character of saṃsāra and cognitive obscurations—and the last wheel shows what is. is mainly [intended] for the stages of application of those who fully [train in all] vehicles and for those of sharp faculties. is mainly intended for the application of novices and for those with slightly inferior intellects. the category of the doctrine of the four truths (bden pa bzhi’i chos). the essential nature.62 Long-chen-pa again shows the preeminence of the last wheel in his auto-commentary of hisTreasury of Words and Meanings:63 pa’i lam bstan/ bar bas spang bya las ’dzin pa’i rang bzhin ngo bo med pas shes sgrib spang bar bstan/ tha mas yin lugs snying por bstan te. tshig don mdzod. The last [Word] shows the essential nature (snying po) as it is. the abandonment of cognitive obscurations (shes sgrib) through the nature of apprehension lacking essence.29 The first Word. Similarly. The middle Word.

is not the ultimate. Distinguishing the category of “the definitive meaning. this topic was taught in the last wheel that ascertains the ultimate. then what sense does it make that the Buddha taught three wheels separately? He taught emptiness as a provisional meaning.6-331. . That [emptiness] is taught to immature beings and to novices as an antidote to egoclinging. a mere absence.30 From the three wheels of doctrine taught by the Victorious One. 64 Long-chen-pa. in the Treasury of Philosophies. 330. yet you have failed to understand this. In actuality. is a common way Buddhists differentiate what is really true from what is only provisionally.5: de’ang don dam pa’i bden pa dbyings yin la/ ’di’i rang bzhin mthong bas don dam bden pa mthong zhes bya’i/ cir yang med pa’i stong nyid kyang don dam bden pa ma yin no/ de’ang byis pa so so skye bo dang/ las dang po dag bdag tu zhen pa’i gnyen por bdag med pa la sogs pa bstan pa yin gyi/ don la dbyings ’od gsal ba ’dus ma byas shing lhun grub tu yod pa shes par bya ste. Long-chen-pa says that emptiness is not the definitive meaning:64 Although you fixate upon no-self and emptiness. Long-chen-pa argues that solely emptiness.” (nges don) as opposed to “provisional meanings” (drang don). it should be known that the luminous and gnas lugs kyis skrag pa dang/ las dang po pas bdag tu ’dzin pa dgag tsam la dgongs pa ste. they are not the definitive meaning. these are merely antidotes to the self and the non-empty. grub mtha’ mdzod. See also David Germano. He states here that the topic of the last wheel of doctrine is the ultimate and that emptiness is a provisional meaning. Treasury of Words and Meanings. Also.2-898. with the intention of merely negating fear of the abiding reality. sems nyid ngal gso’i ’grel pa. and apprehension of self by novices. etc. (unpublished manuscript).1: khyed kyi bdag med pa dang/ stong pa nyid la zhen pa’ang bdag dang mi stong pa’i gnyen po tsam yin gyi nges pa’i don ni ma yin te. 66.” the ultimate truth is not an emptiness that is nothing whatsoever. true. If solely emptiness were the ultimate. or heuristically. In his autocommentary of his Resting in the Nature of Mind. 65 Long-chen-pa. Long-chen-pa states:65 Seeing the nature of that which is the expanse (dbyings) of the ultimate truth is called “seeing the ultimate truth. 898.

le’u bco brgyad pa’i tshig ’grel. he argues that both are definitive:66 Therefore. 586. Mi-pham’s Collected Works.. See also Mi-pham.31 clear expanse exists as unconditioned and spontaneously present (lhun grub). In these texts. Without dividing or excluding the definitive meaning subject matters (skor rnams) of the middle and last wheels. free from duality and conceptuality. Mi-pham. the emptiness taught in the middle wheel and the [Buddha-]body and wisdom67 taught in the last wheel should be integrated as a unity of emptiness and appearance. 67 I use the singular for “body” (sku) and “wisdom” (ye shes) because I feel that it conveys Mi-pham’s interpretation better than the plural. in Mi-pham’s Collected Works (sde dge ed. rab gsal de nyid snang byed . vol. 570.2-586. Mi-pham states regarding wisdom(s) as follows: “Although the consummate wisdom is the identity of the unity of the expanse and awareness. 354-355: mthar thug gi ye shes ni dbyings rig zung du ’jug pa’i bdag nyid gzung ’dzin rnam rtog dang bral yang…ldog chas phye na ye shes rnam pa lngas rnam grangs su gsungs. The same text is found in Mi-pham’s Uttaratantra commentary compiled by his students (theg pa chen po rgyud bla ma’i bstan bcos kyi mchan ’grel mi pham zhal lung). Mi--pham’s Synthesis Mi Mi-pham takes Long-chen-pa’s explanations as a foundation for his interpretation that integrates the middle and last wheels of doctrine.divided from its contradistinctive aspects (ldog chas phye). 3.1-382.4: ’khor lo bar bar bstan pa’i stong pa 66 nyid dang / tha mar bstan pa’i sku dang ye shes dag snang stong zung du chud par bya dgos pas/ bar ba dang tha ma’i nges don gyi skor rnams dbye gsal [readbsal] med par gnyis ka nges don du kun mkhyen klong chen pas bzhed pa ’di kho na ltar bzung bar bya. The singular represents the quality that the multiple wisdoms and bodies (2 or 5 wisdoms and 2. Mipham does not relegate the status of either emptiness in the middle wheel or wisdom in the last wheel of doctrine as a provisional meaning. . or 4 bodies) are internal divisions based on aspectual features of what is essentially indivisible. there are said to be the enumeration of five wisdoms. bde gshegs snying po’i stong thun chen mo seng ge’i nga ro.). Long-chen-pa explicitly states that solely emptiness is not the ultimate truth. vol. Rather.4.2.3. 382.. 4.” Mi-pham. both should be held to be the definitive meaning in the way of just this assertion by the omniscient Long-chen-pa.2-570.

381. it does not negate the qualities of [Buddha-]nature. since this teaching of [Buddha-]nature—characterized as neither conjoined with.4-586.). Kong-trul. Pöd-pa Tulku.” Kong-trul. lta grub shan ’byed ’grel pa (lta grub shan ’byed gnad kyi sgron me’i tshig don rnam bshad ’jam dbyangs dgongs rgyan). . the meaning demonstrated by the middle wheel that all the phenomena of thorough affliction and complete purification (kun byang gi chos) are taught to be empty is established as such because Buddhanature is also the nature of emptiness. This text (with slight variation) is also found in Mi-pham’s theg pa chen po rgyud bla ma’i bstan bcos kyi mchan ’grel mi pham zhal lung. vol.2-382.32 Mi-pham cites Long-chen-pa as a source to support his interpretation of the unity of emptiness and wisdom as the definitive meaning of the middle and last wheels.68 Mi-pham explains that the last wheel’s status as the definitive meaning does not refer to everything taught in the last wheel. 686: ’khor lo bar tha nges don yin mnyam yin la/ gnas skabs spros 68 pa gcod pa dang/ mthar thug gnas lugs ston pa’i nges don gyi khyad par du bzhed do. 69 Mi-pham. Collected Works (sde dge ed. 1996). Therefore. stong thun seng ge’i nga ro. 4. However.1. nor separable (’du bral med) from the appearances of the empty-natured [Buddha-]body and wisdom—is the viewpoint of the definitive meaning sūtras of the last wheel. they are also claimed to be essentially empty. 585. See also. because although the sublime qualities exist. shes bya kun khyab.2: don dam rigs pas chos thams cad stong pa nyid du grub kyang des snying po’i yon tan ’gog par mi ’gyur te yon tan bla na med par yod kyang ngo bo stong par ’di pas yang zhal gyis bzhes pa’i phyir ro/ /des na ’khor lo bar bas bston don kun byang gi chos thams cad stong par bstan pa ni de de bzhin du grub ste bde gshegs snying po’ang stong pa nyid kyi rang bzhin yin pa’i phyir ro/ /’on kyang stong pa’i rang bzhin can gyi sku dang ye shes kyi snang ba dang ’du ’bral med pas khyad par du byas pa’i snying po bstan pa ’di ’khor lo tha ma’i nges don gyi mdo sde rnams kyi dgongs pa yin pas/ tshul de tsam gyi cha nas ’khor lo bar pa las lhag pa’i phyir/ mdo sde dgongs ’grel las ’khor lo tha ma’i don la mchog tu sngags pa’ang ’khor lo tha mar gtogs tshad ma yin gyi snying po bstan pa’i nges don gyi phyogs nas de ltar gsungs. also states that both wheels are definitive: “The middle and last wheels are both equally the definitive meaning(s). published in lta grub shan ’byed gnad kyi sgron me’i rtsa ’grel (Sichuan: Nationalties Press. but specifically concerns the teaching of Buddha-nature:69 Even though the reasoning that analyzes the ultimate establishes the emptiness of all phenomena. there is said to be a difference of: [in the former] eliminating the temporary conceptual concepts and [in the latter] the definitive meaning indicating the consummate mode of subsistence. then by merely this fact One of Mi-pham’s teachers. 92-93.

71 The causal continuum (rgyu rgyud). 96.71 there is the essential point of the quintessential instructions of the Vajrayāna. “Penetrating the Secret Essence Tantra: Context and Philosophy in the Mahāyoga System of rNying-ma Tantra” (University of Virginia. but it is spoken in this way concerning the definitive meaning position of demonstrating the [Buddha-]nature. along with “method-continuum” (thabs kyi rgyud). 586. Sources for this three-fold division are found in the exegeses upon the Guhyagarbhatantra. [this does] not [refer to] everything in the last wheel. Therefore.33 it is superior to the middle wheel. for it can be clearly understood through [Nāgārjuna’s] 70 Mi-pham. and “result-continuum” (‘bras bu’i rgyud). He explains that through integrating the middle and last wheels of doctrine as non-contradictory in this way. 2004). is the first of a three-fold division. . but having integrated them. there is not only no contradiction that one [wheel] must be held as the provisional meaning.6: de gnyis gcig nges don byas na gcig drang don bya dgos pa’i ’gal ba med par ma zad/ zung du tshogs par byas nas bde gshegs snying po de lta bu la rgyu rgyud kyi don du byas nas rdo rje theg pa’i man ngag gi gnad ’byung bas sangs rgyas kyi bstan pa de dag gnad gcig tu ’bab par shes dgos shing/ mthar thug gi don ’di la klu thogs rnam gnyis sogs ’phags pa rnams dgongs pa gcig ste chos dbyings bstod pa dang sems ’grel la sogs pa dang/ rgyud bla ma’i ’grel pa sogs kyis gsal bar rtogs pa’i phyir. through the Buddha-nature as such becoming the meaning of the causal continuum (rgyu rgyud). stong thun seng ge’i nga ro. Mi-pham says that the last wheel is superior to the middle because of the distinctive teaching of Buddha-nature as inseparable from the empty appearances of the Buddha-body and wisdom. as well as the Guhyasamājatantra. See dissertation by Nathaniel Garson. or ground-continuum (gzhi rgyud). Although the meaning of the last wheel is praised in the sūtras and commentaries. you should know how the teachings of the Buddha converge on this single essential point and that this consummate meaning is the single viewpoint of the Sublime Ones such as Nāgārjuna and Asaṅga. or “path-continuum” (lam rgyud). such an understanding of Buddha-nature becomes the crucial point within the quintessential instructions (man ngag gi gnad) of the Vajrayāna:70 By maintaining both of these [wheels] to be the definitive meaning. 55-56.4-586.

stong thun seng ge’i nga ro. Mi-pham states that it is important to integrate as non-contradictory the Buddha’s teachings of emptiness.2-565. These two need to be unified without contradiction.73 He reveals that the essential 72 Mi-pham.. remain in the denigrating position of a view of annihilation that cannot posit the primordial endowment of the inseparable qualities of wisdom. commentary on the Uttaratantra and so forth. which elucidate the nature of Buddha-nature. with the teachings of the primordial endowment of qualities. which elucidate the essence of Buddhanature. and at other times elucidated the nature (rang bzhin) of the Buddha-nature through the aspect of teaching the [Buddha’s] qualities of the powers and so forth as a primordial endowment. however. the Sugata teacher sometimes elucidated the essence (ngo bo) of the Buddha-nature by means of teaching emptiness.34 Dharmadhātustotra. while others. The inseparable unity of Buddha-nature and emptiness is a central issue for Mi-pham:72 The single essential point of all the doctrines of sūtras and tantras is only this all-pervasive Buddha-nature…when speaking. 564. Anne Klein misrepresents Mi-pham when she makes the false claim that Mi- pham does not take the Perfection of Wisdom teaching of emptiness of the second wheel . Mi-pham shows the compatibility of the middle wheel and last wheel. etc. as well as the convergence of Nāgārjuna and Asaṅga upon a single viewpoint. holding onto a mere void. and [Asaṅga’s] Through his interpretation of Buddha-nature. 73 Thus. Bodhicittavivaraṇa. due to the influence of not having found conviction in the extremely profound of profound essential points—the indivisibility of the two truths—some people view the Buddha-nature as a permanent phenomenon that is not essentially empty.3: mdo dang sngags kyi chos kun gyi gnad gcig pu ni kun khyab bde gshegs snying po ’di kho na yin…ston pa bde bar gshegs pas gsung gi skabs la lar stong pa nyid bstan pa’i sgo nas bde gshegs snying po’i ngo bo gsal bar mdzad/ la lar stobs sogs yon tan ye ldan du bstan pa’i cha nas bde gshegs snying po’i rang bzhin gsal par mdzad de/ de gnyis ’gal med zung du ’thug pa dgos bden kyang/ bden gnyis dbyer med pa’i gnad zab pa las shin tu zab pa la yid ches ma rnyed pa’i dbang gis/ la las ni bde gshegs snying po ngo bo mi stong pa’i rtag par blta/ la las ni stong rkyang tsam la bzung nas sku dang ye shes kyi yon tan ’bral med ye ldan du bzhag tu med pa’i chad lta skur ’debs kyi phyogs la gnas par gyur.

. emptiness is called “ultimate” and appearance is called “relative” and (2) from the perspective of conventional valid cognition analyzing the mode of appearance (snang tshul). the subjects and objects of the incontrovertible accordance between the modes of appearance and subsistence [i. Paths of Liberation (Kuroda Institute: University of Hawaii Press. authentic experience] are called “ultimate” and the opposite [i.4-12. An important part of Mi-pham’s interpretation is his unique model that renders the two truths in two distinct ways:74 There are two ways in which the two truths are stated within the [Buddha’s] Word and śāstras: (1) from the perspective of valid cognition analyzing the ultimate abiding reality (don dam gnas lugs). or conventional (tha snyad). See also Mi-pham. He defines the “relative” and “ultimate” as follows:75 as the literal expression of the final view. emptiness is the only ultimate and all appearances are relative. stong thun gnad kyi zin thun (digital input from She-chen monastery in Nepal). 549. Two Truths A central theme in Buddhism is the doctrine of two truths: (1) the ultimate (don dam) and (2) the relative (kun rdzob).2.. he takes Buddha-nature of the last wheel.” Mi-pham describes one two-truth scheme as a dichotomy of appearance and emptiness. 272. truth. 1992). brgal lan nyin byed snang ba. 11. 55-56: bka’ dang bstan bcos rnams na bden gnyis ’jog tshul gnyis su gnas te/ gnas lugs don dam la dpyod pa’i tshad ma’i dbang du byas de/ stong pa la don dam dang/ snang ba la kun rdzob ces bzhag pa dang/ snang tshul la dpyod pa kun tu tha snyad pa’i tshad ma’i dbang du byas te/ gnas snang mthun pa mi bslu ba’i yul dang yul can la don dam dang/ ldog phyogs la kun rdzob tu ’jog pa’i tshul gnyis. “Mental Concentration and the Unconditioned: A Buddhist Case for Unmediated Experience. sher ’grel ke ta ka.” in Robert Buswell and Robert Gimello (eds.35 point to the resolution of the issue of Buddha-nature and emptiness is the indivisibility of the two truths. 75 Mi-pham. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel.). In the division of the two truths within this scheme. inauthentic experience] are called “relative. but rather..e.e. 6: kun rdzob ni skye sogs kyi rang bzhin du med bzhin der snang ba sgyu ma dang rmi lam skra shad lta bu’i snang tshul ’di yin la/ snang ba de’i rang bzhin brtags na skye sogs kyi rnam par dben pa’i gnas tshul don dam pa yin te. Anne Klein. Pöd-pa Tulku. 74 Mi-pham.

they are empty like an illusion and are never able to withstand analysis. This two-truth scheme equates emptiness with the ultimate and appearances with the relative. emptiness is the authentic object of evaluation. The ultimate is the mode of subsistence lacking production. appearances. appearing that way—like production.” The two truths here are delineated by means of ultimate valid cognition. lta grub shan ’byed ’grel pa. The object that is evaluated by means of ultimate valid cognition is the ultimate ontological status of the object—its status as inherently existent or not. etc. when the nature of those appearances are analyzed.. is “ultimate truth”. etc. Pöd-pa Tulku (bod sprul mdo sngags bstan pa’i nyi ma. sher ’grel ke ta ka. when analyzed are lacking. a dream. 11: sems dang ngag gi spyod yul du gyur pa’i chos de ni brtags na rnam par dben pas sgyu ma bzhin du stong pa yin gyi dpyad bzod pa nam yang mi srid do. 76 77 Pöd-pa Tulku. therefore. nothing is found. 1900/19071959). explains the two truths as appearance/emptiness by means of the evaluated object (gzhal don)76 of ultimate valid cognition being authentic or not (yang dag yin min):77 The two truths are divided by means of appearance and emptiness through the evaluated object of ultimate valid cognition analyzing the mode of subsistence being authentic or not: emptiness. . or a floating hair—while lacking intrinsic nature. are “relative. 120: gnas tshul la dpyod pa don dam dpyod pa’i tshad mas gzhal don yang dag yin min gyi sgo nas/ gzhal don yang dag pa’i stong nyid la don dam bden pa dang/ yang dag min pa’i snang ba la kun rdzob ces snang stong gi sgo nas bden pa gnyis su dbye bar mdzad do. an influential commentator on Mi-pham’s works. 78 Mi-pham. Upon ultimate analysis of phenomena.36 The relative is the mode of appearance which is like an illusion. as Mi-pham states:78 The phenomena that are the realm of thought and speech. which are not authentic. which is the authentic evaluated object.

are also dependent because they are imputed in dependence upon entities. all phenomena that are comprised by dependent arisings lack inherent nature because if they had inherent nature. they are dependent arisings. 155. the two truths are in actuality an inseparable unity. gnyug sems book 3 (gnyug sems zur dpyad skor gyi gsung sgros thor bu rnams phyogs gcig tu bsdus rdo rje rin po che’i phreng ba). then there is also no emptiness of that Mi-pham. 1997). yid bzhin mdzod grub mtha’ bsdus pa. 24. blo gros snang ba’i sgo ’byed. 80 Mi-pham. 79 See also Mi-pham’s discussion of “the genuine evaluated object posited exclusively as entities capable of performing a function” (gzhal bya mthsan nyid pa don byed nus pa’i 81 dngos po kho na la ’jog pa) in Mi-pham. published in nges shes sgron me rtsa ’grel (Sichuan: Nationalities Press.”79 Emptiness. See also Mi-pham. they are empty. Mi-pham states: “If there is no appearance. distinguishing emptiness as the ultimate truth and appearance as the relative truth.37 Such analysis negates whatever the mind takes as a perceived object: “An object which the mind takes as support that cannot be refuted by Middle Way reasoning is impossible. does not disrupt appearances. dependent arisings would not be reasonable. Mi-pham’s Collected Works (sde dge ed. “Non-entities. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel.6: chos kun rten cing ’brel bar ’byung ba tsam ste/ dngos po rnams brten nas skye ba dang/ dngos med rnams brten nas btags pa’o/ de ltar rten ’brel gyis bsdus pa’i chos thams cad rang bzhin med de/ rang bzhin yod na brten nas ’byung ba mi ’thad la.5-483. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. 82-83. 368: blos rten ’cha’ ba’i yul gang yin pa dbu ma’i rigs pas sun phyin mi nus pa mi srid. Existent entities arise in dependence upon something else. therefore.1742. In the appearance/emptiness dichotomy of two truths. In this way.2. Mi-pham states:80 All phenomena are just dependent arisings: existent entities are dependent productions (brten nas skyes ba) and non-entities are dependent imputations (brten nas btags pa). . Khen-po Kün-pal.) vol.81 Appearances are not found when they are analyzed. 742. 483. as the lack of inherent nature in the face of ultimate analysis.” like space. but is the necessary condition for appearance.

38 [appearance]. they are “two sides of the same coin. 1998). nges shes sgron me. 57: snang ba dang kun rdzob don du gcig ste/ snang ni snang yang snang ba ltar bden par grub pa med pa la go dgos/ bden pa med ces rjod pa des kyang phyin ci log gi snang ba yin par ston mi dgos te/ stong pa yin pa la bden pa med ces btags pa go dgos/ de de ltar snang ba ltar grub/ snang ba ltar bden na kun . 86 Mi-pham. 407: gal te snang ba’ang med na de’i stong pa’ang med pas/ stong pa dang snang ba gnyis po phan tshun gcig med na gcig mi srid la/ gcig yod na gcig yod pas. 176: ngo bo gcig la ldog pa tha dad pa byas pa dang mi rtag pa lta bu. Tsong-kha-pa also depicts the relationship between the two truths as “the same entity with different contradistinctions. not emptiness as the unity of emptiness and appearance. nges shes sgron me. This is an important distinction for Mi-pham which will be discussed in chapter 3. 27: snang kun btags pa tsam zhig la/ /stong pa’ang blo yis btags pa tsam. the two truths are not actually distinct but are only conceptually distinct. 84 Mi-pham. Thus. 85 Emptiness here should be understood as the emptiness as only a quality of appearance. 27: yang dag dpyod pa’i shes rab ngor/ /snang dang stong pa ’di gnyis po/ /yod mnyam med mnyam ngo bo gcig/ /ldog pa tha dad dbye bar ’dod. He further states:84 All appearances are mere imputations Emptiness85 is also merely imputed by the mind. Both appearance and emptiness— Together present. in other words. Mutually. if there is one. together absent—are asserted as the same entity (ngo bo gcig) Divisible into different contradistinctions (ldog pa tha dad). dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel.”82 Mi-pham describes the relative and the ultimate as being “essentially the same with different contradistinctions” in the appearance/emptiness model of the two truths:83 From the perspective of supreme knowledge’s (shes rab) analysis of what is authentic. like an impermanent phenomenon and a product” Tsong-kha-pa. dgongs pa rab gsal (Sarnath: Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. 83 Mi-pham.” He also states:86 82 Mi-pham. there is the other. both appearance and emptiness are such that one is impossible without the other.

” as expressed by Candrakīrti in his Prasannapadā. nor is there any emptiness that does not appear. 431. The Two Truths. gzhung spyi’i dka’ gnad. For a discussion of the meaning of kun rdzob. saṃvṛti). One should understand that the phrase “not truly existent” also does not have to indicate erroneous appearances.4-432. there is nothing that appears and is not empty. see Guy Newland. I use the single term “relative” to maintain consistency in translation.39 “Appearing” and “relative” are the same in meaning because appearance should be understood as appearing yet not truly established as it appears.” but the meaning of emptiness is not a lack of appearance such as a horn of a rabbit. reflects only one of its meanings. 88 Mi-pham. therefore. emptiness and dependently arising phenomena are coextensive. If it [appearance] were established the way it appeared and were true as it appeared. because that is non- rdzob ces gdags par mi rung la/ de ltar na mi stong bar ’gyur zhing/ mi stong pa’i dngos po zhig shes byar mi srid pa’i tshul rigs pas yang dag par grub pa des na shes bya’i khong ’di na snang stong gnyis ris su chad pa’i phyogs gcig kho nar gyur pa’i chos zhig mi srid la. then the designation “relative”87 would not be appropriate.2: snang ba yod na de stong pa la stong nyid du btags kyi/ snang ba med pa ri bong gi rwa la sogs pa ni stong pa nyid kyi don ma yin te/ tha snyad du med pa yin pas/ ri bong gi rwa rwa stong gi tha snyad sbyar yang gtan med kyi don yin no/ stong pa nyid ni tha snyad du yod pa’i chos rnams kyi chos nyid yin te…des na stong pa nyid ’di tha snyad du yod pa’i chos thams cad kyi rang bzhin nam gnas lugs su bsgrub par bya ba yin gyi/ tha snyad du med pa zhig gi chos nyid du bsgrub bya ni gtan min no. . 87 The word I translate as “relative” (kun rdzob. In that way it would not be empty and the manner of the impossibility of a non-empty entity being an object of knowledge is authentically established by reason. In this way. because “not truly existent” designates what is empty. the emptiness of that [appearance] is designated as “emptiness. they are equally present or equally absent:88 If there is appearance. For Mi-pham. Although the term “relative” does not express the full range of meanings of kun rdzob. 76-80. Here Mi-pham is stressing the concealing connotation. “interdependent”—it also has the meanings “conventional” and “concealing. it is impossible within this sphere of what can be known (shes bya’i khong) for a phenomenon to be exclusively one part which is detached from both appearance and emptiness.

5-479. Here Mi-pham describes emptiness as not something else that is separate from conventionally existent phenomena. this emptiness is what is to be established as the intrinsic nature. (2) nor is it suitable to be realized.6. 480. grub mtha’ mdor bsdus. 90 Kamalaśīla.. 481. or abiding reality. of all conventionally existent phenomena.4. and Śāntarakṣita. 1125. in Khen-po Kün-pal.90 the powerful victor. Mi-pham delineates two types of lower Svātantrikas (rang rgyud ’og ma) in his summary of the philosophies (grub mtha’) of Long-chen-pa’s yid bzhin mdzod: those who establish illusion by reason (sgyu ma rigs grub pa) and those who hold the two truths as different (snang stong tha dad pa). vol. See Long-chen-pa. 262: rgyal ba’i dbang po klong chen rab ’byams kyis yid bzhin rin po che’i mdzod du/ rang rgyud ’og ma’i bye brag slob dpon dpal sbas sogs snang stong tha dad du ’dod pa dag gi lugs bkag pa’i skabs su/ snang ba ma yin pa’i stong pa bden pa gnyis char mi srid pa dang/ rtogs byar mi rung ba dang/ tha dad du gyur na spang gnyen du mi ’thad de/ dgra la zhe sdang skyes pa la nam mkha’ stong par shes pas mi phan pa ltar/ gzhi rdzun snang la zhen nas logs su stong par zhes pas ci yang mi phan pa’i de ’dra’i stong pa de rtogs pa la dgos pa med par ’gyur pa’i rigs pa gsungs pa bzhin no. the words “emptiness of horn” is applied to the rabbit horn. Mi-pham cites Long-chen-pa stating that when ascertaining the emptiness of a phenomenon. and a statement by Mi-pham’s 89 student.3-481. and (3) if [emptiness and appearance are] different. it is not at all to be established as the suchness of that which does not exist conventionally. Emptiness is the suchness (chos nyid) of all conventionally existent phenomena.4. 74-75. Mi-pham. when refuting the traditions of those who accept appearance and emptiness as different. rab gsal de nyid snang byed. such as the master Śrīgupta in the class of lower Svātantrikas.40 existent conventionally. grub mtha’ mdor bsdus.2-1126.Therefore. 2. The higher Svātantrika (rang rgyud gong ma) refer to masters such as Jñānagarbha. which is nearly verbatim as Mi-pham’s translated above. Mi-pham. yid bzhin mdzod ’grel. it does not help if the phenomenon’s emptiness is (erroneously) thought to be something different—just as it does not affect the presence of anger towards an enemy to know that space is empty:89 In the Precious Wish-fulfilling Treasury.. See also Mi-pham.2. . Furthermore. but it is [just] the meaning of utter absence (gtan med). Long-chen-rap-jam states reasons that (1) an emptiness that is not an appearance is impossible as either of the two truths. [emptiness] is not reasonable to be an antidote for what is abandoned because knowing the emptiness Mi-pham. 479. blo gros snang ba’i go ’byed. Khen-po Kün-pal. grub mtha’ mdor bsdus.

In this way. neither of the two truths is superior to the other:92 The unreal appearances are called “relative” and the emptiness that is the lack of intrinsic nature is called “ultimate.” Without being regarded with a qualitative difference (rtsis che chung med). in this characterization of the two truths as emptiness/appearance. There is no relative at all other than the ultimate. only what appears (or is perceived) is empty. Thus. he preserves the integrity of the Buddhist claims to the universality of emptiness in the middle wheel of doctrine. 57-58: mi bden pa’i snang ba la kun rdzob ces gdags shing/ rang bzhin ma grub pa’i stong pa la don dam zhes btags pa/ de gnyis po la rtsis che chung med par gzugs nas rnam mkhyen gyi bar du mgo snyoms su sbyor ba ’di shes na shes bya’i khong na de las shes rgyu gal che ba gcig kyang med par nges so. 92 Mi-pham. both of these are equally applied [to all phenomena] from form to 91 Mi-pham. Whatever appears is necessarily empty. The ultimate truth is not privileged in the two truths as appearance/emptiness because the two truths here are not actually distinct.41 of something else. . there is no substrate of emptiness that is beyond perceptible reality:91 There is no ultimate apart from the relative. Whatever is empty necessarily appears Because appearance that is not empty is impossible And emptiness as well is not established without appearance. 27: kun rdzob spangs pa’i pha rol na/ /don dam med la don dam pa/ /spangs pa’i kun rdzob gzhan med nyid/ /gang snang stong pas khyab pa dang/ gang stong snang bas khyab pa ste/ /snang na mi stong mi srid cing/ /stong de’ang ma snang mi grub phyir. nges shes sgron me. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. does not help at all—as it does not help to know the emptiness of space when anger arises towards an enemy. while holding onto the ground of false appearance. Mi-pham depicts the quality of emptiness as an essential property of all objects of knowledge. In Mi-pham’s appearance/emptiness model. there is no purpose in realizing such an emptiness.

there is certainly nothing more important to know within the sphere of what can be known. The two truths as authentic/inauthentic experience are not delineated from the perspective of ultimate analysis. but as a dichotomy of appearances in accord or not with the mode of subsistence (i. such as the emptiness-object and the wisdom-subject for which appearance is in accord with the mode of subsistence. but from a conventional perspective:93 Both the objects and subjects for which the mode of appearance is in accord with the mode of subsistence are ultimate and both the subjects and objects for which the modes of appearance and subsistence are not in accord are relative should be posited as such due to being conventionally deceptive or non-deceptive. emptiness is not the only ultimate because appearances can be both ultimate and relative. 94 Pöd-pa Tulku. If you know this. concerning analyses of the manner of appearance. In this scheme. authentic/inauthentic experience). the two truths are divided: (1) being the authentic mode of the abiding reality. 122: snang tshul la dpyod pa dag kyang tha snyad tshad mas gzhal tshe de’i gzhal don yang dag yin min gyi sgo nas yang dag pa’i gnas lugs gang zhig gnas snang mthun par ’gyur pa’i yul stong nyid yul can ye shes lta bu snang stong gnyis ka don dam dang/ yang dag min pa’i snang lugs gang zhig gnas snang mi mthun par ’gyur pa’i yul yul can lta bu ’khrul pa’i cha kun rdzob tu ’jog pa’i sgo nas bden pa gnyis su dbyer mdzad do. Furthermore.42 omniscience.e. 465. the aspects of distortion are 93 Mi-pham. 56. See also Mi-pham. gzhung spyi’i dka’ ’gnad.. both appearance and emptiness are ultimate. and (2) being an inauthentic mode of appearance. Mi-pham represents the two truths not as appearance/emptiness. lta grub shan ’byed ’grel pa.3-465. The unity of appearance and emptiness is an important part of Mi-pham’s interpretation that we will return to again. Pöd-pa Tulku states:94 Also. . by means of its evaluated object being authentic or not at the time of evaluation from the perspective of conventional valid cognition.4: gnas tshul dang snang tshul mthun par ’gyur ba’i yul yul can gnyis ka don dam/ gnas snang mi mthun pa’i yul yul can gnyis ka kun rdzob tu bzhag pa ni/ tha snyad du bslu mi bslu’i dbang gis de ltar ’jog dgos te. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. In his other scheme.

2-452. 452. 466. which are attained through the power of appearance in accord with [the mode of] subsistence. but are a hierarchy—the ultimate truth is undistorted truth while the relative truth is distorted and false.” 95 96 Mi-pham. In this two-truth model. are ultimate. He clearly states two ways in which the two truths are to be understood: (1) as emptiness and appearance and (2) as what is distorted and what is undistorted:97 This Tibetan word for “perception” (snang ba) also means “appearance.” and translate the import of its meaning here. This treatment of relative truth reflects the meaning of “relative” (kun rdzob. In the two-truth model of authentic/inauthentic experience. 97 Ibid. “appearance in accord with the way it is” (and the subject that experiences it as such). saṃvṛti) as concealing. gzhung spyi’i dka’ gnad.2-466. The relative is the opposite of this. there is a context where the ultimate truth is privileged above the relative truth and is not just the empty quality of appearance.” “Appearance” connotes an objective aspect and “perception” connotes a subjective aspect of “perceived appearance. Mi-pham relates this dichotomy of two truths to the dichotomy of saṃsāra and nirvana:96 It is suitable to posit that all phenomena of nirvāṇa.43 relative. and that all phenomena of saṃsāra. I use the word “experience.3: gnas snang mthun pa’i stobs kyis thob pa’i myang ’das kyi chos thams cad don dam yin la/ mi mthun pa’i stobs kyi byung ba’i chos thams cad kun rdzob tu bzhag rung.” In attempt to convey both aspects of “perceived-appearance. “inauthentic experience” (gnas snang mi mthun)—“appearance that does not accord with the way it is” (and the subject that experiences it as such). such as the subjects and objects for which appearance is not in accord with the mode of subsistence..4: snang ba kun rdzob kyi phyogs su gtogs pa’i chos la’ang/ ’khrul ma ’khrul bslu mi bslu’i khyad phyed dgos kyi/ kun rdzob yin tshad ’khrul snang yin mi dgos so/ /don dam pa’i ming btugs [read btags] tshad stong rkyang yin mi dgos te/ kun rdzob dang don dam la gzhal lugs kyi ming so sor ’ong ba’i tshul gnyis ’di mdo dang bstan bcos . the ultimate is defined as “authentic experience”95 (gnas snang mthun)—literally. are relative. In this scheme. the two truths are not the same. which arise through the power of appearance that does not accord with [the mode of] subsistence.

We can see that instead of an “either/or” interpretation of the presence of wisdom and emptiness. Mi-pham validates non-conceptual wisdom as ultimate truth due to its presence in ultimate reality. Mipham adopts a “both/and” position by means of these two models of two truths:99 chen po rnams la yongs su grags pa yin no.44 The appearances which are included in the relative also need to be distinguished as distorted or undistorted. descriptions of ultimate truth are not limited to only negations. he states: “The latter ultimate [authentic experience] also is empty of essence. By this.”98 In this way. deceptive or nondeceptive—not everything that is relative must necessarily be a distorted appearance. rab gsal de nyid snang byed. Mipham’s Dialectics and the Debates on Emptiness. Mi-pham accommodates the presence of wisdom in his second two truth-scheme of authentic/inauthentic experience. Mi-pham depicts two models of the two truths. 99 Mi-pham. 304: gzhung chen po rnams su bden pa gnyis kyi ’jog tshul mi ’dra ba gnyis bshad pa’i dang po gnas tshul skye med la don dam dang/ . 98 Mi-pham. he also preserves the appearance/emptiness two-truth scheme and a context for the critique of the ontological status of all reality. nor does he categorically reject the presence of wisdom (authentic experience) as ultimate. While doing so. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. Mipham does not curtail the universality of emptiness. this model provides a context for asserting the ultimate truth as a non-distorted reality (and not just a negation of distortion). Nor must everything with the name ultimate be solely empty because the two ways to arrive at the distinctive names in [two] manners of assessing the relative and ultimate are widely proclaimed in the great sūtras and śāstras. he synthesizes two models of two truths. 114-120. In this way. but the presence of wisdom can be affirmed as ultimate truth because wisdom is ultimate—as an authentic and undistorted experience of reality—in the two-truth model of authentic/inauthentic experience. he does not reduce the ultimate truth to a mere absence. See also Karma Phuntsho. Thereby. including the presence of wisdom. In this way. 56: phyi ma’i don dam yin kyang ngo bo stong pa yin la.

as will be shown below. the hope of fathoming the great scriptures will be dashed—like a mind.lugs de gnyis kun rdzob dang don dam zhes ming mthun yang don gyi rnam gzhag byed tshul mi ’dra bas so so’i lugs kyi dgongs pa phye nas ’chad ma shes na gzhung chen po rnams khab mig ltar dog pa’i blos nam mkha’ gzhal bas ’jal re zad par ’gyur ro.... The two systems of two truths support Mi-pham’s interpretation of the compatibility of the emptiness taught in the middle wheel and the wisdom taught in the last wheel as both the definitive meaning. the term “ultimate” designates both the subject and object of authentic experience (gnas snang mthun) and the term “relative” designates both the subject and object of inauthentic experience. . the term “ultimate” also applies to the subject. and (2) in terms of conventional apprehension. two important exoteric Buddhist texts of Indian śāstra. narrow like the eye of a needle. Therefore. if one does not know how to explain having made the distinction between the viewpoints of each respective system. The former represents a systematic commentary on the sūtras of snang tshul tha snyad la kun rdzob kyi ming gis bstan pa de yin la/ gnyis pa gnas snang mthun par gyur pa’i yul dang yul can gnyis ka la don dam dang/ mi mthun par gyur pa’i yul dang yul can gnyis ka la kun rdzob kyi ming gis bstan pa ni tha snyad nye bar bzung ba’i dbang du yin la/ lugs ’di’i dbang du byas na mdo sngags gang yin kyang yul can la’ang don dam gyi ming ’jug pa dang. whether in sūtra or in tantra. Thus.45 In the great scriptures there are two ways in which the two truths are posited: (1) the term “ultimate” designates reality as non-arising and the term “relative” designates the conventional mode of appearance. The inclusion of wisdom as ultimate truth in Mi-pham’s authentic/inauthentic experience model supports his exegesis of wisdom in the third wheel of doctrine.. the way of presenting the meaning is different. In this manner. Buddha--Nat Nature Buddha ure as the Unity of Appearance and Emptiness Buddha-nature is a topic discussed in both the Madhyamakāvatāra and the Uttaratantra.although the terms “ultimate” and “relative” are the same in these two systems. measuring space. emptiness as the ultimate truth in Mi-pham’s appearance/emptiness model supports his exegesis of emptiness in the middle wheel of doctrine and the unity of the two truths.

Authentic seeing. like an illusion or a dream. it is not seen otherwise. We will see how Pöd-pa Tulku. lta grub shan ’byed ’grel pa. Pöd-pa Tulku describes Candrakīrti’s description of the ultimate in the Madhyamakāvatāra. Published with autocommentary in dbu ma la ’jug pa’i rang ’grel. and the latter is a commentary on sūtras of the last wheel of doctrine. 121-122: bstan bcos chen mo dbu ma rtsa ba shes rab kyi don ’grel zla ba’i gzhung rtsa ’grel gyi dgongs pa yang snang stong gi bden pa gnyis po ’di las gzhan du ma dmigs te/ ’jug pa las/ dngos kun yang dag rdzun par mthong ba yis/ /dngos rnyed ngo bo gnyis ni ’dzin par ’gyur/ /yang dag mthong yul gang de don dam de/ /mthong ba rdzun pa kun rdzob bden par ’dod/ /zhes yang dag mthong ba mnyam bzhag ye shes kyi yul du gyur pa’i stong nyid kho na don dam du bzhag cing/ mthong ba rdzun pa sgyu ma rmi lam lta bu’i snang cha thams cad la kun rdzob tu bzhag cing/ de lta bu’i stong nyid don dam bden pa de mtha’ bzhi skye ’gog sogs gnas lugs la dpyod pa don dam dpyod pa’i tshad mas gtan la phab par mdzad kyi/ de las gzhan du snang tshul la dpyod pa tha snyad dag pa’i tshad mas ’khor ba kun rdzob dang/ myang ’das don dam du ’jog pa’i bden gnyis kyi rnam bzhag dbu ma rigs tshogs dang/ ’jug pa rtsa ’grel sogs las ni tshig gcig kyang mi ’byung bas na/ snang stong gnyis su dbye tshul ’di ni gzhung de dag gi dgongs pa bla na med par grub bo. which is the meaning-commentary on the great śāstra. following Mipham. 104. brings these two treatises together around the topic of Buddhanature. 95. 100 . false seeings are relative truths. false seeings are all aspects of appearance. Madhyamakāvatāra 6. which is the ultimate truth. the Prajñāmūlamadhyamaka[-kārikā]. The Two Truths. is posited as ultimate.46 the middle wheel of doctrine. which is only the emptiness that is an object of the wisdom of meditative equipoise. See also Guy Newland.23: dngos kun yang dag rdzun pa mthong ba yis/ dngos rnyed ngo bo gnyis ni ’dzin par ’gyur/ yang dag mthong yul gang de de nyid de/ mthong ba rdzun pa kun rdzob bden par gsung. posited as relative. Such an emptiness. as the ultimate truth of the two truths as appearance/emptiness:100 The viewpoint of the root text and [auto-]commentary of Candrakīrti. From the Madhyamakāvatāra:101 [Buddha] said that all entities found by authentic and false seeing are apprehended as two essences: That which is the object of authentic seeing is suchness. the object of authentic seeing. is ascertained through ultimate valid cognition which analyzes the Pöd-pa Tulku. 101 Candrakīrti. is also the two truths as appearance and emptiness.

or the root text and [auto-]commentary of the Madhyamakāvatāra. and condensed Mother [Perfection of Wisdom Sūtras] because of mainly teaching the topic (brjod bya)—the positing of all appearances from form to omniscience as relative phenomena. etc. middling. and emptiness. In this way. lta grub shan ’byed ’grel pa. appearance according with the mode of subsistence or not. Pöd-pa Tulku characterizes the authentic/inauthentic model of two truths. 120: de ltar snang stong gi sgo nas bden pa gnyis su bzhag pa’i tshul ’di ni nges don zab mo yum rgyas ’bring bsdus gsum sogs bka’ bar ba mtshan nyid med pa’i mdo sde rnams kyi dgongs pa yin te/ gzugs nas rnam mkhyen bar gyi snang ba thams cad kun rdzob chos can du bzhag ste/ de dag gi ngo bo ma grub pa’i stong nyid don dam bden pa brjod bya gtso bor bstan pa’i phyir te. the manner of positing the two truths by means of appearance and emptiness is the viewpoint of the profound definitive sūtras of the middle Word of signlessness such as the extensive. there is not a single word in the “Collection of Reasonings” (rigs tshogs) of the Middle Way. 103 Ibid. 122-123: de ltar gnas snang mthun mi mthun gyi sgo nas bden pa gnyis su ’jog pa’i tshul ’di ni/ snying po’i mdo bcu lta bu bka’ ’khor lo tha ma’i nges don gyi mdo sde rnams las/ nges don bde gshegs snying po’i khyad par stong cha nas yul chos kyi dbyings ngo bo stong par rnam thar sgo gsum ldan gyi bdag nyid dang/ snang cha nas yul can ye shes kyi rang bzhin ’od gsal ba mkhyen brtse nus pa’i yon tan dang dbyer med . Pöd-pa Tulku states that Candrakīrti delineates the two turths as appearance/emptiness. it is established that this manner of dividing the two truths as appearance/emptiness is the unsurpassed viewpoint of these scriptures. However. Therefore. In contrast.. as the ultimate truth. He also characterizes the appearance/emptiness model of the two truths as the viewpoint of the middle wheel of doctrine:102 In this way. that is a presentation that posits the two truths in which the ultimate [is] nirvāṇa and the relative [is] saṃsāra by means of pure conventional valid cognition analyzing the mode of appearance.47 mode of subsistence [through] the negation of production through the four extremes (mtha’ bzhi skye ’gog). which is the non-established essence of those. as the manner of positing the two truths in the definitive meaning sūtras of the last wheel:103 102 Pöd-pa Tulku.

Buddha-nature is the subjective wisdom that is not empty of the inseparable qualities of naturally luminous and clear wisdom. such as the ten [Buddha-]nature Sūtras. is inseparable with the qualities of knowledge. love. Pöd-pa Tulku states that in terms of appearance in accord with the mode of subsistence (the two truths as authentic/inauthentic experience). the essentially empty objective expanse of phenomena (yul chos kyi dbyings).48 In this way. the manner of positing the two truths by means of appearance according with the mode of subsistence or not is [the viewpoint] of the definitive meaning sūtras of the last Word. for which the distinction of the definitive meaning Buddha-nature: • from the empty aspect (stong cha nas). 104 Ibid.. yet is empty of the adventitious defilements of the nature of the distorted appearances of saṃsāra. and powers. and from the aspect of appearance (snang cha nas). Buddhanature is both of the two truths:104 gyur pa gnas snang mthun pa’i don dam dang ’khrul snang ’khor ba’i rang bzhin dri ma glo bur ba’i cha yul yul can thams cad gnas lugs gyi gshis la ma zhugs pa’i rnam par dbyer yod pa gnas snang mi mthun pa’i kun rdzob tu bzhed de. the distorted appearances which are the nature of saṃsāra—the subjects and objects that are the separable aspects that do not abide in the foundation (gshis la ma zhugs) of reality—are asserted as the relative which are appearances that do not accord with the mode of subsistence. Pöd-pa Tulku says here that from the aspect of emptiness. From the aspect of appearance. Buddha-nature is ultimate. and • the aspect of adventitious defilements. is the nature endowed with the three gates of liberation. the natural luminous clarity (rang bzhin ’od gsal ba) of the subjective wisdom (yul can ye shes)—is asserted as the ultimate which is appearance in accord with the mode of subsistence. 126: rigs khams snying po sogs kyi snang stong gi cha gnyis ka gnas snang mthun pa’i cha nas don dam du bzhag mod kyang/ ’on kyang snang cha nas kun rdzob . Pöd-pa Tulku further expands upon Mi-pham’s delineation of the two models of truth in his interpretation of Buddha-nature. in terms of the two truths as appearance/emptiness. Buddha-nature is the objective expanse of phenomena which is essentially empty.

49
Both aspects of appearance and emptiness of [phenomena] such
as [Buddha-]nature are posited as [only] ultimate from the aspect of
appearance in accord with the mode of subsistence; however, from
the aspect of appearance, there is a manner of positing the
appearing aspect as relative and the empty aspect as ultimate, so it
is both the truths of [the two-truths as] appearance and emptiness.
In the former model of appearance/emptiness, Buddha-nature is only the
ultimate

truth

as

authentic

experience;

in

the

latter

model

of

authentic/inauthentic experience, Buddha-nature is both the relative and
ultimate truth because Buddha-nature is empty and it appears.105
Pöd-pa Tulku states that traditions that only accept the two truths
as

appearance/emptiness,

without

accepting

the

two

truths

as

dang/ stong cha nas don dam du dbye ba’i tshul gyis snang stong gi bden pa gnyis char
yod do. See also, Pöd-pa Tulku, stong thun gnad kyi zin thun, 11.4-12.2.
Pöd-pa Tulku also shows how both of Mi-pham’s two-truth models of
appearance/emptiness and authentic/inauthentic experience apply to the inner-tantras
(nang rgyud) of Nying-ma. In the former delineation of the two truths as
appearance/emptiness, in terms of what is found from the perspective of ultimate valid
cognition being authentic or not, he states that from the aspect of appearance: in
Mahāyoga, the relative is great purity, in Anuyoga, the relative is the maṇḍala of the three
divine supports (gtan gsum), and in Atiyoga, the relative is the spontaneously present
105

ground-appearance. Likewise, from the aspect of emptiness: in Mahāyoga, the ultimate
is great equality, in Anuyoga, the ultimate is the primordial maṇḍala as it is (ye ji bzhin

pa’i dkyil ’khor), and in Atiyoga, the ultimate is the nature of the primordially present
ground-expanse. Furthermore, in the latter two-truth model of authentic/inauthentic
experience, from the perspective of conventional valid cognition of pure vision, Pöd-pa
Tulku states that from the aspect of whether experience is authentic or not: in Mahāyoga,
the indivisibility of the truths of purity and equality is the ultimate and is called “the great
seven ultimate treasures” (don dam dkor bdun chen po), the opposite of the ultimate is
called “the relative of imputed confusion” (’khrul pa btags pa’i kun rdzob), in Anuyoga, the
great ultimate that is the unity of the two truths is called “the maṇḍala of the awakened
mind” (byang chub sems kyi dkyil ’khor), the opposite of the ultimate is called “the relative
of impure confusion” (ma dag ’khrul pa’i kun rdzob), and in Atiyoga, that which abides as
the ground of the unity of primordial purity and spontaneous presence is called “the
ultimate truth of self-existing wisdom (rang ’byung ye shes don dam bden pa), while the
phenomena of confused dualistic perception are called “the relative of impure groundappearance” (gzhi snang ma dag pa’i kun rdzob). Pöd-pa Tulku, lta grub shan ’byed ’grel

pa, 120-124.

50
authentic/inauthentic experience, have cast away the profound meaning of
Buddha-nature and tantra:106
These days, the two truths of appearance and emptiness is only
widely known, but it is rare to perceive one who knows the profound
two truths of whether or not appearance accords with the mode of
subsistence (i.e., authentic/inauthentic experience). It appears that
the positions that accept the inseparability of appearance and
emptiness are cast far away: such as the presentation of the
profound meaning intended by the definitive meaning sūtras and
tantras, Buddha-nature—the unity of appearance and emptiness—
as ultimate, and the Mahāyoga tradition’s presentation of the
indivisibility of purity and equality as the ultimate truth.
His polemical claim apparently addresses the widespread dominance of
Ge-luk commentaries that emphasize a model of the two truths as
appearance/emptiness.
Pöd-pa Tulku says that the tradition of Prāsaṅgika accepts both
two-truth models:107
In the scriptures of the Prāsaṅgika tradition, as was just explained,
since the commentaries on the middle Word, such as the
“Collection of Reasonings” and the root text and [auto-]commentary
of the Madhyamakāvatāra, posit the two truths by means of
appearance and emptiness, and the commentaries on the last
106

Ibid., 119: deng dus snang stong gi bden pa gnyis zhes yongs su grags pa tsam las

gnas snang gi bden gnyis zab mo mkhyen pa ni shin tu dkon par snang zhing tshul des
nges don mdo rgyud kyi dgongs don zab mo bde bar gshegs pa’i snying po snang stong
zung ’jug don dam du bzhag pa dang/ ma hā yo ga’i lugs kyi dag mnyam bden pa dbyer
med don dam bden par ’jog pa sogs snang stong dbyer med don dam du bzhed pa’i
phyogs rnams ring du byas pa snang ngo.
107 Ibid., 125: thal ’gyur pa’i lugs kyi gzhung du ni bshad ma thag pa ltar bka’ bar pa’i
dgongs ’grel rigs tshogs dang/ ’jug pa rtsa ’grel sogs las ni/ snang stong gi sgo nas ’jog
par mdzad cing/ bka’ tha ma’i dgongs pa rgyud bla ma rtsa ’grel sogs kyis ni gnas snang
mthun mi mthun gyi sgo nas bden gnyis ’jog par mdzad pas bden gnyis kyi ’jog tshul
gnyis ka ’gal med gnad gcig tu gzhal gyi[s] bzhed kyi gang rung kho na las gzhan spang
bar ma mdzad pa’i phyir ro/ /rgyu mtshan de nyid kyi phyir na ’jug pa rtsa ’grel sogs zla
ba’i gzhung dang/ rgyal tshab chen po byams mgon mchog gi rgyud bla ma’i gzhung
gnyis ka yang/ theg chen thal ’gyur pa’i gzhung du ’gal med gnad gcig tu ’gyur pa lags so.
See also Pöd-pa Tulku, lta grub shan ’byed ’grel pa, 127.

51
Word, such as the root text and commentary of the Uttaratantra,
posit the two truths by means of whether or not appearance is in
accord with the mode of subsistence, both manners of positing the
two truths are accepted as one essential point without
contradiction; only accepting either one and rejecting the other is
not done. For this very reason, both: (1) scriptures of Candrakīrti,
such as the root and [auto-]commentary of the Madhyamakāvatāra,
and (2) the Uttaratantra scripture of the supreme, great regent
Maitreyanātha, also are within one essential point, without
contradiction, scriptures of the Mahāyāna Prāsaṅgika.
Pöd-pa Tulku states that Candrakīrti delineates the two truths as
emptiness/appearance, while the Uttaratantra delineates the two truths as
whether or not appearance is in accord with the mode of subsistence (i.e.,
authentic/inauthentic experience).

He argues that both texts have the

same viewpoint. Furthermore, in his Notes on the Essential Points of [Mi-

pham’s] “Exposition [of Buddha-Nature],” Pöd-pa Tulku states:108
If it is asked, “Well, which is the manner of positing the two truths in
the Prāsaṅgika tradition?” Both are posited without contradiction.
Moreover,
Candrakīrti,
emphasizing
the
former
[appearance/emptiness model], elucidates the empty essence of all
phenomena. The Uttaratantra, although emphasizing the latter
[authentic/inauthentic experience model], is in accord with the
former because the nature of emptiness is established as luminous
clarity.
Therefore, this is the reason why both the
Madhyamakāvatāra and the Uttaratantra fall to one essential point,
without contradiction, as Prāsaṅgika scriptures.
Pöd-pa Tulku explains that the nature of emptiness is luminous clarity; this
is the reason why there is no contradiction between Candrakīrti’s

108

Pöd-pa Tulku, stong thun gnad kyi zin thun, 12.2-12.5: ’on na thal ’gyur pa’i lugs la

bden gnyis ’jog tshul ’di gnyis gang yin zhe na/ ’di gnyis ka ’gal med du ’jog ste/ de yang
zla bas dang pos rtsal du bton te chos thams cad kyi ngo bo stong pa nyid gsal bar
mdzad/ rgyud blas phyi ma rtsal du bton kyang snga ma dang dgongs mthun du grub ste/
stong pa’i rang bzhin ’od gsal ba grub pa des na ’jug pa dang rgyud bla gnyis ka thal
’gyur ba’i gzhung du ’gal med gnad gcig tu babs pa’i rgyu mtshan de yin.

52

Madhyamakāvatāra and the Uttaratantra as both Prāsaṅgika texts.109
Thus, Buddha-nature, as the unity of emptiness luminous clarity, is an
important

topic

around

which

Pöd-pa

Tulku

synthesizes

the

Madhyamakāvatāra and the Uttaratantra, and establishes them both as
Prāsaṅgika texts.
A stanza that is frequently cited to support that Buddha-nature is
not empty is found in the Uttaratantra:110
The basic element (khams) is empty of those adventitious
[phenomena] that have the character of separability,
But not empty of the unexcelled properties that have the character
of inseparability.
Mi-pham glosses this stanza as follows:111
All of the faults of saṃsāra arise from the deluded mind which
apprehends a personal self or a self of phenomena (nga dang chos
kyi bdag tu ’dzin pa). Since this deluded mind also is adventitious
like clouds in the sky, from the beginning neither mixing nor
polluting the luminous clarity of the primordial basic nature (gdod
ma’i gshis ’od gsal), these faults are individually distinguished from
the basic element and are suitable to be removed. Therefore, the
essence of the basic element is empty of these faults; it is
untainted. Without depending on the polluting delusion, within the
natural state (rang gi ngang gis) of its own luminous clarity and the

Mi-pham considers the Uttaratantra as a Middle Way text but does not delineate it as
exclusively Prāsaṅgika. Khen-po Kātyāyana, private conservation, 2004.
110 Uttaratantra 1.158: rnam bdyer bcas pas mtshan nyid can/ /blo bur dag gis khams
stong gi/ /rnam dbyer med pa’i mtshan nyid can/ /bla med chos kyis stong ma yin.
Published in theg pa chen po rgyud bla ma’i rtsa ’grel (Sichuan: Nationalities Press,
1997), 20.
111 Mi-pham, stong thun seng ge’i nga ro, 577.1-577.3: ’khor ba’i nyes pa thams cad ni
109

nga dang chos kyi bdag tu ’dzin pa ’khrul pa’i sems las byung la/ ’khrul sems de yang
gdod ma’i gshis ’od gsal la ye nas ma gos ma ’dre par mkha’ la sprin ltar glo bur ba yin
pas skyon de dag ni khams dang so sor ’byed cing ’bral rung ba yin pas khams kyi ngo
bo la skyon des stong pa ste ma gos pa yin la/ ’khrul pas bslad pa la mi ltos par rang gi
ngang gis ’od gsal zhing chos kun gyi de kho na nyid du zhugs pa’i rang byung gi ye shes
les [read la] rnam dbyer byar med pa’i mthar thug gi yon tan rnams kyi khams de mi
stong ste/ rang gi ngo bo la ’bral med kyi gshis yin pas nyi ma dang zer bzhin no.

53
self-existing wisdom (rang byung gi ye shes) that remains as the
suchness (de kho na nyid) of all phenomena, it is not empty of that
which is inseparable, the basic element of consummate qualities,
because in its own essence this is the basic nature (gshis) from
which it is inseparable—like the sun and light rays.
Mi-pham states that that the basic element (Buddha-nature) is empty of
adventitious defilements yet not empty of the consummate qualities.
These consummate qualities are inseparable with the suchness of
phenomena that is luminous clarity and self-existing wisdom.
Pöd-pa Tulku explains that the first half of the stanza from the

Uttaratantra quoted above shows distorted phenomena of duality as
relative, and the second half shows Buddha-nature as ultimate:112
Moreover, also in the context of the Mahāyānottaratantra, “But not
empty of the unexcelled properties that have the character of
inseparability,” shows as ultimate: the luminous clarity that is the
self-effulgence (rang mdangs) of the empty essence, the Buddhanature, the heritage (rigs) which is the basic element, inseparable
with the qualities of the Truth Body (chos sku) that is a freed effect
(bral ’bras); and, “The basic element is empty of those adventitious
[phenomena] that have the character of separability,” shows as
relative: the defilements which do not abide in the foundation, the
distorted phenomena of perceived-perceiver [duality], which are
separable through the power of training in the path of the antidote.
Pöd-pa Tulka shows that the Uttaratantra demonstrates Buddha-nature,
the unity of luminous clarity and emptiness, as ultimate. Since both the
empty and appearing aspects are ultimate in this context, Buddha-nature
also reflects the ultimate truth as authentic experience.

112

Pöd-pa Tulku, lta grub shan ’byed ’grel pa, 124: gzhan yang theg pa chen po rgyud

bla ma’i skabs su yang/ rnam dbyer med pa’i mtshan nyid can/ /bla med chos kyis stong
ma yin/ /zhes ngo bo stong pa’i rang gdangs ’od gsal ba bral ’bras chos sku’i yon tan
dang dbyer med pa’i rigs khams bde gshegs snying po don dam du bstan cing/ rnam
dbyer bcas pa’i mtshan nyid can/ /blo bur dag gis khams stong gis [read gi]/ /zhes dri ma
gshis la ma zhugs pa gnyen po’i lam bsgom stobs kyis dbyer yod pa’i gzung ’dzin ’khrul
pa’i chos kun rdzob tu bstan.

54
In addition to the stanza from the Uttaratantra, another source to
support the interpretation of the empty quality of Buddha-nature is found
within Candrakīrti’s auto-commentary on the Madhyamakāvatāra (6.95).
Mi-pham cites this passage in the context of refuting the view that
Buddha-nature is truly established and not empty.113 In this citation,
originally found in the Laṅkāvatārasūtra, Mahāmati asks the Buddha how
Buddha-nature is different from the Self proclaimed by non-Buddhists, and
the Buddha answers as follows:114
Mahāmati, my Buddha-nature teaching is not similar to the nonBuddhists’ declaration of Self. Mahāmati, the Tathāgatas, Arhats,
and completely perfect Buddhas teach Buddha-nature as the
meaning of the words: three gates of liberation, nirvāṇa, the final
reality, non-arising, etc. For the sake of immature beings who are
frightened by selflessness, they teach by means of Buddha-nature.
Pöd-pa Tulku states that from the empty aspect, Buddha-nature is not like
the Self of the non-Buddhists, because it is inseparable from the great
emptiness distinguished by the “three gates of liberation” (i.e., empty
essence, signless cause, wishless effect). He says that from the aspect of
appearance, Buddha-nature is not without qualities, as in the tradition of
the Nirgrantha,115 because it has a nature with the qualities of luminous
clarity distinguished by knowledge, love, and powers:116
See Mi-pham, stong thun seng ge’i nga ro, 589.3-590.2.
Candrakīrti under Madhyamakāvatāra 6.95, in dbu ma la ’jug pa’i rang ’grel, 196. See
also D.T. Suzuki (trans.), The Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra (London: Routledge, 1968), 68-69;
Jeffrey Hopkins, Meditation on Emptiness (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1983), 615-616.
115 The Nirgrantha, which Pöd-pa Tulku refers to as the Sky-clad Ones (nam mkha’ gos
can), are also known as ’the Nudists” (gcer bu pa). The Nirgrantha refers to the Jain
tradition. Mi-pham also references the Nirgrantha in distinguishing Buddha-nature from a
113

114

mere absence in a citation from the Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra. He states: “Merely the aspect
of an existential negation (med dgag) is not suitable as nirvāṇa, again from the scripture
[Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra]: “‘Emptiness, emptiness’ no matter where you search, you still
find nothing at all. The Nirgrantha also have ‘nothing at all,’ but liberation is not like that.”
Mi-pham, stong thun seng ge’i nga ro, 573.5-573.6.
116 Pöd-pa Tulku, lta grub shan ’byed ’grel pa, 95: snang cha nas nam mkha’i gos can

pa’i lugs ltar ma yin par rang bzhin ’od gsal ba’i yon tan mkhyen brtse nus gsum gyi

Pöd-pa Tulku’s teacher and Mi-pham’s student. the unconditioned wisdom of luminous clarity was taught. . there would be no difference from the Nirgrantha. blo gros snang ba’i sgo ’byed. 69: spyir de bzhin gshegs pa’i snying po rang gi ngo bos mi stong par gyur na phyi rol pa’i rtag bdag dang khyad par med pas rnam thar sgo gsum gyi rang bzhin du bstan pa dang/ ’od gsal ba’i ye shes kyang med pas stong pa phyang chad nam mkha’ lta bur gyur na gcer bu pa dang khyad par med pas ’od gsal ba’i ye shes ’dus ma byas par bstan pas ston pa’i bka’ bar tha nges pa’i lung gis ngo bo stong pa dang rang bzhin gsal bar bstan pa. Thus. Thus. 117 Khen-po Kün-pal. and powers. if the essence of Buddha-nature were not empty. The emphasis on the empty aspect of Buddha-nature reflects the ultimate in the two truths of appearance/emptiness that Pöd-pa Tulku delineates as the manner that Candrakīrti posits the two truths. Pöd-pa Tulku shows that Buddha-nature is not like the Self of the nonBuddhists due to the empty aspect. [Buddhanature] is distinguished by the qualities of the luminous nature— knowledge.55 From the aspect of appearance. it would not be different from the permanent Self of the nonBuddhists. unlike the Nirgrantha. being an utterly void emptiness like space. the definitive scriptures (nges khyad par du byas pa de yang stong cha nas mu stegs byed kyi bdag ltar ma yin par ngo bo stong pa chen po rnam thar sgo gsum gyi khyad par du byas pa. and from the empty aspect. therefore. love. [Buddha-nature] is distinguished by the essence of great emptiness—the three gates of liberation. Also. The unity of the empty and appearing aspects of luminous clarity reflects the ultimate in the two-truths of authentic/inauthentic experience as Pöd-pa Tulku delineates the manner that the two truths are posited in the Uttaratantra. if the wisdom of luminous clarity did not exist. states in his commentary on Mi-pham’s Beacon of Certainty (nges shes sgron me):117 In general. Pöd-pa Tulku synthesizes Candrakīrti’s treatment of Buddha-nature in the Madhyamakāvatāra with the description from the Uttaratantra. Khenpo Kün-pal (kun bzang dpal ldan. unlike the Self of the non-Buddhists. Furthermore. through Mi- pham’s two-fold depiction of the two truths. therefore. the nature of the three gates of liberation was taught. 1870/2-1943).

.e. the meaning of Buddha-nature. stong thun gnad kyi zin thun.5: spyir drang nges ’jog tshul la sgra ji bzhin pa’i bstan don la/ dgongs gzhi dgos pa dngos la gnod byed gsum tshang ba’i mdo de drang don dang/ de las ldog pa nges don du ’jog go. is explained as not only an absence. sūtras that mainly express emptiness as the explicit topic are said to be the definitive meaning. (2) a purpose (dgos pa). Pöd-pa Tulku states that in accordance with the viewpoint of the Samādhirājasūtra. but as the unity of appearance. He shows the criteria for distinguishing the definitive meaning from a provisional meaning by stating that it is a provisional meaning if the literal teaching has three features: (1) a basis within an [other] intention (dgongs gzhi). and explicit invalidation. Buddha--Nature as the Definitive Meaning Buddha Pöd-pa Tulku describes such a Buddha-nature as the definitive meaning. 89. or clarity. a purpose.. See also Pöd-pa Tulku. sūtras are provisional meanings when the meaning of the literal teaching has all three complete: a basis with an [other] intention. 13. Thus. Candrakīrti explained the distinction of provisional and definitive meanings by means of what is and is not invalidated by ultimate valid cognition.4: des na mdo ting ’dzin rgyal po sogs kyi dgongs pa ltar/ zla bas don dam dpyod byed kyi tshad mas gnod pa yod med kyi sgo nas don dam stong nyid brjod bya’i gtso bor ston pa’i mdo nges don dang/ tha snyad kun rdzob brjod bya’i gtso bor ston pa’i mdo drang don du bzhed de/ mdo gang de nyid ma yin bshad don can/ /kun rdzob gsung pa’ang shes nas drang bya zhing/ /stong nyid don can nges don shes par gyis/ 118 . and (3) explicit invalidation (dngos la gnod byed):118 Concerning the manner of positing the provisional and the definitive in general. and emptiness.5-14. 13. appearances) are provisional meanings:119 Pöd-pa Tulku. lta grub shan ’byed ’grel pa. like the meaning of emptiness. and sūtras that mainly express relative truths (i. The opposite of this is posited as the definitive meaning.56 pa’i lung) of the middle and last Word of the teacher show the empty essence and the natural clarity. 119 Ibid. As such.4-13.

it does not follow that a meaning taught in a sūtra that Candrakīrti has said to be a provisional meaning is necessarily non-existent conventionally because all presentations of relative truth are the expressed meanings of a provisional meaning. [or] relative. lta grub shan ’byed ’grel pa. 90: brjod bya snang stong gi sgo nas bka’ bar ba nges don du bzhed tshul ni/ stong nyid don dam dpyod byed kyi tshad ma’i rnyed don yang dag mchog gyur yin min gyi sgo nas/ snang ba’i cha la kun rdzob kyi chos dang/ stong pa’i cha la don dam pa’i chos kyi bden pa gnyis su dbye tshul las mdo gang zhig stong pa nyid don dam bden pa brjod bya’i gtso bor dngos bstan gyi bka’ ’khor lo bar ba sher phyin gyi mdo rnams nges don. what is provisional. emptiness. there is the way of dividing the two truths in which relative phenomena are [posited] from the aspect of appearance and ultimate phenomena zhes gsungs so/ des na brjod bya’i dbang gis bka’ dang po drang don dang/ bar ba nges don/ tha ma drang nges phyed ma’i tshul du ’jog go/ /de’i phyir zla bas drang don du bzhag pa’i mdo yis bstan don yin na tha snyad du med pas ma khyab ste/ kun rdzob bden pa’i rnam bzhag thams cad drang don gyi brjod don yin pa’i phyir ro. Thus. according to Pöd-pa Tulku. the middle is definitive. it does not follow that whatever is a provisional meaning is necessarily non-existent conventionally. the manner of positing is by means of the topic: the first Word is provisional. truths as provisional meanings: Whatever sūtras have the meaning that does not explain thusness Know those to also explain the relative. Pöd-pa Tulku states:121 The manner of positing the topic as the definitive meaning by means of appearance and emptiness in the middle Word is as follows: by means of the object found by valid cognition analyzing the ultimate.97.57 Therefore. Hence. and the last is a mix of provisional and definitive meanings.120 Therefore. in accord with the viewpoint of the Samādhirājasūtra and so forth. and sūtras that mainly express the topic of the conventional. 121 Pöd-pa Tulku. Candrakīrti accepts sūtras that mainly express the topic of emptiness as the definitive meaning. being supremely authentic or not. Know those that have the meaning of emptiness as the definitive meaning. Furthermore. by means of what is or is not invalidated by valid cognition analyzing the ultimate. . 120 Madhyamakāvatāra 6.

58 are [posited] from the empty aspect. From this. Hence. sūtras with emptiness. and thus the definitive meaning in this context is delineated as the sūtras that have the explicit teaching of emptiness as their main topic. is the definitive meaning:123 In accordance with sūtras that show the heritage.122 explain the distinction between the provisional and definitive meaning by means of what is and is not invalidated by the conventional valid cognition of pure vision. and by Candrakīrti. stong thun gnad kyi zin thun. Buddha-nature. In this way. the last Word teachings in which the definitive meaning Buddha-nature is the topic—the nature of inseparable appearance and emptiness and the ultimate that is appearance in P. The ultimate truth is the empty quality. . are asserted as the definitive meaning. 14.3: rigs khams nor bu sbyong pa’i 122 dpes bstan pa’i mdo yis bstan don ltar/ rgyud bla ma dang chos dbyings bstod pa sogs kyis dag pa’i gzigs pa tshad mas gnod pa yod med kyi sgo nas dag gzigs tshad mas rnyed don ltar mthar thug nges don bde gshegs snying po bstan pa’i mdo rnams nges don du bzhed pa/ des na nges don bde gshegs snying po snang stong dbyer med kyi rang bzhin gnas snang mthun pa’i don dam brjod byar bstan pa’i bka’ tha ma nges don du bzhed de/ dag gzigs tshad mas rnyed don yin pa’i phyir. 2010. such as the Uttaratantra and the Dharmadhātustotra. the basic element (rigs khams). Pöd-pa Tulku states that in terms of ultimate valid cognition. the ultimate truth. Pöd-pa Tulku explains that the commentaries on the last wheel. 46. as appearance in accord with the mode of subsistence. the ultimate is posited from the aspect of emptiness. and the relative are posited from the aspect of appearance. Pöd-pa Tulku explains that this is the way that the definitive meaning is delineated in the middle wheel. by the example of cleansing a jewel. Buddha-nature.4-15. 123 Pöd-pa Tulku. the Uttaratantra and the Dharmadhātustotra and so forth. sūtras that teach the consummate definitive meaning. vol. as the main topic of explicit teaching (dngos bstan)—the Perfection of Wisdom Sūtras of the middle wheel—are the definitive meaning. but not in the last wheel. by means of whether there is or is not invalidation through the [conventional] valid cognition of pure vision in accord with what is found by the valid cognition of pure vision.

but the definitive meaning is stated in terms of the indivisibility of appearance and emptiness as known when reality is experienced authentically. and ultimate phenomena are [posited] from the aspect of being appearance that accords with the mode of subsistence. it is not only emptiness that is definitive. 91: brjod bya gnas snang gi sgo nas bka’ tha ma nges don du bzhed tshul ni/ rnam dag tha snyad tshad ma’i rnyed don yang dag mchog gyur yin min gyi sgo nas gnas snang mi mthun pa’i cha kun rdzob kyi chos dang/ gnas snang mthun pa’i cha don dam pa’i chos kyi bden gnyis dbyer med tshul las/ mdo gang zhig ’od gsal don dam bden pa brjod bya’i gtso bor dngos bstan gyi bka’ ’khor lo tha ma snying po bstan pa’i mdo rnams nges don du bzhed. the sūtras with luminous clarity. the Buddha-nature Sūtras of the last wheel are also definitive. as the main topic of explicit teaching—the sūtras teaching Buddha-nature of the last wheel—are the definitive meaning. lta grub shan ’byed ’grel pa. 124 Pöd-pa Tulku. inauthentic experience). when appearance accords with the mode of subsistence. Furthermore.59 accord with the mode of subsistence—are the definitive meaning because [Buddha-nature] is the object found by the valid cognition of pure vision. From this. Thus. there is the way of dividing the two truths in which relative phenomena are [posited] from the aspect of being appearance that does not accord with the mode of subsistence. In this way. Pöd-pa Tulku states:124 The manner of positing the topic as the definitive meaning by means of appearance in accord with the mode of subsistence in the last Word is as follows: by means of the object found by the conventional valid cognition of pure [vision] being supremely authentic or not. in terms of appearance in accord with the mode of subsistence (authentic experience). Thus. the ultimate truth. Buddha-nature. Here Pöd-pa Tulku states that doctrines of the last wheel explain the distinction between the provisional and definitive meanings by means of what is and is not invalidated by the conventional valid cognition of pure vision (authentic vs. . as the topic of an indivisible appearance and emptiness. is the definitive meaning.

Both express the same consummate meaning. while in the middle wheel it is the expanse of phenomena from the empty aspect.60 Pöd-pa Tulku argues that there is no contradiction in the delineations of what is definitive in the two wheels of doctrine because they are not based on the same criterion: the middle wheel describes the definitive meaning in terms of the ultimate qua empty aspect of empty appearance. yet are distinguished by emphasizing one or another aspect. Based on the level of emphasis upon the topic (brjod bya gtso che chung gi sgo nas). The last wheel. explains what is definitive in terms of the ultimate qua authentic experience. as for the topic of the middle and last Word. In this way. The main topic that is explicitly taught in the last wheel is Buddha-nature from the appearing aspect. what is validated by the conventional valid cognition of pure vision.. based on the distinctive manner of stating (mdzad) the main topic of the explicit teaching—Buddha-nature from the aspect of appearance or the expanse of phenomena (chos kyi dbyings) from the empty aspect— there are two ways of positing the middle wheel as the definitive meaning and the last wheel as the definitive meaning. as definitive meaning sūtras. Pöd-pa Tulku depicts the middle wheel as eliminating the 125 Ibid. He states that the two manners are completely compatible:125 In short. other than just the distinctive way in which they are respectively distinguished temporarily (gnas skabs). the two are also accepted within a single essential point. Furthermore. . the empty or appearing aspect. 93: mdor na bka’ bar tha gnyis brjod bya/ snang cha bde gshegs snying po dang stong cha chos kyi dbyings dngos bstan gyi brjod bya’i gtso bor mdzad tshul gyi khyad par las drang nges rnam par dbye ba’i tshul gyi sgo nas/ bka’ ’khor lo bar ba nges don du ’jog pa dang/ tha ma nges don du ’jog pa’i rang bzhin dag ni/ gnas skabs brjod bya gtso che chung gi sgo nas so sor dbye tshul kyi khyad par tsam las mthar thug gi don la gnyis ka’ang nges don gyi mdor ’gal med gnad gcig tu bzhed pa lags so. as for the consummate meaning. however. without contradiction. what is validated by ultimate valid cognition. Pöd-pa Tulku states that sūtras of both the middle and last wheels are the definitive meaning.

61 extreme of permanence and the last wheel as eliminating the extreme of annihilation:126 The supreme definitive meaning of the middle wheel Is the expanse of phenomena endowed with the three gates of liberation. See also. It abides as the great dependent arising of compassionate resonance (thugs rjes). Since it is the object found by pure conventional valid cognition. 36-37: ’khor lo bar pa’i nges don mchog/ /rnam thar gsum ldan chos kyi dbyings/ /sems la sems ma mchis pa ste/ sems nyid ngo bo stong par gnas/ /snang stong chos kyi bden gnyis las/ /stong nyid don dam mtha’ bral mchog /don dpyod tshad ma’i rnyed don phyir/ /rtag dngos bden pa’i mtha’ las grol/ /’khor lo tha ma’i nges don mchog /mkhyen brtse nus ldan bde gshegs rigs/ sems kyi rang bzhin ’od gsal ba’i/ /rang bzhin ’od gsal chen por gnas/ /gnas snang chos kyi bden gnyis las/ /gnas snang mthun pa’i don dam mchog /rnam dag tshad ma’i rnyed don phyir/ /cang med chad pa’i mtha’ las grol/ /’khor lo bar tha ’gal med mchog /snang stong zung ’jug snying po’i khams/ /sems nyid dag dang ma dag las/ /thugs rjes rten ’byung chen por gnas/ /snang stong dang ni gnas snang gi/ /bden gnyis ’gal med don gyi mchog /tshur mthong tshad ma’i yul min phyir/ /glo bur spros chos kun las grol. 1996). 126 . The supreme definitive meaning of the last wheel Is the heritage of the Buddha endowed with knowledge. The supreme non-contradiction of the middle and last wheels Is the unity of appearance and emptiness—the basic element of the essential nature (snying po’i khams). “The nature of mind is luminous clarity”— That nature abides as the great luminous clarity. It is free from the extreme of the truth of permanent entities. From the two truths as appearance and emptiness The ultimate emptiness is the supreme freedom from constructs. From the purity and impurity of mind itself. “The mind is devoid of mind because”— The essence of mind itself abides as empty. The supreme meaning of the non-contradiction of the two truths Pöd-pa Tulku. lta grub shan ’byed gnad kyi sgron me. 206-208. love. published in lta grub shan ’byed gnad kyi sgron me’i rtsa ’grel (Sichuan: Nationalties Press. Pöd-pa Tulku. It is free from the extreme of annihilation as nothing at all. Since it is the object found by the valid cognition that analyzes the ultimate. and powers. lta grub shan ’byed ’grel pa. From the two truths of authentic/inauthentic experience.

92: des na dbu ma chen po’i lugs la blo gros mi zad pa sogs kyi mdo dang ’jug pa rtsa ’grel sogs bstan bcos chen po’i dgongs don ltar bka’ bar ba nges don du bzhed pa dang/ gzungs dbang rgyal po sogs kyi mdo dang rgyud bla sogs bstan bcos chen po’i dgongs don ltar bka’ tha ma’i snying po bstan pa’i mdo rnams nges don du bzhed pa’i dgongs don ’gal med gnad gcig tu rnying gzhung spyi.” In contrast to Pöd-pa Tulku’s two criteria for the definitive meaning. the middle Word is accepted as the definitive meaning. 128 P. . is the general [way of] Nying-ma scriptures (snying gzhung spyi). in the tradition of the Great Middle Way. lta grub shan ’byed ’grel pa.62 Of appearance/emptiness and authentic/inauthentic experience.128 and the great śāstras such as the Madhyamakāvatāra. It is free from all adventitiously constructed phenomena. Pöd-pa Tulku states that such an integration of the middle and last wheels of doctrine as both the definitive meaning is a feature of “general Nyingma scriptures. vol. 34. 814. and the sūtras that indicate a 127 Pöd-pa Tulku. and in accord with the meaning of the viewpoint of sūtras such as the Dhāraṇīśvararāja. Mi-pham uses a general criterion to delineate the definitive meaning: “Definitive meaning sūtras are those that indicate a non-referential emptiness (dmigs pa med pa’i stong nyid). vol. 32. in accord with the meaning of the viewpoint of sūtras such as the Akṣayamatisūtra. 842. the sūtras of the last wheel that teach Buddha-nature are accepted as the definitive meaning—the meaning of the viewpoint within a single essential point.129 and the great śāstras such as the Uttaratantra. He asserts that the non-contradiction of the two modes of two truths eliminates all adventitiously constructed phenomena. Since it is not the domain of confined valid cognition. The integration of the middle and last wheels of doctrine is an important way that Pöd-pa Tulku distinguishes the Nying-ma tradition:127 Therefore. without contradiction. 129 P.

68. . rab gsal de nyid snang byed. he describes the emptiness in the middle wheel and the Buddha-nature in the last wheel as both the definitive meaning and the ultimate truth. but as a unity of emptiness and appearance that is known in authentic experience. at times for the purpose of destroying the aspect of thorough affliction (kun nyon phyogs ’joms pa) and at other times to increase the aspect of complete purification (rnam byang phyogs ’phel ba). lta grub shan ’byed ’grel pa.131 Conclusion Mi-pham formulates an interpretation of Buddhist doctrine that clearly articulates two models of the two truths. they emphasize the empty aspect or the appearing aspect in their distinctive commentaries. Khen-po Kün-pal also makes a similar statement in his commentary on Mi-pham’s nges shes sgron me. 70. 419: dmigs pa med pa’i stong nyid ston pa de dag nges don gyi mdo sde yin la/ dmigs pa can kun rdzob ston pa drang don du mdo ’di nyid kyis bstan. the two wheels do not cancel each other out. 131 See Pöd-pa Tulku. Through Mi-pham’s depiction of Buddha-nature. See Khen-po Kün-pal. 130 Mi-pham. His interpretation represents a dialectic of emptiness and presence at the heart of his Nying-ma exegesis. Through this. He states that although all of the great scholars of the old and new traditions ultimately have the same viewpoint. blo gros snang ba’i sgo ’byed. Pöd-pa Tulku highlights the inclusive quality of Mi-pham’s interpretive system through integrating the statements of emptiness in the middle wheel with Buddha-nature in the last wheel.”130 As we will see in the following chapters. the qualification of emptiness as non-referential delineates emptiness as not simply an empty quality. but are mutually illuminating.63 relative referent object are provisional.

ika. We will then turn to some significant features of his distinction of Prāsaṅgika. 85. In his depiction of Prāsaṅgika. Mi-pham’s work should be understood within the orbit of the tradition of the Great Perfection inherited from Long-chen-pa. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. Before we go further into the explicit topic of Buddha-nature. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel.”133 He characterizes Mi-pham. Central themes of Mipham’s interpretation can be seen in his depiction of the relationship between Yogācāra and Prāsaṅgika. Thus. and explore his formulations of emptiness and the Middle Way.64 Chapter 2: Yogācāra. where he presents the two truths as a dichotomy of authentic/inauthentic experience. 66: tha snyad sems tsam du ’dod pa ’di theg chen 132 spyi lugs la grub pa yin no. . we will see how his representations of the exoteric discourses of Yogācāra and Prāsaṅgika are informed by the Great Perfection. See also Mi-pham. Mind--Only Middle Way and Mind Mi-pham not only says that “Mind-Only is the highest conventional presentation”132 but also that “asserting the conventional as Mind-Only is established as the general way for all Mahāyāna. 50: tha snyad kyi rnam bzhag rtse mor gyur pa sems tsam yin. We will begin by looking at the central role of Yogācāra in Mi-pham’s works. and the distinction between mind (sems) and wisdom (ye shes) in particular. we will discuss here the empty-aspect as presented in the Middle Way. Prāsaṅ Prāsaṅgika. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. and the Middle Way Introduction This chapter will address in more detail the relationship between affirmations and denials of ultimate reality in Mi-pham’s writings. 133 Mi-pham. Mi-pham emphasizes the unity of the two truths as appearance/emptiness in authentic experience.

the aspect of clinging (zhen pa’i cha) to the nature of a self-luminous consciousness as truly established is what is to be negated. 544-545: dbu sems gnyis phyi don yod med la mi rtsod kyang/ rnam shes bden par grub ma grub la rtsod pa yin. 407: de la’ang bdag med kyi lta ba yongs su rdzogs pa dbu ma pa dang/ gnyis stong gi rang rig bden par khas len pas chos bdag phra ba ma rdzogs pa’i sems tsam pa gnyis su yod do. he says:136 The manner of Mind-Only is very much the true nature of conventional reality (kun rdzob tha snyad kyi de kho na nyid). shes bya kun khyab. Thus. dam chos dogs sel. who have perfected the view of selflessness. but the debate is about consciousness being truly established or not. 135 Mi-pham. however. 136 Mi-pham. self-illuminating cognition free from perceived-perceiver duality is accepted as ultimately established. 550: gzung ’dzin gnyis kyis stong pa’i shes pa rang rig rang gsal don dam du grub par ’dod pa dang mi ’dod pa theg chen sde gnyis kyi khyad par gyi gtso bo yin te. Mi-pham distinguishes Mind-Only from the Middle Way in terms of the belief in the true establishment of consciousness.” Kong-trul. who have not perfected the subtle selflessness of phenomena due to asserting a non-dual reflexive awareness as truly existent (gnyis stong gi rang rig bden par khas len). and (2) Proponents of Mind-Only.65 Proponents of Mind-Only to assert a non-dual reflexive awareness as truly existent:134 There are also two [bodhisattva vehicles]: (1) Proponents of the Middle Way. He states: “The debate between the Middle Way and Mind-Only is not about external objects existing or not. . 48: sems tsam pa’i tshul ’di kun rdzob tha snyad kyi de kho na nyid shin tu bden mod/ ’on kyang ’di’i rnam shes rang gsal gyi rang bzhin la bden grub tu zhen pa’i cha de dgag bya yin no. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. spyi don ’od gsal snying po. Mi-pham.”135 Furthermore. the reification of a cognitive presence—clinging to the nature of consciousness as truly established—differentiates the Middle Way and Mind-Only. Kong-trul presents a similar 134 distinction: “The main difference between the two schools of Mahāyāna is whether or not the self-aware.

Therefore. then it is needless to mention that the Proponents of the Middle Way realize this!. In this way. it is because the apprehending [subject] is established in dependence upon the apprehended [object]. naturally luminous and clear. . 626. the awareness free from subject and object. An edition of Mi-pham’s complete commentary on the Dharmadharmatāvibhāga..2: de ltar gzung bar snang ba de ni rang gi ngo bos ’dzin pa las gzhan du med par grub na/ ’dzin par snang ba de yang med par grub bo/ /de ci’i phyir na ’dzin pa ni gzung ba la ltos te grub kyi yan gar du nam yang mi grub po/ de ltar na gzung ba dang ’dzin pa gnyis kyi rnam pa thams cad dang bral te yul dang yul can med pa’i rig pa rang bzhin gyis ’od gsal ba brjod du med pa tsam ni bdag gnyis kyis stong pa’i yongs grub de bzhin nyid dang tha mi dad pa de ni sems tsam pas kyang rtogs dgos na dbu ma pas lta ci smos so. authentic Proponents of the Middle Way assert the unity of the primordially pure luminous clarity of one’s mind and the emptiness of that non-dual cognition. the Middle Way and Mind-Only are mostly the same in terms of the practices of meditative equipoise and post-meditation. Mi-pham affirms the similarity of the traditions of Mind-Only and the Middle Way:137 Thus. Mi-pham’s Collected Works (sde dge ed. when the appearance of apprehended [objects] is established to not have an essence that is separate from the apprehending [subject]. 4. if Proponents of Mind-Only have to realize the lack of all duality.. Mi-pham.. inexpressible and non-distinct from the nature of the thoroughly established nature free from the twofold self. along with an English translatation.) vol. it is never established on its own.brjod med kyi shes pa de yi ngo bo la bden grub du ’jog tshul gyi grub mtha’ phra mo tsam zhig lhag mar lus pa de nyid rigs pas sun phyungs te gzung ’dzin med pa’i shes pa nyid kyang bden pa med pa’i stong pa dang zung du zhugs pa’i rang sems gdod nas dag pa’i ’od gsal nyid du ’dod na dbu ma yang dag pa yin te/ des na theg chen dbu sems ’di gnyis zhen pa’i gnad phra mo zhig chod ma chod kyi khyad par las/ mnyam rjes kyi nyams len phyogs ’dra ba lta bur ’ong bas. can be found in Jim Scott.2-627.66 In his commentary on the Dharmadharmatāvibhāga. chos chos nyid rnam ’byed ’grel pa (chos dang chos nyid rnam ’byed ’grel pa ye shes snang ba). the appearance of the apprehending subject is also established as non-existent. other than the distinction of whether this slight fixation is eliminated or not (zhen pa’i gnad phra mo zhig chod ma chod kyi khyad par las). Maitreya’s Distinguishing Phenomena and Pure Being (Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications. 137 2004). If [one wonders] why.Merely the slight philosophical assertion that posits the essence of ineffable cognition as truly established remains to be negated..

and the status of such cognitions as “reflexive awareness” (rang rig) and “innate mind” (gnyug sems). Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra. 58. The five principles are: (1) name (ming). which are included within Mi-pham’s collected works. the Madhyamakakārikās. and the Uttaratantra. 611B. that he wrote in response to criticisms of his commentaries on these two texts. the three natures. 138 Mi-pham’s own most important Middle Way commentaries are on the Madhyamakālaṃkara and the ninth chapter of the Bodhicaryāvatāra. Much of Mi-pham’s Middle Way views can be found in the “three rejoinders” (brgal lan rnam gsum). 140 Laṅkāvatārasūtra: chos lnga dang ni rang bzhin gsum/ /rnam shes brgyad po nyid dag dang/ /bdag med don ni rnam gnyis por/ /theg chen thams cad bsdus pa yin. Mahāyānasaṃgraha. Foundations of Yogācāra Mi-pham wrote commentaries on many texts that are often characterized as Yogācāra138 in addition to the works that he wrote on texts that emphasize the negative dialectics of the Middle Way. (2) property (rgyu mtshan). The 139 commentaries on texts such as the Madhyamakāvatāra. (3) concept (rnam rtog). Dharmadharmatāvibhāga. Abhidharmasamuccaya. Mi-pham cites a verse from the Laṅkāvatārasūtra that states that all of the Mahāyāna is contained within four topics: the five principles. Viṃśatikā. (5) For instance. (4) authentic wisdom (yang dag pa’i ye shes). we can see that the distinction between Mind-Only and the Middle Way does not concern the presence of a non-dual cognition. Madhyāntavibhāga.67 Thus. but rather the position that such a cognition is truly established. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. Cited in Mipham. . We will return in the next chapter to see how Mi-pham delineates the relationship between wisdom and mind. were assembled from his notes and outlines by his students.139 This shows the importance he placed on the Yogācāra traditions. chos chos nyid rnam ’byed ’grel pa. the eight consciousnesses. Triṃśikā.1-611B. See also Mi-pham. and the two-fold selflessness:140 All of the Mahāyāna is contained within The five principles and the three natures The eight consciousnesses and The two meanings of selflessness [person and phenomena].4.

5-709. Mi-pham states: “The conventional is posited as what is known. expressed. among the three natures. dbus mtha’ rnam ’byed ’grel pa.”142 He describes these first two of the five principles as the “imagined nature” (kun btags. 145 Mi-pham. 143 Mi-pham. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. and body. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. “concept. he characterizes the dependent nature as conceptual mind:146 141 142 Mi-pham. thought. 59: de gnyis ni kun btags yin te sgra rtog gi spyod yul can gzung ’dzin gnyis su snang ba brtags na mi bden pa’i phyir ro.141 “Name” refers to the nominal designation and “property” (etymologically “reason [for the designation]”) refers to the basis of designation. mkhas pa’i tshul la ’jug pa’i sgo. Mi-pham. and acted upon. paratantra) because it is the basis of appearance for a myriad of strictly conventional appearances: “This [concept] is exclusively the dependent nature because it is the basis of the appearances of the manifold appearances which are strictly conventional. 58. expressed. published in mkhas ’jug (Qinghai: .6-710.6: ming ni ka ba dang bum pa sogs brda’i sgo nas btags pa tsam mo/ rgyu mtshan ni ming gi gdags gzhi gdung ’degs sogs kyi don byed pa dang/ lto ldir ba la sogs par snang ba lta bu’o. 709. speech. 144 Mi-pham. or acted upon—dualistic experiences. 59: de ni gzhan gyi dbang nyid yin te tha snyad tsam du snang ba sna tshogs kyi snang gzhir gyur pa’o. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. Strictly conventional (tha snyad tsam) apparently means exclusively within the domain of what can be said.”145 Furthermore.” as the eight consciousnesses: “Concept is the collection of eight consciousnesses. dbus mtha’ rnam ’byed ’grel pa.1: rnam par rtog pa ni rnam shes tshogs brgyad do.” Mi-pham. and acted upon by means of the mind. Mi-pham states: “Name is the mere imputation through terms such as ‘pillar’ and ‘pot.”144 Among the three natures. Mi-pham characterizes what is conventional as that which can be known.”143 Mi-pham characterizes the third principle. parikalpita). he says that “concept” is exclusively the “dependent nature” (gzhan dbang. when analyzed they are not truly existent.68 thusness (de bzhin nyid). 709. because they are the dualistic appearances within the realm of words and thought: “These two [name and property] are the imagined nature because they are dualistic perceived-perceiver appearances of the domain of language and thought.’ Property is the term’s basis of imputation such as the property of supporting pillars and the appearance of the bulbous object.

but is not established in duality. is ‘authentic wisdom’”149 Authentic wisdom. 59: de’i rjes su zhugs pa yang dag min rtog dang bral ba’i yul can so so rang rig pa ni yang dag pa’i ye shes zhes bya’o. 1994). 146 Mi-pham. 149 Ibid. dbus mtha’ rnam ’byed ’grel pa. “free from the imagination of the unreal” (yang dag min rtog dang bral). subject [authentic wisdom] and object [suchness].6: kun tu rtog pa’i ngor gzung ’dzin gnyis su snang ba yod kyang/ ji ltar snang ba de kho na ltar gnyis su grub pa ma yin pa’i rnam par rig pa la gzhan dbang zhes bya ste kun brtags ’khrul pa skye ba’i gzhi yin pa’i phyir. the last of the three natures: “These latter two. pariniṣpanna). 147 Mi-pham. the awareness that exclusively appears as such.” as the expanse of phenomena that is the lack of intrinsic nature in all phenomena: “Thusness is the expanse of phenomena that is the lack of any intrinsic nature of the two-fold self in these phenomena comprised by the internal and external. the imagined nature. . is called “the dependent nature.”147 Mi-pham describes “thusness. 59: phyi ma yul yul can ’di gnyis ni yongs su grub zhes bya ste. 148 Ibid. 129: tha snyad de la shes brjod ’jug gsum du bzhag pa ni sems dang ngag dang lus kyi sgo nas so. 669... while there is dualistic appearance. “thusness” and “authentic wisdom. is Nationalities Press. Mi-pham states that the last two of the five principles.5-669.” It is the basis for the arising of distortion. 59: phyi nang gis bsdus pa’i chos de dag la bdag gnyis kyi rang bzhin cung zad grub pa med pa’i chos kyi dbyings ni de bzhin nyid yin la.” refer respectively to the objective (yul) and subjective (yul can) components of the “thoroughly established nature” (yongs grub. the subject free from the imagination of the unreal which assimilates that [thusness]. are said to be “thoroughly established” (yongs su grub). dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel.”148 He explains “authentic wisdom” as the reflexive awareness that is the subject free from the imagination of the unreal (yang dag min rtog): “The individual reflexive awareness.69 In the perspective of thoroughgoing conceptuality (kun tu rtog pa’i ngor).

1: don dam pa’am dam pa’i don ni ngo bo nyid gsum gyi nang nas yongs grub gcig pu yin gyi gzhan gnyis ma yin te/ gnyis snang med pa’i rang bzhin can tha mal pa’i zhes brjod las ’das pa’am/ gnas snang mthun pa ni ’di kho na yin pa’i phyir.6: yang dag ma yin kun rtog ces bya ba gang yin na/ de ni gzung ’dzin gnyis su snang ba can/ khams gsum gyis bsdus pa yi sems dang sems byung ba thams cad do. Mi-pham explains that among the three natures.5-669. only the thoroughly established nature is ultimate:152 The ultimate (don dam pa) or the ultimate meaning (dam pa’i don) is only the thoroughly established nature among the three natures. 706. dbus mtha’ rnam ’byed ’grel pa. In this way.5-707.. 152 Ibid. 709. his distinction of the thoroughly established nature reflects a distinction between wisdom and mind. or (2) because only this is appearance in accord with the mode of subsistence. As appearance in accord with the mode of subsistence.3-709.. 151 Ibid. the thoroughly established nature is ultimate. Mi-pham states that the domain of pure wisdom is only the thoroughly established nature. not the other two natures:151 The exclusive object of pure wisdom is not the imagined and dependent natures. 150 . but is said to be only the thoroughly established nature because when that [thoroughly established nature] is the realm of experience (spyod yul du byas).4: dag pa’i ye shes kyi yul nyid kun btags dang gzhan dbang gnyis ma yin la/ yongs grub gcig bu kho na yin par brjod de/ de spyod yul du byas tshe gnas snang mthun pa’i phyir. 669. Thus.70 thereby distinguished from mind (sems) because Mi-pham explains “imagination of the unreal” to mean the dualistic experience of mind:150 What is the imagination of the unreal? It is all minds (sems) and mental states (sems byung) of the three realms that have the dualistic experience of a perceived [object] and a perceiver. the other two are not: (1) because [the thoroughly established nature] is of the nature of non-dual experience beyond ordinary consciousness and expression. appearance accords with the mode of subsistence. Mi-pham.

154 Mi-pham. 466. 155 Mi-pham. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. the thoroughly established nature is delineated as ultimate due to being authentic experience. 270: bdag med gnyis dang/ rnam shes tshogs brgyad kyang chos lnga’i nang du ’du la/ de lnga yang rang bzhin gsum gyi nang du ’dus. the distinction between consciousness (rnam shes) and wisdom (ye shes) is one way that he delineates the two truths:153 The subject of appearance in accord with the mode of subsistence is called “wisdom. 153 Mi-pham. are said to be “thoroughly established” (yongs su grub) not because of an essence that is truly established (bden grub).1: gnas snang mthun par gyur pa’i yul can la ye shes zhes bya ste gzung ’dzin med pa’o/ mi mthun par ’dzin pa la rnam shes zhes bya ste gzung ’dzin can no. 59-60: phyi ma yul yul can ’di gnyis ni yongs su grub zhes bya ste/ ngo bo bden par grub pa ni min gyi yin lugs ma nor bas na tshig de skad bla dwags su btags pa yin no. . a frequent Yogācāra depiction.”155 Thus. gzhung spyi’i bka’ gnad.71 Here. Mi-pham also maintains the empty quality of such an ultimate when he says that the thoroughly established nature is not truly established:154 These latter two. Mi-pham states that: “The two selflessnesses and the eight consciousnesses also are comprised within the five principles. which Mi-pham also describes as the nature of non-dual experience. In addition to the ultimate as appearance that accords with the mode of subsistence.” being free from duality. and these five [principles] are also comprised within the three natures. but are designated with that name because of being the unerring reality (yin lugs ma nor bas). In this way. “consciousness” is the apprehending [subject] of appearance that does not accord with the mode of subsistence.6-467. Mipham effectively claims that all Mahāyāna can be contained within the three-natures. rab gsal de nyid snang byed. subject [authentic wisdom] and object [suchness]. We can see that the ultimate as appearance in accord with the mode of subsistence characterizes the two truths in this context. being dualistic.

the suchness that is the empty-ground of all phenomena Is truly established because it is just what is experienced By the undistorted wisdom of the Sublime Ones. steadfast. Ge-tsey Paṇ-chen states that suchness is truly established (bden grub) due to being what is experienced by the undistorted wisdom of the Sublime Ones:156 Thus. with the empty-ground as the thoroughly established nature:157 Of the three stages of the wheel of the Victorious One’s doctrine The first teaches the relative and causality as incontrovertible The second teaches the self-empty relative and The third teaches the profound suchness.5: ’di na rgyal ba’i chos ’khor rim gsum gyi/ /dang pos kun rdzob rgyu bcas bslu med dang/ /gnyis pas kun rdzob rang stong gsum pa yis/ /don dam gzhan stong chos nyid zab mo bstan/ /yul gyi ’khrul snang med bzhin kun tu brtags/ /yul can ’khrul sems tshogs brgyad gzhan dbang las/ /rnam grol rig pa’i ye shes yongs grub che/ /’di ni nges don rdzogs chen khyad par chos. and Ge-tsey Paṇ-chen. Collected Works vol. 17611829). Ge-tsey Paṇ-chen (dge rtse paṇ chen.).5: de phyir chos kun 156 stong gzhi’i chos nyid gang/ /’phags pa rnams kyi ye shes ma ’khrul bas/ /nyams su myong bya nyid phyir bden par grub/ /’gyur ba med phyir rtag brtan ther zug go.1 (Sichuan ed. and eternal because it is unchanging. a Nying-ma scholar from Kaḥ-tok (kaḥ thog) monastery. rgyal bstan ’khor lo gsum dgongs pa gcig tu rtogs pa ston pa bzhi ldan gyi gtam. 157 Ge-tsey Paṇ-chen.1 (Sichuan ed. the other-empty ultimate. and Permanent. and the last wheel explains the ultimate as other-empty. The awareness wisdom of liberation—the great thoroughly established nature is freed from The objects of delusion that appear yet do not exist—the imagined nature. Ge-tsey Paṇ-chen also states that the middle wheel explains relative phenomena as self-empty. 116. . vol. He describes the Great Perfection in terms of the three natures of Yogācāra.4-119. Collected Works.). ’gyur med tshe dbang mchog grub.3-116. 119.72 We will turn to Mi-pham’s discussion of Prāsaṅgika after we consider the statements of another of Mi-pham’s predecessors. rgyal bstan ’khor lo gsum dgongs pa gcig tu rtogs pa ston pa bzhi ldan gyi gtam.

158 he embraces Prāsaṅgika as representing the highest view of exoteric Buddhism. the distinctive doctrine of the Great Perfection. In .” Longchen-pa. We now will turn to Mi-pham’s position on the Middle Way in relation to Prāsaṅgika. and the conceptual and the non-conceptual. We will first turn to Mi-pham’s representation of ultimate truth in order to introduce his discussion of Prāsaṅgika. the “categorized ultimate. a discourse at play within the conceptual structures of thought. However.73 The subjects of deluded mind which are the eight collections [of consciousness]—the dependent nature. 1141. Prāsaṅgika-Madhyamaka. Svātantrika plays an important role in Mi-pham’s systematic interpretation. but following Long-chen-pa. Svātantrika--Prāsa Prāsaṅ Svātantrika ṅgika In his depiction of the Prāsaṅgika-Svātantrika distinction. emphasizes the component of dialectical inquiry. on the other hand.3: mtshan nyid theg pa chen po’i rtse mo dbu ma 158 thal ’gyur. Svātantrika.” Long-chen-pa affirms that Prāsaṅgika is the summit of the dialectical vehicle: “The summit of the dialectical vehicle of the Mahāyāna. The former refers to a mere absence as a negative representation of the ultimate. Prāsaṅgika-Madhyamaka as a We will see that he represents discourse that emphasizes what transcends conceptuality. we will explore how Mi-pham juxtaposes consciousness and wisdom. This is the definitive meaning. yid bzhin mdzod ’grel. The distinction between a conceptual negation and a negation that is free from all conceptual constructs is a central part of Mi-pham’s explanation of ultimate truth. Mi-pham also treats the dependent nature as consciousness and the thoroughly established nature as wisdom. we will see how he portrays Prāsaṅgika as (also) compatible with the Great Perfection.

dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. like the finger pointing to the moon. Mi-pham’s division of ultimate truth into the categorized and uncategorized ultimate reflects two distinct ways of understanding. 160 Ibid. in the context of (dbang du byas) the 159 Mi-pham. the meaning is far beyond the domain of language and mind. the Middle Way. in which the two valid cognitions (conventional and ultimate) ascertain emptiness and appearance separately. The first is in the perspective of a “post-meditation” (rjes thob) of determinate experience. merely a negation as an absence of true establishment. The second is in the perspective of reality from a non-conceptual state of meditative equipoise (mnyam bzhag) in which the two truths are indivisible:160 In short. . but these are merely indicators.74 contrast to this mere non-existence. It is signified by the words such as unity of the two truths. 366: don dam rnam grangs pa bden grub med par dgag pa tsam ni blo’i yul yin sgra’i yul yin/ rnam grangs min pa la ni snang stong re re’i phyogs su ma lhungs pa’i snang stong zung ’jug bden gnyis zung ’jug spros bral dbu ma sogs ming btags pa ni mtshon byed tsam ste mdzub mos zla ba bstan pa dang ’dra ba las don du sgra rtog gi yul las shin du ’das pa yin no. freedom from constructs. The “uncategorized” is indicated by words such as the unity of two truths. the “uncategorized ultimate” is the freedom from all conceptual constructs:159 Ultimate truth which is categorized. in accord with the meaning found in meditative equipoise beyond thoughts and words. is an object of mind and an object of language. but its meaning defies affirmation and negation. 54: mdor na mnyam bzhag sgra dang rtog pa’i yul las ’das pa’i gzhal don ltar mthar thug gi gnas tshul bden pa dbyer med kyi dbang du byas na ni bden gnyis phye mi dgos pas ’di ltar snang ba’i chos thams cad ye nas yod med yin min sogs dgag sgrub kyi khas len gang yang med pas ci’ang mi gsung ba’i tshul gyis lan btab pa dang ’dra bar yang dag par na tha snyad thams cad las ’das shing brjod du med pa dang spros pa dang bral ba dang mnyam pa nyid kyi phyir khas len med par grub kyang/ rjes thob sgra rtog gi yul du gyur pa snang tshul gyi dbang du byas te gzhi lam ’bras bu sogs kyi rnam gzhag zhig rang gis bsam zhing gzhan la’ang smra dgos na ni tshad ma gnyis phye ste dgag sgrub kyi tshul la ’jug pa las ’da’ ba mi srid do.. The uncategorized is the unity of appearance and emptiness that does not fall to the side of either appearance or emptiness.

which is the emptiness of true existence that merely eliminates the object of negation. and also speak to others. the two truths do not need to be distinguished. and fruition. if one needs to reflect upon the presentations of the ground. such as negations and affirmations that are existential (med) or predicative (min). this manner also has apprehensions and assertions. path. from the indivisible truth of empty appearance. one operates by means of thoughts and words when the two truths are divided. He makes this delineation in a distinction between a mere absence (med pa tsam) and the lack of intrinsic nature (rang bzhin med pa):162 Ibid. non-assertion is established in the authentic [condition] free from all conventions—inexpressible. in the context of the way things appear.. There are no assertions. However. However. 91: de’ang las dang po pa’i dgag bya bkag pa’i med rkyang tsam zhig blo yul du ’char srid kyang/ dbu mas dpyad pa gnad du song ba’i gang zag gis/ rang bzhin med pa 161 . free from constructs. in which emptiness is separate from appearance. He distinguishes the mere aspect of a negation. in the way things appear in postmeditation. 162 Ibid. in the context of the way things are—the indivisible truth—in meditative equipoise free from conceptual engagement. there is conceptual apprehension and there are assertions:161 Hence. Mi-pham states that as long as the aspects of appearance and emptiness are distinct. the two valid cognitions are divided. positive or negative. the objects of thoughts and words in post-meditation. as when replying in the manner of not saying anything at all. and (2) the aspect of dependent arising separately exist as if separate and distinct. etc. Therefore. and it is impossible to deviate from operating by way of affirmation and negation. in which emptiness is indivisible with dependent arising..75 indivisible truth that is the consummate reality.. equality—because all phenomena appear as such from the beginning free from any assertions whatsoever. due to the fact that (1) the aspect of an existential negation (med dgag). 360-361: des na dgag bya bcad tsam gyi bden stong med dgag gi cha dang/ rten ’byung gi cha so sor rang sa na ma ’dres par yod pa lta bu’i phyir na lugs de la ’dzin pa’ang yod khas len kyang yod la.

163 Ibid. 164 Other-exclusion (anyāpoha) refers to how words represent meaning in the discourse of Buddhist epistemology (pramāṇa) through negative reference. it dang/ med pa tsam gyi khyad legs par phyed pa’i sgo nas/ rang bzhin med pa dang rten ’byung don du dbyer med pa’i nges shes khyad par can gyi ’dzin stangs ni/ g. a person who has gone to the essential point through Middle Way analysis will distinguish well between the lack of intrinsic nature and a mere absence.76 Moreover. it will not be the nature that is free from the conceptual constructs of the four extremes.yang sa lta bu rtag chad kyi mtha’ gnyis sel ba’i gnyen po yin mod/ ji srid dgag sgrub kyi ’dzin stangs dang bcas pa de srid du rnam par rtog pa’i spros pa mtha’ bzhi bral ba’i rang bzhin ma yin no. Since emptiness as the categorized ultimate is an object of thought and linguistic utterance. 362: dngos po dgag bya rnam par bcad pa ’di ni yod pa bsal ba’i gzhan sel rtog pa’i gzugs brnyan tsam yin pas spros pa las ma ’das la. In this way. . the entity. and therefore does not go beyond conceptual constructs. Mi-pham creates a space for the absolute transcendence of an ultimate truth that is free from conceptual modes of apprehension and free from constructs (spros bral):163 This elimination of the object of negation. as long as it is together with an affirming or negating mode of apprehension (’dzin stangs). an other-exclusion (gzhan sel)164 that excludes existence. A mere absence is a negation. However. Negations are relegated to the categorized ultimate because the freedom from constructs is beyond negation and affirmation. the meaning of the indivisibility of dependent arising and the lack of intrinsic nature is beyond negation and other such (conceptual) modes of apprehension.. will be an antidote that clears away the precipice-like extremes of permanence and annihilation. a conceptual mode of apprehension. a mode of apprehension. is merely a reflected image in the mind. distinguished by the certainty that an absence of intrinsic nature and a dependent arising are indivisible in meaning. Through doing so. However. although it is possible for a mere absence that is the elimination of the object of negation to appear in a novice’s mind.

the categorized ultimate is not the expressed meaning because the categorized ultimate is in the context of a novice progressively engaging in emptiness from merely a conceptual perspective. Hence. it cannot roam in the territory of a mind like the nonconceptual meditative wisdom of a Sublime One. 323. Mi-pham depicts a qualitative difference between the two ultimates by describing the categorized ultimate within the context of novices:167 The context such as the analysis whether the ultimate is within the domain of mind or not refers to the uncategorized ultimate. a phenomenon captured by the dichotomies such as “is” and “is not”…such descriptions cannot be taken literally. for they are still prisoners of the essentialist temptation to pin down reality through determinate description. As such. brgal lan nyin byed snang ba. “Would the True Prāsaṅgika Please Stand?”. a negation exists only in opposition to an affirmation. In his article assessing Mi-pham’s position in relation to Prāsaṅgika-Madhyamaka. To conceive of ultimate truth as being merely the fact that phenomena do not exist intrinsically is to assume a negative essence and to remain captive of binary oppositions. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel.77 is merely a relative truth: “The emptiness that is an existential negation is posited as relative in relation to the genuine ultimate which is free from all conventions. . Dreyfus insightfully portrays the categorized ultimate as an issue of the limits of linguistically-bound expressions:166 Moreover. 544: blo’i spyod yul yin min dpyad pa sogs kyi skabs su rnam grangs min pa la brjod kyi rnam grangs pa’i don dam la brjod don med de/ rnam grangs pa’i don dam ni las dang po pas stong nyid la rim gyis ’jug pa’i skabs su rtog ngor byas pa tsam las ’phags pa’i mnyam bzhag ye shes rtogs [read rtog] bral lta bu gnyis snang nub pa’i blo la kho ’dra ba rgyu ba’i sa ga la yod de/ ’khor los sgyur pa’i khri la mu to ba ’dug pa’i dbang med pa bzhin no. it would have to exist on the same level as other conventional phenomena and would be just another elaboration. is not a negation. for which duality 165 Mi-pham. Mi-pham. 166 167 Dreyfus. 332: stong nyid med dgag nyid stha snyad kun bral gyi don dam mtshan nyid pa la ltos te kun rdzob tu bzhag gi rnam grangs pa’i don dam gyi zla bo kun rdzob de ga la yin te de’i dbang du na don dam yin no. if emptiness were a negation.”165 Emptiness that is the uncategorized ultimate. however.

he portrays a provisional nature to conceptual frameworks:168 For a conventional phenomenon. rab gsal de nyid snang byed. conceptual) inquiry.. whereas it does not apply in a context of the uncategorized ultimate. We can say that for Mi-pham.. is it not extremely absurd if one must refute the Buddha’s Word [which describes a reality that transcends conventions] by means of introductory logic primers (bsdus tshan gyi gzhung)? In this way. 303-304: yul can gyi dbang du byas na gnyis snang log ma log gi sgo nas rnam grangs min pa dang yin pa’i don dam gyi tha snyan [read snyad] kyang ’thad par bdag cag gis kyang ’dod de yul gyi dbang du byas na spros pa nyi tshe ba’i spyod yul dang bral ba dang/ spros pa’i spyod yul mtha’ dag dang bral ba de gnyis la don dam gnyis po’i khyad par du bshad cing/ yul can gyi dbang du byas na spros bral gyi don la ji lta bar gzigs nas gnyis snang log pa’i yul can de la rnam grangs min pa’i don dam pa dang/ de las gzhan du gnyis snang dang bcas pa la rnam grangs pa’i don dam gyi brda mdzad pa yod de. . See also Karma Phuntsho. The categorized ultimate concerns a perspective within a conceptual framework. etc. 169 Ibid. Mi-pham suggests that laws of ordinary logic are trumped by the authority of scriptures (and the experience of meditative equipoise). Mi-pham delineates the categorized and uncategorized ultimate also in terms of the subject (yul can) as well as the object (yul):169 168 Mi-pham. it is not suitable to say that it is both or neither [existent and nonexistent]. Mipham’s Dialectics and the Debates on Emptiness. At the time of expressing the non-assertion of the four extremes as the reality that transcends conventions and has completely pacified constructs.. such a framework is observed in the context of discursive (i. like a beggar that has no power to sit on the universal emperor’s throne.78 has subsided. In this way.e. other than asserting that it is either existent or non-existent. 265: tha snyad kyi chos la yod pa’am med pa rtag mi rtag sogs gang rung du khas len pa las/ gnyis ka dang gnyis min du smra ba mi rung ngo/ tha snyad las ’das pa spros pa nye bar zhi ba’i gnas lugs la mtha’ bzhi’i khas len med par brjod tshe/ bsdus tshan gyi gzhung gis sangs rgyas kyi bka’ sun ’byin dgos pa ni ha cang yang thal ma ches sam. 93. permanent or impermanent.

472: thal ’gyur pas rnam grangs min pa khas len thams cad bral ba’i dbu ma chen po rtsal du bton nas bshad pa’i tshe don dam dpyod pa gzhir bzhag gi dbang du byas te. having seen the meaning of the freedom from constructs as it is. the great Middle Way free from assertions.” The subjects and objects beyond conceptual experience are “uncategorized. or (2) free from all constructs.. Both subjects and objects within the realm of conceptual experience are called “categorized. brgal lan nyin byed snang ba. [the subject] with dualistic experience is called the categorized ultimate.” Mi-pham associates discourse on the uncategorized ultimate with meditative equipoise:170 At the time that Prāsaṅgikas explain with an emphasis on the uncategorized ultimate. it is in the context based upon ultimate analysis..79 We also assert that in terms of the subject. and oppositely. In terms of the object. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. whether or not dualistic experience has been removed or not. the difference between the two ultimates is the freedom from a partial domain of constructs and the freedom from the entire domain of constructs. In terms of the subject. 102: de’i phyir thal rang de dag mnyam bzhag bden gnyis ro gcig pa’i ye shes dang/ rjes thob bden gnyis so sor ’byed pa’i shes rab la rtsal du bton nas ’chad pa’i tshul de ltar yin par shes par bya.ascertaining all that appears in accord with sacred domain (dam pa’i spyod yul) of meditative equipoise free from constructs and without reference (dmigs pa med pa). the names “categorized” and “uncategorized” are appropriate. Mi-pham cites the distinction between the discourses emphasizing a context of meditative equipoise or post-meditation as the difference between Svātantrika and Prāsaṅgika:171 170 Mi-pham. 171 Mi-pham.. the subject that has removed dualistic experience is called the uncategorized ultimate. Mi-pham describes the two contexts of the ultimate as categorized or uncategorized in terms of the object: (1) whether it is free from constructs partially. and in terms of the subject: whether dualistic apprehension is present or not.ji ltar snang ba thams cad spros bral dmigs pa med pa mnyam gzhag dam pa’i spyod yul dang mthun par gtan la ’bebs pa yin te. ..

99: rnam grangs pa’i don dam khas len dang bcas pa de rtsal du bton nas ’chad pa rang rgyud pa’i mtshan nyid yin la/ rnam grangs ma yin pa’i don dam khas len kun bral rtsal du bton nas ’chad pa thal ’gyur ba yin pa shes par bya’o// ’di gnyis kyi mtshan nyid ’jog pa’i skabs su tha snyad du rang mtshan gyis grub pa ’dod mi ’dod dang gtan tshigs ’god tshul sogs kyi khyad par phyes te ’jog pa ni yan lag gi dbye ba tsam ste gong gi mtshan nyid ’dir ’du ba yin te/ khas len yod med/ tha snyad du rang mtshan gyis grub pa zhal gyis bzhes mi bzhes/ rang bzhin med sgrub kyi gtan tshigs thal rang du ’god tshul/ dgag bya la don dam gyi khyad par sbyar mi sbyar gyi gnad kyang bshad ma thag pa’i tshul de nyid kyi dbang gis yin no. is also the key point of: • whether or not there are assertions • whether or not there is acceptance of establishment by own character conventionally • the manner of forming evidence establishing the lack of intrinsic nature as a consequence or an autonomous [syllogism] • whether or not the operator “ultimately” is used for the object of negation. He depicts the main distinction of Prāsaṅgika and Svātantrika as follows:172 The defining characteristic (mtshan nyid) of Svātantrika is explanation that emphasizes the categorized ultimate together with assertions. The defining characteristic of Prāsaṅgika is explanation that emphasizes the uncategorized ultimate free from all assertions. Mi-pham associates the wisdom of meditative equipoise with the manner of explanation emphasized in Prāsaṅgika. etc. 172 . are merely ancillary divisions subsumed within the defining characteristics above. due to this [emphasis on the categorized or uncategorized] itself.80 Therefore. one should know Prāsaṅgika and Svātantrika as they are the manners of explanation emphasizing: (1) wisdom of meditative equipoise for which the two truths are one taste. In the context of positing the defining characteristics for these two. positing a distinction such as whether or not [phenomena] are established by their own character conventionally.. and (2) supreme knowledge of post-meditation for which the two truths are distinctively discerned. Also. a post-meditative perspective where the two truths are separately discerned is associated with the manner of explanation emphasized in Svātantrika. Ibid. which was just explained. and the manners of forming evidence (gtan tshigs). In contrast.

”173 Thus. 576: thal ’gyur ba’i gzhung gis rnam grangs pa’i don dam tsam las mi ston na/ thal rang gnyis las dgongs pa rang rgyud pa mtho bar khas len dgos te. a perspective where no position (khas len kun bral) is held. nges shes sgron me. Thus. He describes the transcendent quality of the ultimate as uncategorized in the discourse emphasized in Prāsaṅgika.81 Mi-pham identifies the categorized ultimate truth with discourse emphasized by Svātantrika. is the emphasis of the Svātantrika. 174 Mi-pham. Svātantrika would have to be accepted as a higher viewpoint. with the discourse emphasized by Prāsaṅgika. he identifies this uncategorized ultimate truth. but in the way of appearance Each of the two truths are also conventionally asserted. 42: de ltar gnas lugs mthar thug don/ /khas len med kyang snang tshul la/ /tha snyad bden gnyis so sor yang/ /khas blang yod de de gnyis kyang/ /bden gnyis dbyer med gnas lugs la/ /ltos na so so’i snang tshul tsam/ /dbyer med don mthong ye shes la/ /ltos na tshad ma gnyis po yang/ /gnyis tshe’i gnas yin de gcig gis/ /bden gnyis ’dzin pa mi srid phyir. Prāsaṅgika and Svātantrika. then among the two. The Prāsaṅgika and Svātantrika respectively emphasize discourses within the contexts of: (1) the way things are seen by wisdom—the unified truth. while maintaining an ultimate truth that can be conceptually discerned in the discourse emphasized in Svātantrika. but the emphasis is placed on the categorized ultimate. brgal lan nyin byed snang ba. the Svātantrika texts also can indicate the uncategorized ultimate. the view of Prāsaṅgika is not necessarily different from that of the Svātantrika: “If Prāsaṅgika texts only indicated the categorized ultimate [and not the uncategorized]. and (2) the way things appear to consciousness—distinguished as two truths:174 Thus. compared with the reality of the indivisible two truths [The two truths] are merely separate in the manner of appearance. . as expressible in terms of syllogism and analytical inquiry. However. 173 Mi-pham. For Mi-pham. discourse within the discursive contexts of post-meditation. the meaning of the consummate ultimate Is without assertion. In contrast.

42-43: nged kyis khyad par phyes nas su/ /shan ’byed lam gyi dbu ma dang/ /dngos gzhi mnyam bzhag dbu ma gnyis/ /rags dang phra ba’am rgyu ’bras sam/ /rnam shes ye shes gnas skabs kyi/ /dbu ma che chung khyad phyes nas. free from constructs in meditative equipoise. nges shes sgron me.. 176 Mi-pham. 473: rnam grangs min pa khas len thams cad dang bral ba’i don dam ’phags pa’i mnyam gzhag gi yul du snang zhing/ rnam grangs pa’i don dam rjes kyi nges pa la snang la snga ma ye shes dang phyi ma rnam shes kyi spyod yul yin. Mi-pham distinguishes two contexts of the Middle Way as (1) wisdom. Based on the distinction between consciousness and wisdom there are the two ultimates—the nominal (categorized) ultimate and the genuine (uncategorized)—and the two contexts of post-meditation and meditative equipoise... .82 Compared with the wisdom that sees the indivisible meaning.de ltar don dam btags pa ba dang mtshan nyid pa gnyis po dang mnyam rjes sbyar rgyu ’dir go ba’i gnad chen po yod cing ’di go na lta ba’i ’dzin stangs zhig ma zhig gi gnad kyang go nus. If this is understood. and postmeditation and meditative equipoise. Mi-pham also distinguishes the contexts of wisdom and consciousness as: the “subtle” (phra ba) and “gross” (rags). and the “great” (che) and “lesser” (chung) Middle Way:176 The distinction I make Differentiate between two: the Middle Way of the path and 175 Mi-pham. and the categorized ultimate appears in the subsequent certainty [of postmeditation]. and (2) consciousness. there is a great essential point here that applies to the [difference between] the nominal (btags pa ba) and genuine (mtshan nyid pa) ultimates. one can also understand the essential point of whether or not apprehension has deconstructed (zhig). brgal lan nyin byed snang ba. Both of the valid cognitions are also A partial domain because It is impossible for one to apprehend the two truths. within the domain of thoughts and language in post-meditation:175 The uncategorized ultimate free from all assertions appears as the object of meditative equipoise of a Sublime One.In this way. the former is the domain of wisdom and the latter is the domain of consciousness.

an operator [e. opt.83 The Middle Way of meditative equipoise. Which is the designation of a cause with the name of the result. See also Mi-pham. dam chos dogs sel. The key distinction between Mi-pham’s two contexts of (nonconceptual) meditative wisdom and (conceptual) post-meditative consciousness is precisely how he distinguishes key themes related to the Prāsaṅgika-Svātantrika distinction such as: (1) whether or not there are assertions. Mi-pham states that the Middle Way with assertions is the lesser Middle Way.179 (4) whether or not Ibid. together with assertions and the two truths distinct. dam chos dogs sel. is designated as the “Middle Way” due to it being the cause of the Middle Way:177 Therefore. which is given the name “Middle Way” due to being a cause of the Middle Way.178 (2) whether or not the operator “ultimately” is needed to modify what is negated. 503: yang dag pa’i gzigs ngor ci yang ma rnyed pa skra shad med pa’i mthong ba lta bu’i ngor chos can mthun snang med pa dang/ gnad de las dgag bya la khyad par sbyar mi dgos pa.. 99. 47: de phyir bden gnyis so so yi/ /khas len dang bcas dbu ma de/ /’bras ming rgyu la btags pa yi/ /res ’jog dbu ma chung ngu yin. The domain of thought and language is the causal Middle Way.g.. He states that the lesser Middle Way. 178 Mi-pham. cit. 179 Mi-pham states: “In the perspective of authentic vision—a perspective like the sight of the absence of floating hairs for which nothing at all is found—there are no commonly 177 appearing objects. . The resultant Middle Way is the meditative equipoise of wisdom. in which the two truths are separate and known in alternation. the Middle Way together with assertions Of the respective two truths Is the lesser Middle Way of alternation. 502. the main part (dngos gzhi): The gross and subtle. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. (3) whether or not commonly appearing objects are accepted (chos can mthun mong bar snang ba). or the causal and resultant— The distinction is made between the great and lesser Middle Ways Which are the contexts of consciousness or wisdom. and due to that essential point. “ultimately”] does not need to be applied to the object of negation.” Mi-pham.

in the end. 97: de ltar bden gnyis so sor zhen pa’i cha de thal 180 ’gyur ba’i dgag bya thun mong ma yin pa yin te/ gal te rang rgyud pa dag bden gnyis so sor zhen pa’i dgag bya dang bral bar gyur na/ thal ’gyur ba sogs la’ang lta ba de las skyed cung zad kyang ’don rgyu med par shes par bya ste. and that there is nothing more to be developed in Prāsaṅgika beyond that:183 In this way. one should know that the Prāsaṅgika’s unique object of negation is the aspect of apprehending the two truths as distinct because if the Svātantrikas were free from this object of negation of conceiving the two truths as distinct. he says that they have the same consummate viewpoint (dgongs pa):182 Other than the manner of explaining the meaning of the freedom from constructs gradually or instantaneously. 99. opt. 181 Mi-pham. cit. there would not be the slightest thing to develop for even the Prāsaṅgikas.84 autonomous syllogisms are appropriate in the ascertainment of the ultimate. 183 Mi-pham. the operator “ultimately” is applied when negating (conventionally existent) phenomena. otherwise. .181 Within the realm of thought and language: there are assertions. 473. He claims that the unique object of negation of the Prāsaṅgika is the perception of the two truths as distinct. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. cit. brgal lan nyin byed snang ba. etc. 182 Mi-pham. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. Mi-pham depicts the Svātantrikas as emphasizing an approach to emptiness when the two truths remain distinct. [both Svātantrika and Prāsaṅgika] have the same viewpoint—that very freedom from constructs. Mi-pham describes the style of explanation in Svātantrika as gradual and the Prāsaṅgika as sudden. a context of the conceptual Mi-pham. there are commonly appearing objects. rab gsal de nyid snang byed. 253: spros bral gyi don rim dang cig car gyi ’chad tshul tsam las mthar thug spros bral nyid du dgongs pa gcig par ’dod pas.180 and (5) whether or not apprehension (’dzin stangs) is present in the ascertainment of the ultimate. and autonomous syllogisms and apprehension can be used to ascertain the (categorized) ultimate. opt. then other than that view.

is based on a distinction of a non-categorized ultimate that the Prāsaṅgikas themselves do not accept in such discourse! In any case. 472: rang rgyud pas rnam grangs pa’i don dam rtsal du bton nas ’chad pa’i skabs su don dam bden stong tsam la bzhed pa dang/ tha snyad tshad grub bzhed pa’i gnad kyis khas len dang bcas pa’i dbu ma rjes kyi nges pa dang mthun par gtan la phab pa yin la. because at the time of debate. there is no two-fold distinction of the categorized and uncategorized ultimates. in which the two truths are distinct. 9: thal ’gyur ba’i skabs ’dir zung ’jug spros pa dang bral 184 ba’i dbu ma chen po nyid rtsal du ’don pas ’di’i lugs la rnam grangs dang rnam grangs min pa’i don dam gnyis su dbye ba med par shes par bya’o. whereas there are no distinctions in the wisdom of meditative equipoise. as Khen-po Nam-dröl points out. yet Mi-pham says that there are assertions of conventional existence and ultimate non-existence in that (discursive) context. Mi-pham states:185 One should know that in this context of Prāsaṅgika. . since the emphasis is on the great Middle Way which is a unity and free from constructs. accepting the ultimate as This is a difference between Mi-pham’s and Long-chen-pa’s depictions of Prāsaṅgika. Mi-pham primarily delineates the Prāsaṅgika in terms of discourse on the ultimate. 185 Mi-pham. oddly enough.184 Prāsangikas emphasize the discourse of the uncategorized ultimate. Khen-po Nam-dröl. 186 Mi-pham. Discourse on the categorized ultimate. yet without making a distinction between the categorized and uncategorized ultimate. we are confronted with a paradox that the defining characteristic of Prāsaṅgika. He also states that the valid establishment of conventionally existent phenomena is an implication of the conception of the two truths as distinct for Svātantrikas:186 Due to the essential point that at the time Svātantrikas explain with an emphasis on the categorized ultimate. sher ’grel ke ta ka. brgal lan nyin nyed snang ba. Long-chen-pa says that the Prāsaṅgikas have no assertions. explanation with an emphasis on the noncategorized ultimate. nges shes sgron me tape 17a. such distinctions fall within the discursive contexts of postmeditation.85 mind and language. is the emphasis of the Svāntantrika. Thus.

it would be truly established. 474-475: don dam dpyod pas dpyad pa’i tshe yul rang ngos nas grub pa rdul tsam rnyed na’ang de bden grub du ’gyur mod/ don dam dpyod pa’i ngor rang ngos nas grub pa ni rang rgyud pas kyang khas mi len la len na dbu ma par mi rung zhing thar ba’i lam yang de la med par ’gyur ro/ tha snyad dpyod pa’i ngor yul rang gi ngo bos grub par snang yang des yul de bden grub du ga la ’gyur te tha snyad tshad mas grub pa ’thad dgos la/ de tha snyad dpyod byed kyi ngor yang ma grub na gang du’ang grub par mi ’gyur ro. As long as the conventional and ultimate perspectives remain distinct. 188 Mi-pham. they ascertain the Middle Way in accordance with post[-meditation] certainty together with assertions. Mipham rejects the view that an assertion that conventional phenomena are established from their own side (rang ngos nas grub pa) entails that conventional phenomena are truly established (bden grub) for Svātantrikas. brgal lan nyin byed snang ba. conventional phenomena are established by valid cognition. if they did. lam rim chen mo. if even the slightest phenomenon is found to be established from its own side. nor would they possess the path of liberation. The Svātantrikas also do not accept anything to be established from its own side from the perspective of ultimate analysis. rather.187 He says that true establishment is determined only from the perspective of ultimate analysis:188 At the time of ultimate analysis. by this how would it be truly established? Conventions need to be validly 187 Such a view is held in the Ge-luk tradition. However. . 668-669: des na dbu ma rang rgyud pa dang thal ’gyur ba gnyis dgag bya la don dam gyi khyad par sbyar mi sbyar gyi sgo nas mi phyed kyang rang gi ngo bos grub pa’i rang bzhin tha snyad du ’gog mi ’gog gi khyad par yod pas.” Tsong-kha-pa. Although an object may appear to be established by its own essence from the perspective of conventional analysis. they would not be suitable to be Proponents of the Middle Way. Tsong-kha-pa argues that Prāsaṅgikas are distinct from Svātantrika due to the rejection of inherent existence conventionally: “The Svātantrika-Madhyamaka and the Prāsaṅgika-Madhyamaka are not distinguished by means of whether or not the operator ultimately is applied to the object of negation. there is a difference in whether or nor they negate the nature of essential establishment conventionally.86 a mere emptiness of true existence and the conventional as validly established (tha snyad tshad grub).

Thus. they would never be established. conventional production does not even exist conventionally when ascertaining the uncategorized ultimate where there is no dichotomy of conventional and ultimate perspectives apprehending the two truths as distinct. upon analysis through the manner of the four extremes. Mi-pham asserts that Svātantrikas accept conventional production that is established by valid cognition and that such production is not invalidated by ultimate valid cognition:189 This conventional production is accepted to be validly established (tshad grub) by Svātantrikas. but does not exist even conventionally. ascertains the primordially non-arising and unceasing nature of these dependently 189 Mi-pham. 306-307: de ltar mtha’ bzhi’i tshul gyis dpyad na skye ba ni don dam par ma zad/ tha snyad du yang med par gtan la phab pa’i rigs pa des ’di ltar rten ’byung gi snang ba bslu med du yod pa ’di rnams ye nas skye ba dang ’gag pa med pa’i rang bzhin du gtan la phab pa yin pas/ rnam grangs pa’i bden med tsam las ’das te rnam grangs min pa’i don dam bden gnyis dbyer med spros bral chos kyi dbyings nyid du bstan pa yin no. When Prāsaṅgikas examine by means of ultimate analysis. and this is not invalidated [for them] even by ultimate analysis because through holding onto “the negation of ultimate production. 314: tha snyad kyi skye ba ’di rang rgyud pas tshad grub tu ’dod cing don dam dpyod pas dpyad kyang de la gnod pa med de/ don dam par skye ba ’gog pa’o zhes bzung nas tha snyad du skye ba med na tha snyad bden pa med par ’gyur ro snyam du dgongs pa’o/ thal ’gyur bas don dam dpyod pas dpyad na dpyad bzod du yod pa gang yang med do. . this does not entail that it is truly established (from the perspective of either conventional or ultimate analysis). the reasoning that ascertains that production not only does not exist ultimately. Nothing withstands Prāsaṅgika analysis. 190 Ibid.. if they were not established even from the perspective of conventional analysis. then conventional truth would be nonexistent. there is nothing at all that withstands analysis.” they think that if there were no production conventionally. Mi-pham argues that although an object may appear to be established by its own essence from the perspective of conventional analysis.87 established. Mi-pham states:190 In this way. rab gsal de nyid snang byed.

.” Go-ram-pa. When the two truths are not divided. who states explicitly that the PrāsaṅgikaSvātantrika distinction is not made concerning the presentation of conventional truth: “In 192 the presentation of the conventional. Prāsaṅgika and Svātantrika are not distinguished because Prāsaṅgikas also accept autonomous reasons in the presentation of the conventional. the negation of production is unqualified as either ultimate or conventional because there is no such distinction between the two truths in the expanse of phenomena itself—the uncategorized ultimate. Mi-pham’s position resembles Go-ram-pa. this is not the case when the two truths are not divided:191 If having divided the two truths one also negates appearance. he 191 Pöd-pa Tulku. the uncategorized ultimate.4: bden gnyis phyed te snang ba yang bkag na/ dgag bya khyab ches ba’i skyon ’jug kyang bden gnyis ma phyes pa’i gnad kyi[s] dgag bya khyab ches pa’i skyon mi ’jug pa ma zad bden gnyis dbyer med mtshan nyid pa ’ong ba’i gnad ’di thug. stong thun gnad kyi zin thun. there is no fault of over-pervasion when negating appearance. Therefore. there is not only no ensuing fault of the overpervasion of the object of negation. beyond the mere absence of true existence that is the categorized [ultimate]. However. is indicated as the indivisibility of the two truths—the freedom from constructs—which is the expanse of phenomena itself. Pöd-pa Tulku explains that negating appearances while dividing the two truths is an over-extension of the object of negation. but it is this which hits the essential point that evokes the genuine indivisibility of the two truths. lta ba’i shan ’byed. Mi-pham does not assert the necessity of a difference between Svātantrika and Prāsaṅgika on the conventional level. 109: thad snyad kyi rnam bzhag la/ thal rang gi khyad par ’byed pa ni min te/ tha snyad kyi rnam bzhag la rang rgyud kyi gtan tshigs thal ’gyur ba rnams kyis kyang khas len pa’i phyir te. However. there also ensues the fault of the over-pervasion (khyab ches ba’i skyon) of the object of negation.88 arisen appearances that incontrovertibly exist in this way. 7.3-7.192 Rather. due to the essential point of not dividing the two truths. The reason for not accepting the existence of production even conventionally is due to the context of indicating the uncategorized ultimate.

89 emphasizes the compatibility of the Svātantrika and Prāsaṅgika discourses. He also shows a parallel between the emptiness of Prāsaṅgika and primordial purity in the Great Perfection:195 To conclusively settle upon (bdar sha chod pa) primordial purity One needs to perfect the view of Prāsangika.) position. he depicts Prāsaṅgika as an approach similar to the manner of ascertaining primordial purity (ka dag) in the Great Perfection:194 The viewpoint of Candrakīrti—the profound view in which the fictional marks (rdzun ris) of convention dissolve into the expanse since all these appearances are pure just as they are—is similar to the manner of ascertaining primordial purity in the scriptures of the Great Perfection.193 Furthermore. Svātantrika. 129: rdzogs chen ka dag dang thal ’gyur ba’i stong pa nyid spros bral de . From only the aspect of being free from constructs The two196 are said to not be distinct. Mi-pham does not develop a Prāsaṅgika account of conventional reality in the way that he does the Yogācāra position. The primordial purity of the Great Perfection and the emptiness of the Prāsangika— freedom from constructs. His lack of development of a Prāsaṅgika position on conventional reality can be seen as a reflection of his commitment to Yogācāra. 194 Mi-pham. rather than this fact being necessarily due to a preference for Yogācāra over Prāsaṅgika. by simply rejecting the foundationalist premises of discursive practices as such. one must take on a non-Prāsangika (e. nges shes sgron me.” Khen-po Kün-pal. blo gros snang 196 ba’i sgo ’byed. An implication of this interpretation is that in order to engage in a systematic description of conventional reality. However. I think that it may concern the fact that his delineation of Prāsaṅgika is 193 antithetical to the foundationalist and discursive presumptions that system-building discourses such as Yogācāra involve. Prāsaṅgika can allay the problems of Mind-Only’s “idealist” position. and other such rational explanations of reality. 76: dpal ldan zla ba’i dgongs pa snang ba ’di kun thad kar rang sar dag pas tha snyad kyi rdzun ris dbyings su yal ba’i zab mo’i lta ba ni/ rdzogs chen gyi gzhung nas ka dag gtan la ’bebs tshul dang mtshungs. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel.g. 19: ka dag bdar sha chod pa la/ /thal ’gyur lta ba mthar phyin dgos/ /spros bral tsam gyi cha nas ni/ /de gnyis khyad par med do gsungs. which is the emptiness of the Prāsaṅgika. Khen-po Kün-pal states: “It is said that there is not the slightest distinction between the two: (1) primordial purity of the Great Perfection and (2) the freedom from constructs.. etc. 195 Mi-pham. Yogācāra. from the aspect of the expanse of phenomena’s being empty of essence.

In contrast to the instantaneous approach that characterizes the Prāsaṅgika method and the Great Perfection.). printed in the edition. Mi-pham outlines a process of those who progressively engage in the meaning of non-conceptuality (rnam par mi rtog pa’i don la rim gyis ’jug pa dag) in a four-fold scheme that he calls “the four stages of the dawning of the Middle Way” (dbu ma’i ’char rim bzhi): “empty” (stong). 197 Mi-pham. and describes a study and contemplation approach as a manner to progressively negate the four extremes:197 Through a direct manner (car phog tshul) of instantaneously negating The constructs of the four extremes. Mi-pham presents a gradual approach in the way of study and contemplation.5. 95. The text in the dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel is nearly verbatim as the text in the spyi don ’od gsal snying po. nges shes sgron me. The underlined text. 408-410.198 He states that individuals cannot reach an gnyis la khyad par ci yang med do zhes yul chos kyi dbyings ngo bos stong pa’i cha nas gsungs so. 150.90 We will now turn to Mi-pham’s description of a progressive approach to understanding the Middle Way. 80.1-80. Dialectical Ascent Mi-pham explains that it is “difficult” for ordinary beings to see the ultimate truth instantaneously. 198 Mi-pham. delineates Mi-pham’s words in the nges shes sgron me which Khen-po Kün-pal gives an interlinear commentary upon. It is difficult for ordinary beings To see the innate expanse that transcends the mind. “freedom from constructs” (spros bral). 19th c. “unity” (zung ’jug). Therefore. negating the constructs of the four extremes In alternation is the way of the view of study and contemplation. . See also Karma Phuntsho. fl. Mipham’s Dialectics and the Debates on Emptiness. 17: mtha’ bzhi’i spros pa cig car du/ /khegs pa blo ’das gnyug ma’i dbyings/ /so so’i skye bo’i sa nyid na/ /car phog tshul gyis mthong dka’ bas/ /mtha’ bzhi’i spros pa res ’jog tu/ /’gog pa thos bsam lta ba’i lugs. 3. 461-462. yon tan rin po che’i mdzod kyi ’grel pa bden gnyis gsal byed zla ba’i sgron ma) vol. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. “equality” (mnyam pa nyid). See also Yön-tan-gya-mtsho (yon tan rgya mtsho.

”199 Mi-pham says that the first stage. such as pots. spyi don ’od gsal snying po. the empty quality (stong pa’i rnam pa) dawns. the manner of the latter is engaged. 462: de bzhi po snga ma snga ma la brten nas phyi ma phyi ma’i tshul la ’jug gi/ snga ma la nges par ma rnyed bar phyi ma gtan la pheb pa mi ’byung ngo. .” is arrived at by a novice who analyzes objects. such as [the reason of] one and many. they are not found. phenomena incontrovertibly appear from the perspective of nonanalysis:200 When a novice properly investigates by means of the reasons which establish emptiness. however. “empty. nothing is found when analyzed. not truly established 199 Mi-pham. through contemplating the meaning of the non-established pot and so forth.” is understood when the non-existence of phenomena is itself recognized as a mere imputation. As phenomena are analyzed. in a manner alternating appearance and emptiness. in terms of whether they are singular or plural. Therefore. The next phase. so they are empty. one will not ascertain the latter. it is discovered that the phenomenon is not established—empty. 461: las dang po bas gcig du bral sogs stong nyid sgrub pa’i rigs pa rnams kyis tshul bzhin brtags tshe/ bum sogs ma grub pa’i don la bsams nas/ ma dpyad pa’i ngor yod kyang dpyad na mi rnyed pa’i phyir/ ma grub pa nyid gnas lugs so snyam pas snang stong res ’jog gi tshul du stong pa’i rnam pa zhig ’char.91 understanding of the higher stages until they have ascertained the former stages: “These four are such that in dependence upon the former. “unity. At the stage of “empty.” Mi-pham states that the non-establishment of apparent phenomena is thought to be the mode of subsistence. 200 Ibid. When a phenomenon cannot be found when analyzed. he thinks that the abiding reality is non-establishment itself because although existing in the perspective of non-analysis. etc. without gaining certainty in the former.. and one alternates between the two modalities of appearance (when not analyzing) and emptiness (when analyzing).

A freedom from constructs dawns as the natural deconstruction (rang sar zhig) of conceptual cognitions that distinctively apprehend emptiness as a negation. although different in the manner of expression by two phrases. are empty—like [a reflection of] the moon in water.” One comes to understand that from the beginning. At the stage of “unity. appearances of phenomena are inseparable from their emptinesses.. and phenomena as the basis of negation:202 By generating certainty in the manner that the two. phenomena are empty. which is affixed with an object of negation that is eliminated. 202 Ibid. they appear:201 By contemplating that the non-existence of phenomena also is just a mere imputation not actually established. they appear and while appearing.92 in reality. 201 . are indivisible without the slightest essential difference—the thought that apprehends appearance as the basis of negation. At that time. Mi-pham states that in the next phase. “freedom from constructs. and while empty.. there dawns Ibid. 461: de’i tshe de’i med pa nyid kyang btags pa tsam las don la ma grub pa’am/ ye nas stong bzhin du snang ba yin pa’i tshul la bsam pas chu zla ltar snang bzhin stong la stong bzhin snang ba’i nges pa khyad par can skye ste/ de’i tshe rang bzhin med pa dang rten ’byung ’gal med du shar ba’am zung ’jug tu go ba zhes bya.” one gains certainty in the manner that the two—the lack of intrinsic nature and the dependent arising—are not essentially different. 461: rang bzhin med pa dang rten ’byung de gnyis tshig gis brjod tshul la tha dad yod kyang ngo ba la tha dad cung zad med par dbyer med pa’i tshul la nges shes bskyed pas/ dgag gzhi snang ba dang dgag bya bcad pa sbyar nas ’dzin pa’i rnam rtog rang sar zhig ste/ dgag sgrub bsal bzhag med par sor bzhag tu nus pa lta bu’i spros bral gyi rnam par ’char. the lack of inherent nature and dependent arising. One gains certainty that while appearing. naturally deconstructs. the absence of intrinsic nature and dependent arising dawn as non-contradictory—“the understanding of unity” (zung ’jug tu go ba). one generates the distinctive certainty that while empty. or the manner that things appear while empty from the beginning.” the non-contraction of the empty nature of phenomena and their dependent arising is the “understanding of unity.

all aspects of dualistic phenomena.” is thus an all-encompassing eradication of dualistic notions. 462: de ’dra’i spros bral la yang nas yang du goms pas/ chos can re re ba la ltos pa’i chos nyid so so lta bu’i ris chad kyi dmigs pa’i spyod yul gnyis chos kyi rnam pa thams cad dag nas chos thams cad rang bzhin mnyam pa nyid la nges shes khyad par can skye bas mthar phyin to. Mi-pham states:204 Through becoming familiar with such a freedom of constructs again and again. are purified. other than different ways of expression. or (2) through having the nature of mind . all notions of duality become no longer present as impinging upon the mind. nges shes sgron me.” Through becoming accustomed to a freedom from constructs. divisible into different contradistinctions.. 27: 203 snang dang stong pa ’di gnyis po/ /yod mnyam med mnyam ngo bo gcig/ /ldog pa tha dad dbye bar ’dod.” the lack of intrinsic nature and dependent arising are known to be not essentially different. a “quintessential instructions approach. contemplation.”205 does not require much analysis. and meditation. Ibid. such as the ability to remain naturally free from negation and affirmation. a scholar with 205 extensive study. Mi-pham describes two methods of realization: (1) through certainty generated through the explanations of one who sees the definitive meaning.93 the qualities of a freedom from constructs (spos bral gyi rnam par ’char). At the stage of “freedom from constructs. adding and removing. “equality. 204 Mi-pham. one reaches completion. another method. 461: tshig gi brjod tshul la tha dad yod kyang ngo bo la tha dad cung zad med.” Mi-pham. together absent—are asserted as the same entity. In contrast to the analytical approach of “the way of the view of study and contemplation” (thos bsam bta ba’i lugs). The fourth stage.203 they are indivisible. The last stage is “equality. in which one observes a domain of partiality (ris chad kyi dmigs pa’i spyod yul) concerning particular objects (chos can) and their distinctive suchnesses (chos nyid). Through the generation of the distinctive certainty in the nature of all phenomena as equality. Mi-pham also depicts emptiness and appearance as conceptually distinct—“essentially the same with different contradistinctions” (ngo bo gcig [la] ldog pa tha dad): “Both appearance and emptiness—together present. spyi don ’od gsal snying po.

. Mi-pham’s Collected Works (sde dge ed. yon tan rin po che’i mdzod kyi ’grel pa bden gnyis gsal byed zla ba’i sgron ma. which is the emptiness of the three— cause. 3. through analyzing the mind [in terms of] only arising. and effect. even without great knowledge of training in study and reflection. See also Yön-tan-gya-mtsho. who has experience in the quintessential instructions. etc. 24. vol. This is an analysis often found in meditation instructional manuals (khrid yig). and going. etc. such as observing that the mind does not arrive from anywhere. 207 Mi-pham. However. 355. such contemplations also may involve searching for the mind in terms of shape. vol. It is a mistake to think that one has recognized emptiness By merely not seeing the mind to have color.3-356.6-80. 79. instantly generate certainty in the meaning of the equality of appearance and emptiness through the sole power of experiencing the nature of the three gates of liberation. spyi don ’od gsal snying po. or go anywhere:206 Some people of sharp faculties. In this.). Mi-pham is critical of what he sees as misappropriations of such an uncritical approach. See gnyug sems book 1 (gnyug sems ’od gsal ba’i don rgyal ba rig ’dzin brgyud pa’i lung bzhin brjod pa rdo rje snying po).94 Certain people of sharp faculties are able to instantly gain certainty in the meaning of the equality of emptiness and appearance by engaging in simple analysis. 461: dbang rnon kha cig sems la byung gnas ’gro gsum tsam dpyad pas rgyu ’bras ngo bo nyid gsum gyis stong pa’i rnam thar sgo gsum gyi rang bzhin du myong ba’i stobs tsam las snang stong mnyam nyid kyi don la gcig car du nges pa skye ba’ang yod mod. abiding.1. nges shes sgron me. essence. 206 Mi-pham.2. abide in someplace. we can see how a distinction can be made between uncritical views: an uncritical view that has not sufficiently engaged analysis (pre- pointed out well by a teacher. He states:207 Since the mind has no form It is impossible for anybody to see the mind as having color. 14: sems ni gzugs can ma yin pas/ /sus kyang mdog sogs mthong mi srid/ /ma mthong tsam la stong pa nyid/ /ngo ’phrod snyam na shin tu gol. form. Khen-po Nam-dröl contrasts the “quintessential instructions approach” (man ngag lugs) with the “studying and contemplation approach” (thos bsam lugs).

The first is a freedom from the constructs of the four extremes.” The meaning of “Do not apprehend anything” Is two-fold: (1) good understanding and (2) misconception. 17: cir yang mi ’dzin lta ngan la/ /dngos po cir yang ma grub pa’i/ /nges shes skye ba ga la yod/ /des na sgrib pa spong mi nus/ /de phyir ’di gnyis khyad par yang/ /du . clear sky. By resting blankly without analysis With no clarity-aspect of special insight. and an uncritical view that has (post-critical). For example like the statement “nothing at all” For a Proponent of the Middle Way seeing absence And one aspiring to an absence that is an absence of form. he depicts an important and radical difference. he states that the “bad view of not apprehending anything” (cir yang mi ’dzin lta ngan pa) does not eliminate obscurations:209 208 Ibid. The second is oblivion. While they resemble each other due to the fact that they sound the same. In the presence of a Sublime One’s wisdom Since nothing at all remains Apprehension naturally subsides— Like seeing the open. Mi-pham makes such a distinction regarding the meaning of “not apprehending anything” (cir yang mi ’dzin):208 At the time of sustaining the actual view Some people say. the tradition of Hva-shang. Furthermore. “Do not apprehend anything.. 209 Ibid. 13: lta ba’i dngos gzhi skyong ba’i dus/ /kha cig ci yang mi ’dzin zer/ /cir yang mi ’dzin zhes pa’i don/ /legs par rtogs dang log rtog gnyis/ /dang po mtha’ bzhi’i spros bral te/ /’phags pa’i ye shes kyi ’dun na/ /gang yang gnas pa med mthong bas/ /’dzin stangs ngang gis zhig pa ste/ /stong gsal mkha’ la lta dang mtshungs/ /gnyis pa dran med hva shang lugs/ /ma dpyad tse ner bzhag pa yis/ /lhag mthong gsal ba’i cha med par/ /mtsho gting rdo bzhin tha mal gnas/ /dper na ci yang med ces pa/ /dbu mas med par mthong ba dang/ /gzugs med med par mos pa ltar/ /tshig tsam mtshungs pa ’di dag kyang/ /don la mi mtshungs gnam sa bzhin.95 critical). The meanings are as different as the earth and space. Mi-pham delineates two meanings for “not apprehending anything” in a similar way that he makes a distinction between the apparent sameness of two uncritical views.. One remains like an ordinary stone at the bottom of the ocean. Although in mere words these are the same.

471-472: des na tshig tsam la sgyu ma lta bu dang/ dngos po med pa dang/ spros bral sogs zer yang/ rigs pas drangs pa’i nges shes phu thag chod pa’i sgo nas nyi . Mi-pham consistently emphasizes such a distinction and affirms a central place of certainty (nges shes) induced by reasoned analysis (rigs pas rnam dpyod). 210 Mi-pham. As fire [is known] through the evidence of smoke. Therefore. the difference between these two also Is known through the manner of the development of abandonment and realization. see. Thinking that it is not suitable to engage the mind. 211 Ibid. 88: mtha’ gang du’ang zhen mi rung ngo zhes smras na/ srid pa’i rims nad mtha’ dag gi gnyen po stong nyid zab mo’i bdud rtsi’i ’byung gnas rigs pa’i rnam dpyod gyis drangs pa’i nges shes ni bor te/ ji yang yid la byas na mi rung ngo snyam du dran med mun pa’i ’thibs por zhugs pa de lta bus na/ chos zab mo ’di lta zhing mthong ba rtog cing nyams su myong dka’ ba yin te. Mi-pham also stresses the importance of reason in distinguishing the meanings of such terms as “freedom from constructs” (spros bral) in Buddhism. Since ordinary idiot meditation (blun sgom tha mal pa) Is not a cause for abandonment and realization. the antidote for all diseases within existence. it is difficult to view. It is an obstacle to the cultivation of virtue.96 How can the bad view of not apprehending anything Generate certainty in the non-establishment of any entity? That [bad view of not apprehending anything] cannot abandon obscurations. He states that a distinction between the correct view and “ordinary idiot meditation” can be seen in the fruits of practice—the development of abandonment and realization. He states:211 ba’i rtags las me bzhin du/ /spang rtogs bog skyed tshul las shes/ /gang phyir blun sgom tha mal pa/ /spangs dang rtogs pa’i rgyu min la/ /yon tan skye pa’i gegs yin phyir. “It is not suitable to grasp at any extreme!” And throw away the certainty induced by reasoned investigation that is the source of the nectar of profound emptiness.. or experience this profound truth (chos). conceive. from the same terms used by non-Buddhists. when you dwell as in a thick darkness of oblivion (dran med). He states:210 One may think. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel.

213 We saw above how Mi-pham represents the (uncategorized) ultimate truth as transcending linguistic and conceptual structures of thought.. This refers to the process of determining the validity of a scripture.. Buddhists and non-Buddhists cannot be separated by words. which is the valid cognition of the Buddha’s Word purified by the three analyses (dpyad pa gsum gyis dag pa). However. however. saying that in the inner science [of Buddhism] (nang rig pa la) one does not need reasoned analysis in general.. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. The three analyses are: (1) that the demonstration of what is evident (mngon gyur) is not invalidated by direct perception (mngon sum). Mi-pham says that statements that Buddhists do not need reasoned analysis are the words of a demon:212 The Buddha.. in particular.. 347: sangs rgyas. Moreover.phyi nang gi grub mtha’ ’di tshig tsam gyi phye mi nus par zab mo’i gnad gnam sa ltar mi mtshungs pa yod. (2) that the demonstration of what is hidden (lkog gyur) is not invalidated by inference (rjes dpag).taught the mode of subsistence of entities without error and according to fact. tshe ba’i stong pa mu stegs rnams kyi bla na ’phags pa’i de bzhin gshegs pa’i stong pa nyid kyi tshul ma shes na ci’ang mi phan la. the difference in the profound essential point is like the earth and space. . etc.. 212 Mi-pham. although [we share] the mere words such as “illusory.. and valid cognition. His followers also need to ascertain the way it is by reason (rigs pas). this is the unerring tradition of Śākya[-muni].dngos po’i gnas tshul ma nor bar don bzhin bstan pa yin la/ rjes ’jug rnams kyis kyang de bzhin rigs pas gtan la phab dgos pa ni shākya’i ring lugs ma nor ba yin gyi/ spyir rigs pas dpyad pa dang/ khyad par du tshad ma sogs nang rig pa la mi mkho zhes zer ba ni/ dpyad pa gsum gyis dag pa’i sangs rgyas kyi bka’ tshad ma’i myang bya phun sum tshogs pa nyams su bstar ba la bar du gcod pa’i bdud kyi gsang tshig rngam chen po ste.. and (3) that the demonstration of what is extremely hidden (shin tu lkog gyur) is not contradicted 213 (internally) by previous or later statements.” it does not help to not know the manner that the Buddhist emptiness is superior to the limited emptiness of non-Buddhists through a firm conclusion (phu thag chod) with certainty induced by reason.Although the words may be similar.97 Therefore.” “non-entity.” “freedom from constructs. is a frightful spell of a demon that obstructs the practice of the excellence to be experienced.

sher ’grel ke ta ka. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. He advocates a conceptual approach to the ultimate as a means to transcend conceptuality. but is free from the constructs of the four extremes. there is no method to realize the great ultimate without the categorized ultimate. “If all phenomena are unreal (mi bden pa) and like an illusion. of realizing that [genuine ultimate]. However. or cause. It would be like toiling to buy an illusory horse.. he states that as long as experience remains as a dualistic participation of an internal subject with external objects. until the [dualistic] engagement of subject and object has dissolved into the expanse. reasoned analysis. the unreality of phenomena does not entail a lack of causality. etc. 360: don dam mtshan nyid pa ni med rkyang tsam ma yin te/ mtha’ bzhi’i spros bral yin na’ang gzhan sel gyi rtog pa’i blo’i yul na gnas pa’i dngos po’i bden med tsam po ba rnam grangs pa’i don dam ’di med na don dam chen po rtogs pa’i thabs med la/ de rtogs byed kyi thabs sam rgyu yin cing de la gtogs pa yin pas don dam zhes brda sbyar ba yin te.. the incontrovertible law of causality will be at work accordingly:215 Someone may think. [In response] The appearing factor of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa is incontrovertible due to the power of dependent arising.. Furthermore.. Thus. then it is not reasonable to train in even the path. what is the use?!”. generosity. and a conceptual understanding of the ultimate also plays an important role for Mi-pham:214 The genuine ultimate is not merely an absence.’khor ’das kyi snang cha rgyu ma lta bu ni rten ’brel ba’i dbang gis bslu med du yod pa des na ji srid gzung ’dzin gyi ’jug pa dbyings su ma nub kyi bar du sems can rnams la snang ba ’di rgyun mi ’chad cing phan gnod byed pa yin pas. 215 Mi-pham.98 valid cognition. The term “ultimate” is used because it is the method. which is the mere absence of a true existence of entities that abides as an other-exclusion (gzhan sel)—the object of a conceptual mind. these appearances are uninterrupted and are harmful or helpful to sentient beings. 15-16: chos thams cad mi bden pa sgyu ma lta bu yin na sbyin sogs lam la’ang slob par mi rigs te sgyu ma’i rta nyo ba’i ngal ba lta bu ’dis ci bya zhe na/. Therefore. 214 Mi-pham. for that long. .

Dialectical Practice in Tibetan Philosophical Culture (Lanham. 58-59. path of reason and (2) a nonconceptual path of wisdom. In this way. or gradual.. we can see a unique dialectic in Mi-pham’s system that accommodates a certain level of open-ended dialectical inquiry within the closure of an ultimately indivisible ground. 2004). Yogācāra plays an important role in Mi-pham’s depiction of the ultimate truth as wisdom’s authentic experience (appearance in accord with the mode of subsistence). “Language and Discourse” and “Explanation and Understanding. Such a dialectic is a prominent feature of Mi-pham’s Nying-ma Buddhism. he does not affirm only one mode of discourse as the sole representation of truth. a realm beyond concepts. For a defense of the word “dialectic” to describe a central part of Tibetan philosophical praxis.99 In Mi-pham’s work. see Paul Ricoeur. Inc. Prāsaṅgika discourse emphasizes 216 A unique quality of what I find to be Mi-pham’s use of a “dialectic” is that it seems to fall between: (1) a Hegelian dialectic. These two paths reflect a distinction between: (1) consciousness. where the two seemingly opposed sides of the dialectic are not resolved and the dialectical tension remains (open-ended). hence. 1-23. and (2) a Ricoeurian or Derridian dialectic. Mi-pham’s dialectic is closed in that he affirms a monistic unity as the ontological ground of existence. For a discussion of Ricoeur’s dialectic. we can see a “dialectical”216 tension between two paths: (1) a conceptual. Furthermore. . however. MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. in which there is a synthesis in a final resolution (closure). the pinnacle of his own Nying-ma tradition. a realm of discursive inquiry within a conceptual framework and (2) wisdom. Conclusion Mi-pham’s discussion of Yogācāra and Prāsaṅgika draws upon a distinction between (non-conceptual) wisdom and (conceptual) mind. but he affirms that the manner of Prāsaṅgika is in accord with ascertaining primordial purity in the Great Perfection. it is open in that he maintains contexts for the deconstruction of reified notions of such a ground. 71-95.” published in Interpretation Theory: Discourse and the Surplus of Meaning (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press. Mi-pham brings these seemingly incompatible discourses into a conversation that is a theme that runs throughout his interpretation. see Kenneth Liberman. an open-ended quality of his dialectic is present due to the fact that he contextualizes his affirmations and denials of reality within particular perspectives of discourse. 1976).

a discourse which accords with the experience of wisdom’s meditative equipoise.100 the uncategorized ultimate. the unified truth of the two truths not conceived as separate. .

We will also see how he depicts emptiness as beyond the dichotomy of (1) . in the case of the emptiness of a phenomenon such as a pot. emptiness can be thought of as the empty-ground of the pot-quality. in which the existing substrate becomes an empty-ground. I will call this representation of emptiness “a locative absence. We will see how Mi-pham addresses these two aspects of emptiness: as a quality of appearance and as an empty-ground. or locus of suchness.” We can see how both of these conceptions of emptiness imply a relationship between a quality and a substrate. In the case of emptiness that is the categorized ultimate. This chapter addresses further Mi-pham’s interpretation of emptiness. in which the pot is the empty-ground. For example. or. emptiness as a conceived absence of true existence. Another way such emptiness can be conceived is as a lack of something in something else— emptiness as an absence in some location. In the last chapter we discussed the categorized ultimate. the empty aspect is conceived as a quality of phenomena.101 Chapter 3: The Present Absence Introduction Emptiness is a central topic in Mahāyāna Buddhism and is also an extremely complex one. We will also explore a third meaning of emptiness in Mi-pham’s description: as the unity of appearance and emptiness. and how the referents of quality and substrate are interchangeable: both phenomena and suchness can mutually be conceived as either the emptyquality or the empty-substrate. As such. emptiness can be thought of as the empty-quality of the pot. the location of absence is empty of something that does not exist there. a phenomenon (chos) is the emptyground (stong gzhi). We will discuss two aspects of emptiness: (1) as a quality and (2) as a substrate of reality. or locus of suchness (chos nyid). which is a central component within his representation of Buddha-nature. that is empty of a phenomenon. in which emptiness itself is the empty-ground of the pot. As such.

In order to further explore Mi-pham’s depiction of emptiness. “The Mountain Doctrine: Ocean of 217 Definitive Meaning. and that which does not exist within the abiding reality is self-empty (rang stong). “that which does not exist in something. .”217 Dol-po-pa depicts emptiness as a locative absence. the emptiness that is the nature of non-entities. the emptiness of non-entities.102 emptiness as an absent quality distinct from appearance and (2) emptiness as an empty-ground distinct from appearance. we will first discuss a Jo-nang portrayal of “other-emptiness” (gzhan stong) to provide a context for contrast with Mi-pham’s exegesis. is the meaning of the frequent statement.” That which is the emptiness of own entity is the relative self-emptiness.6: gnas lugs la yod pa ni gzhan stong dang med pa ni rang stong ngo. The sixteenth. is the meaning of the frequent Dol-po-pa. 300.. as well as see how he represents the relationship between phenomena and suchness. We will then be able to better appreciate his portrayal of the meaning of emptiness as the unity of emptiness and appearance. 1292-1361) clearly delineates two types of emptinesses in his Ocean of Definitive Meaning: “That which exists within the abiding reality (gnas lugs la) is other-empty (gzhan stong). 219. ri chos nges don rgya mtsho. 218 Ibid.5-300.” (Unpublished translation). 194. that something is empty of that. Translation adapted from Jeffrey Hopkins. Other--Emptiness in the Jo Jo--nang Other Dol-po-pa (dol po pa shes rab rgyal mtshan.6: bco lnga pa dngos po med pa stong pa nyid ni gang zhig gang na med pa de des stong ngo zhes yang yang gsungs pa’i don te rang gi dngos po stong pa nyid gang yin pa kun rdzob rang stong ngo/ /bcu drug pa dngos po med pa’i de nyid stong pa nyid ni de la lhag mar gyur pa gang yin pa de ni ’dir rtag tu yod pa’o/ /zhes yang yang gsungs pa’i don te gzhan gyi dngos po stong pa nyid gang yin pa don dam gzhan stong ngo. an emptiness of something in another:218 The fifteenth.

he shows how Buddhist scriptures are not contradictory:221 Dol-po-pa’s “frequent statement” can be found in Vasubandhu’s definition of emptiness in his commentary on the Madhyāntavibhāga under verse 2. 510.e. In this way. he portrays later statements (e. Mi-pham. He characterizes: (1) “relative self-emptiness” as the absent phenomena in a location and (2) “ultimate other-emptiness” as the remaining location of the absence.220 Dol-po-pa delineates two types of emptiness.5-674. 706: dgag bya kun brtags kyi chos dang bdag bkag pa’i cha nas dngos po med pa’i stong pa nyid dang/ dgag bya de bkag pa’i shul na chos nyid kyi chos dang gang zag gi dngos po yod pas cha nas dngos po med pa’i ngo bo nyid stong pa nyid du bzhag go.” (Unpublished translation).103 statement.g. “that which remains always exists here. 221 Dol-po-pa. “The Mountain Doctrine: Ocean of Definitive Meaning.1. 88.” Kong-trul..2-88. 220 Sixteen types of emptiness are found in the Perfection of Wisdom Sūtras.). 301.3. T. 679.3: sngar gdul bya’i dbang gis thar pa la sogs pa thams cad med cing stong pa dang bdag med pa la sogs par gsungs pa ni gang zhig gang na med pa la dgongs pa yin la/ phyi nas mi stong pa dang bdag yod pa la sogs par gsungs pa rnams ni med pa’i lhag ma gang yin pa la dgongs pa yin pas gsung rab snga phyi ’gal ’dra yang legs par brtags na mi ’gal ba.5. Dolpo-pa delineates earlier statements of Buddhist doctrine (i. 673.4027 (Tarthang Tulku ed. dbu mtha’ rnam ’byed ’grel pa.180. Mi-pham states that the emptiness of non-entites (dngos po med pa’i stong pa nyid) is a negation of perceiver-perceived duality through exclusion (rnam bcad du khegs). referenced in Mahdhyamakāvatāra 6. .. and that the emptiness which is the nature of non-entities (dngos po med pa’i dngos bo nyid kyi stong pa nyid) is established through inclusion (yongs gcod du grub). ri chos nges don rgya mtsho. see dbu ma la ’jug pa rang ’grel. first and middle wheels) of emptiness as the non-existence of one thing in another.3-679. shes bya kun khyab. Translation adapted from Jeffrey Hopkins. 89. last wheel) of non-emptiness as what remains as always existing. the emptiness which is the nature of non-entities is posited from the aspect of the existence of the entity of the suchness of phenomena and self implied within (shul na) the elimination of that object of negation. He states: “The emptiness of nonentities is posited from the aspect of the negation of the object of negation—the imagined phenomena and the imagined self.”219 That which is the emptiness of another entity is the ultimate other-emptiness. Kong-trul states that these last two 219 emptinesses necessarily encompass the other fourteen emptinesses (khyab byed du ’gro dgos) and are conceptually distinct (ldog pas phye ba).2-510.

4. Sanskrit. the Tibetan phrase gser ma yin pa can be a sentence: “[It] is not gold.222 Dol-po-pa depicts a A predicative negation is characterized as an explicit negation that implicates something else. according to this grammatical distinction. unlike Sanskrit and Engish. In contrast. although earlier and later scriptures seem to be contradictory. like English. makes a clear distinction between sentences (vākya) and words (pada): a 222 sentence (vākya) was defined by Kātyāyana as: “that which possesses a finite verb” (eka-tiṅ vākyam). namely.14 as “that which has either a verbal inflection or a nominal inflection” (suptiṅantaṃ padam).” However. Matilal in “Is Prāsaṇga a Form of Deconstruction?” in . the Tibetan language has a separate verb to represent existential (yod) and predicative (yin) usage. nominal (non-verbal) negation is grammatically a predicative negation in Sanskrit. are empty. since negations of verbs are existential and cannot be compounded. Therefore. an existential negation does not imply anything else. selfless. for instance.” or it can be a nominal phrase: “the non-gold [thing].” This negation implies something else. a negation that implies something else. Sanskrit Grammarians references above cited from B. the distinction between existential and predicative negations is not simply a grammatical distinction in Tibetan. ngag) and words (tshig. we can say that existential negations are strictly negative sentences. He says that later statements of non-emptiness refer to what is the remainder of non-existence. for instance “Brāhmins should not drink alcohol. according to Kātyāyana’s definition. when analyzed well. Therefore. an empty-ground is the remainder of the location of absence. Thus. Consequently. and so forth are in consideration of the non-existence of something in something else. Hence. whereas the later statements of non-emptiness. Grammarians also noted that predicative negations can be put into a compound (samāsa) and existential negations cannot. they are not contradictory. and so forth are in consideration of that which is the remainder of that non-existence (med pa’i lhag ma).104 The earlier statements due to the perspective of trainees that all— liberation and so forth—do not exist. that Devadatta eats at night. K. Such a negation is a “predicative negation” (ma yin dgag).. for compounded negations such as an-ātman (bdag med) take the existential verb. the existence of self.. even though such a compounded.” Sanskrit Grammarians (Patañjali’s Mahābhāṣya) described the distinction between the two negations as follows: the existential negation (prasajya-pratiṣedha) is what negates a verb. there is not a strong distinction between sentences (tshig. For example. and the predicative negation (paryudāsapratiṣedha) is what negates a noun. existential negations are always negations of finite verbs. “the fat Devadatta does not eat during the day. However. ming) in Tibetan. and Pāṇini defined a word (pada) in Pāṇinisūtra 1. like the classic example. yet there is no syntactic distinction between nouns (nominalized verbs) and finite verbs in Tibetan.

105 predicative negation within the ground of an existential negation (med dgag):223 A predicative negation exists within the ground (gzhi la) of an existential negation. Language. Translation adapted from Jeffrey Hopkins. abides within the ground which from the beginning is naturally pure and relinquished of all faults. 366. “The Mountain Doctrine: Ocean of Definitive Meaning. In this way. 313. “The Mountain Doctrine: Ocean of Definitive Meaning. ri chos nges don rgya mtsho.thams cad gnas lugs la rnam yang bzhugs pa’i phyir. Dol-po-pa states that a predicative negation exists within the ground of an existential negation and wisdom abides within the ground from the beginning.. He asserts a presence of ultimate qualities abiding within the ground of emptiness: “All qualities of the ultimate. 224 Ibid.” (Unpublished translation). 1985). 399-400. and wisdom complete with all innate qualities. thoroughly established and pervading space. 225 Ibid. 223 Dol-po-pa. and Reality (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Logic.1: yod med la sogs pa’i mtha’ thams cad dang bral ba’i gzhi chos kyi dbyings kun tu ’gro ba ni gnas lugs kyi sangs rgyas so. 434. Dol-po-pa states that an ultimate mind exists within the abiding reality:226 Mind. See also Jeffrey Hopkins. Bimal Krishna Matilal.” (Unpublished translation). and so forth—is the Buddha that is the abiding reality (gnas lugs kyi sangs rgyas). the empty-ground.”225 Thus.. 252. 296..6: stong gzhi don dam gyi yon tan..6-366. 230. 88. 2003). 226 Ibid.”224 Dol-po-pa also presents the ground of emptiness as the Buddha: “The omnipresent expanse of phenomena—the ground free from all extremes such as existence and non-existence. 345-362.7-314.7: don dam gyi sems ni gnas lugs la yod pa’i sems so/ /kun rdzob kyi sems ni gnas lugs la med pa’i sems so/ /de’i phyir sems gang zhig yod pa’i sems zhes pa don dam byang chub gyi sems rang bzhin ’od gsal ba ste. wisdom is the ground of negation. 267. . See also Jeffrey Hopkins. “The Mountain Doctrine: Ocean of Definitive Meaning.. originally published in Journal of Indian Philosophy 20 (1992).4: med dgag gi gzhi la ma yin dgag yod pa’i phyir dang/ skyon thams cad kyis gdod nas rang bzhin gyis dag cing spangs pa’i gzhi la gnyug ma’i yon tan thams cad tshang ba’i ye shes mkha’ khyab yongs su grub par bzhugs pa’i phyir ro.. Language and World (London: Oxford.” (Unpublished translation)..abide forever within the abiding reality.3-88.

6: gnas lugs la don dam chos sku med pa ma yin te de bzhin nyid bdag dag pa’i bdag tu gyur pa sangs rgyas kyi bdag nyid chen po’i bdag ma chad pa’i phyir/ /gnas lugs la kun rdzob gzugs sku yod pa ma yin te kun rdzob kyi chos gang yang ma grub pa’i phyir. 166. negates the non-existence. 293. is not severed. the ultimate body of attributes is not non-existent because [within the abiding reality] thusness which is pure self. Dol-po-pa depicts a cognitive presence. or rather. of a pure self (bdag dag pa). 483.” (Unpublished translation). “the mind which is existent mind” is the ultimate mind of awakening (byang chub gyi sems). 229 Ibid.5-431. the relative is portrayed as appearance that does not accord with the mode of subsistence. See also Jeffrey Hopkins.”227 Dol-po-pa emphasizes the existence of Buddha-nature as the ground of phenomena. Within the abiding reality. relative mind is a mind that does not exist within the abiding reality (gnas lugs la med). 431. He states that relative phenomena are consciousness’ distortions of reality:229 Ibid.. 112. within the abiding reality. relative form bodies (kun rdzob gzugs sku) do not exist because [within the abiding reality] not any relative phenomena are established. He also affirms the existence. the self which is the great identity of Buddha. and so forth—is the ground of all phenomena.. Furthermore. “The Mountain Doctrine: Ocean of Definitive Meaning. In this way. Translation adapted from Jeffrey Hopkins.” (Unpublished translation). Dol-po-pa depicts relative phenomena as utterly non-existent in the abiding reality. Therefore. the self which he says is the great identity of the Buddha (sangs rgyas kyi bdag nyid chen po):228 Within the abiding reality (gnas lugs la). 227 228 Ibid.5: gzhan yang chos nyid la sogs pa rnam grangs mang po can gyi bde gsheg [read gshegs] snying po de bzhin nyid gang yin pa de nyid chos thams cad kyi gzhi yin pa’i phyir. Dol-po-pa describes this ground as Buddhanature: “Moreover. this which is thusness.106 Ultimate mind is a mind that exists within the abiding reality (gnas lugs la yod).4-166. “The Mountain Doctrine: Ocean of Definitive Meaning.7-484. the Buddha-nature—having many synonyms such as suchness. an ultimate mind.1: des na sems can rnams kyis las snang ’khrul pa ’di ni sems can pa nyid kyi dgos chos yin gyi/ gnas lugs la ri bong gi rwa dang mo sham kyi bu dang nam .. natural luminous clarity.

.6-303. “The Mountain Doctrine: Ocean of Definitive Meaning. permanence and annihilation. 303. See also Jeffrey Hopkins. That which is the middle (dbus) free from those extremes is the ground free from all extremes such as existence and non-existence. “The Mountain Doctrine: Ocean of Definitive Meaning. is not established.” (Unpublished translation). and is empty of its own essence. but they are utterly impossible within the abiding reality (gnas lugs la). the child of barren woman. the extreme of non-existence is the denigration that it does not exist. superimposition and denigration. 248n. a denigration:230 Whereas relative phenomena do not at all exist within the abiding reality (gnas lugs la). See also Dol-po-pa’s bka’ bsdu bzhi pa’i rang ’grel. a sky-flower. The Buddha from Dolpo.” (Unpublished translation). Dol-po-pa claims that the view that relative phenomena exist within the abiding reality is the extreme of existence (yod pa’i mtha’). these karmic appearances mistaken by sentient beings are necessary phenomena for only sentient beings. due to which it is the consummate Great Middle Way (dbu ma chen po). omnipresent wisdom of the expanse of phenomena always abides pervading everywhere. and so forth.11. Translation adopted from Jeffrey Hopkins. 230 Ibid. 394. Dol-po-pa portrays the Great Middle Way as free from the extremes of existence and non-existence. a superimposition.6: yod pa’i mtha’ ni kun rdzob kyi chos rnams gnas lugs la gtan nas med pa yin yang yod do zhes sgro ’dogs pa gang yin pa’o/ /med pa’i mtha’ ni chos kyi dbyings kyi ye shes cha med kun ’gro kun la khyab par rtag tu bzhugs kyang med cing ma grub la rang gi ngo bos stong ngo zhes skur ’debs pa gang yin pa’o/ /mtha’ de dag dang bral ba’i dbus gang yin pa de ni yod med dang sgro skur dang rtag chad la sogs pa mtha’ thams cad dang bral ba’i gzhi yin pa’i phyir dbu ma chen po mthar thug pa ste.107 Therefore. Whereas the irreducible (cha med). cited in Stearns. and the view that the ultimate qualities of wisdom do not exist is the extreme of non-existence (med pa’i mtha’). 177. like the horns of a rabbit. superimposition and denigration. and so forth. the extreme of existence is the superimposition that they do.. He also mkha’i me tog la sogs pa ltar gtan mi srid pa’i phyir.

the ultimate abiding reality. because although it is an object of knowledge (shes bya). 262-263. entities and non-entities. it is neither an entity nor a non-entity.5: thams cad kyis stong pa mi srid de chos nyid kyis stong pa mi srid pa’i phyir ro/ chos thams cad kyis stong pa’i gzhi ni srid de chos nyid do/ chos nyid kyis stong pa’i gzhi ni mi srid de ha cang thal ba dpag tu med pas gnod pa’i phyir ro/ des na thams cad kyis stong pa dang chos thams cad kyis stong pa ni khyad par shin tu che ste/ gnas lugs la chos kyi[s] stong yang chos nyid kyis mi stong pa’i phyir ro/ ’dis ni chos dang chos nyid ngo bo gcig la ldog pa tha dad du ’dod pa dang/ tha dad gtan med du ’dod pa yang bsal ba yin te/ de gnyis ni ngo bo gcig pa bkag pa’i tha dad yin pa’i phyir.. 384. an inbetween (bar ma) or middle (dbus ma). an in-between. 232 Ibid.” (Unpublished translation). it is also established as just a third category. suchness is unique because there is no ground that is empty of suchness:232 An emptiness of everything does not occur because an emptiness of suchness does not occur. empty of all and empty of all phenomena are extremely different because within the abiding reality (gnas lugs la) there is an emptiness of phenomena but not an emptiness of suchness. Consequently.1-313. This repudiates the assertion that phenomena and suchness are the 231 Ibid. Dol-po-pa portrays an object of knowledge that is neither an entity nor a non-entity.4-384..108 depicts a third category (phung po gsum pa) of knowledge that is beyond dichotomies:231 Those who state that all objects of knowledge are strictly limited to two.” (Unpublished translation). 230. 313. A ground that is empty of all phenomena occurs.2: shes bya thams cad dngos po dngos med gnyis su kha tshon chos par smra ba rnams kyis ni chos nyid don dam pa’i gnas lugs ma rtogs pa nyid du zad de/ de ni shes bya yin yang dngos po dang dngos med gang yang ma yin pa’i phyir ro/ /des na de ni phung po gsum pa dang dbus ma’am bar ma nyid du yang grub bo. there is no emptiness of suchness. A ground that is empty of suchness does not occur because that is invalidated by an immeasurable [number] of extremely absurd consequences. We can see that in Dol-po-pa’s depiction of emptiness. “The Mountain Doctrine: Ocean of Definitive Meaning. it is suchness. simply do not realize suchness. Therefore. . “The Mountain Doctrine: Ocean of Definitive Meaning. See also Jeffrey Hopkins. Translation adapted from Jeffrey Hopkins. Through affirming a third category.

e.7: stong gzhi don dam gnyis med kyi ye shes de rang ngos nas mi stong par gzhan gzung ’dzin sogs spros pa mtha’ dag gis gdod nas stong pa dang/ kun rdzob glo bur gyis bsdus pa’i chos rnams don dam gzhan gyi ngo bos stong pa’i steng du kun rdzob rang gi ngo bos kyang stong par smra bas na dbu ma gzhan stong pa zhes brjod.. Dol-po-pa claims that suchness is not related to phenomena in a way that the two are essentially the same with different contradistinctions (i. as conceptually distinct). He states that the empty-ground of phenomena is suchness but that there is no empty-ground of suchness. Moreover. is not empty of its own essence. suchness is only a substrate.. phenomena and suchness are “different in the sense of negating that they are one entity.6-270. Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa (’dzam thang mkhan po blo gros grags pa. A twentieth-century Jo-nang scholar. 10 (’dzam thang ed. suchness is not a quality because it has no substrate. 1920-1975). the empty-ground. Nor are phenomena and suchness utterly non-distinct. is the consummate ultimate. defines “selfempty” as follows: “‘Self-empty’ refers to the claim that an existential negation. thus. which is the absence of true establishment. in Collected Works.1: dgag bya bden grub bkag tsam gyi med dgag de stong nyid mthar thug tu smra bas na rang stong zhes brjod do. Rather.” We will see how Mi-pham portrays the relationship between phenomena and suchness below. and from the beginning is empty of all that is other— Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa.”233 He characterizes a “proponent of other-emptiness” as follows:234 “A proponent of other-emptiness” refers to: (1) one who claims that the ultimate non-dual wisdom.). In this way. Dol-po-pa makes a distinction between emptiness of all and emptiness of all phenomena: the abiding reality is empty of phenomena but is not empty of suchness. 234 Ibid. 233 . 270. vol.7-244. but first we will look further into the Jo-nang tradition.109 same with different contradistinctions and also the assertion that they are utterly non-distinct (tha dad gtan med du ’dod pa) because the two are different [in the sense of] negating that they are one entity (ngo bo gcig pa bkag pa’i tha dad). 243. blo gsal yid kyi rgyan bzang (phyi nang grub mtha’i rnam bzhag gi bsdus don blo gsal yid kyi rgyan bzang).

Thus. ’jigs med gdong lnga’i nga ro (rgyu dang ’bras bu’i theg pa mchog gi gnas lugs zab mo’i don rnam par nges pa rje jo nang pa chen po’i ring lugs ’jigs med gdong lnga’i nga ro).2: mthar thug pa’i yin lugs thams cad med cing ma grub pa’i stong rkyang tsam du zad pa ma yin par kun rdzob spros pas stong pa med dgag gi gzhi la ma yin dgag gi ’od gsal ba’i chos nyid don dam ye nas bzhugs pas. . Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa describes a proponent of other-emptiness as one who claims that the ultimate is not empty of its own essence but is empty of all conceptual constructs. but they also say that relative phenomena are empty of their own essences. (Dharamsala: LTWA. the ultimate suchness of luminous clarity. his characterization of other-emptiness explicitly affirms the claim that relative phenomena are empty of their own essences.1-88. The way that other-emptiness incorporates relative phenomena as empty of their own essences is a crucial point. within the ground of an existential negation. He affirms that the ultimate suchness of luminous clarity abides from the beginning within an emptiness of relative constructs. he portrays an existential negation as contained within a predicative negation. he says that a predicative negation abides within the ground of an existential negation:235 The consummate reality is not reduced to the non-establishment of everything or simply a mere emptiness that is a non-existence. abides from the beginning. and (2) in addition to claiming that adventitious phenomena comprising the relative are empty of the essence of the extrinsic ultimate (don dam gzhan gyi ngo bos stong). Like Dol-po-pa. Additionally. he says that proponents of other-emptiness not only claim that relative phenomena are empty of the extrinsic ultimate. Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa states that reality is not reduced to simply a mere emptiness. the traditions of other-emptiness become characterized as accepting a naïve 235 Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa. which is a predicative negation.110 the conceptual constructs such as a perceived-perceiver [duality]. Without affirming such emptiness. Thus. 88. 1993). an emptiness of all relative constructs. relative [phenomena] are also said to be empty of their own essences.

111
metaphysical realism that conflicts with a Buddhist view, particularly the
view of emptiness expressed in the middle wheel of doctrine.
Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa makes a distinction between “Middle Way
followers of the middle wheel” (’khor lo bar ba’i rjes ’brang gi dbu ma pa),
a category under which he classifies the position of self-emptiness, and
“Middle Way followers of the last wheel” (’khor lo tha ma’i rjes ’brang gi

dbu ma pa), which he identifies with the position of other-emptiness.236 In
his Roar of the Fearless Lion, he characterizes the middle wheel of
doctrine as mainly expressing the categorized ultimate, which he calls the
“temporary definitive meaning” (gnas skabs kyi nges don). He says that
the last wheel mainly expresses the uncategorized ultimate, “the
consummate definitive meaning” (nges don mthar thug pa):237
The mode of the relative is what is principally the topic (brjod bya)
of the first [wheel], the mode of the categorized ultimate is what is
principally the topic of the middle [wheel], and the consummate
uncategorized definitive meaning is what is clearly, principally the
topic of the last [wheel]. Hence, the sūtras of provisional and
definitive meaning are posited in that way in consideration of what
is the topic in the sequence of the three wheels in general, from the
aspect of taking the provisional meaning, the temporary definitive
meaning, and the consummate definitive meaning [respectively,] as
what is principally the topic.
Furthermore, he states that the Buddha merely taught “half of the
definitive meaning” (nges don phyed tsam) in the middle wheel of doctrine,

236
237

Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa, blo gsal yid kyi rgyan bzang, 242.6-243.6; 268.1-270.7.
Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa, ’jigs med gdong lnga’i nga ro, 60.6-61.2: kun rdzob kyi tshul

gtso bo dang po’i brjod bya dang rnam grangs pa’i don dam gyi tshul gtso bo bar ba’i
brjod bya dang rnam grangs min pa’i nges don mthar thug pa gsal bar gtso bo tha ma’i
brjod byar byas pas ’khor lo gsum po rim par brjod bya spyi la bsam na drang ba’i don
dang gnas skabs kyi nges don dang mthar thug gi nges don gtso bor bjod byar byed pa’i
cha nas de lugs su drang nges kyi mdor ’jog pa yin.

112
but he revealed the ultimate definitive meaning (nges don don dam) in the
last wheel:238
In the first [wheel], the relative was taught in the manner of the
ordinary four truths; in the middle [wheel], the expanse free from
the constructs of all signs (mtshan ma’i spros pa) was taught,
merely half of the definitive meaning; in the last [wheel], the
ultimate definitive meaning was taught, the ground-expanse free
from constructs, the great wisdom.
Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa depicts the expanse free from constructs of all
signs as “merely half of the definitive meaning,” and states that the
ultimate definitive meaning—the ground-expanse free from constructs, the
great wisdom—was taught in the last wheel. Furthermore, he states that
the ultimate truth is shown to be truly existing (bden par yod pa) in the last
wheel of doctrine, “the wheel of doctrine of the thorough differentiation of
the ultimate” (don dam rnam par ’phye pa’i chos ’khor):239
In the last [wheel,] the wheel of doctrine of the thorough
differentiation of the ultimate, for disciples of sharp and extremely
mature faculties who had trained their mental continuums through
all the vehicles, he mainly taught, through elegantly differentiating:
(1) the ultimate truth itself as truly existing, meaning that it is
permanent, steadfast and eternal in the perspective of the wisdom
of the Sublime Ones (’phags pa) because it is the primordially
unchanging essence of the indivisible expanse and awareness
(dbyings rig dbyer med); and (2) relative phenomena comprising
the perceiving [subjects] and perceived [objects] as not truly
existing, meaning that they are primordially non-arising like
238

Ibid., 51.6-52.1: dang por kun rdzob thun mong bden bzhi’i tshul dang bar bar mtshan

ma’i spros pa kun bral gyi dbyings nges don phyed tsam dang tha mar spros bral gyi gzhi
dbyings ye shes chen po nges don don dam.
239 Ibid., 50.4-50.6: tha ma don dam rnam par phye pa’i chos ’khor ni gdul bya theg pa
mtha’ dag gis rgyud spyangs zin pa’i dbang rnon shin tu smin pa rnams la ’phags pa’i ye
shes kyi gzigs ngo’i don dam bden pa nyid dbyings rig dbyer med kyi ngo bo gdod ma
nas ’gyur ba med pa’i phyir rtag brtan ther zug pa’i bden par yod pa dang/ kun rdzob
gzung ’dzin gyis bsdus pa’i chos rnams ni don dam de’i rnam ’gyur tsam me long gi
gzugs brnyan ltar gdod nas ma skyes pa’i bden med du so sor legs par phyes nas gtso
bor gsungs.

113
reflections in a mirror—merely expressions (rnam ’gyur) of the
ultimate.
In this way, the last wheel distinguishes the ultimate truth that truly exists
from relative phenomena that do not truly exist. Moreover, Khen-po Lodrö-drak-pa does not differentiate between the scriptures of the last wheel
of doctrine as “Mind-Only Sūtras” and those of the “Great Middle Way”:240
There is no difference between the sūtra collections (mdo sde) of
those two [Mind-Only and Great Middle Way] because aside from
the mere distinction between better and worse ways of explaining
the viewpoint (dgongs pa) of one sūtra, actually there are no sūtras
to be distinctly posited. For example, although the Vaibhāṣikas and
the Sautrāntikas do not have different sūtra collections, [the
difference] is merely how they adopt a viewpoint (dgongs pa len
lugs).
He does not make a distinction between Mind-Only Sūtras and BuddhaNature Sūtras in the last wheel; he makes a distinction based on a
viewpoint, not based on texts. Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa distinguishes the
Great Middle Way from what he describes as “Mind-Only Realists” (dngos

smra’i sems tsam) as follows:241
It does not follow that the subject (chos can), the supreme sūtras of
the last Word, the [Buddha-]Nature Sūtras and so forth, become the
tradition of the Mind-Only Realists through the mere teaching that

Ibid., 84.4-84.6: de gnyis la mdo sde tha dad med pa yin te/ mdo sde gcig la dgongs
pa ’grel tshul bzang ngan gyi khyad tsam ma gtogs don mdo so sor ’jog rgyu med pa’i
phyir/ dper na bye mdo gnyis la mdo sde tha dad med kyang dgongs pa len lugs tsam yin
pa bzhin.
241 Ibid., 63.3-63.6: snying po’i mdo sogs bka’ tha ma’i mdo mchog rnams chos can/
khyod dag spyis gnyis med ye shes bden grub tu bstan pa tsam gyis dngos smra’i sems
tsam pa’i rang lugs su mi ’gyur te/ tha ma’i bstan don gyi ye shes bden grub dang dngos
smra’i sems tsam lugs kyi gzhan yongs bden grub gnyis bden par grub lugs gtan nas mi
’dra ba’i khyad par chen po yod pa’i phyir/ der thal/ tha ma’i bstan don gyi ye shes ni
spros bral rang rig dam pa’i yul du gshes [read gshis] kyi gnas lugs su bden pas na bden
grub dang/ sems tsam lugs kyi gzhan yongs bden grub ni rnam par shes pa’i snang cha
las ma ’das pa’i grub pa’i mtha’ las bzhag pa yin pas mtshan ma bden dngos su dmigs
pa’i dgag bya yin pa’i cha nas khyad che. See also Ibid., 214.6-223.6.
240

114
generally the non-dual wisdom is truly established (bden grub)
because there is a great difference in the utterly dissimilar ways of
establishing as true (1) the truly established wisdom that is the
subject of the teaching of the last wheel and (2) the truly
established dependent and thoroughly established natures of the
tradition of the Mind-Only Realists. This is so because (1) the
wisdom that is the subject of the last teaching is truly established
due to being true in the abiding reality of the basic nature as the
object of ultimate reflexive awareness free from constructs; and (2)
since the truly established dependent and thoroughly established
natures of the Mind-Only tradition are posited from a philosophy
(grub pa’i mtha’) that is not beyond the appearance factor of
consciousness, from the aspect of [their] observing signs as true
entities (mtshan ma bden dngos su dmigs) which is an object of
negation [in our tradition]there is a manner of great difference.
Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa says that the manner that wisdom is truly
established in the Great Middle Way is different from the manner of true
establishment for Mind-Only Realists. Mind-Only Realists assert the truly
established dependent and thoroughly established natures from a
philosophy that observes signs as true entities.

Wisdom in the Great

Middle Way, on the other hand, is said to be truly established due to being
true in the abiding reality as the object of ultimate reflexive awareness free
from constructs.
Thus, we can see a difference between the ways that the
dependent and thoroughly established natures are depicted by Mind-Only
Realists and the Great Middle Way. Here we can also see a difference
between two ways of identifying the empty-ground (stong gzhi): (1) as the
thoroughly established nature or (2) as the dependent nature. Dol-po-pa
claims that the dependent nature is the empty-ground of the imagined
nature temporarily (re zhig).

He identifies the thoroughly established

nature with suchness, the final (mthar) empty-ground:242

242

Dol-po-pa, ri chos nges don rgya mtsho, 192.3-193.3: re zhig gzhan dbang du gtogs

pa’i phung po khams dang skye mched rnams kun btags bdag dang bdag gi bas stong
pa’i gzhi gsungs kyang mthar stong gzhi gzhan dbang gis kyang stong pa’i zhi chos nyid
yongs grub yin...de ltar kun btags kyi stong pa’i gzhi ni gzhan dbang ngo/ zhan dbang gi

115
Temporarily, it is said that the aggregates, constituents, and sensefields, which are contained within the dependent nature, is the
ground that is empty of the imagined nature, the self, and selfpossessions (bdag gi ba). In the end (mthar), the ground that is
empty of even the dependent nature is suchness, the thoroughly
established nature...In this way, the ground that is empty of the
imagined nature is the dependent nature. The ground that is empty
of the dependent nature is the thoroughly established nature. A
ground that is empty of suchness, the thoroughly established
nature, is utterly impossible because it is the suchness that abides
as spontaneously present, all the time and everywhere.
Although the dependent nature is temporarily the ground of the
aggregates and so forth, the final empty-ground is the thoroughly
established nature, which is the ground of the dependent nature. Dol-popa states that a ground that is empty of the thoroughly established nature
is impossible because it the suchness that abides everywhere, all the
time. In this way, it is the ground of the existent and the non-existent.

Other--Emptiness and the Nying
Nying--ma
ma:: Lo
Lo--chen Dharma Śrī
Other
We will now consider a discussion of other-emptiness in the works
of Lo-chen Dharma Śrī (lo chen dharma śrī, 1654-1717). Through this we
can begin to explore the view of emptiness in the Nying-ma tradition in
general, and see the relationship between Lo-chen’s Nying-ma view and
the view of other-emptiness as presented by the Jo-nang tradition. This
will allow us to better understand Mi-pham’s interpretation of emptiness,
as well as help us assess his treatment of other-emptiness.
Lo-chen delineates self-emptiness and other-emptiness as two
manners of eliminating constructs (spros pa gcod lugs). He states:243
stong pa’i gzhi ni yongs grub po/ chos nyid yongs grub kyis stong pa’i gzhi ni gtan mi srid
de/ de ni nam yang gang na’ang lhun grub tu bzhugs pa de bzhin nyid yin pa’i phyir.
243 Lo-chen Dharma Śrī, dpag bsam snye ma (sdom pa gsum rnam par nges pa’i ’grel pa
legs bshad ngo mtshar dpag bsam gyi snye ma), (Bylakuppe: Ngagyur Nyingma
Institute), 373.5-373.6: spros pa gcod lugs la/ rang stong dang/ gzhan stong gnyis las/
rang stong ni/ chos can ji ltar snang ba ’di dag snang tsam nyid nas rang rang gi ngo bos
stong pas med dgag gi stong nyid don dam par bzhed.

116
Concerning the manner of eliminating constructs there are two:
self-emptiness and other-emptiness: [proponents of] self-emptiness
assert that the emptiness that is an existential negation is ultimate
because however quality-bearers (chos can) may appear, they are
empty of their own essences right from their mere appearance.
He states that proponents of self-emptiness assert an existential negation
as ultimate. As for other-emptiness, Lo-chen delineates two traditions of
identifying the empty-ground due to a difference in asserting all objects of
knowledge: (1) in terms of the three natures or (2) condensing objects of
knowledge into two, the imagined and the thoroughly established
natures:244
In the traditions of the Middle Way that ascertain other-emptiness,
due to the difference of asserting all objects of knowledge within the
three natures or condensing objects of knowledge into the imagined
and thoroughly established natures, there are two ways of
identifying the subject (chos can): (1) in Yogācāra texts, the emptyground (stong gzhi) is the dependent nature, the imagined nature is
the object of negation, and the emptiness of the imagined nature in
the dependent nature is the thoroughly established nature; (2) in
texts such as the Uttaratantra, suchness, the thoroughly
established nature, is empty of the imagined nature. Therefore, in
the essence of the thoroughly established nature—which is the
ultimate expanse and the suchness of mind—there are no
defilements to remove, nor previously absent qualities to newly
establish, because it is primordially pure by nature and has qualities
that are spontaneously present.
Lo-chen describes two traditions of other-emptiness for which he
delineates (1) the empty-ground in Yogācāra texts as the dependent

244

Ibid., 374.1-374.5: gzhan stong du gtan la ’bebs pa’i dbu ma pa rnams la/ shes bya

thams cad mtshan nyid gsum du ’dod pa dang/ kun brtags dang yongs grub gnyis su
bsdu ba’i khyad par las/ chos can ngos ’dzin tshul mi ’dra ba gnyis byung ste/ rnal ’byor
spyod pa’i gzhung du/ stong gzhi gzhan dbang dgag bya kun btags kyis stong pa’i yongs
grub tu bshad pa dang/ rgyud bla ma sogs las chos nyid yongs grub dgag bya kun brtags
kyis stong par gsungs so/ des na yongs grub sems kyi chos nyid don dam pa’i dbyings
’di’i ngo ba la dor bya’i dri ma dang sngar med kyi yon tan gsar du sgrub tu med de/ ye
nas rang bzhin gyis rnam par dag cing yon tan lhun grub yin pa’i phyir.

290. Lo-chen also makes statements that resemble what we see in the Jo-nang presentations.5-291. he makes a distinction that includes a distinction of texts. dpag bsam snye ma. shes bya kun khyab. In this way. Lo-chen Dharma Śrī. the Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra. 686. my tradition asserts that the middle [wheel] is half-definitive and half-provisional. . and the last [wheel] itself is the definitive meaning because it is clearly explained in sūtras such as the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra.1. or definitive for the time being. and [this] also would contradict the intended meaning of the examples of the patient’s medicine and learning to read. the middle wheel is “half-definitive and half-provisional” (drang nges phye ma). Similar to Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa’s statement that the middle wheel is “merely half the definitive meaning” (nges don phyed tsam). and the Aṅgulimālīyasūtra. Kong-trul. as such it 245 246 Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa.2: bar tha gnyis drang nges gang yin la bzhed pa mi mthun pa mang yang/ bar ba nges don dang phyi ma drang don du gsal bar ston pa’i mdo sde’i lung med cing/ nad pa’i sman dang yi ge slob pa’i dpe’i dgongs don dang yang ’gal bas/ rang lugs ni bar pa drang nges phyed ma’am gnas skabs pa’i nges don dang/ tha ma nyid nges don du ’dod de/ mdo sde dgongs pa nges ’grel dang/ myang ’das chen po dang/ sor phreng gi mdo sogs las gsal bar bshad pa’i phyir. Kong-trul states that the traditions that accept the middle wheel as the consummate definitive meaning and the last wheel as mainly teaching provisional meanings are “proponents of naturelessness” (ngo bo nyid med par smra ba).6-52. ’jigs med gdong lnga’i nga ro. he adds that such a claim has no explicit source in scriptures (lung khung dngos med) and its legitimacy is 247 argued through reasoning (rigs pas ’thad pa sgrub). 51.245 Lo-chen states that in his own tradition. in contrast to the Jo-nang. cit. since there is no scripture of sūtra that clearly states that the middle [wheel] is the definitive meaning and the last [wheel] is a provisional meaning. opt. Lo-chen says that there is no scripture that clearly states that the middle wheel is definitive and the last is a provisional meaning247.117 nature which is empty of the imagined nature and (2) the suchness which is empty of the imagined nature in texts such as the Uttaratantra. or “definitive for the time being” (gnas skabs pa’i nges don):246 Although there are a lot of discordant assertions regarding what are the definitive or provisional [meanings] of the middle and last [wheels].

see English translation in Tulku Thondup. tshig don mdzod.5. New York: Snow Lion Publications. See Jeffrey Hopkins’ translation in Advice for Living and Liberation: Nāgārjuna’s Precious Garland (Ithaca. 49. 1999). 897.249 He affirms that his tradition asserts the last wheel as the definitive meaning. See translation of Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa below in Document 3.4: sgom pas nyams su myong bya’i lta ba la/ ’khor lo bar pa’i dngos bstan rigs tshogs su bkral ba ltar na/ nges don med dgag la bzhed pas/ ci yang mi sgom pa la stong nyid sgom pa dang/ ci yang ma mthong ba la de kho na nyid rtogs par ’chad/ ’khor lo tha ma’i dgongs pa byams chos kyi gzhung thogs med sku mched kyis bkral ba dang klu sgrub zhabs kyis bstod tshogs su/ gzung ’dzin gnyis med kyi ye shes nyid sgom pas nyams su myong byar bshad cing/ de nyid gsang sngags kyi rgyud sde zab mo rnams dang yang dgongs pa mthun pa yin no. The three sūtras Lo-chen cites are also the sūtras that Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa cites to support the last wheel as the definitive meaning. dpag bsam snye ma. Asaṅga and [half]brother [Vasubandhu].4. ’jigs med gdong lnga’i nga ro. in which Buddha-nature is explained as a teaching after the nonexistence of self in the way that bile is smeared on an infant’s mother’s breast to stop him from drinking breast milk while he digests the medicine (no-self). and later he is given the 248 milk (Buddha-nature).899. meditating on nothing whatsoever is said to be meditation on emptiness.1-377. 79.3.5. See also citation in Long-chen-pa. 1989). 245-246. . sems nyid ngal gso’i grel pa. He states:251 Regarding the view of what is to be experienced in meditation. 249 Buddha-nature and medicine can be found in Long-chen-pa’s citations of the Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra. published in rdzog pa chen po ngal gso skor gsum dang rang grol skor gsum (reproduction of a ’dzom xylographic edition). 250 251 Lo-chen Dharma Śrī. 1996). (sems nyid ngal gso’i ’grel pa shing rta chen po). according to the explicit teaching of the middle wheel explained in the way of [Nāgārjuna’s] “Collection of Reasonings” (rigs tshogs). 284. See Long-chen-pa. reprint of Buddha Mind (Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications. Practice of Dzogchen (Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications. 377.394-396. (Gangtok. as well in Nāgārjuna’s “Collection of The example of progressively learning to read can be found in Nāgārjuna’s Ratnamālā v. 1999). According to the viewpoint (dgongs pa) of the last wheel explained in the way of the texts of Maitreya. and seeing nothing at all is said to be the realization of suchness.1-332.250 Lo-chen shows a difference between the middle and last wheels of doctrine in terms of “the view of what is to be experienced in meditation” (sgom pas nyams su myong bya’i lta ba).2. Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa. since the definitive meaning is accepted as an existential negation. 331.118 would conflict the meaning of the examples of learning to read [progressively]248 and medicine.

119 Praises” (bstod tshogs). meditating on just the wisdom which is free from duality is what is to be experienced.4-378. is it not a contradiction that: (1) in the context of identifying what is to be ascertained by means of study. Prāsaṅgika-Madhyamaka is established as the pinnacle of the 252 Ibid. and this also accords with the viewpoint of the profound tantras of Secret Mantra. in which the definitive meaning is accepted as an existential negation. Lo-chen depicts two views of what is to be experienced in meditation: (1) according to the explicit teaching of the middle wheel. and to accept the self-reflexive wisdom free from duality when ascertaining what is to be experienced in meditation:252 If one thinks. Lo-chen cites Long-chen-pa as saying in the Wish- Fulfilling Treasury (yid bzhin mdzod) and the Treasury of Philosophies (grub mtha’ mdzod) that it is not contradictory that the Prāsaṅgika method is more effective when ascertaining what is to be identified in study.4: grub mtha’ mdzod dang yid bzhin mdzod rtsa ’grel la sogs pa’i gsung rab rnams su thos pas gtan la dbab bya ngos ’dzin pa’i skabs su dbu ma thal ’gyur ba rgyu’i theg pa chen po’i rtse mor sgrub par mdzad cing/ sgom pa nyams myong gis gtan la ’bebs pa’i skabs rnams su myong bya gzung ’dzin gnyis dang bral ba’i so so rang rig pa’i ye shes la bzhed pa gnyis mi ’gal lam snyam na/ mi ’gal te/ so skye’i sar lta ba thos bsam gyis gtan la ’bebs pa’i tshe blo’i mtshan ’dzin gzhig dka’ bas/ de thos bsam las byung ba’i shes rab kyis ’gog par byed pa la/ sgro ’dogs gcod byed kyi rig pa thal ’gyur ba rno ba’i phyir dang/ yang sgom byung nyams myong gis gtan la ’bebs pa’i skabs su ’khor lo tha mar gsungs pa’i dbu ma’i lta ba de nyid zab cing ches bzang ba yin te/ dbyings rang bzhin gyis rnam par dag pa don dam pa’i bden pa rang byung gi ye shes de nyid chos thams cad kyi gdod ma’i gnas lugs yin pa gang zhig gsang sngags kyi rgyud sde zab mo rnams nas bshad pa’i lta ba’i nyams len dang yang mthun pa’i phyir. Thus. we see a difference between the middle and last wheel in terms of the practice of meditation. 377.. . meditating on wisdom which is free from duality is what is to be experienced. “In the scriptures such as the Treasury of Philosophies and the root and [auto-]commentary of the WishFulfilling Treasury. Furthermore. meditation on emptiness is said to be meditating on nothing whatsoever and seeing nothing at all is said to be the realization of suchness and (2) according to the viewpoint of the last wheel and profound tantras.

Here we see a distinction based on two contexts: (1) study and contemplation and (2) meditation. at the time of ascertaining by experience (nyams myong gis) [the wisdom] that arises in meditation. the view of the Middle Way taught in the last wheel itself is profound and much better because: (1) the naturally pure expanse.4: ’khor lo phyi ma gnyis dang rdo rje theg pa’i don gcig mod kyi nyams su len pa na la zlo ba chos nyid zab mo la ’khor lo bar ba dang ’thun [read mthun] par rtog med spros bral du mnyam par bzhag nas rjes thob tu shan ’byed pa’i tshe chos rnams la yang dag par so sor rtog pa na ’khor lo tha ma dang rdo rje theg pa las gsungs pa bzhin du legs par rnam par phye ste. Translation adopted from Jeffrey Hopkins. . in the contexts of meditation.” (Unpublished translation). “The Mountain Doctrine: Ocean of Definitive Meaning.2-181. is itself the primordial mode of subsistence of all phenomena. 130-131. Prāsaṅgika is a sharper awareness (rig pa) that cuts through superimpositions. one sets in 253 Dol-po-pa.120 causal vehicle of Mahāyāna and (2) in the contexts of ascertainment by means of meditative experience. Dol-po-pa also makes a distinction in the applied practice of the meaning of the last two wheels:253 Although the meaning of the last two wheels of doctrine are the same as the Vajrayāna. Therefore. reflexive wisdom free from perceiver-perceived [duality] is asserted?” There is no contradiction because it is difficult for an ordinary being to deconstruct the reifications (mtshan ’dzin gzhig) of the mind at the time of ascertaining the view by means of study and contemplation. in negating these [reifications of the mind] through the supreme knowledge that arises through study and contemplation. and (2) it is also in accord with the practice of the view that is accepted in the profound tantras of Secret Mantra. the ultimate truth that is the self-existing wisdom (rang byung gi ye shes). In the contexts of study and contemplation. ri chos nges don rgya mtsho. However. the view of the Middle Way taught in the last wheel is said to be better because (1) self-existing wisdom is itself the primordial mode of subsistence and (2) that view accords with the practice of the view that is accepted in the profound tantras. when they are practiced. 181. Prāsaṅgika-Madhyamaka is portrayed as a sharper means of cutting through superimpositions. Also.

Lo-chen also states how certain practices of his tradition accord for the most part with Nāgārjuna. and also the enumerated trainings (bslab bya’i rkang grangs).1-296. due to the essential point that the manner of taking the bodhisattva vow stated in the tantras of Secret Mantra. and then when making distinctions in post-meditation. he states that one makes distinctions in accord with what is said in the last wheel and in the Vajrayāna. In post-meditation. In this way. he raises a question as to whether the view in the Nying-ma tradition is in accord with Nāgārjuna:254 In general. are in accord for the most part with the tradition of Nāgārjuna. Dol-po-pa affirms that the meaning of both wheels is the same as the Vajrayāna.5: spyir gsang sngags kyi rgyud sde rnams las gsungs pa’i byang sdom thob tshul dang/ de’i bslab bya’i rkang grangs kyang phal cher klu sgrub kyi lugs dang mthun par ’byung ba’i gnad kyis rang cag slob dpon chen po padma saṃ bha wa’i rjes su ’jug pa snga ’gyur gyi ring lugs pa rnams kyi sems bskyed kyi cho ga’i phyag bzhes kyang nā gardzu na dang mthun par snang mod/ ’on kyang lta ba ni der ma nges te/ klu sgrub kyi bstod tshogs dang mi ’gal yang gtso bor thogs med sku mched kyis ji ltar bkral ba dang mthun te/ rnam grangs ma yin pa’i don dam med dgag la mi byed par ma yin dgag gi stong nyid la byed pa’i phyir dang/ ’khor lo tha ma nges don du bzhed pa’i phyir ro. yet he makes a distinction between the ways the last two wheels of doctrine are practiced. both the middle and last wheels are compatible with the Vajrayāna in different contexts. at which time one makes identifications upon differentiating well in accord with what is said in the last wheel and in the Vajrayāna. He depicts a practice in accord with the middle wheel as setting in equipoise in the suchness free from constructs. We can see how Dol-po-pa’s distinction resembles Mi-pham’s depiction of Prāsaṅgika as the context of meditative equipoise and Svātantrika as the context of post-meditation. dpag bsam snye ma. 296. post-meditation is associated with the last wheel. one individually discriminates phenomena in an authentic way. our tradition of old translations following the master Padmasambhava appears to be in accord with Nāgārjuna also in the ritual practice (cho ga’i phyag Lo-chen Dharma Śrī. 254 .121 equipoise in the conclusive (la zlo ba) profound suchness free from constructs in accord with the middle wheel. however. Here.

. one will not be able to ascertain the manner that relative [phenomena] are empty from their own side (kun rdzob rang ngo[s] nas stong tshul) and the Mi-pham.. Rongzom. but taking it as an emptiness that is a predicative negation. Long-chen-pa. Mi-pham’s Collected Works (sde dge ed. [I am] in accord with the texts of Nāgārjuna.” [the Nying-ma] for the most part (phal cher) are in accord with the way that Asaṅga and his [half-]brother [Vasubandhu] explain because of (1) taking (byed) the uncategorized ultimate as not an existential negation. and Rong-zom. 256 Mi-pham.256 in which he states:257 First it is necessary to ascertain the lack of intrinsic nature of all phenomena in accordance with the scriptures of the protector Nāgārjuna. 521: bdag la gzhan stong sgrub pa’i khur kyang med/ rong klong rnam gnyis klu sgrub gzhung dang mthun. 415-427. and Long-chen-pa. See English translation in John Pettit. it is not certain that the [Nying-ma] view is [in accord with] his because even though it does not contradict Nāgārjuna’s “Collection of Praises.) vol. Emptinesss? Emptiness of Self/Other Another Emptines Mi-pham places himself within the tradition of Nāgārjuna. gzhan stong khas lan seng gei’ nga ro. However. He states: “I don’t have any burden of establishing the view of other-emptiness. Beacon of Certainty.”255 He also wrote a text that explicitly defends a view of other-emptiness.3-361. 257 Ibid.122 bzhes) for generating the mind of awakening. 361.4: dang po mgon po klu sgrub kyi gzhung bzhin du chos thams cad 255 rang bzhin med par gtan la ’bebs dgos te/ de ma shes na kun rdzob rang ngo[s] nas stong tshul dang/ don dam gzhan gyis stong tshul gtan la mi pheb pas/ thog mar spros bral so sor rang gis rig par bya ba’i gtan la dbab par bya’o. dam chos dogs sel. We will now turn to Mi-pham’s interpretation of emptiness and see how he aligns his view with the Nying-ma tradition. and (2) accepting (bzhed) the last wheel as the definitive meaning. 12. Lo-chen suggests that the fact that the Nying-ma (1) accept the last wheel as the definitive meaning and (2) take a predicative negation as the uncategorized ultimate problematizes a simple identification with the view of Nāgārjuna. because if this is not known. called Lion’s Roar: Asserting Other-Emptiness.

nges shes sgron me. but is empty of another phenomenon.259 He distinguishes the meaning of emptiness from that which is delineated as only a locative absence. but this is not sufficient as the emptiness of a horse itself.6: bum pa rang ngos nas ma stong na chos gzhan gyis stong pas bum pa nyid stong pa’i go mi chod de/ rta la ba lang med kyang/ rta rang nyid stong pa’i go mi chod pa dang gnag gi rwa ri bong rwas stong yang/ gnag gi rwa stong pa’i go mi chod pa bzhin no/ lang kar gshegs pa las stong pa bdun gyi nang nas tha chad pa lha khang dge ’dun gyis stong pa lta bu ’di spang par bya zhes gsung. 545. gzhung spyi’i dka’ gnad. or while the horn of an ox is empty of a rabbit horn. Khen-po Nam-dröl. He states that first one should ascertain the freedom of constructs. dbu ma la ’jug pa’i ’grel pa (dbu ma la ’jug pa’i ’grel pa zla ba’i zhal lung dri me shel phreng).6: snang stong mnyam par nges 258 shes rdzogs pa che/ /klu sgrub gzhung lugs bzang po kho nas mthong. 260 Mi-pham. he states: “Certainty in the equality of appearance and emptiness—the Great Perfection—is seen only through the excellent scriptural tradition of Nāgārjuna. Furthermore. the lack of intrinsic nature of phenomena in accordance with the scriptures of Nāgārjuna. Just as a cow is absent in a horse. this is not sufficient as the Mi-pham.4-545. 813. an absence of one thing in another:260 If a pot is not empty from its own side (rang ngos nas). Here Mi-pham delineates two manners of emptiness: (1) the manner that relative phenomena are empty of their own essences and (2) the manner that the ultimate is empty of what is other. . 259 Mi-pham. 6. Therefore. nges shes sgron me tape 11b. Mi-pham characterizes the position of other-emptiness as leaving an empty-ground (stong gzhi bzhag nas gzhan stong pa). one should first ascertain the freedom from constructs which is what is known reflexively (so sor rang gis rig bar bya ba). Khen-po Nam-dröl states that any emptiness with a substrate (stong gzhi) is only a limited (nyi tshe ba) emptiness.”258 We will begin to assess Mi-pham’s view of emptiness by looking at the positions of other-emptiness he critiques. 1. Mi-pham’s Collected Works vol. this is not sufficient (go mi chod) as the emptiness of a pot itself.123 manner that the ultimate is empty of what is other (don dam gzhan gyis stong tshul).

).1: gcig la gcig med pa rnams ni stong pa nyid rnams kyi tha shal lo. it is to be abandoned. (7) emptiness of something in another. don dam pa ’phags pa’i ye shes stong pa chen po nyid/ 7. 1994). gcig gis gcig stong pa nyid. mi srid pa stong pa nyid/ 5. 262 Long-chen-pa.2-510. yid bzhin mdzod ’grel. T. (2) 261 emptiness of the nature of entities. Mi-pham states that the lack of one thing in another is inferior and is not sufficient as the meaning of emptiness. 263 See Asaṅga’s commentary on Uttaratantra 1. 334. (3) emptiness of existence.155 in theg pa chen po mdo sde’i rgyan dang rgyud bla rtsa ’grel (Beijing: Nationalities Press. 264 Long-chen-pa. it is inferior (tha chad pa)—such as a temple’s emptiness of a spiritual community (dge ’dun).4027 (Tarthang Tulku ed. 510.2.”262 However. dngos po’i rang gzhin stong pa nyid/ 3. He explains that an emptiness of another does not necessarily contain an emptiness of itself. srid pa stong pa nyid/ 4. 1095.” Pur-bu-tse-ring (phur bu tshe ring) (ed. (4) emptiness of nonexistence. chos thams cad brjod du med pa stong pa nyid/ 6.).124 emptiness of an ox horn. mtshan nyid stong pa nyid/ 2. 201-202. in his commentary on the Madhyāntavibhāga under v. vol. in his auto-commentary of Resting in the Nature of Mind. 2. nang rig pa’i tshig mdzod (Beijing: Nationalities Press. . 515: 1. Long-chen-pa cites Asaṅga’s commentary on the Uttaratantra263 in an approving portrayal of Buddha-nature as the absence of something in another:264 The Dictionary of Internal Knowledge (nang rig pa’i tshig mdzod) delineates the seven emptinesses (stong nyid rnam pa bdun) as: “(1) emptiness of defining character.3-334. This text is nearly the same as Vasubandhu’s definition of emptiness referred to above. sems nyid ngal gso’i ’grel pa. 1998).3. Long-chen-pa also cites in his Wish-Fulfilling Treasury the statement from the Samādhirājasūtra that: “An emptiness of one thing in another is a lesser (tha shal) emptiness.5: de bzhin gshegs pa’i snying po ni rnam par dbye ba yod pa/ bral ba shes pa/ nyon mongs pa’i sbubs thams cad kyis ni stong pa yin la/ rnam par dbye ba med pa bral mi shes pa bsam gyis mi khyab pa’i sangs rgyas kyi chos gangā’i klung gi bye ma snyed las ’das pa ni mi stong ngo zhes so/ de ltar gang zhig gang na med pa de ni des stong ngo zhes yang dag par rjes su mthong la/ gang zhig der lhag par gyur pa de ni/ de la rtag par yod do zhes yang dag pa ji [lta] ba bzhin du shes so zhes so. (6) great emptiness which is the ultimate wisdom of Sublime Ones. Among the seven types of 261 emptinesses stated in the Laṅkāvatārasūtra. (5) emptiness which is the inexpressibility of all phenomena.

that something is empty of that. Published in Ramchandra Pandeya. Madhyāntavibhāga-śāstra (Delhi: 265 Motilal Banarsidass. In contrast. Through this. as found in the translation of Asaṅga’s Uttaratantra commentary. rather than “here” (’dir) as in Dol-po-pa usage and the Tibetan translation of Vasubandhu. Tibetan translation from T. 450. Vasubandhu’s Sanskit: yad punaratrāvaśiṣṭam bhavati tat sadihāsti. than “here”—“here” in this context can be seen to evoke more of the immanent presence of Buddha-nature. . the ultimate itself ultimately exists. we will discuss his treatment of the ultimate in the view of other-emptiness. or more removed.125 While Buddha-nature is empty of all that is divisible.4027. and disturbed. We will see how Mi-pham distinguishes his view of Buddha-nature from mistaken conceptions of it in the next chapter.2. one sees authentically that which does not exist in something. In this. 266 Mi-pham. 9.2-450. separable.265 We can see a similarity between the depictions of a locative absence (1) as an inferior view of emptiness and (2) as Buddha-nature. Delineating Phenomena and Suchness Mi-pham states that in the view of other-emptiness. he says that in the view of self- emptiness nothing ultimately exists. With this distinction. 510. it is said to be not empty of the inconceivable. Perhaps a distinction can be made between the two as to whether or not the emptiness of another also contains within it an emptiness of itself. Vasubandhu’s Madhyāntavibhāga commentary under v. he identifies himself with the tradition propounding self-emptiness:266 It is interesting to note that the word used is “there” (de la).2: ’di lhag ma yod pa gang yin pa de ni ’dir yod.3: rang stong pa’i lugs la don dam par med pa sha stag pas/ don dam par yod pa’i chos mi srid la/ gzhan stong pa’i lugs la/ don dam par med na kun rdzob dang/ don dam par yod la don dam rang nyid yin pa’i phyir ro/ rang lugs rab lan du gsal te rang stong smra ba’i lugs so. 1999/1971). and inseparable qualities of Buddha which are more numerous than the sands of the river Ganges. Here we will discuss his delineation in terms of emptiness. we will be able to explore his description of emptiness and the relationship between phenomena and suchness. gzhung spyi’i dka’ gnad. First. and one authentically knows as it is that which remains always exists there (de la). indivisible. “there” is more abstract.

There is some dispute among interpreters of Mi-pham. cit.6. 1840-1910) concerning 267 Mi-pham’s commentary on the ninth chapter of the Bodhicaryāvatāra (sher le’u ’grel pa nor bu ke ta ka). Mi-pham identifies his tradition with the tradition propounding self-emptiness. 269 270 Lo-chen Dharma Śrī. as to whether Mi-pham’s view accords with “other-emptiness” or with . opt. among Tibetan and non- Tibetan scholars. cit. and what is ultimately existent is the ultimate itself. Mi-pham states that there is only the ultimately non-existent in the tradition of self-emptiness.5-373.7. When we consider Mi-pham’s depiction of emptiness in light of selfemptiness and other-emptiness. In the tradition of other-emptiness.7-244. what is ultimately non-existent is the relative. dpag bsam snye ma 373.269 we see how Mi-pham can be said to be a proponent of both self-emptiness and other-emptiness! Thus. My tradition is clear in the Rap-sel Rejoinder (rab lan). in order to make sense of Mipham’s interpretation of emptiness in relationship to the doctrines of selfemptiness and other-emptiness. since there is only the ultimately non-existent. 374.1.270 rab gsal de nyid snang byed is the name of a text that Mi-pham wrote in response to the criticism of Pa-ri-lo-zang-rap-sel (dpa’ ris blo bzang rab gsal.1-374. Mi-pham defines himself as a proponent of self-emptiness in accord with his definition of the term.5.126 In the tradition of self-emptiness. we need to identify what these terms mean in the works of the respective authors that use them. He states that nothing exists ultimately as non-empty in this tradition. opt. an ultimately existing phenomenon is impossible. and thus he denies that anything ultimately exists. we can see that according to Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa’s definitions of a proponent of self-emptiness (claiming an existential negation as the consummate ultimate) and other-emptiness (claiming wisdom as as not empty of its own essence). and other- emptiness.267 the tradition propounding self-emptiness. 243.6-270. 270. blo gsal yid kyi rgyan bzang. 268 Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa.268 Mi-pham is a proponent of neither self-emptiness nor other-emptiness! according to Lo-chen’s definitions of self-emptiness However.

ultimately exists. Moreover.” It is first of all important to pay close attention to what these terms mean in the contexts they are used. “A Response to John Pettit. Furthermore. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. “Are We All Gzhan stong pas?” Journal of Buddhist Ethics.3: rang gi ngo bo mi stong par bden par grub pa la chos gzhan gyi chos nyid du rung ba sogs rnam pa kun tu mi srid cing don dam dpyod pa’i tshad mas gtan la phab pa’i grub ’bras su yang mi btub ste chos thams cad bden med du dpyod pa’i lag rjes la bden grub gcig ’grub pa ni snang ba las mun pa ltar gnas ma yin pa’i phyir ro/ /tha snyad dpyod pa’i tshad mas kyang bden grub mi ’grub ste/ de’i ngor bden par grub kyang de tsam gyis chos de mi stong par rnam pa kun tu . For a discussion of competing interpretations of Mi-pham’s view. 272 Mi-pham.” Journal of Buddhist Ethics. according to this delineation. 271 Mi-pham. Paul Williams.3-450. opt. He states that what is not empty of its own essence cannot be established by either the conventional or ultimate valid cognitions:273 “self-emptiness. cit.” Journal of Buddhist Ethics. the subjects and objects of the incontrovertible accordance between the modes of appearance and subsistence are called “ultimate” and the opposite are called “relative. John Pettit..1-591. gzhung spyi’i bka’ gnad. he states that appearance in accord with the mode of subsistence (authentic experience) is called “ultimate” from the perspective of conventional valid cognition:272 From the perspective of conventional valid cognition analyzing the mode of appearance. even emptiness. stong thun seng ge’i nga ro. 450. see Matthew Kapstein. “Review of Altruism and Reality. he says: “The manner of establishing the ultimate of otheremptiness is by means of whether or not appearance accords with the mode of subsistence. 6 (1999): 1-14.e.4: gzhan stong gi don dam sgrub tshul de gnas snang mthun mi mthun gyi dbang du byas. the ultimate in other-emptiness is ultimate from the perspective of conventional valid cognition. he does not affirm that anything. 591. 6 (1999): 1-11.127 Although Mi-pham states that emptiness is the ultimate truth.” Thus. 7 (2000): 105-125. appearance/emptiness and authentic/inauthentic experience).”271 In Mi-pham’s delineation of the two models of the two truths (i. 273 Mi-pham. Mi-pham argues that the perspective of conventional valid cognition cannot establish something to be not empty of its own essence. 55-56.

274 Mi-pham. . Mi-pham states that something truly established and not empty of its own essence cannot result from ultimate valid cognition. Without being able to be established by the two valid cognitions. gzhan stong khas len seng ge’i nga ro. establishing this becomes meaninglessly tiresome. ’grub mi nus pa’i phyir ro/ /tshad ma gnyis kyis sgrub ma nus par gyur pa la sgrub byed nam mkha’i me tog gi rjes su ’gro bas de sgrub pa don med kyi ngal par zad do. However. It also cannot be the result of an ascertainment of valid cognition analyzing the ultimate because the result of evidence for something truly established is unacceptable. Nor can conventional valid cognition establish something to be not empty of its own essence. Mipham shows how a view of a non-empty ultimate can be supported. nor is suitable to be negated. therefore. being truly established it is completely impossible to be the suchness of an extrinsic phenomenon (chos gzhan gyi chos nyid). but not the undistorted ultimate:274 The assertion that although true establishment is negated.3-370. the means of establishment has gone the way of a [non-existent] space-flower.128 Not empty of its own essence. etc. even though it may appear that way from a perspective of conventional valid cognition. 370. the undistorted ultimate is not negated.4: bden grub khegs kyang bden med mi khegs mi ’gog bkag mi rung bar ’dod pa ltar/ kun rdzob ’khrul pa rnams khegs kyang don dam ma ’khrul pa mi khegs mi ’gog bkag mi rung bar mtshungs so. but not its absence. in his Lion’s Roar: Assertion of Other-Emptiness. not to be negated. is similar to [the assertion that] although the relative distortions are negated. not to be negated. nor is appropriate to be negated. the absence of true existence is not negated. by merely this there is never an ability to establish phenomena to be non-empty. He argues that just as someone may assert that true establishment is to be negated. in a similar way. one can assert that the distorted relative is to be negated. True establishment is not established by conventional valid cognition either because even though [it may appear to be] truly established from that [conventional] perspective. which establishes the lack of true existence. as a handprint [result] of the analysis of the lack of true existence of all phenomena—like darkness [arising] from light.

In this way.. were empty of pot. then would it not be that a pot would not be a pot. and thus the ultimate would not exist even conventionally. and thus a pot would not exist conventionally? [Response:] So be it. 374. in the same way. a similar distinction can be made between conventional truth and conventional existence. Mi-pham depicts how affirmations of the ultimate can be conventionally true. Furthermore. if the ultimate truth were empty of ultimate truth.5-374. In doing so. In the contexts when such distinctions are made. Mi-pham again shows how a consequence that is used to defend the conventional existence of phenomena also can support a defense of the (conventionally existent) ultimate truth: he shows the conventional nonexistence of the ultimate as an absurd consequence that would follow if the ultimate truth were empty of ultimate truth. In this way.129 Mi-pham argues that an assertion that one should not negate the absence of true existence is similar to the assertion that one should not negate the ultimate itself. In this way. 275 For instance.6: bum pa bum pas stong na bum pa de bum pa min par ’gyur bas bum pa tha snyad du med par mi ’gyur ram zhe na/ ’gyur du chug ste/ de lta na/ don dam bden pa don dam bden pas stong na/ don dam bden pa don dam bden pa min par ’gyur zhing/ don dam pa tha snyad du yang med par ’gyur ba mtshungs so. he uses a similar parallel consequence in his response to a hypothetical qualm:275 If a [conventional phenomenon like a] pot. we can see how a distinction can be made between ultimate truth and ultimate existence. he shows how an assertion that the ultimate truth is (conventionally) not empty of itself is supported by the same logic that is used to defend a pot’s conventional non-emptiness of itself. . Mi-pham shows a similarity between the two claims that: (1) the absence of true existence (the ultimate in the appearance/emptiness two-truth model) is not to be negated and (2) the undistorted ultimate (the ultimate in the authentic/inauthentic experience two-truth model) is not to be negated. a move on par with an assertion that emptiness conventionally exists. Hence. Mi-pham Ibid. then the ultimate truth would not be ultimate truth.

277 Ibid. Mi-pham states that from a conventional perspective. The Two Truths. 540. For a discussion of this distinction in the works of Tsong-kha-pa. a pot would [absurdly] be utterly nonexistent. expressed. mkhas ’jug. and applied) and a conventional truth (from the aspect of its appearance). I assert that a pot is not empty of pot. . 93-94.. Also.”277 According to Mi-pham. dbu ma la ’jug pa’i ’grel pa. See also Karma Phuntsho. can be said to be the [categorized] ultimate truth and conventionally existent. too. just like the truth of causality and the truth of the three jewels. and applicable by means of the mind. 539. Mipham’s Dialectics and the Debates on Emptiness. see Guy Newland. 129: tha snyad de la shes brjod ’jug gsum du bzhag pa ni sems dang ngag dang lus kyi sgo nas so. words.” Tsong-kha-pa. Thupten Jinpa. the pot would become non-existent. and if it were non-existent in itself. therefore. a pot empty of pot is the assertion of self-emptiness’ is utterly unreasonable because: if a pot were empty of pot. the emptiness of the pot. 278 Mi-pham. Tsong- 276 kha-pa makes a similar statement: “The statement that: ‘That a pot is not empty of pot. a pot is truly established (bden grub) as a pot: “A pot is necessarily truly established as pot through conventional valid cognition. expressible. 101.1: tha snyad tshad mas bum pa bum pa nyid du bden par grub dgos te las ’bras bden pa dang dkon mchog gsum bden pa bzhin no. 279 152-153.6: tha snyad kyi dbang du byas na/ bum pa bum pas mi stong par ’dod de/ tha snyad du de stong na bum pa med par ’gyur.”276 Moreover. as an empty quality which is a referent of thought and expression. Although Mi-pham does not make this distinction explicit in this way.279 Mi-pham.”278 Thus. but empty of true existence is an other-emptiness. what is “conventional” is the realm of thought. 213: bum pa bum pas mi stong bar bum pa bden pas stong pa ni/ gzhan stong yin pas bum pa bum pas stong pa ni rang stong yin no zhes smra ba ni gtan nas mi rigs te/ bum pa bum pas stong na bum pa la bum pa med dgos na/ rang la rang med na gzhan su la yang med pas bum pa gtan med par ’gyur ro. because if it were empty conventionally. therefore. and physical actions: “The conventional is posited as knowable. Self. speech and body. it would be non-existent everywhere else. a pot can be said to be a conventionally existent phenomenon (since it can be thought. dgongs pa rab gsal. a pot would have to be non-existent in itself. Reality and Reason in Tibetan Philosophy.130 shows that a pot is not empty of pot in terms of the conventional: “In terms of the conventional. we can see how such a distinction can be made in his treatment of existence (yod pa) and truth (bden pa).

conventional or ultimate:280 In short. 74-75: mdor na tha snyad kyi tshad ma’i ngor yod par grub na de tha snyad du sus kyang dgag mi nus la/ tha snyad pa’i tshad mas gnod pa yod na de tha snyad du yod par sus kyang sgrub mi nus shing/ don dam pa’i tshad mas med par grub pa de don dam par yod do zhes sus kyang sgrub mi nus. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. Nobody at all can affirm that something is ultimately existent which has been established to not exist by ultimate valid cognition. a distinction between ultimate existence and conventional existence also plays a part in Mi-pham’s depiction of reflexive awareness (rang rig) and the universal ground (kun gzhi). they are indispensable (med du mi rung) in the analysis of a conventional presentation. However. See also Pöd-pa Tulku. lta grub shan ’byed ’grel pa. 187.131 Mi-pham delineates the criterion for existence through an epistemological definition: via valid cognition. if it is established by valid cognition analyzing the conventional. 31: don dam pa gtan la ’bebs pa la rang rig dang kun gzhi mi dgos mod/ tha snyad kyi rnam bzhag dpyod pa la med du mi rung zhing tha snyad dpyod pa’i tshad mas grub na de tha snyad du med ces ’gog pa’i rigs pa ni med do. Moreover. sher ’grel ke ta ka. and moreover. . saying “it does not conventionally exist. the conventional [existence] of that which is established to exist in the perspective of conventional valid cognition cannot be refuted by anyone at all. reflexive awareness and the universal ground are not necessary. 281 Mi-pham. there is no reason to negate it. He states that reflexive awareness and the universal ground are conventionally existent. We can see a distinction in Mi-pham’s descriptions of ultimate truth through his reliance on the framework of valid cognition. not ultimately existent:281 In the ascertainment of the ultimate. The conventional existence of that which is invalidated by conventional valid cognition cannot be established by anyone at all.” 280 Mi-pham.

and great bliss are not necessarily incompatible with the Prāsaṅgika tradition. . along with the other consciousnesses. brgal lan nyin byed snang ba. Mi-pham. the afflicted mind becomes “the discriminating wisdom” (so sor rtog pa’i ye shes). the universal ground consciousness becomes the “mirror-like wisdom” (me long lta bu’i ye shes). and the five sense consciousnesses become “the accomplishing wisdom” (bya ba grub pa’i ye shes). The universal ground becomes “the wisdom of the expanse of phenomena” (chos dbyings ye shes). he shows how such conventions as reflexive awareness. rab gsal de nyid snang byed. Yet how is it that just because there is no assertion conventionally in that [tradition] that one must necessarily understand that [these] definitely do not exist conventionally? For example. the collection of six consciousnesses is accepted. as it is clear from their texts. Mi-pham. 561: spyir dbu ma thal ’gyur pa’i lugs la rnam shes tshogs drug tu bzhes pa dang/ rang rig gi rnam bzhag sogs ma mdzad pa ni rang gzhung na gsal mod/ der tha snyad du zhal bzhes med pa tsam zhig gis tha snyad du med nges su go dgos pa’i nges pa ga la yod de/ dper na thal ’gyur pa’i lugs la gnyug sems dang bde ba chen po sogs kyi tha snyad sbyar don med kyang de dag tha snyad du mi ’thad pa ma yin pa bzhin no. reflexive awareness is indispensable when asserting a presentation of valid cognition of confined perception. all need to be accepted to account for their transformation into the five wisdoms according to sūtra and tantra. while not necessary in the ascertainment of the ultimate. inference (rjes dpag) comes down to direct perception (mngon sum). 356-357. 208. Mi-pham states that the universal ground. and direct perception to reflexive awareness. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. innate mind. and there is no presentation of reflexive awareness and so forth. are indispensable in an analysis of conventional reality. the mental consciousness becomes “the wisdom of equality” (mnyam nyid ye shes). 282 Mi-pham states that in the end. it is not that these are conventionally unreasonable.282 Conventional existence also plays a role in the way that Mi-pham shows how conventions such as “innate mind” (gnyug sems) and “great bliss” (bde ba chen po) can be compatible with Prāsaṅgika:283 In general in the Prāsaṅgika tradition. 283 Mi-pham. hence.132 He argues that the universal ground and reflexive awareness. Through the status of existing conventionally. like the fact that although there is no point in using conventions such as innate mind and great bliss in the Prāsaṅgika tradition. Regarding the universal ground.

conventionally. there is no basis of imputation at all for permanence. but that this does not designate a permanent entity or an impermanent entity:284 Although suchness. are all ultimately beyond the extremes of entities and non-entities. Mi-pham affirms that conventionally there is the designation “great permanence” and the basis of its designation exists.133 Furthermore. Although it is unchanging. in a compilation of Mi-pham’s oral instructions entitled Trilogy of Innate Mind (gnyug sems skor gsum). nor a permanent. Therefore. since the basis of imputation (gdags pa’i gzhi) of great permanence exists. 24. steadfast (ther zug) entity. Mi-pham’s Collected Works (sde dge ed.4: chos nyid dang chos nyid kyi rang rtsal las shar ba’i snang ba dang bcas pa thams cad don dam par dngos dngos med kyi mtha’ las ’das kyang/ tha snyad du rtag pa chen po’i tha snyad byed de/ skad cig ma’i mi rtag pa’i dngos po’ang min/ rtag pa ther zug dngos po’ang min/ ’gyur ba med kyang dngos med stong kyang yang min pas/ rtag pa chen por gdags pa’i gzhi yod pas dngos med la rtag par ’dod pa dang mi ’dra ba ste/ mkha’ sogs rtag par gdags pa la dpyad na mi rtag pa las log tsam yod kyang/ rtag par gdags pa’i gzhi gang yang med do. Mi-pham states that conventionally. suchness is called “the great permanence” (rtag pa chen po). 284 . Mi-pham also delineates the ultimate and conventional in a description of the relationship between mind (sems) and wisdom. together with the appearances that arise from the self-expression of suchness (chos nyid kyi rang rtsal). it is not a mere absence that is a non-entity either.1-476.). it is neither a momentary impermanent entity. book 2 (gnyug sems ’od gsal gyi don la dpyad pa rdzogs pa chen po gzhi lam ’bras bu’i shan ’byed blo gros snang ba). it is not like the assertion of non-entities as “permanent” because when the imputation of the permanence of [non-entities] such as space is analyzed. In this. 476. gnyug sems. we see how Mi-pham depicts the relationship between phenomena (chos can) and suchness (chos nyid): “The suchness of consciousness is Mi-pham. even though it exists as the mere inverse of impermanence (mi rtag pa las log pa). there is the designation (tha snyad byed) “the great permanence”. vol.

447. the mind is also not observed as different from that [wisdom] and (2) when wisdom is realized. Mi-pham. Ultimately. See also. As Long-chen-rap-jam stated in accordance with the words in the Saṃdhinirmocana: The character (mtshan nyid) of the conditioned realm and the ultimate.. Mi-pham states that consciousness and wisdom are not said to be the same conventionally. which are the eight collections of consciousness. the two are not the same because (1) wisdom. he says:287 285 286 Ibid. Therefore.1: des na rnam shes tshogs brgyad chos can dang/ de’i rang bzhin chos nyid kyi ye shes gnyis ni/ gcig tha dad gang du’ang khas blangs bya min par/ dgongs ’grel las/ ’du byed khams dang don dam mtshan nyid ni/ /gcig dang tha dad bral ba’i mtshan nyid te/ gcig dang tha dad du yang gang rtog pa/ /de dag tshul min lta la zhugs pa yin/ /zhes gsungs pa’i lung bzhin klong chen rab ’byams kyis gsungs la/ de’i phyir de gnyis tha snyad du gcig ma yin te/ sems rtogs pa tsam gyis sems kyi chos nyid ye shes mi rtogs pa dang/ chos dang chos nyid yin pa sogs kyi phyir ro/ don dam par tha dad min te/ sems kyi rang bzhin ye shes yin pas/ ye shes rtogs dus sems kyang de las tha dad du ma dmigs pa’i phyir dang/ ye shes rtogs tshe sems rang grol du ’char ba. 446.2. those who conceive [them] as the same or different Have entered into an improper view. is not realized by merely realizing the mind and (2) [mind and wisdom] are phenomena and suchness. which is the nature of those [consciousnesses]. 287 Mi-pham. due to the nature of mind being wisdom (1) when wisdom is realized. but ultimately are not different:286 Therefore.3-372.4: ye shes ni sems las byung ba ma yin te/ sems kyi gnas lugs rang bzhin ’od gsal yin pas/ dngos po kun gyi chos nyid stong pa nyid ni dngos po’i gnas lugs yin gyi dngos po las byung ba min pa ltar go dgos.6: rnam shes kyi chos nyid ni ye shes so.”285 He states that mind and wisdom are conventionally not the same. 372. Ibid.5-446. conventionally. the mind arises as self-liberated. Is the character free from being the same or different. 585.2-448.1-585. the two: (1) phenomena. Thus. ultimately they are not different. however. are not asserted as either the same or different.. because they are related as phenomena and suchness. they are not different because. Furthermore. the suchness of mind.134 wisdom. . and (2) the wisdom that is suchness (chos nyid kyi ye shes). stong thun seng ge’i nga ro. gnyug sems book 1. because the nature of mind itself is wisdom.

does not arise from entities. In his commentary on the Madhyamakālaṃkāra. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. Īśvara. Brahma. neither saṃsāra and nirvāṇa. suchness. it is merely a different name for a similar [mistaken] Mi-pham. but is the abiding reality of all entities. gzhan stong khas len seng ge’i nga ro. etc. but the two truths as authentic/inauthentic experience is a different case.. he argues:289 Without gaining certainty in primordial purity. Delineating Emptiness Mi-pham critiques mistaken conceptions of suchness as an emptyground. which is empty of both existence and nonexistence. If you hold onto such a ground. the presence of one entails the absence of the other. In this way. due to being the natural luminous clarity. Mi-pham states: “It is not at all possible to conventionally be both the mistaken saṃsāra and the unmistaken nirvāṇa. in the way that emptiness. As with mind and wisdom. merely an impassioned thought (snying la brnag pa) of a ground that is neither existent nor non-existent will bring you nowhere. Mi-pham depicts the relationship between mind and wisdom in the same way as he describes the relationship between phenomena and suchness—neither the same nor different. wisdom. are a unity in conventional terms. nor the two truths as authentic/inauthentic experience. 289 Mi-pham. 288 .”288 Thus. neither (conventionally) the same nor (ultimately) different. but is the abiding reality of mind. that is. Viṣṇu. 369. the two truths are a unity in terms of the two truths as appearance/emptiness.3: ’khrul pa’i ’khor ba dang ma ’khrul pa’i myang ’das gnyis ka yin pa tha snyad du nam yang mi srid la. as separate and established by its own essence. whether it is called the inconceivable Self. 471: ka dag la nges pa ma rnyed par yod pa’ang min med pa’ang min pa’i gzhi zhig snying la brnag pa tsam gyis ni gar yang mi phyin te/ de ’dra ba’i yod med gnyis kyis stong pa’i stong gzhi logs su ngo bos grub par bzung na/ de’i ming la bsam mi khyab pa’i bdag gam/ tshangs pa’am/ khyab ’jug gam/ dbang phyug gam/ ye shes sogs ji btags kyang ming tsam las don ’dra ba yin no/ mtha’ bzhi’i spros bral gyi gnas lugs so so rang rig par bya ba’i ’od gsal rdzogs pa chen po ni de ’dra ba zhig yin tshod mi gda’ bas.135 One should understand that wisdom does not arise from mind.

”292 In contrast to Dol-po-pa’s depiction of suchness as a third category. 470-471: lugs de dag kyang mtha’ dang bral ba skad du ’chad kyang/ mthar gtugs na bdag gam tshangs pa sogs blo yi gtad so zhig la mu brten nas yod pas dbu ma’i tshul ga la yin. A freedom from constructs is a central part of Mi-pham’s characterization of emptiness. Mi-pham also claims: “Middle Way reasoning will inevitably refute whatever object the mind takes as support (rten ’cha’ ba’i yul). 293 Mi-pham. Furthermore. he states:290 Although traditions may claim to be free from extremes. rab gsal de nyid snang byed. Mi-pham claims that without gaining certainty in primordial purity. etc. The abiding reality that is free from the four extremes— the luminous clarity of the Great Perfection which is realized reflexively—is not at all like that... or Brahma. how could this manner be the Middle Way? Mi-pham distinguishes the manner of the Middle Way as beyond conceptual reference. 291: dbus zhes pa ka ba gnyis bsgrig gi bar mtshams lta bu dmigs pa can zhig la gnas par bya ba’i yul du ngos ma bzung ste/ dbus mi dmigs par gsungs. He says that “the middle” (dbus) is not a referent object (mi dmigs pa): “‘The middle’ expresses the lack of reference to any extreme. emptiness is not what is Ibid.”291 Furthermore. 292 Ibid. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel.136 meaning. 368: blos rten ’cha’ ba’i yul gang yin pa dbu ma’i rigs pas sun phyung mi nus pa mi srid. 291 Mi-pham. he states: “It is said that ‘the middle’ should not be identified as a referent object that abides like the space between two aligned pillars. Thus. the middle is not what is observed (mi dmigs par). 294: dbus zhes pa mtha’ gang la’ang mi dmigs pa la brjod. holding onto an empty-ground as the abiding reality is not the correct view.. in the end since they constantly depend (mu brten) upon a conceptual reference (blo yi gtad so) for a Self. 290 . Mi-pham emphasizes emptiness as beyond reference and conceptuality.”293 He depicts the meaning of emptiness as distinct from determinate conceptions of a metaphysical referent.

gzhan stong khas len seng ge’i nga ro. or (2) a quality of absence. 165. is not an object of a dualistic mind. similarly.5: bden med khas blangs pas stong nyid dngos por med pa’i mtshan mar zhen pa’i gsor mi rung ba’i lta bar ’gyur ba dang/ spros bral khas blangs pas stong nyid ni brjod du med pa’i dngos por dmigs pa’i lta bar ’gyur ba mtshungs so.. rab gsal de nyid snang byed. . or suchness. the assertion of a freedom from constructs can become an incorrigible view in which emptiness is a referent object (dmigs pa) of an ineffable entity. 368. 296 Ibid. Furthermore. the ultimate. 295 Mi-pham. 545: don dam dpyod pa’i rjes dpags sam don dam mngon sum rtogs pa’i ye shes kyi yul gyi ngo bo ’di zhes rnyed pa’ang gzigs so zhes nan gyis khas len pa de dag gis gzhan stong ji ltar bkag kyang rang gi zhe phug gzhan stong gis dbang byas pa ma tshor ba tsam du zad do. he states:296 Those who emphatically claim that an inferential cognition analyzing the ultimate. He emphasizes that suchness is beyond conceptual reference:295 As long as the mind remains with reference (dmigs pa can) or with a perceiver-perceived [duality] (gzung ’dzin dang bcas pa). Appearance does not accord with the mode of subsistence when the mind remains with reference or is dualistic. no matter how much they refute other-emptiness. sees the essence of an object or even finds it.4-368. See also Karma Phuntsho. the heart 294 Mi-pham. it can become a referent object of an “ineffable” entity. Mipham’s Dialectics and the Debates on Emptiness. Mi-pham argues that emptiness can be reified as a sign of a non-entity. Thus. similarly. Mi-pham states:294 Just as the assertion of the absence of true existence can become an incorrigible view (gsor mi rung ba’i lta ba) of emptiness as a reified sign (mtshan mar zhen pa) of a non-entity. suchness is not the object of a mind with a perceiver-perceived [duality]. 375: ji srid dmigs pa can nam gzung ’dzin dang bcas pa’i blo la gnas pa de srid du gnas snang mi mthun te/ chos nyid ni gzung ’dzin dang bcas pa’i blo’i yul min no.137 held as either (1) a substrate. or a wisdom that realizes the ultimate through direct perception. appearance does not accord with the mode of subsistence. In his Lion’s Roar: Asserting Other-Emptiness.

11: dngos po’i gnas tshul don dam pa ni yod pa dang/ med pa dang/ gnyis ka/ gnyis min gyi mtha’ kun dang bral bas na blo yi spyod yul min te/ blo dang sgra ni kun rdzob yin gyi don dam pa ma yin pa’i phyir ro. sher ’grel ke ta ka. here it is [said to] not [be] an object of knowledge determined by inclusion (yongs gcod du). If one accepts that [the ultimate] is also an object of knowledge determined by inclusion. based on taking the meditative equipoise of the Sublime Ones as the subject and the expanse of phenomena as the object. it is suitable to say “[the ultimate] is an object of knowledge (shes bya)”. Mi-pham describes the ultimate mode of subsistence as beyond the domain of mind. both. 298 Ibid. In this way. non-existence. mind and language are relative. because the basis of division of the two truths is objects of knowledge. the claim that the ultimate is an object of knowledge. Mi-pham.138 of their own view (zhe phug) has fallen under the power of otheremptiness (gzhan stong gis dbang byas pa) and they just don’t know it. Mi-pham characterizes the ultimate as that which transcends thought and language:297 The ultimate mode of subsistence of entities—free from all extremes of existence. but not ultimately:298 Conventionally. if this [ultimate] is said to be ultimately what is apprehended or known by a meditative equipoise without perceiver-perceived [duality]—are these words not explicitly and implicitly in contradiction? Moreover. is also by exclusion (rnam gcod du). 13: tha snyad du ni ’phags pa’i mnyam bzhag yul can dang/ chos kyi dbyings yul du byas pa la brten nas shes bya yin no zhes brjod rung gi don dam par gzung ’dzin med pa’i mnyam bzhag gis ’di gzung bya’am shes bya yin zer na tshig de dngos shugs mi ’gal lam/ yang bden gnyis kyi dbye gzhi shes bya yin pas don dam shes byar khas blangs pa de yang rnam bcod du yin la/ ’dir shes bya min pa ni yongs gcod du yin pas mi ’gal te/ yongs gcod du’ang shes byar khas len na stong nyid dngos por zhal gyis bzhes par ’gyur. however. therefore. there is no contradiction. then emptiness is asserted as an entity. He states that conventionally the ultimate can be said to be an object of knowledge. 297 . and neither—is therefore not the domain of mind.. not ultimate.

here it is done as objects of knowledge. and by means of inclusion (yongs gcod) by Candrakīrti in the Madhyamakāvatāra:301 In the root text and [auto-]commentary of the Madhyamakāvatāra. dgongs pa rab gsal. Pöd-pa Tulku states that the defining characteristic (mtshan nyid) of the ultimate is expressed by means of exclusion (rnam gcod) by Śāntideva in the Bodhicaryāvatāra. The delineation of the ultimate as not the domain of mind is found in a description of the two truths from Śāntideva’s Bodhicaryāvatāra:300 The relative and the ultimate. 103. The Two Truths. lta grub shan ’byed ’grel pa. See also Guy Newland. 300 Śāntideva. the [domain of] mind is relative. Mi-pham states that the assertions that the ultimate both is and is not an object of knowledge are not necessarily a contradiction when the former is the ultimate that can be known through exclusion and the latter is the ultimate that cannot be known through inclusion. the defining characteristic of the ultimate is posited by means of inclusion. in the context of the wisdom chapter of the Tsong-kha-pa claims that the basis of division of the two truths is objects of knowledge: “There are many ways of asserting the basis of division of the two truths.2: kun rdzob dang ni don dam ste/ /’di ni bden pa gnyis su ’dod/ /don dam blo yi spyod yul min/ /blo ni kun rdzob yin par brjod. . The ultimate is not the domain of mind. Bodhicaryāvatāra 9. 131: ’jug pa rtsa ’grel du/ yongs gcod kyi sgo nas don dam pa’i mtshan nyid ’jog par mdzad pa dang/ spyod ’jug sher le’u skabs su rnam gcod kyi sgo nas/ don dam pa’i mtshan nyid bstan zhing/ gzhung gnyis kar yongs gcod kyi sgo nas kun rdzob bden pa’i mtshan nyid bstan. 59. 1990). it is known through explicitly negating what it is not. 301 Pöd-pa Tulku. Furthermore. 176: bden pa gnyis kyi dbye gzhi la ’dod tshul mi ’dra ba mang mod/ ’dir shes bya la bya ste.139 He states that the ultimate asserted as an object of knowledge is an object of knowledge by exclusion.” Tsong-kha-pa. Published in byang chub sems dpa’i spyod pa la ’jug pa rtsa ba dang ’grel ba (Sichuan: Nationalities 299 Press. these are asserted as the two truths.299 The ultimate cannot be an object of knowledge as determined by inclusion—through affirming what it is—because that would turn emptiness into an entity.

false seeings are relative truths. Both texts indicate the relative by means of inclusion. cit. the defining characteristic of the ultimate is indicated by means of exclusion. Both scriptures indicate the defining characteristic of the relative by means of inclusion. 303 Pöd-pa Tulku. only conceptually distinct. which is the two truths of authentic/inauthentic experience as the objects of conventional valid cognition of pure vision (tha snyad dag gzigs tshad ma’i yul).23: “[Buddha] said that all entities found by authentic and false seeing are apprehended as two essences: That which is the object of authentic seeing is suchness. by means of whether or not it is established in the abiding reality (gnas lugs la grub ma grub). The ultimate delineated in the Bodhicaryāvatāra—not the domain of mind—is indicated by means of exclusion. Pöd-pa Tulku states that the ultimate delineated in the Madhyamakāvatāra—the object of authentic seeing—is indicated by means of inclusion. he states that the two truths are “neither one nor many” (gcig du bral).303 Candrakīrti.” opt. he says that there is another way the relationship is described. lta grub shan ’byed ’grel pa. based on the uncategorized ultimate. 142: spyir rang rgyud pa’i lugs kyi rnam 302 grangs dpyod pa’i tshad ma’i yul gyi don dam la ltos pa’i bden gnyis gzhir bzhag na/ bden gnyis ngo bo gcig la ldog pa tha dad du rnam par dbye ba las ’os med kyang/ mthar thug thal ’gyur lta ba’i lugs kyi rnam grangs ma yin pa dpyod pa’i tshad ma’i yul du gyur pa’i don dam la ltos pa’i bden pa gnyis ni ngo bo gcig du bral du bzhed pa lags so/ /’on kyang skabs ’ga’ zhig tu ni/ tha snyad dag gzigs tshad ma’i yul du gyur pa’i gnas snang chos kyi bden gnyis ni/ gnas snang mthun pa’i rang bzhin dag pa myang ’das kyi chos dang mi mthun pa’i rang bzhin ma dag ’khor ba’i chos gnyis gnas lugs la grub ma grub kyi sgo nas dngos po med pa ltar gcig pa bkag pa’i zhal bzhes mdzad do/ /’on kyang stong thun sogs las ni ’khor ’das gnyis chos can chos nyid kyi tshul du gcig du bral gyi zhal bzhes kyang snang ngo. Also.302 Pöd-pa Tulku describes the relationship between the two truths in the Svātantrika tradition’s categorized ultimate as “the same with different contradistinctions” (ngo bog cig la ldog pa tha dad).140 Bodhicaryāvatāra. In the Prāsaṅgika tradition. namely. false seeings in the Madhyamakāvatāra and the [domain of] mind in the Bodhicaryāvatāra. Madhyamakāvatāra 6. .

88. the two truths of phenomena that appear in accordance with the mode of subsistence—which are the objects of conventional valid cognition of pure vision—by means of whether or not they are established in the mode of subsistence. asserts the relationship between the two truths as neither the same nor different. ri chos nges don rgya mtsho. which are the natural impurity of appearance that does not accord with the mode of subsistence. are asserted. 305 Dol-po-pa. which are the natural purity of appearance in accord with the mode of subsistence. ri chos nges don rgya mtsho. as the negation of being one (gcig pa bkag pa). opt. like a non-entity. in [Mi-pham’s] Exposition [of Buddha-Nature] and so forth. how he states that a predicative negation exists within the ground of an existential negation. . He claims that a predicative 304 Dol-po-pa. We saw above how Dol-po-pa articulates the relationship between suchness and phenomena are “different in the sense of negating that they are one entity” (ngo bo gcig pa bkag pa’i tha dad). cit.4-384.4. and (2) the phenomena of saṃsāra. the two—saṃsāra and nirvāṇa—appear to also be asserted as neither the same nor different in the manner of qualitybearer (chos can) and suchness (chos nyid). Moreover. the two: (1) the phenomena of nirvāṇa.5. Pöd-pa Tulku states that Mi-pham. opt. in certain contexts.305 We will now assess how Mi-pham depicts existential and predicative negations. cit. based upon the Svātantrika tradition’s ultimate that depends upon two truths—which is an object of the valid cognition analyzing the categorized [ultimate]—it is not appropriate for the two truths to be divided other than as essentially the same with different contradistinctions.141 In general. the two truths that depend upon the consummate Prāsaṅgika tradition’s view of the ultimate— which is the object of valid cognition analyzing (dpyod pa) the uncategorized—are asserted as neither one nor many.304 and furthermore. Emptiness as the Unity of Appearance and Emptiness Mi-pham states that an emptiness that is understood as separate from appearance is a predicative negation. However. in texts such as the Lion’s Roar: Exposition of Buddha-Nature.3-88. However. 384.

142 negation does not have the meaning of unity because it establishes the essence of another phenomenon (chos gzhan gyi ngo bo sgrub):306 The indication that entities lack intrinsic nature is an existential negation because a predicative negation establishes the essence of another phenomenon. 308 Thus. 1992).308 In this way. 270. 306 We can see a similar distinction between “existential negations” in the way that Khenpo Nam-dröl depicts “an existential negation negating one extreme” (mtha’ gcig dgag pa’i med dgag) and “an existential negation free from [all] extremes” (mtha’ bral med dgag). “Mental Concentration and the Unconditioned: A Buddhist Case for Unmediated Experience. Appearance itself appears while non-existent. Khen-po Nam-dröl. Although appearances are designated as lacking intrinsic nature. he emphasizes that emptiness is beyond mind. nges shes sgron me tape 3a. the significant ‘unconditioned’ is not a mere negation but an affirming negative (paryudāsapratiṣedha. Mi-pham asserts that the indication that entities lack intrinsic nature is an existential negation. but is in fact a predicative negation because such a conception establishes the essence of another phenomenon. appearance itself appears while Mi-pham. . through abiding as the ineffable indivisibility of appearance and emptiness. Paths of 307 Liberation (Kuroda Institute: University of Hawaii Press. if this is understood to mean something empty separate from appearance. 380-381: dngos po rang bzhin med par bstan pa ni med par dgag pa ste/ ma yin dgag ni chos gzhan kyi ngo bo sgrub pas de ’dra la zung ’jug gi don med la/ snang ba rang bzhin med par gdags pa’ang/ snang ba las logs na stong rgyu yod pa lta bur go na med dgag zer yang ma yin dgag tu song ba yin la/ snang ba nyid med bzhin snang ba ni zung ’jug ste ngo mtshar che zhing/ de ltar snang stong dbyer med brjod bral du gnas pas na mthar thug gi don la dgag sgrub dang bral bas blo ’das pa yin no. it is beyond the mind because it is free from negation and affirmation in the consummate meaning (mthar thug gi don).307 He thus depicts existential negations as better indicators of emptiness than predicative negations. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. it is a unity—marvelous—thus. as such it does not have the meaning of unity.” Anne Klein.). ma yin dgag). even though it may be called an “existential negation” it has become a predicative negation. we can see that Anne Klein misrepresents Mi-pham when she uses him to support her overly generalized claim that: “For Rnying-ma [Nying-ma]. He says that an emptiness that is separate from appearance is not an existential negation.” in Robert Buswell and Robert Gimello (eds. As such.

here and below. However.143 non-existent and emptiness is not delimited to merely the quality of absence separate from appearance. Brackets in nges shes gron me translations. ca. it is only an existential negation. are taken from glosses in Khen-po Kün-pal’s interlinear commentary. Since it is not an object of language or thought Mi-pham. blo gros snang ba’i sgo ’byed. the Nyingma view is an existential negation. “Which is the tradition of the early translations [of Nying-ma]?” Considering only the manner of emptiness When questioned [what is the Nying-ma view]. 309 . there is no partiality for existential negations or predicative negations. 310 Ibid.. 5: dge ldan lta ba med dgag zer/ /gzhan rnams ma yin dgag tu smra/ /snga ’gyur ring lugs gang zhes na/ /stong tshul kho na bsam nas ni/ /dri na med dgag nyid yin te/ /’phags yul dpal ldan zla ba dang/ /bod na rong zom chos bzang gnyis/ /dgongs pa gcig dang dbyangs gcig gis/ /ka dag stong pa chen po bsgrubs. Other traditions speak of a predicative negation— If one asks. It is inconceivable by an extrinsic thought (rtog pa gzhan).) both affirm the great emptiness of primordial purity:309 It is said that the Ge-luk (dge ldan) view is an existential negation. the Nying-ma view is an existential negation. nges shes sgron me. Mi-pham affirms that concerning only the manner of emptiness. Mi-pham states that in terms of only the manner of emptiness. 49: sems ’das ye shes yin pa’i phyir/ /rtog pa gzhan gyis bsam mi khyab/ /de ni sgra rtog yul min phyir/ /med dgag ma yin dgag sogs dang/ /tha dad dang ni snang stong sogs/ /ris su chad pa med pa ste. emptiness or appearance:310 Since wisdom transcends the mind. 11th c. or to a substrate that is detached from phenomena. he also states that since wisdom transcends the mind and is not the domain of thoughts and words. The glorious Candrakīrti in the Noble Land [of India] And Rong-zom-chö-zang in Tibet Established with one viewpoint and one voice The great emptiness of primordial purity. and adds that Candrakīrti and Rong-zom (rong zom chos kyi bzang po.

Difference. Mi-pham distinguishes the view from the perspective of wisdom as neither an existential negation nor a predicative negation. the negating language expressed) is only an existential negation because a predicative negation 311 Mi-pham. etc. . 5: zung ’jug ye shes chen po’i ngor/ /med ces dgag bya bkag shul gyi/ /med rkyang dang ni ma yin zhes/ /bkag shul chos gzhan ci zhig ’phen/ de gnyis blo yis brtag pa tsam/ /don la gnyis kar khas mi len. it is the unity of emptiness and appearance so any apprehension of negation or affirmation should deconstruct (gzhig). Furthermore. due to appearing as an unfailing dependent arising. while it is an existential negation. 312 Mi-pham. He states that an indication of emptiness (e.. nges shes sgron me. etc.g. In this way. 10: stong pa nyid ston pa’i skabs su gzugs la sogs pa dgag pa ni med dgag kho na yin te/ ma yin par bkag kyang mthar gtugs na dngos por zhen pas stong nyid kyi don du mi rung bas med par dgag pa yin bzhin du/ rten ’byung bslu med du snang bas snang stong zung du ’jug pas na dgag sgrub kyi ’dzin stangs zhig gzhig dgos te. However. the negation of form. Therefore. appearance or emptiness. it is not suitable to be the meaning of emptiness. he describes the negative language used to express emptiness as only an existential negation:312 In the context of indicating emptiness (stong pa nyid ston pa’i skabs su). he represents emptiness in the view of wisdom as not a negation (since it is not the referent of thought or words). is only an existential negation. Since a predicative negation is also in the end a fixation upon an entity (dngos por zhen pas).144 There is no partiality for (ris su chad pa med) Existential negations or predicative negations. sher ’grel ke ta ka. Mi-pham states:311 From the perspective of the great wisdom of unity The elimination of the object of negation by “non-existent” Implies neither a mere existential absence nor a predicative negation— What other phenomenon is there to imply by negation? Both of these are merely mental imputations I assert neither as the [consummate] meaning.

262. Reality and Reason in Tibetan Philosophy (London: RoutledgeCurzon. 783: bdag med pa’i don la phu thag chos pa’i lta ba’i nges pa med na lhag mthong gi rtogs pa mi skye ste. it is necessary to reach a firm conclusion (phu thag chod) on the absence of true existence: “In order to recognize the own face of the ultimate. not the authentic emptiness. . in dbu ma la ’jug pa’i rang ’grel. Self. without knowing the manner of its absence Wishing for its absence does not help. 314 Mi-pham. Moreover. See also Thupten Jinpa. without knowing the manner of its absence. The example of the snake can be found in the Madhyamakāvatāra 6. 179. Like when a multi-colored rope is mistaken for a snake It does not help to think “there is no snake. 2000/1985). Mi-pham argues that in order to recognize the ultimate.” but When the manner of its absence is seen. one must reach a firm conclusion on the absence of true existence.” Tsong-kha-pa. He uses as an analogy in the way that just thinking. Mi-pham.”313 Moreover. 14: don dam rang ngo shes pa la/ /bden stong phu thag chod pa dgos. “there is no snake” does not remedy the confusion of seeing a multi-colored rope as a snake. nges shes sgron me. it is abandoned. In any case. 15-16: bdag gzhan dngos ’dzin ’dir brten nas/ /srid pa’i 313 chu bo brgyud mar ’jug /’di dag zlog pa’i gnyen po ni/ /bdag med pa yi ’dzin stangs yin/ /de yang med tshul ma shes par/ /med par mos pas mi phan te/ /thag khrar sbrul du ’khrul ba la/ sbrul med snyam pas mi phan kyang/ /med tshul mthong na spangs pa bzhin. nges shes sgron me. 2002). the confusion is relinquished:314 Based on this clinging to the entities of self and other One continuously enters the stream of [cyclic] existence. but through seeing the manner of its absence. Thus. Mi-pham suggests that emptiness represented by a predicative negation is a reification of emptiness. lam rim chen mo (Qinghai: Nationalities Press.145 is in the end a fixation upon an entity. he explains that it does not help to merely aspire to an absence. We find a similar statement by Tsong-kha-pa: “Realization of special insight (lhag mthong) will not occur without the certainty of the view that has reached a firm conclusion (phu thag chod) on the meaning of the absence of self.141. The antidote that averts these Is the mode of apprehension of the absence of self.

The absence of true existence is taught to eliminate the mistaken apprehension of entities. Mi-pham clearly delineates two contexts for the interpretation of words such as “abiding reality” (gnas lugs). nges shes sgron me. 316 Mi-pham. Thus. there will be no method to extract (’jil ba) the beginningless habit of the mistaken apprehension of entities. the empty quality conceived as distinct from an empty substrate is not the meaning of emptiness. “suchness” (chos nyid). this will become an incorrigible view.146 The antidote that eradicates clinging to the entities of self and other is the apprehension of the absence of self. “the expanse of phenomena” (chos dbyings). He states:316 315 Mi-pham. 51: dngos po stong pa’i gnas lugs dang/ /bden gnyis dbyer med gnas lugs gnyis/ /ming gcig na yang don la ni/ /khyad par gnam sa bzhin du mchis/ /de bzhin chos nyid chos dbyings dang/ /stong nyid spros bral ’gog pa’i mtha’/ /don dam la sogs smra mtshungs kyang/ /mthar thug dang ni nyi tshe ba’i/ /khyad par che phyir skabs so so/ /phye nas ma nor bshad bya ste. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. Mi-pham argues that an emptiness that is apprehended solely as an absence is not the abiding reality:315 Only in the beginning. Mi-pham distinguishes his view from a view of emptiness as a substrate or a quality. There are two ways to grasp also: grasping at emptiness as an entity and grasping at emptiness as a non-entity. . However. some narrow-minded (blo chung ba) people will think. 88: thog ma kho nar bden med du ma bstan na ni thog med nas goms pa’i dngos ’dzin phyin ci log ’jil ba’i thabs med la/ de tsam zhig don dam du bstan na ni blo chung ba kha cig dgag bya bkag pa’i med pa tsam gnas lugs so snyam du stong pa nyid la zhen nas gsor mi rung ba’i lta bar ’gyur la/ zhen tshul la’ang stong nyid la dngos por zhen pa dang dngos med du zhen pa gnyis yod. “emptiness” (stong nyid). In this way. and if merely that [lack of true existence] is taught as the ultimate. “the mere absence that is the elimination of the object of negation is the abiding reality!” Grasping at emptiness. if a lack of true existence is not taught. the mere absence that is the elimination of the object of negation is not the abiding reality. “freedom from constructs” (spros bral). “ultimate” (don dam). However.

Likewise. They should be explained without error.” Mi-pham states that a phenomenon’s emptiness of true existence is essentially the same as its appearance—the two are only distinguished Mi-pham. 543: bden gnyis su phye ba’ ya gyal gyi bden stong dang rten ’byung gi snang ba gnyis po ldog pa tsam gyi cha nas tha dad kyang/ ji ltar byas pa dang mi rtag pa don gyi steng na tha dad med pa bzhin/ stong dang snang gnyis po ngo bo dbyer med pa’i rang bzhin mtha’ gang du’ang mi gnas pa bcos min gshis kyi gnas lugs de la bden pa dbyer med dam bden gnyis zung ’jug ces bya ste. 317 . yet Since the distinction is vast Between the consummate and the partial. in their appropriate contexts because the two meanings of such terms are as different as “the earth and space. is called “the indivisible truth” or “the unity of the two truths..147 “Abiding reality” that is the emptiness of entities and “Abiding reality” that is the indivisible two truths Although both are the same word..” “Emptiness. He states that it is important to recognize two distinctive meanings of emptiness. The consummate meaning refers to the unity of appearance and emptiness. Having delineated the distinctive context.” etc.” “limit of cessation. The meanings are as distinct as the earth and space. etc.” “freedom from constructs. However. being essentially of an indivisible nature within the uncontrived fundamental abiding reality that does not abide in any extreme. referring to the emptiness of entities. brgal lan nyin nyed snang ba. just as impermanent phenomenon and product. the pair of appearance and emptiness. are similar expressions. are not objectively (don gyi dngos po’i steng) separate. which are the components of a division into two truths.” “expanse of phenomena.” One is partial.” “Ultimate. Mi-pham distinguishes: (1) emptiness as a distinctive quality of appearance from (2) emptiness as the indivisible truth of the unity of emptiness and appearance:317 Both the emptiness of true existence (bden stong) and the appearance of dependent arising. are separate from the aspect of merely a contradistinction (ldog pa tsam gyi cha nas tha dad). “suchness.

as different contradistinctions. 319 Ibid. 49: snang ba tha snyad tshad ma’i yul/ /stong pa don dam dpyod pa’i yul/ /zung ’jug de gnyis ’dres pa’i cha/ /de rnams sgra rtog yul yin phyir/ /de las ’das pa’i mnyam bzhag ni. distinct valid cognitions only apply in the context of postmeditation. In the mode of subsistence. unity is not to be understood (only) as a combination of the two aspects of appearance and emptiness:318 The appearance that is the object of conventional valid cognition. . Although appearance and emptiness are contradictory in the context of conventional valid cognition.. Mi-pham affirms that in the perspective of wisdom. emptiness and appearance are not contradictory:319 Since this is the context of presenting The objects seen by conventional valid cognition.148 conceptually. The unity that is understood as the aspect of a combination of (1) appearance. 35: ’dir ni mthong don tha snyad pa’i/ /tshad ma’i rnam bzhag skabs yin pas/ /de’i ngor yod med ’gal ba ste/ /dngos gcig steng gi bden pa gnyis/ /mi ’gal ye shes yul yin phyir. 318 Mi-pham. The emptiness that is the object of ultimate analysis. but not for wisdom. they are indivisible as “the unity of the two truths. and The unity that is the aspect of the combination of those two.” However. Thus. Emptiness and appearance are mutually exclusive in the context of conventional valid cognition. [but] The two truths existing upon one entity is not contradictory Due to being the object of wisdom. Wisdom is beyond dichotomies and perceives the unity of appearance and emptiness. the object of conventional valid cognition. Since they are objects of words and concepts They are transcended in meditative equipoise. the object of ultimate analysis. and (2) emptiness. is still within the domain of language and concepts. nges shes sgron me. Such conceptions are transcended in meditative equipoise. Existence and non-existence are contradictory in that perspective.

”321 Conclusion We have seen how Mi-pham critiques two misconceptions of emptiness (1) as solely an absence separate from appearance and (2) as a location that is separate from appearance. Mi-pham affirms that suchness. 431. the consummate meaning of emptiness cannot be known by the mind because it is the domain of wisdom. In this way. In meaning. unity alone is suchness.” “ultimate. emptiness as such is beyond the quality/substrate dichotomy. it is thoroughly important that neither emptiness nor appearance on its own is the great suchness. the consummate emptiness is the unity of emptiness and appearance.3: gnas lugs ni ye nas snang stong zung ’jug yin. .149 Thus. emptiness as solely a quality or a substrate. Thus. are within the domain of mind. the empty quality alone is not what is meant by terms such as “suchness. These two conceptions of emptiness. In contrast. In this way. 321 Mi-pham. 320 Mi-pham.3-599. these terms refer to the indivisible unity of appearance and emptiness. “emptiness” is not separate from appearance. Also. as the unity of emptiness and appearance. the consummate meaning of suchness is only unity:320 Awareness (rig pa) and luminous clarity (’od gsal) are posited from the aspect of appearance. 599. suchness refers to unity: “The abiding reality is the unity of appearance and emptiness from the beginning. From here the essential points of all the sūtras and tantras are unraveled.5: rig pa dang ’od gsal ni snang ba’i cha nas bzhag kyang stong pa dang mi phyed la/ stong pa nyid zer yang snang ba dang mi phyed kyi/ don la zung ’jug kho na chos nyid yin gyi snang stong re re ba chos nyid chen po mthar thug gi don dam min pa kun tu gal che’o/ ’di las brtsam ste mdo sngags kun gyi gnad ’grol lo. the consummate ultimate. gzhung spyi’i dka’i gnad. gnyug sems book 3. is an important point through which the meaning of all the sūtras and tantras can be known.” and “emptiness”. but are not separate from emptiness.

and a difference between quality and substrate. nor is it only a quality of an appearance distinct from that appearance. Thus. emptiness refers to the indivisible unity of emptiness and appearance. . emptiness does not refer to an empty-ground separate from appearance. Mi-pham emphasizes unity as the meaning of emptiness. This is also the meaning of Buddha-nature which we will be the explicit focus of discussion in the next chapter. ultimately. emptiness is not a referent object and there is no difference between quality and substrate.150 While conventionally there can be said to be a referent of emptiness.

We will . followed by a discussion of Mi-pham’s treatment of Buddhanature within his distinction of appearance and reality. he positions his view of Buddha-nature in contrast to others’ views. Mi-pham depicts Buddha-nature as the unified suchness of reality. and the unifying principle of transcendence and immanence. While emptiness is also the meaning of Buddha-nature. we will see that the ground of the Great Perfection. We will begin by looking at how Mi-pham distinguishes his view of Buddha-nature from others’ views of Buddha-nature. Delineating the Views on BuddhaBuddha-Nature We will begin our discussion by first looking at Mi-pham’s text entitled Lion’s Roar: Exposition of Buddha-Nature. this chapter will discuss the explicit topic of Buddha-nature. in the same way that he depicts emptiness. traditionally viewed as the esoteric summit of the Nying-ma tradition to which he belonged.151 Chapter 4: BuddhaBuddha-Nature and the Indivisible Ground and Fruition Introduction Buddha-nature is a unifying theme woven throughout Mi-pham’s interpretations of Buddhist doctrines. In this text. Mi-pham’s integration of Buddha-nature and emptiness reflects the tradition of the Great Perfection. We will then assess his depiction of Buddha-nature in light of Long-chen-pa’s representation of the ground (gzhi) of the Great Perfection. We then turn to Mipham’s arguments for the existence of Buddha-nature and explore implications of his use of language and reasoning to affirm what he acknowledges to conflict with ordinary perception. most fully represents Mi-pham’s interpretation of Buddhist doctrine. The primordial endowment of the qualities of Buddha in sentient beings is a central part of Mi-pham’s presentation of Buddha-nature. In conclusion. the unity of primordial purity and spontaneous presence. it is forged as the common ground of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa.

. Mi-pham argues that a non-empty Buddha-nature cannot be established by either of the two valid cognitions. or (3) as impermanent and conditioned. True establishment is not established by conventional valid cognition either because even though [it may appear to be] truly established from that [conventional] perspective. due to the essential point that Buddhanature is essentially empty. Mi-pham first criticizes the interpretation of a non-empty Buddhanature that is truly established. In this way. establishing this becomes meaninglessly tiresome.152 see how he contrasts his view from depictions of Buddha-nature (1) as truly established and not empty. being truly established it is completely impossible to be the suchness of an extrinsic phenomenon (chos gzhan gyi chos nyid). permanent as long as time. as a handprint [result] of the analysis of the lack of true existence of all phenomena—like darkness [arising] from light. The prominent role of 322 Mi-pham. while not empty of its own essence. Without being able to be established by the two valid cognitions. However. by merely this there is never an ability to establish phenomena to be non-empty. (2) as a mere void (phyan chad) emptiness. It also cannot be the result of an ascertainment of valid cognition analyzing the ultimate because the result of evidence for something truly established is unacceptable. stong thun seng ge’i nga ro.4: rigs pas dpyad na yang bde gshegs snying po ngo bo stong pa yin pa’i gnad kyis sems kyi chos nyid du rung ba/ yul thams cad khyab pa/ dus ji srid du rtag pa/ bsam gyis mi khyab pa/ yon tan rnam pa thams cad par ris med du ’char ba yin gyi/ rang gi ngo bo mi stong par bden par grub pa la chos gzhan gyi chos nyid du rung ba sogs rnam pa kun tu mi srid cing don dam dpyod pa’i tshad mas gtan la phab pa’i grub ’bras su yang mi btub ste chos thams cad bden med du dpyod pa’i lag rjes la bden grub gcig ’grub pa ni snang ba las mun pa ltar gnas ma yin pa’i phyir ro/ /tha snyad dpyod pa’i tshad mas kyang bden grub mi ’grub ste/ de’i ngor bden par grub kyang de tsam gyis chos de mi stong par rnam pa kun tu ’grub mi nus pa’i phyir ro/ /tshad ma gnyis kyis sgrub ma nus par gyur pa la sgrub byed nam mkha’i me tog gi rjes su ’gro bas de sgrub pa don med kyi ngal par zad do. etc.6-591. as we saw in the last chapter:322 Also by reasoned analysis. all-pervasive everywhere. therefore. the means of establishment has gone the way of a [non-existent] space-flower. it impartially appears in all aspects of quality: it is suitable to be the suchness of mind. 590. inconceivable.

even physical objects like rocks. etc. also lack true existence. rocks. in lacking true establishment. who is able to establish that everything that lacks true existence is a potential Buddha? We can see how Mi-pham distinguishes a distinctive Nying-ma view through his treatment of Buddha-nature. [the potential of] being Buddha is undetermined because even though all phenomena. earth. the aspect of mind’s lack of true establishment. However. 324 Mi-pham. 3.153 valid cognition is a distinctive feature of Mi-pham’s portrayal of Buddhanature. 568.323 He agrees that if the mind were truly established. the mere absence of true existence is not sufficient to establish that such things are potential Buddhas:324 The [assertion that] the essential point of the lack of true existence establishes the potential to be a Buddha is also nonsense.. since all things. even so. which he aligns with “the proponents of a freedom from constructs as the Middle Way” (mtha’ bral la dbu mar smra ba) in contrast to the two extremes of “the proponents of eternalism as the Middle Way” (rtag mtha’ la dbu mar smra ba) of the Jonang and “the proponents of annihilationism as the Middle Way” (chad mtha’ la dbu mar smra ba) of the Ge-luk. stong thun seng ge’i nga ro.4-569. We addressed his arguments against a non-empty reality apart from phenomena in the last chapter. See Go-ram-pa. by positioning his view in contrast to assertions characteristic of the Jo-nang and Ge-luk Prāsaṅgika. are empty of true existence. . lta ba’i shan ’byed. Mi-pham also argues against the interpretation of Buddha-nature as a mere absence.1: bden stong yin pa’i gnad kyis 323 sangs rgya rung yin par sgrub pa’ang bab col te/ sems bden grub yin na sangs rgya mi rung ba tsam yin pa bden kyang/ bden grub med pa yin na sangs rgya ba’i nges pa med de/ sa rgo [read rdo] la sogs pa chos thams cad kyang bden med yin kyang/ bden med yin tshad sangs rgya rung bar sus sgrub par nus. there would simply be no potential to be a Buddha. so we will not discuss this further here. Although it is true that if the mind were truly established. there would be no potential to be a Buddha (sangs rgya mi rung). Such an interpretative move that Mi-pham makes in his Lion’s Roar: Exposition of Buddha-Nature resembles the structure of Go-ram-pa’s Delineating the Views (lta ba’i shan ’byed) in which Go-ram-pa places his Sa-kya view.

In this way. If Buddha-nature were solely an absence. Mi-pham also affirms that a mere existential negation is not suitable to be identified as the meaning of Buddhanature:325 In general. therefore. Mi-pham states in his Lion’s Roar: Exposition on Buddha-Nature:326 Calling such an existential negation “Buddha-nature” is a senseless assertion because it becomes a heritage (rigs) shared with Auditors and Self-Realized Ones (nyan thos).2: spyir bden stong med dgag gi cha tsam bde gshegs snying por mi rung ste/ de la mkhyen cha med pas bde gshegs snying po’i don med. 326 Mi-pham. Buddha-nature is an intrinsic cognitive presence. it is not the meaning of Buddha-nature. 579. 325 .1-579. gnyug sems book 3. it would not establish the potential to be a Buddha because there is no cognitive quality within the Mi-pham. stong thun seng ge’i nga ro.2: med dgag de ’dra la bde gshegs snying po zhes ’dod pa don med de/ ’di nyan rang dang thun mongs pa’i rigs su ’gyur gyi/ ’dis sangs rgya rung mi ’grub ste ’di tsam la shes sgrib spangs nas rnam pa thams cad mkhyen pa’i ye shes ’byung ba’i ’thad pa gang yang sgrub mi nus pa dang/ med dgag rang gi ngo bo la mkhyen cha med pas sangs rgyas dus kyang des ci yang mkhyen mi srid pa’i phyir. it is impossible for that to know anything whatsoever even at the time of being a Buddha.6-569.154 In his Trilogy of Innate Mind. 568. the potential to be a Buddha is not established because: (1) there is no ability in merely this to establish any legitimacy (’thad pa) for the occurrence of omniscient wisdom after abandoning cognitive obscurations (shes sgrib) and (2) since there is no cognitive quality within the essence of an existential negation. but through this. the mere aspect of an existential negation that is the emptiness of true existence is not suitable as the Buddha-nature because there is no cognitive quality (mkhyen cha) in that. Also. He argues that the meaning of Buddha-nature is not merely an absence because the essence of an existential negation has no cognitive quality. similar to what we saw last chapter in Dol-po-pa’s depiction.

conditioned. we will see that “heritage” has a smaller range of reference because it refers specifically to Buddhanature at the time of obscured sentient beings. stong thun seng ge’i nga ro. For Mi-pham as well as Long-chen-pa.155 essence of an existential negation.4: stong pa rnam grangs pa tsam la rigs kyi don gang yang med de/ khyod kyi bsam ngor rigs ’dis sa bon myur gu [read myu gur] go ’pho ba bzhin du da lta sangs rgyas kyi yon tan ci yang med kyang/ lam rkyen 327 gyis zin na gzod ’gyur rung yin par ’dod na/ bden stong med dgag gi ldog cha de ’dus ma byas don byed nus pas stong pa la de ’dra’i khyad par gang yang ’thad pa med de/ ’dus byas sa bon gyi cha ni tha snyad du myu gur gnas ’gyur rung gi sa bon gyi steng gi bden med kyi cha ni myu gur gnas ’gyur ba nam yang mi srid pa bzhin no. the aspect of absence is not what is said to affect change conventionally. just as a seed’s lack of true existence— which is unconditioned and lacking functional capacity—can never be somehow transported to a sprout:328 The mere categorized emptiness (stong pa rnam grangs pa) does not at all have the meaning of heritage because from the perspective of your thinking. However. if you assert that this heritage is the potential to newly produce [a Buddha] when conjoined with the conditions of the path—like a seed that is transported (go ’pho ba) to a sprout—despite now having no qualities of Buddha whatsoever. then it is not reasonable that there be any such quality [of potential transformation] in the contradistinctive aspect (ldog cha) of an existential negation that is an emptiness of true existence—which is an unconditioned phenomenon that lacks the Mi-pham uses “heritage” (rigs) and “Buddha-nature” (bde gshegs snying po) interchangeably in this context. a heritage that is a mere negation would be a heritage shared with Auditors and Self-Realized Ones. not the heritage that is the potential to be a complete and perfect Buddha. Furthermore. 568. such wisdom does not occur from a void absence. 328 Mi-pham. If the heritage327 were merely an absence of existence. “Buddha-nature” can refer to both contexts of Buddhas and sentient beings. . Mi-pham states that it is not reasonable to think of heritage as a mere absence that is the potential for the transformation of a sentient being into a Buddha.2-568. Moreover. there would be no means to legitimate the presence of a Buddha’s wisdom. functional It is due to the aspect of being a entity that transformations take place conventionally.

yet the aspect of a seed’s lack of true existence can never transform into a sprout. which is unable to perform any function.2-569. A conditioned potential—such as knowledge of benefit and harm.5: gnas ’gyur ’dus byas kyi rigs kyi tshul ’di yid la mdza’ na/ sems can thams cad kyi sems kyi rgyud na thog ma med pa nas yod pa’i mkhyen brtse nus gsum gyi sa bon/ gcan gzan dang srin po sogs kyang rang gi bu la brtse ba dang/ phan gnod ngo shes pa sogs yod pa de/ lam gyis zin nas gegs bral te je ’phal du song ba na tshad med pa’i mkhyen brtse nus gsum mnga’ ba sangs rgyas su ’gyur rung ba tsam la ’dod na med dgag la rigs su ’dod pa las de legs te/ skyed byed kyi rgyu ’bras yin dgos phan chad/ skad cig can dngos por gyur pa’i rgyu skyed byed yin pa bor nas/ dngos med ’dus ma byas skyed byed min pa la rgyur ’dod pa ni ya mtshan pa’i gnas so. love. and powers in the mental-continuums of all beings from beginningless time—even wild beasts. because once the causality of production is necessitated (skyed byed gyi rgyu ’bras yin dgos phan chad). Mi-pham states that rather than conceiving the heritage as a mere absence. ogres. He states again that a mere absence is not the meaning of heritage. . 569. it would be better to conceive it as a conditioned potential in all beings. through conjoined with the path and freed from obstacles. Without having any qualities whatsoever. unproductive non-entity as the cause is indeed astonishing! 329 Ibid. to be the heritage that is the potential to be a Buddha. unlike a heritage conceived as an impotent negation:329 In considering this manner of the transforming conditioned heritage (gnas ’gyur ’dus byas kyi rigs). and powers. it is not reasonable for a mere lack of true existence. it is merely that which is the potential to become a Buddha endowed with limitless knowledge. etc. possess such [qualities] of love for their children and recognition of benefit and harm—such that when further developed. wisdom. rather than asserting an existential negation as the heritage. and powers of a Buddha.156 ability to perform a function—because the aspect of a conditioned seed conventionally may transform into a sprout. Moreover. In a conception of heritage as this kind of impermanent entity.. to disregard the momentary entity which is a productive cause and assert an unconditioned. heritage is efficacious. love. it is better to assert a seed of wisdom. and love for one’s own children—can be seen to progressively develop into the love.

Another Sa-kya scholar. Go-ram-pa in “Buddha-nature: Through the Eyes of Go rams pa bsod rnams seng ge in Fifteenth-Century Tibet” (Ph.5393. Śākya Chokden (śākya mchog ldan. hence. Collected Works. . moreover. p. Thesis. Mi-pham acknowledges that he would agree with this depiction if mind were understood to refer to wisdom (ye shes) as distinguished from consciousness (rnam shes). first we will conclude his refutations of others’ views of Buddha-nature.D. dbu ma rnam par nges pa'i chos kyi bang mdzod lung dang rigs pa'i rgya mtsho. The qualities are not a new production. empty of true existence. it is a predicative negation. 2003).157 In terms of transformation that necessitates a causal relationship of producer and produced.252: “In short. not an existential negation because it expresses the meaning of ‘the emptiness endowed with all supreme aspects’. Before we look into his depiction. the luminous clarity which is the nature of mind. there is no such causal relationship. the unity of clarity and emptiness is posited as Buddha-nature because saṃsāra and nirvāṇa are comprised within the mind (sems) and 330 the mind also is free from constructs. vol.” (translation mine) from Mang-thö. 87: mdor na gsal stong zung ’jug la gzhi bde gshegs snying por ’jog pa yin te/ ’khor ’das kyi chos rnams sems su ’dus shing/ sems de yang mtha’ bzhi’i spros pa dang bral ba’i bden stong yin pas/ yul gyi gnas lugs gsal stong zung ’jug tu ye nas gnas pa’i phyir ro. Harvard University. the abiding nature of objects primordially abides as the unity of clarity and emptiness. 1975).” Śākya Chok-den. 14 (Thimphu. therefore.124n. Bhutan: Kunzang Tobgey. he does not Tulku Nyi-ma-gyal-tsen informed me that this was an argument against a Sa-kya position. rnam bshad nor bu’i phreng ba.7: nges don mthar thug pa ni bde bar gshegs pa’i snying po zhes bya ba’i ming can sems rang bzhin gyis ’od gsal ba de nyid yin la/ ’dir yang ma yin dgag pa yin gyi/ med par dgag pa ni ma yin te/ rnam pa mchog dang ldan pa’i stong pa nyid ces bya ba’i don du bshad pa’i phyir. Mi-pham states that it is better to assert a momentary entity as the heritage rather than a mere negation. Ngawang Jorden explains Buddha-nature as the indivisibility of the emptiness and clarity of mind as the view of the Sa-kya scholar. We will see below that he asserts the qualities of wisdom to be a primordial endowment of the ground. 1523-1596) from a manuscript of a commentary on Go-rampa in his thesis. portrays Buddha-nature as a predicative negation (ma yin dgag) and the consummate definitive meaning: “That which has the name ‘Buddha-nature’ is the consummate definitive meaning. Mi-pham also argues against a (Sa-kya)330 position that heritage is the abiding reality that is the indivisibility of emptiness and the clarity of mind (sems). However. 125. 1427-1508). 393. Jorden cites the Sa-kya scholar Mang-thö (mang thos klu sgrub rgya mthso.

which has no use or ability. 569. the unconditioned.” If this also is asserted as the unconditioned. and thinking that this is what is progressively transported to a Buddha. making the claim that the quality-bearer that is a unity with emptiness is the aspect of momentary consciousness.3: gal te bden gnyis so sor phye nas mi ’jog ste/ chos can sems kyi gsal ba dang chos nyid stong pa nyid dbyer med pa’i gnas lugs rigs su ’dod do snyam na/ ’di yang rnam shes ye shes kyi zla phye ba’i ye shes ’gyur med ’dus ma byas la ’dod na ni de ltar lung dang rigs pas grub pa’i phyir shin tu yin mod kyi/ stong pa dang zung du ’jug rgyu’i chos can de rnam shes skad cig ma’i cha ’di zhe la bzhag nas ’di rim gyis sangs rgyas su go ’pho’o snyam pa ni gyi na ste/ rigs la ’dus byas dang ’dus ma byas kyi cha gnyis yod par thal zhing/ de lta na dgos nus med pa’i ’dus ma byas ni rigs btags pa ba dang/ ’dus byas ni ’bras bu skyed nus kyi rigs mtshan nyid par ’gro bas rang bzhin gnas rigs ’dus ma byas chos kyi dbyings la bzhed pa’i theg chen gyi mdo sde kun gyi dgongs pa stong [read stor] par zad do. would become the nominal heritage (rigs btags pa ba). although the heritage may be called unconditioned. . the viewpoint of all of the Mahāyāna Sūtras—asserting that the unconditioned naturally abiding heritage (rang bzhin gnas rigs) is the expanse of phenomena—would be relinquished. then it certainly is [heritage]. entails that the heritage would have both a conditioned and an unconditioned aspect.6-570. which is thought of as something that progressively transports to a Buddha (rim gyis sangs rgyas su go ’pho ba):331 If one thinks.158 agree if one of the elements of the unity is the aspect of impermanent consciousness. However. which is the clarity of mind. and (2) suchness (chos nyid). Consequently. stong thun seng ge’i nga ro. which is wisdom as distinguished from consciousness. which is emptiness. “[Heritage] is not posited having distinguished the two truths because heritage is asserted as the abiding reality that is the indivisibility of (1) the quality-bearer (chos can). he argues that it would 331 Mi-pham. immutable wisdom. That being the case. and the conditioned would become the genuine heritage (rigs mtshan nyid pa) capable of producing effects. In such a case. then thinking “this progressively transports to a Buddha” is senseless because it would [absurdly] follow that the heritage would have both a conditioned and an unconditioned aspect. He argues that by asserting an impermanent consciousness as a fundamental component of heritage. then since this is established as such by scripture and reasoning.

296: rang bzhin du gnas pa’i rigs ni de bzhin gshegs pa’i snying po ste/ de’i ngo bo ni gdod nas sku dang ye shes dang dbyer med pa’i chos kyi dbyings rig stong zung du ’jug pa rang byung gi ye shes ’dus ma byas pa. 741. in his Gateway to the Scholars (mkhas ’jug). and this would conflict with the viewpoint of all the Mahāyāna Sūtras. In contrast to the characterization of heritage as the unity of consciousness and emptiness. We will now take a closer look at Mi-pham’s view of Buddha-nature and discuss his own depiction of heritage. Wisdom as a presence that is not produced anew is a central part of his depiction of Buddha-nature. 333 Mi-pham. 332 Mi-pham. which claim that the unconditioned naturally abiding heritage is the expanse of phenomena. which is the appearance of development. Mi-pham characterizes self-existing wisdom as follows:333 Wisdom is designated as “self-existing” [literally. gnyug sems book 3.3: ye shes yin la gzhan byung ngam rgyus byung min pa’i cha nas rang byung btags kyi/ rang las rang skyes dang/ gsar byung gnyis ka’i byung ba’am skyes pa min te ma skyes pas so. .2-741. it does not arise from itself nor is it a new occurrence because it is non-arising. self-existing wisdom unified with the empty and aware expanse of phenomena that is inseparable from the Buddhabody and wisdom from the beginning.159 actually be the conditioned ability to produce an effect that would be the genuine heritage. mkhas ’jug. We can see here that Mi-pham emphasizes the naturally abiding heritage as the genuine heritage. as opposed to the developing heritage (skye ’gyur rigs). “self-arising”] due to the aspect of it being wisdom that does not arise from another nor from a cause. Mi-pham depicts the naturally abiding heritage as the unity of selfexisting wisdom (rang byung gi ye shes) and the expanse of phenomena:332 The naturally abiding heritage is Buddha-nature: its essence is the unconditioned. This emphasis is important in his argument below for the primordial endowment of the qualities of Buddha.

as an equality.—the expanse of phenomena is the unchanging (’pho ’gyur med). Buddha Buddha--Nature as the Ground Buddha We will begin our discussion by first addressing how Mi-pham describes the manner that heritage exists in beings. it is 334 Mi-pham. . Although the abiding reality is as such. in saṃsāra and nirvāṇa. minds (sems). Therefore. stong thun seng ge’i nga ro. single sphere (thig le nyag gcig). etc.1: gnas lugs rang gi ngo bo’i dbang du byas na chos thams cad chos nyid de yi klong du chud cing chos nyid rang gi ngo bo la skye ’gag med par mnyam pa nyid du gnas la ’khor ’das la sogs pa’i bzang ngan dang/ phar rol tshu rol bdag dang gzhan che dang chung ba sogs kyi cha dang/ snga phyi’i dus kyi khyad par sogs med de chos dbyings thig le nyag gcig ’pho ’gyur med pa’o/ gnas lugs la de ltar yin kyang ’khrul pa glo bur ba’i snang ngo dang bstun na ’di ltar khams gsum ’khor ba’i lus sems yul gyi snang ba shar nas chos nyid kyi rang bzhin mi mthong ba’i tshe na’ang/ chos nyid ni med pa ma yin te rang gi rang bzhin las g. Mipham identifies heritage with “the essential nature” (snying po) and says that heritage is the suchness of mind that abides in the manner of an extract (bcud) or essential core (snying po) enclosed by adventitious defilements:334 In terms of the own essence (rang gi ngo bo) of the abiding reality.2-588. for example. all phenomena are encompassed within the expanse (klong du chud) of suchness and the own essence of suchness abides. without arising or ceasing. even when bodies (lus).160 Buddha--Nature as Heritage. it exists without deviating in the slightest from its own nature. in accord with the perspective of the appearances of adventitious delusion. This will help us to better understand how he represents the essence of heritage as such. it abides in the manner of an extract or an essential core in the center and is called the “heritage” or the “essential nature” (snying po). self or other. without temporal distinctions such as the past or future. it is not actualized (mi mgnon) due to being enclosed by adventitious defilements. and domains (yul) of the three realms of saṃsāra appear in this way and the nature of suchness is not seen. greater and lesser. or aspects such as the good or bad. although the suchness of mind is as such. Even so.yo ba cung zad kyang med par yod pas na/ sems kyi chos nyid de lta bu glo bur gyi dri mas sbubs su byas nas mi mngon yang bcud dam dbus na snying po’i tshul gyis gnas pa la rigs sam snying po zhes brjod de/ dper na sa ’og gi gter la sogs pa’i dpe dgus mtshon nas shes par bya. it is not that suchness does not exist. 587. here or there.

the example of the king in the womb and the seed. one becomes a Buddha (sang rgya bar byed). like a statue wrapped in an old cloth. so we will turn now briefly to Long-chen-pa. grub mtha’ mdzod. He states that heritage is illustrated through the nine metaphors. Early Advaita Vedānta and Buddhism (Albany: SUNY Press. Richard King points out that with the exception of two examples representing the Buddha-nature as an undeveloped cause.4-877. 877. In his Trilogy of Innate Mind. He explains that when the suchness of mind is realized.96-97: like the Buddha in a lotus. like gold in the earth.335 He characterizes the heritage as the suchness of mind that is not actualized. rgyud bla ma rtsa ’grel. gnyug sems book 1.2: sems can thams cad kyi sems la chos 335 nyid kyi tshul du yod cing sgrib pa spang rung du gnas pa’i skabs na bde gshegs snying po zhes bya ste/ sems kyi chos nyid de rtogs pas sangs rgya bar byed pa’i phyir ro. 1995).5: sangs rgyas de’ang bral ba’i rgyu ’bras las/ bskyed bya skyed byed kyi rgyu ’bras kyis bsgrubs pa ma yin te ye nas lhun gyis grub pa’i phyir. like a treasure under a pauper’s house. . 208. Long-chen-pa states that the Buddha is not an effect that is newly produced. Mi-pham’s treatment of Buddha-nature should be considered in light of Long-chen-pa’s works. one becomes a Buddha. etc. it abides as an extract or essential core.6-393. it is called “Buddha-nature” because when this suchness of mind is realized. See Richard King. the other seven examples depict the Buddha-nature as a fully developed concealed essence. 336 Mi-pham. like grain in a husk. In his Treasury of Philosophies. Mi-pham also calls this suchness of mind “Buddha-nature”:336 Existing in the minds of all sentient beings in the manner of suchness on the occasion when obscurations dwell as suitable to be removed. like honey in a beehive. like a sprout that grows from a small seed.161 known by illustration through the nine metaphors such as the underground treasure. 12-13. 392. 337 Long-chen-pa. like a king in the womb of an ugly woman. like gold in a dirt heap. or not manifest. Long-chen-pa describes two types of effects: (1) a produced effect and (2) a freed effect:337 The nine metaphors are found in Uttaratantra 1.

“Does the Buddha-body and wisdom not arise from the accumulations of merit and wisdom?” It is said as follows: the two accumulations. and is not established as a produced effect by a producing cause (bskyed bya skyed kyi rgyu ’bras) because the Buddha is spontaneously present from the beginning. Furthermore. from the beginning already complete with the qualities of emptiness and appearance. He states in his auto- commentary of his Resting in the Nature of Mind:339 Long-chen-pa.6: sems can pa’i dus na sems kyi chos nyid la snang cha nas gzugs sku’i yon tan dang/ stong cha nas chos sku’i yon tan rdzogs par ldan yang dri mas bsgribs pas mngon sum du mi bsal ba’i phyir khams sam rigs zhes btags shing/ sangs rgyas pa’i tshe dri ma mtha’ dag dang bral bas byang chub ces brjod kyang/ ngo bo sems nyid kyi nus pa rdzogs par snang mi snang tsam las dang po sems can gyi dus na med pa’i yon tan phyis gsar du bskyed par ’dod pa ni ma yin te/ ’pho ’gyur med pa’i phyir.4: bsod nams dang ye shes kyi tshogs las byung ba ma yin nam zhe na/ smras pa tshogs gnyis ni ye nas snang ba dang/ stong pa’i yon tan du rdzogs zin pa la lhun grub ces brjod de/ glo bur du bsags pa de ni dri ma sel byed kyi rkyen gyi cha tsam la rgyu tshogs gnyis zhes btags pa tsam ste/ nor bu dri mas gos pa khrus ras dang ’dag chal gyis phyi ba la/ nor bu mthong ba’i rgyu brjod pa bzhin no. and endowed with the qualities of the Truth Body (chos sku) from the aspect of its emptiness. are merely designated as “the two causal accumulations” (rgyu tshogs gnyis)—just as the washcloth and cleanser that clean a dirty gemstone are called “the causes of seeing the gem”.1-117. chos dbyings mdzod ’grel.162 The Buddha also is a freed effect from a freeing cause (bral ba’i rgyu ’bras). Long-chen-pa says that the suchness of mind of a sentient being is endowed with the qualities of Form Bodies (gzugs sku) from the aspect of appearance. Long-chen-pa states in his auto-commentary of his Treasury of the Expanse of Phenomena:338 One may think. 117. sems nyid ngal gso’i ’grel pa. 312.4-312. Long-chen-pa describes Buddha as a freed effect because the Buddha is spontaneously present from the beginning. but is simply made manifest when the conditions that obscure it are removed. A freed effect is not newly produced. 339 Long-chen-pa. which are the mere aspect of the conditions that remove the defilements. 338 . are called “spontaneously present” (lhun grub) because the adventitious accumulations. Moreover.

163 At the time of a sentient being. due to being obscured by defilements. He claims that there are no essential qualities of mind. Therefore. which at first do not exist. the view of the summit of existence appears to be in accord with them. However. sems dang ye shes kyi dri lan. it is called “awakening”. and due to being free from all defilements at the time of being a Buddha it is called “awakening” (byang chub).1: ding sang ni dge ba’i bshes gnyen phal dang/ sgom chen kun mthun par/ stong rkyang ci yang med pa la gzhi byed pa ni snying po’i don gyi dgongs pa dang mi nthun te/ ci yang med pa’i gzhi nyams su blangs pas ’bras bu sangs rgyas yon tan thams cad dang ldan pa mi ’byung ste/ gzhi lam ’bras bu gsum ’dzol ba’i phyir ro/ sangs rgyas de ni ’dus ma byas shing lhun gyis grub pa’i yon tan can bral ba’i ’bras bu mngon du gyur pa zhig yin pa’i phyir ro/ des na srid rtse’i lta ba dang de dag mthun par snang ngo/ ’dir ’dus ma byas shing lhun gyis grub pa’i ’od gsal ba nyid gzhir ’dod pa yin no. and fruition—are confused and (2) because the Buddha—with qualities that are unconditioned and spontaneously present—is manifested (mgnon du gyur) as a freed effect (bral ba’i ’bras bu). since it is unchanging (’pho ’gyur med). it is not asserted that qualities that were first non-existent at the time of a sentient being are newly produced later. Long-chen-pa states in his Responses to Mind and Wisdom:340 These days most virtuous spiritual friends (dge ba’i bshes gnyen) and all meditators (sgom chen) are in accord in advocating the ground as a mere absence that is nothing at all. which is not in accord with the viewpoint of the meaning of the essential nature (snying po’i don). 380. here we assert 340 Long-chen-pa. it is called “basic element” or “heritage” and when free from defilements at the time of a Buddha. path. At that time. Through practicing a ground that is nothing at all. the potential (nus pa) of mind. it is not clearly manifest so it is called “the basic element” (khams) or “heritage”. completely appearing or not. the Buddha endowed with all qualities will not arise (1) because the three—ground. that are newly produced at the time of a Buddha. the suchness of mind is completely endowed with the qualities of the Form Bodies from the aspect of appearance. . Long-chen-pa states that the suchness of mind is not manifest due to the obscurations of defilements. and the qualities of the Truth Body from the aspect of emptiness. Furthermore. other than the essence. even so.3-381.

it is spontaneously present and luminously clear like the disks (dkyil ’khor) of the sun and moon. Rather. 379. From the side of emptiness. it is free from all constructed extremes like space because it is not at all established as an entity or a sign (mtshan ma).6: gzhi don bshad pa ni/ ye nas ’od gsal ba chos nyid ’dus ma byas shing lhun gyis grub pa stong pa’i ngos nas dngos po dang mtshan ma gang du’ang ma grub cing ’khor ba dang mya ngan las ’das pa la sogs pa gang du’ang ma chad pas spros pa’i mthar thams cad dang bral ba nam mkha’ lta bu/ gsal ba’i ngos nas sku dang ye shes kyi rang bzhin ye ldan du lhun gyis sgrub cing ’od gsal ba nyi zla’i dkyil ’khor lta bu/ de gnyis ka’ang ’du ’bral med pa’i chos nyid du ye nas gnas pa. endowed from the beginning with the nature of the [Buddha-]body and wisdom. These two [emptiness and clarity] are neither conjoined nor separable within the suchness abiding from the beginning. he states:342 The meaning of the ground is explained as follows: The suchness of luminous clarity from the beginning is unconditioned and spontaneously present.2: sems can pa’i dus kyi ’od gsal ba’i ye shes rang la yod pa ni gzhi’o..164 luminous clarity itself—unconditioned and spontaneously present— as the ground. . Ibid. etc. he affirms the ground as luminous clarity—unconditioned and spontaneously present. Long-chen-pa states: “The ground is the wisdom of luminous clarity that exists within oneself at the time of being a sentient being. Long-chen-pa characterizes the ground as a unity of emptiness and clarity. Long-chen-pa also describes an “ultimate universal ground” (don gyi kun gzhi) in his auto-commentary of his Wish- Fulfilling Treasury: “The basic element is called ‘the ultimate universal ground’ because it co-exists with the unconditioned qualities of the 341 342 Ibid. nor is it at all confined (ma chad) to saṃsāra or nirvāṇa.”341 Moreover. In this way. He uses the descriptive metaphors such as being empty like space and clear like the sun. 379.4-379. From the side of clarity. Long-chen-pa asserts a ground that is not a mere absence..

4. In meaning (don la). vol. it is the abiding reality called “the ultimate universal ground”.55-57: “In the way that the earth abides in water. and the distorted mind completely abides in the purity of mind. or earth.4-152.2: sku dang ye shes ’du ’bral med pa’i dbyings su gnas pas bde bar gshegs pa’i snying po/ ’khor ’das kyi chos rnams brten pas gnas lugs don gyi kun gzhi zhes bya ste/ ’dus ma byas shing ye nas rnam dag chen por gnas pa’o/ /de yang ’khor ba’i chos las dang nyon mongs pa rnams rten pa med pa’i tshul gyis brten pa ni/ nyi mkha’i ngos na sprin phung brten pa ltar/ gzhi la ma reg ma ’byar la de’i ngang la gnas pa ste/ don la rang bzhin med pas rten dang brten par ma grub bzhin du brten par snang bas brtags pa ste. 344 Long-chen-pa. 2. Long-chen-pa follows this description with a quote from the Uttaratantra 1. .2-384. since it appears as such it is so designated [as the support]. yid bzhin mdzod ’grel.”343 He says that this ground is the support for both saṃsāra and nirvāṇa. Long-chen-pa. due to supporting all phenomena of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa. it is unconditioned and abides as the great primordial purity. sems dang ye shes kyi dri lan. See also. support and supported are not established. wind completely abides in space. it is Buddha-nature. since there is no intrinsic nature. and faculties abide in karma and disturbing emotions. karma and disturbing emotions constantly abide in the distorted mind. while the nature of mind does not abide in any phenomena. constituents.” rgyud bla ma rtsa ’grel. water. and identifies it with Buddha-nature:344 Due to abiding as the expanse neither conjoined with. 8: sa ni chu la chu rlung la/ /rlung ni mkha’ la rab tu gnas/ /mkha’ ni rlung dang chu dag dang/ /sa yi khams la gnas ma yin/ /de bzhin phung po khams dbang rnams/ /las dang nyon mongs dag la brten/ /las dang nyon mongs tshul bzhin min/ /yid la byed la rtag tu gnas/ /tshul bzhin ma yin yid byed ni/ /sems kyi dag pa la rab gnas/ /sems kyi rang bzhin chos rnams ni/ /thams cad la yang gnas ma yin. vol. 151. and water in wind. He states that the ground supports the phenomena 343 Long-chen-pa. nor separable from the Buddha-body and wisdom.165 naturally pure nirvāṇa. they abide within its state without contact or connection with the basis. it supports the phenomena of saṃsāra—karma and disturbing emotions—in the manner of a non-support (rten pa med pa’i tshul).6-1067. while space does not abide in wind. in the same way the aggregates. Long-chen-pa explains that the ground supports all phenomena of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa.1: khams ni rang bzhin gyis dag pa mya ngan las ’das pa ’dus ma byas pa’i yon tan dang lhan cig pas don gyi kun gzhi zhes bzhag pa yin no. as the sun and space support cloud formations. 1066. 384. yid bzhin mdzod ’grel. 1. Moreover.

453.4-453. 2. .5: gshegs snying ni stong kyang tsam min te/ stong nyid ’od gsal yin/ de chos thams cad kyi ye thog gzhi yi gnas lugs yin/ zung ’jug bden pa dbyer med kyi gnas lugs rnam kun mchog ldan gyi stong nyid yin la. here. the selfexisting wisdom is merely made manifest through removing the consciousnesses.4-1420. It is the abiding reality of the ground of the primeval beginning of all phenomena. vol. being merely imputed as a transformation:345 Proponents of Mind-Only assert that the collection of eight consciousnesses itself transforms into wisdom. he states that the appearance of the Buddha-body and wisdom are the suchness of mind. but since there is no intrinsic nature. Long-chen-pa makes a distinction between his assertion—that wisdom is simply the ground made manifest—from those who accept wisdom as a new development. We can see how Mi-pham’s descriptions of Buddha-nature reflect Long-chen-pa’s description of the ground. Mi-pham also refers to Buddha-nature as the abiding reality of the “ground of the primeval beginning” (ye thog gi gzhi):346 Buddha-nature is not a mere absence. support and supported are not established (ultimately). the abiding reality that is the indivisible 345 Long-chen-pa. it is emptiness and luminous clarity. which is designated as a transformation—the difference between the two is vast. he asserts that consciousnesses are removed and the self-existing wisdom just becomes manifest (mngon pa tsam). The transformation from consciousness to wisdom is just a designation. Thus. yid bzhin mdzod ’grel. However. gzhung spyi’i dka’ gnad. He says that the proponents of Mind-Only accept that the eight collections of consciousness are transformed (gnas ’gyur) into wisdom. only to be manifested. a product of real transformation. 346 Mi-pham. 1420. it is merely designated as the support (conventionally).166 of saṃsāra “in the manner of a non-support”.5: sems tsam pas kun gzhi tshogs brgyad de nyid gnas ’gyur bas ye shes su ’dod la/ ’dir de dag bsal bas rang byung gi ye shes mngon pa tsam la gnas ’gyur du btags pa gnyis khyad par shin tu che’o.

the mode of subsistence that is the emptiness endowed with all supreme aspects. etc. Mi-pham describes the ground of the primeval beginning as the consummate suchness: “The luminous clarity of the ground of the primeval beginning—the primordial abiding reality itself—is the consummate suchness. he says that even though the Truth Body appears to be a new production when the obscuring conditions are removed. from the beginning all phenomena are—as an equality—the actual Buddha (mngon par sangs rgyas pa). 596. it merely appears as such in the way of appearance for those who are untransformed (gnas ma gyur pa’i snang tshul). 357. which is the nature of suchness without arising or disintegration.”347 Mi-pham explains that self-existing wisdom is made manifest (mngon du ’gyur). naturally luminous and clear. in terms of the actual meaning. it is a freed effect (bral ba’i ’bras bu):348 Self-existing wisdom is not produced by a cause because actually. stong thun seng ge’i nga ro. primordially nirvāṇa.2: rang byung gi ye shes rgyu las 347 skyes par mi ’gyur te/ yang dag par glo bur dri bral gyi chos sku de bral ba’i ’bras bur song ba yin la/ rgyu las gsar du skye ba ltar snang ba yang gnas ma gyur pa’i snang tshul la de ltar snang bar zad kyi/ yang dag pa’i don du chos nyid kyi rang bzhin chos kyi sku’i ngo bo la skye ’jig med par chos thams cad gdod nas mnyam pa nyid du mngon par sangs rgyas pa’am/ gzod ma nas zhi ba mya ngan las ’das pa/ rang zhin gyis ’od gsal ba sogs zab mo’i mdo sde rnams kyi dgongs pa mthar thug ’di dag pa’i sems dpa’ rnams kyi kyang bsam par dka’ ba’i gnas yin na phal pas lta ci smros. the Truth Body freed from adventitious defilements is a freed effect.5-597. in the essence of the Truth Body. he Mi-pham. 348 Mi-pham. This consummate viewpoint of the profound sūtras is a topic that is difficult to fathom for pure beings (dag pa’i sems dpa’). Although it appears to be newly produced by a cause. gnyug sems book 1. . in the actual meaning. needless to mention ordinary people! He states that the new development of the Truth Body is only in the way of appearance for those who are untransformed. In his Lion’s Roar: Exposition of Buddha-Nature.4: ye thog gzhi’i ’od gsal gdod ma’i gnas lugs de nyid ni chos kun gyi chos nyid mthar thug yin. it is not produced by a cause.167 truth of unity.

gnyug sems book 2. the qualities of Buddha-nature are only potential to be manifestly existent (mngon du yod rung ba tsam).. like the example of the knife [in a sheath]. 351 Mi-pham. not only natural purity.1-537. and (2) purity which is freed from the adventitious [defilements] (glo bur bral dag). In his Trilogy of Innate Mind. cognitive obscurations and the obscurations of disturbing emotions— the state of Buddha” (nyon mongs pa dang shes bya’i sgrib pa gnyis dag pa ste sangs rgyas kyi go ’phang). and a gemstone to shine:351 Mi-pham.e. Mi-pham states that the qualities of Buddha-nature at the time of the ground (i. The tshig mdzod chen mo entry for two-fold purity (dag pa gnyis ldan) reads: “Free from the two obscurations. Such a description reflects a more general interpretation and does not evoke the primordial purity that is an important part of Mi-pham’s and Long-chen-pa’s particular Nying-ma exegesis. He states that the primordial qualities of wisdom are an intrinsic endowment. the qualities of that [omniscient wisdom] have to be asserted as present from the beginning. Meeting the Bliss Queen (Boston: Beacon Press.5-539. or primordial purity. 1995). one should know that at the time of the ground (gzhi’i dus na). .168 affirms that all phenomena are primordially Buddha in the essence of the Truth Body. at the time of a sentient being) are merely a potential to exist as manifest:349 The manifest appearance of the qualities of omniscient wisdom (ji snyed pa’i don kun mkhyen pa’i yon tan) has the endowment of two-fold purity. 349 The two-fold purity is (1) natural purity. 537.3: stobs sogs kyi yon tan ye ldan/ ral gri tshad ldan la gcod pa’i yon tan/ me long dwangs pa la gzugs snang ba’i yon tan/ nor bu ’od dang dgos ’dod rtsol ba’i yon tan ye nas rang chas lhun grub tu yod kyang/ ral gri shub dang me long sgrom du chud pa/ nor bu ’dam gos bzhin no/ de’i sgrib pa bsal na yon tan gsar bskyed min yang/ mngon du snang ba gsar skye ltar snang ngo. 538. Therefore. a mirror to reflect.350 However. gnyug sems book 2. The two purities are 350 alternatively rendered as “pure of the two obscurations” (sgrib pa gnyis dag pa). etc.” I draw these contrasting terms from Anne Klein’s provocative discussion of these two models in Anne Klein. it does not highlight a “discovery model” of the path as opposed to a “developmental model. which is the suchness all phenomena.1: ji snyed pa’i don kun mkhyen pa’i yon tan mngon du snang ba ni dag pa gnyis ldan la yod kyi/ rang bzhin rnam dag tsam la med kyang/ de’i yon tan ye ldan du khas len dgos par ral gri’i dpe sogs bzhin no/ des na gzhi’i dus na bde gshegs snying po la yon tan mngon du yod rung tsam du shes par bya’o. like a knife has the ability to cut. 63-76.

When the obscurations are cleared. however.. they are like the knife in a sheath. when the qualities are obscured they are not evident. Therefore. and the gem covered with mud. it does not manifestly shine when put in a box. even so.5: ’on na khyi dang phag sogs sems can rnams kyi sems kyi rgyud la stobs bcu’i ye shes yod dam zer na/ stobs bcu’i ye shes kyi yon tan de’i rgyud kyi gshegs snying la ye nas yod de/ kho rang gi chos nyid kyi yon tan yin pas khams yod na yon tan yod mod kyi mngon du mi ’gyur te/ ral gri la gcod pa’i bya ba yod kyang/ shub tu chud pa la gcod pa’i bya ba mngon gyur du med pa dang/ me long la gzugs brnyan ’char rung gi yon tan yod kyang sgrom du bcug pa la mngon gyur du mi ’char ba dang ’dra ste. the mirror put in the box. if there is the basic element. the qualities do not newly arise. however. etc. 454. and the quality of a gem to be luminous and bestow desires. Thus. Furthermore.. and a mirror has the quality to potentially shine reflected forms. [the qualities] are not manifest—like a knife has the ability to cut. gzhung spyi’i dka’ gnad. . but appear manifest as if newly arisen. the quality of a clear mirror to shine reflected forms. even so. there are qualities.2-454. etc. “Well.169 The primordial endowment of qualities such as the powers are spontaneously present by nature from the beginning [like] the quality of a functional knife to cut. Mi-pham describes the qualities of a Buddha’s mind. 352 Mi-pham. they do not newly arise. Mi-pham states in his Difficult Points of Scriptures in General:352 If it is asked. Yet like the qualities of a knife in a sheath. the qualities may appear to newly arise when their obscurations are removed. such as powers. they are simply made manifest. the ability to cut is not manifest when put in a sheath. do the continuums of sentient beings such as dogs and pigs have the wisdom with the ten powers?” The Buddhanature of their continuums from the beginning has the qualities of wisdom with the ten powers because these are the qualities of its suchness. as spontaneously present from the beginning.

together with the ten powers. The two truths as authentic/inauthentic experience—the concording modes of appearance and subsistence—is the means by which Buddha-nature is affirmed as the ultimate truth. gnas dang gnas ma yin mkhyen pa’i stobs/ 2. 598. (8) the power of remembering previous existences (sngon gyi gnas).” nang rig pa’i tshig mdzod. We will first look to Mi-pham’s description of the own essence (rang gi ngo bo) of Buddha-nature from his Lion’s Roar: Exposition of BuddhaNature:354 The own essence of Buddha-nature is free from all conceptual constructs such as existence and non-existence. and (2) how it appears. 354 Mi-pham. (5) the power of knowing faculties that are supreme and those that are not. An alternative enumeration of ten powers is found in the Mahāvyupatti. transference.170 In this way. khams sna tshogs mkhyen pa’i stobs/ 8. endowed from the beginning with the qualities of Buddha’s wisdom. and birth.353 Delineating Appearance and Reality We will now discuss Buddha-nature in terms of (1) how it is the abiding reality. (6) the power of knowing the path of all transmigrations (thams cad ’gro ba’i lam). mos pa sna tshogs mkhyen pa’i stobs/ 4. 671: 1. thams cad ’gro ba’i lam mkhyen pa’i stobs/ 7. . dbang po mchog dang mchog min mkhyen pa’i stobs/ 6. the mode of appearance.3: bde bar gshegs pa’i snying po rang gi ngo bo ni yod med rtag chad la sogs pa’i spros pa thams cad bral ba bden pa dbyer med thig le nyag gcig mnyam pa nyid de.2-598. las kyi rnam par smin pa mkhyen pa’i stobs/ 3. (4) the power of knowing thorough affliction and 353 complete purification. (7) the power of knowing various dispositions (khams sna tshogs). it is the equality of the single sphere of indivisible truth (bden pa dbyer med thig le nyag gcig). sngon gyi gnas rjes su dran pa’i stobs/ 9. stong thun seng ge’i nga ro. (9) the power of knowing death. kun nas nyon mongs pa dang rnam par byang ba’i mkhyen pa’i stobs/ 5. (3) the power of knowing various inclinations (mos pa). and (10) the power of knowing the exhaustion of contamination (zag pa). zag pa zad pa mkhyen pa’i stobs so. Mi-pham describes heritage as the suchness of mind. ’chis ba dang pho ba dang skye ba mkhyen pa’i stobs/ 10. The Dictionary of Internal Knowledge (nang rig pa’i tshig mdzod) references ten powers listed in the Vinaya as: “(1) the power of knowing what is and is not correct (gnas dang gnas ma yin). permanence and annihilation. (2) the power of knowing the ripenings of karma. or mode of subsistence.

6: yul shes pa’i shes pa nye tsho [read nyi tshe] ba la mi rtag pas khyab kyang/ shes dang shes bya ro gcig pa’i ye shes mkha’ khyab mkha’ yi rdo rje can ni de dang mi ’dra ste/ ’dus ma byas pa’i rang gdangs ’od gsel [read gsal] mi ’gyur ba’i ngang der ’khor ’das kyi chos kun ’ub chub pas na de’i ngo bo la skye ’gags ye nas med par mthar thug dpyod pa’i rig shes kyis grub pa’i phyir ro/ des na de ’dra ba’i ye shes de ni ’dus byas dang ’dus ma byas kyi mthar gang la’ang mi gnas pa’i ’dus ma byas chen po ste/ dngos med rkyang pa dang gtan mi ’dra la/ dngos dngos med gnyis ka chos yin zhing/ de dag brten nas skyes pa’am brten nas btags pa’i phyir na yang dag par dpyad na ’dus byas dang gsog gsob rdzun pa bslu ba yin la/ bde gshegs snying po ni dngos dngos med kyi chos nyid ’dus ma byas chen po yang dag par mi bslu ba yin te/ rtsa ba shes rab las/ rang bzhin dag ni bcos min dang/ gzhan la ltos pa med pa yin/ zhes dang/ dngos dang dngos med ’dus byas yin/ mya ngan ’das pa ’dus ma byas/ zhes gsungs pa bzhin no. because it is not at all like a mere non-entity. 575. in the same language he uses to describe emptiness qua the consummate suchness that we saw in the last chapter. Since entities and non-entities are phenomena and are dependent arisings. He also depicts Buddha-nature with affirming descriptive words such as “the single sphere of indivisible truth. Buddha-nature. is the suchness of all phenomena. like emptiness. or dependent imputations.. hence. all the phenomena of nirvāṇa and saṃsāra are incorporated (’ub chub).171 Mi-pham describes Buddha-nature as free from all conceptual constructs.” which does not abide in either extreme of being conditioned or unconditioned. reasoning that analyzes the consummate [reality] (mthar thug dpyod pa’i rig shes) establishes that there is primordially no arising or ceasing in the essence of that. lies. and deceptions. is not like that [impermanent cognition] because in the state (ngang) of unchanging luminous clarity. Therefore.1-575. when authentically analyzed they are hollow. which is the self-effulgence (rang gdangs) of the unconditioned.” He calls Buddha-nature “the great unconditioned” in his Lion’s Roar: Exposition of Buddha-Nature:355 Even though partial cognitions (shes pa nyi tshe ba) that cognize objects are necessarily impermanent. wisdom such as this is the “great unconditioned. Buddhanature is the great unconditioned. fake. 355 . the suchness of all phenomena Ibid. “the one with the spacevajra pervading space” (mkha’ khyab mkha’ yi rdo rje can). the wisdom that is the onetaste (ro gcig) of the knower and known.

Nirvāṇa is unconditioned. Mi-pham explains that partial cognitions are necessarily impermanent. In this way. which is authentically nondeceptive. He adds that this basic nature can also be called “permanent” because it (1) exists and (2) is not momentary:356 To an untransformed one who has dualistic perception.13]. And does not depend on another. his statements again resemble Dol-po-pa’s depiction of the unique status of suchness as a third category of knowledge that is neither an entity nor a non-entity. And [25. and dualistic phenomena are not established.. This exists as the domain of a Sublime One’s 356 Ibid. . All spatial aspects (phyogs kyi cha) and temporal changes (dus kyi ’gyur ba) are incorporated within that state.172 that are entities or non-entities. there is the incontrovertible and undeniable appearance of inequality—all the changing. good and bad. ceasing.1: ’gyur bcas glo bur ’bral rung gi dri ma gang dag skad cig ma’i skye ’gag rim gyis ’byung ba dang/ ’khor ’das dang bzang ngan la sogs pa’i mi mnyam pa ’di ni gnas ma gyur pa’i gnyis snang can la de ltar bslu med bsnyon med du snang yang/ gshis la skye ’gag dang gnyis chos ma grub par mnyam pa chen por gnas pa/ de’i ngang du phyogs kyi cha dang dus kyi ’gyur ba thams cad ’ub chub cing/ de ni ’phags pa rnams kyi so so rang rig pa’i ye shes kyi yul du yod pa yin cing/ dus gsum gyi ’gyur bas bslad med pas na de la rtag pa chen po’i tha snyad cis mi gtags te/ yod pa gang zhig skad cig gi skye ’gag can min pa’i phyir ro. the basic nature abides as the great equality in which arising. He supports his argument with citations from Nāgārjuna describing nirvāṇa as unconditioned.. Entities and non-entities are conditioned. occurring sequentially as arising and ceasing moments. 595. Moreover. Mi-pham states that there is no arising or ceasing of dualistic phenomena in the basic nature (gshis la) that abides without ever changing. etc. adventitious defilements suitable to be removed. is beyond the dichotomies of permanent entities and impermanent non-entities. however. he argues that Buddha-nature is “the great unconditioned”—the suchness of all phenomena that are entities or non-entities. saṃsāra and nirvāṇa. In this way.4-596. however. wisdom. As is said in the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā [15.2]: Nature is uncontrived.

in terms of its mode of appearance (snang tshul gyi dbang du byas). book 1. that suchness is an entity (dngos po). and it does not arise and cease momentarily. etc. Mi-pham. However. Mi-pham explains as follows in his Trilogy of Innate Mind:357 When evaluated in terms of suchness from its own side. 404.173 individual reflexive awareness wisdom and there is no pollution by the changes of the three times. and it is posited as conditioned from the aspect of progressively engaging in enlightened activity (phrin las) for beings to be trained (gdul bya). it can be called “permanent” by definition of what it means to be permanent.. not abiding in the extremes of either the conditioned or the unconditioned. however. it is not conditioned. Mi-pham affirms that the basic nature exists. it is neither observed as a conditioned entity nor an unconditioned non-entity..—you will be freed from the web of doubt when you distinguish the respective intended meanings in accord with what is generally proclaimed in scriptures. He states that when suchness is evaluated from its own side.. He denies. gnyug sems.6-405.yo ba’i rdo rje lta bu rtag pa chen po ye shes kyi sku ni ’dus ma byas chen po yin te ’dus byas ma yin mod/ ’di la snang tshul gyi dbang du byas na sngar lam sgom pa’i bral ’bras yin pa’i cha nas gsar byung dang/ gdul bya rnams phrin las rim can du ’jug pa’i cha nas ’dus byas lta bur ’jog pa sogs lung spyi la grags pa ltar so so’i dgongs don shan phyed na the tshom gyi drwa ba bral bar ’gyur ro. is known through individual reflexive awareness. therefore.At the time when primordial suchness is actualized as a Buddha. 357 .gdod ma’i chos nyid mngon du gyur pa sangs rgyas kyi dus na/ chos kyi dbyings de las nam yang mi g. So why not give this the name “great permanence”? [It is designated as such] because (1) it exists and (2) it does not arise and cease momentarily. it is observed as neither of the two—a conditioned entity or an unconditioned non-entity—because suchness. the wisdom body of the great permanence—like a vajra that never deviates from the expanse of phenomena—is the great unconditioned.. it is posited as newly arisen from the aspect of being a freed effect of previous training on the path.6: chos nyid rang ngos nas gzhal na/ ’dus byas dngos po dang ’dus ma byas dngos med gnyis kar mi dmigs te/ chos nyid ’dus byas dang ’dus ma byas kyi mtha’ la mi gnas pa so so rang rig par bya ba yin cing.

it is “the great unconditioned” free from extremes. where all is undivided. the other need not be rejected. where everything appears distinctly. Those who accept the intrinsic nature of the fruitional emptiness (’bras bu’i stong pa nyid) that is endowed with all supreme aspects (rnam kun mchog ldan) of Buddha-body and wisdom assert as follows: the own essence of the Buddha-body and wisdom is permanent. while no phenomena subsumed within the three times at all deviates from the non-arising. present.yos bzhin du/ bdag dang gzhan/ ’khor ba dang myang ’das/ ’dus byas dang ’dus ma byas/ ’das dang da lta ma ’ongs pa’i chos sogs ji snyed pa’i chos kun ma ’dres par ’char ba ’di gnyis gcig gi phyogs bzung nas gcig spang mi dgos par/ zab mo brgyad dang rtogs tshul gsungs pa dang mtshungs par bden gnyis ’gal med kyi go don legs par shar ba rnams la theg chen mdo rgyud kyi dgongs pa rnams la the tshom med pa’i nges shes bde blag tu skye ba yin no. and future. it is an impermanent continuity as is said in the Sūtra That Gathers the Viewpoints (mdo dgongs ’dus). but in the mode of appearance of those to be trained. it is posited as newly arisen from the aspect of being a freed effect.6-406. However.6: de ltar yang gzhan phal mo ches sangs rgyas kyi sku dang ye shes ngo bo mi rtag la rgyun gyis rtag par ’dod/ sku dang ye shes rnam kun mchog ldan ’bras bu’i stong nyid kyi rang bzhin du ’dod pa dag gis/ sku dang ye shes rang gi ngo bos rtag kyang/ gdul bya’i snang tshul la rgyun gyis mi rtag par ’dod de mdo dgongs ’dus las gsungs pa bzhin no/ /de ltar gnas lugs ji lta ba’i dbang du byas na dus gsum gyis bsdus pa’i chos gang yang gshis la skye ’gag med par mnyam pa nyid las ma g. Furthermore. It is also posited as conditioned from the aspect of the progressive engagement in enlightened activity for beings to be trained. he explains in his Trilogy of Innate Mind:358 Although it is as such. from the mode of appearance. in this way. These two are such that through holding one position.174 He states that suchness from its own side is neither conditioned nor nonconditioned.. most others assert that the essence of the Buddha-body and wisdom is impermanent and that it is a permanent continuity (rgyun gyis rtag pa). . 358 Ibid. In this way. unceasing equality in the fundamental nature. Mi-pham distinguishes the mode of subsistence. all phenomena that exist (ji snyad pa’i chos kun) appear as unmixed—such as self and other. 405. saṃsāra and nirvāṇa. in terms of the abiding reality as it is (gnas lugs ji lta ba’i dbang du byas). phenomena of the past. conditioned and unconditioned phenomena. in terms of the way of appearance.

3-449. which literally means “good” or “excellent”. 449. which is the verb that Mi-pham uses here that literally means “to arise. I find that radiant is a better descriptive word to positively qualify a dawning (’char ba). Mi-pham states that it is important to distinguish: (1) the way reality is.” “to dawn.359 for the ones in which the understood meaning of the non-contradicton of the two truths’ has radiantly360 dawned (legs par shar). While according to the mode of subsistence. and (2) the way things conventionally appear.” “to appear. and vice versa. everything appears distinctly and unmixed according to the mode of appearance. 360 I have used the word “radiantly” here because I feel that it is a more evocative translation of legs.175 as similar to the discourses of the eight profundities (zab mo brgyad) and the manner of realization (rtogs tshul). a certainty that is free from doubt in the viewpoints of Mahāyāna Sūtras and tantras easily arises. In any case. such that if one holds a position according to the abiding reality as it is. In this context. where wisdom appears as a new development:361 I have not identified what the “eight profundities” and “manner of realization” refer to. He adds here that understanding the meaning of the non-contradiction of the two truths is a key point in understanding the viewpoints of sūtras and tantras. Mi-pham shows that these two perspectives need not be in conflict. then one must reject the mode of appearance. nothing ever wavers from the non-arising and unceasing equality all phenomena. he appears to be suggesting that the unity of the two truths does not only refer to the unity of the two truths as appearance/emptiness but also to the unity of the two truths as the concording modes of appearance/subsistence. where appearance and existence are asserted to be primordially Buddha. He shows that both views can be held in their respective contexts. In distinction to the way others assert the essence of wisdom as impermanent. Mi-pham affirms a view that the own essence of wisdom is permanent. gnyug sems book 2.” 361 Mi-pham.5: gnas lugs don dam pa’i dbang du byas na 359 snang srid ye sangs rgyas par khas len zhing de ltar bsgom dgos kyang/ snang lugs tha snyad kyi dbang du byas na/ gzhi sangs rgya rung gi rigs dang/ lam nyams su len pa’i .

which is the function of only wisdom:362 skabs dang/ dag pa mthar phyin pa’i ’bras bu gsum du shes rab kyis shan ’byed du yod pa ni rdzogs pa chen po’i bar gyis ’dod de. the occasion of practice. this is accepted all the way up to the Great Perfection. appearance and existence are asserted to be primordially Buddha and one should meditate as such.1-519. which is the function of a mix of consciousness and wisdom. he delineates three contexts (gnas skabs): (1) the impure (ma dag). including the Great Perfection. and (3) the fruition. Mi-pham also explains consciousness and wisdom. In the context of meditation. the heritage which is the potential to be a Buddha.. He affirms that such a distinction is accepted throughout Buddhist traditions. in terms of the conventional way of appearance (snang lugs tha snyad kyi dbang du byas). (2) the path. as the heritage which is the potential to be a Buddha. and (3) the extremely pure (shin tu dag pa). which is the function (las byed pa) of only consciousness. however. these three contexts in terms of In terms of the mode of appearance.176 Although in terms of the ultimate abiding reality (gnas lugs don dam pa’i dbang du byas). He affirms the three contexts of: (1) the ground. the consummation of purity. (2) the impure/pure (ma dag dag pa). 518. supreme knowledge makes the distinction of three: (1) the ground. 362 Ibid. which is the occasion of practice. (2) the path. and (3) the fruition.1: chos nyid dbyings kyi ngo ba la sgrib pa ye nas med par grub pas kyang/ gnas tshul gzhi ’bras dbyer med du grub pas ye sangs rgyas pa’i dgongs pa gtan la phebs shing/ snang tshul la goms rtsal rdzogs pa’i tshe na gnas snang mthun pa’i tshul gyis mngon du gyur pas yang ’tshang rgya ba’ang yin te/ de gnyis mi ’gal lo/ /spros kun ye nas sam ka nas dag pa dang/ rang bzhin ’od gsal ba’i gdangs dbyer med pa’i chos nyid de ni ’khor ’das kun la khyab pas/ chos nyid ci yang ma yin las cir yang ’char rung ba’i phyir/ ’khor ’das dbyer med mnyam pa nyid chos kyi skur lhun gyis grub pa’o/ /de’i phyir ’khor ’das kyi snang ba sna tshogs pa’i cho ’phrul tshad med pa ci bsgyur kyang/ de dag rnam shes dang ye shes kyi byed pa kho na las byung ste/ snang tshul du/ rnam shes kho nas las byed pa ma dag gzhi yi skabs/ rnam shes ye shes ’dre nas las byed pa ma dag dag pa gnyis ldan lam gyi skabs/ ye shes kho nas las byed pa shin tu rnam dag pa’i ’bras bu’i skabs te gnas skabs gsum du dbyer yod. . which is the consummation of purity. he advocates meditation done in accordance with the mode of subsistence.

In this way Mi-pham affirms the indivisibility of the ground and fruition in the mode of subsistence while he delineates three contexts of the ground. both impure and pure “bodhisattvas”. Hence. the mode of subsistence is ascertained as the viewpoint of the Buddha (sangs rgyas pa’i dgongs pa). which is the function of only consciousness. while at the time of 363 Uttaratantra 1. which is the function of only wisdom.363 Mi-pham states that one should make distinctions in accord with the way things appear. and extremely pure. and fruition in the mode of appearance. the mode of appearance. anything can arise.47: “According to the progression of impure. and in the mode of appearance when perfecting the strength (rtsal rdzogs) of meditation.” the Buddhas. hence. and completely pure “Tathāgatas. in terms of (1) impure “sentient beings”. 8: ma dag ma dag dag pa dang/ /shin tu rnam dag go rims bzhin/ /sems can byang chub sems dpa’ dang/ /de bzhin gshegs pa zhes brjod do. one also becomes the Buddha again through actualizing the concordant modes of appearance and subsistence. These two are not a contradiction because suchness—which is the indivisibility of (1) the effulgence (gdangs) of natural luminous clarity and (2) the primordial purity of all constructs from the beginning—pervades all of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa. from suchness. they are called ‘sentient beings. in the mode of appearance.’ ‘bodhisattvas. since the ground and fruition are established as indivisible.177 Although from the beginning there are no obscurations in the essence of the expanse of suchness. (2) the context of the path endowed with both the impure and pure. . and (3) the context of the extremely pure fruition. The three contexts of impure. whatever the transformations of the limitless miraculous displays are—the various appearances of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa—they all arise from only the functions of consciousness and wisdom. which is the function of consciousness and wisdom having been mixed. which is nothing whatsoever. path. impure/pure and extremely pure are found in the Uttaratantra. there is a division of three contexts: (1) the context of the impure ground. The equality of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa is spontaneously present as the Truth Body! Therefore.” rgyu bla ma rtsa ’grel. impure/pure.’ and ‘Tathāgatas’.

the equality of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa within the abiding reality is not negated because there is no impurity within the mode of subsistence. 542. since one asserts (1) the ground as natural purity and (2) the fruition as qualified by the purity that is freed from the adventitious [defilements]. However. saṃsāra itself will not be realized as nirvāṇa. then saṃsāra itself will not be realized as nirvāṇa— the modes of appearance and subsistence will not accord. In this way. While there are no distinctions within the mode of subsistence. He states that one should make distinctions in accord with the mode of appearance and ascertain the abiding reality. or “conclusively settle. the mode of subsistence:364 In terms of the mode of appearance. Mi-pham delineates two contexts: in terms of the mode of subsistence. where appearances arise as unmixed and distinctions are made. one should ascertain in accord with the mode of subsistence because if one does not. that does not negate the equality of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa because there is no impurity within the mode of subsistence.1: snang tshul gyi dbang du byas na/ rang bzhin rnam dag gzhi dang/ glo bur bral dag gi khyad par du byas pa’i dbyings ’bras bur ’dod pas khyad med pa min yang/ la zlo’i tshe gnas tshul ltar gtan la ’bab dgos kyi/ de ma phab na/ ’khor ba nyid myang ’das su mi rtogs so/ /shan ’byed pa’i tshe snang tshul ltar yin yang/ des gnas lugs la ’khor ’das mnyam nyid yin pa’ang mi khegs te/ gnas tshul la ma dag pa med pas so. and in terms of the mode of appearance.” in accord with the mode of subsistence. gnyug sems book 2. Even though distinctions are made in accord with the way things appear. Furthermore. Even though when making distinctions one accords with the mode of appearance. if one always makes distinctions even when conclusively settling.3-543. one should do so in accord with the way reality is. by that. it is not that there is no distinction. where there are no distinctions and the two truths are indivisible.178 conclusively settling (la zlo’i tshe). when conclusively settling. . he distinguishes what is true 364 Mi-pham.

365 Mi-pham. never changes • Knowing the non-existent as non-existent—such as knowing that the appearances of self and perceived-perceiver [duality] are not intrinsically established • Apprehending the existent as existent—such as knowing (1) the mode of appearance of dependent arising. 599. the reality of entities in the mode of apprehension of undistorted supreme knowledge is conventionally: • Knowing the truth as truth—such as knowing the undeceiving path of the Sublime Ones (’phags pa’i lam) • Knowing the false as false—such as knowing those who profess liberation through meditating on the self to be misguided • Knowing the impermanent as impermanent—knowing all conditioned entities to be momentary • Knowing the permanent as permanent—knowing that Buddhanature. in the context of differentiating well by means of the valid cognition analyzing the conventional. stong thun seng ge’i nga ro. through knowing and abiding as such. In his Lion’s Roar: Exposition of Buddha-Nature.179 from what is not in the context of making distinctions. the Buddha-nature.5: ’on kyang tha snyad dpyod pa’i tshad mas shan legs par ’byed pa’i skabs su bden pa la bden par shes pa ’phags pa’i lam mi bslu bar shes pa lta bu dang/ mi bden pa la mi bden par shes pa bdag bsgoms pas grol bar smra ba la log par shes pa lta bu dang/ mi rtag pa la mi rtag par shes pa ’dus byas kyi dngos po thams cad skad cig mar shes pa dang/ rtag pa la rtag par shes pa bde gshegs snying po rang byung gi ye shes rnam pa thams cad pa mi ’gyur bar shes pa dang/ med pa la med par shes pa bdag dang gzung ’dzin du snang ba rang bzhin ma grub par shes pa lta bu dang/ yod pa la yod par ’dzin pa rgyu ’bras bslu med rten ’brel gyi snang tshul dang/ sems can thams cad la chos nyid bde gshegs snying po lhun gyis grub pa’i yon tan rang bzhin gyi gnas par shes pa lta bu la sogs pa ni tha snyad du dngos po’i yin lugs la phyin ci ma log pa’i shes rab ’dzin stangs yin pas de ltar shes shing bzhugs pa las yon tan rgya chen po thob ste gti mug med pa’i dge ba’i rtsa ba yin pa’i phyir ro. . the self-existing wisdom totality of [ultimate] aspects (rnam pa thams cad pa). Therefore. Mi-pham states:365 However. which is incontrovertible causality (rgyu ’bras) and (2) the spontaneously present qualities of suchness. vast qualities are attained because this is the non-deluded root of virtue. naturally abiding in all sentient beings.1-599.

We will look at Mi-pham’s exegesis of this stanza in some detail.3-572. Through the delineation of appearance and reality. the Ibid.4-567. Therefore. or manifest from a former continuum of a thoroughly bounded (’ching ba kun ldan) ordinary being. Mi-pham bases a discussion of Buddha-nature around a stanza from the Uttaratantra. Published in rgyud bla ma rtsa ’grel. therefore. Mi-pham argues a position that affirms the primordial endowment of the qualities of a Buddha without incurring the consequence that all beings necessarily are manifest Buddhas. he delineates what exists and what does not conventionally in accord with the perspective of higher knowledge. The verse from Uttaratantra 1.180 In this way. 6.27 reads as follows:366 Because the body of the perfect Buddha is radiant. 572. the consummate body of a complete and perfect Buddha. in which he explains three verses as reasons for the existence of Buddha-nature in all beings. 367 . 366 Ibid. radiant. Buddha--Nature: The Immanent Buddha Establishing Buddha We will now look at the reasons Mi-pham puts forward to establish that all beings possess Buddha-nature..5: rdzogs sangs sku ni ’phro phyir dang/ /de bzhin nyid dbyer med phyir dang/ /rigs yod phyir na lus can kun/ /rtag tu sangs rgyas snying po can. later is made clear. then we will explore in more depth some of the implications of his use of reason to establish Buddha-nature:367 The meaning of the first verse is as follows: since the Truth Body. all beings always possess the essential nature of Buddha (sangs rgyas rnying po).. Because suchness (de bzhin nyid) is indivisible.3: rkang pa dang po’i don ni/ yang dag par rdzogs pa’i sangs rgyas kyi sku mthar thug pa chos kyi sku yon tan nam mkha’ dang mnyam pa de lta bu/ sngon tha mal pa ’ching ba kun ldan du gyur pa’i gang zag gi rgyud de las phyis gsal ba’am/ ’phro ba’am/ mngon du gyur pa yod pas na da lta nas sems can gyi rgyud na bde gshegs snying po yod ces bsgrub pa yin no. In his Lion’s Roar: Exposition of Buddha-Nature. 567. as such with the qualities equal to [the extent of] space. Because of possessing heritage.

63].181 statement “presently the Buddha-nature exists in the continuums of all sentient beings” is established. Although it may or may not be actualized in the mode of appearance free or not free from adventitious defilements. It is undisturbed by adventitious defilements Such as attachments that arise from the imagination of the unreal.51]: As it was before so it is later— The immutable suchness. In the Uttaratantra [1. and unconditioned. Buddha-nature. an equality.. there is not even the slightest qualitative or temporal difference in the mode of subsistence because it is the intrinsic nature of the immutable unconditioned. He argues that if a future effect is established—that is.6-576.4: mthar thug chos sku’i ye shes de ni srid zhi kun khyab dang mnyam pa nyid dang ’dus ma byas pa dang/ ’gyur med don dam pa’i rang bzhin du nges pa don gyi mdo sde’i lung dang mthar thug dpyod pa’i rigs pas grub pa na/ de nam zhig mngon du ’gyur rung gi rgyu de ni da lta nas ye shes chos sku’i rang bzhin chos nyid kyi tshul du bri gang dang bral bar bzhugs pa de nyid la/ blo bur gyi dri ma bral ma bral gyi snang tshul la mngon du gyur ma gyur yod kyang/ gnas tshul la snga phyir bzang ngan gyi khyad par til tsam med de/ ’gyur med ’dus ma byas kyi rang bzhin yin pa’i phyir te/ rgyud bla ma las/ ji ltar sngar bzhin phyis de bzhin/ ’gyur ba med pa’i chos nyid do/ zhes dang/ sems kyi rang bzhin ’od gsal gang yin pa/ /de ni nam mkha’ bzhin du ’gyur med de/ yang dag min rtog las byung ’dod chags sogs/ glo bur dri mas de nyon mongs mi ’gyur. the Truth Body of the Buddha which is the unconditioned and unchanging ultimate truth—then the cause also presently must be the nature of the Truth Body present in all beings in the manner of suchness:368 If the wisdom of the consummate Truth Body is established by scriptures of definitive meaning sūtras and reasoning analyzing the consummate [reality] to be the nature of the immutable ultimate truth. is presently the nature of the wisdom Truth Body abiding in the manner of suchness without decrease or increase. 368 Ibid. which is able to actualize that at one time (nam zhig). And [1. He explains the first verse of the stanza as a reason that proves the cause. then the cause. 575. completely pervading nirvāṇa and saṃsāra. from the effect. the Buddha. . The luminous clarity that is the nature of mind Is immutable like space.

” The discourses of panentheism are fruitful to consider in light of Mi-pham’s depictions of Buddha-nature. see Michael W. In the mode of appearance. when sleeping. For a concise introduction to some of the central issues in panentheism. Michigan: William B.5: chos nyid ’od gsal ba’i ye shes kun la khyad med par yod kyang/ rang sems ’khrul pa glo bur ba ’di skyes pa’i tshe ’khrul sems yul dang bcas pa ’di tsam ’khor ba’i gdags gzhi yin la ’khrul pa de[s] rang la yod pa’i chos nyid ji lta ba bzhin du mi shes te/ dper na gnyid kyi dus na yid kyi shes pa gcig bu’i dbang gis lus dang yul dang mig shes la sogs pa’i snang ba mu med pa byung la/ de dus yul yul can so sor ’dzin cing dmigs kyi/ yid shes kho rang gis rang gi yin lugs gzung ’dzin tha dad du ma grub pa shes mi nus la/ ma shes kyang yin lugs de las gzhan du gyur pa med pa dang/ chos thams cad stong pa nyid du gnas kyang de ltar yin pa tsam gyis kun gyis rtogs dgos pa ma yin ba bzhin te gnas snang mi mthun pa’i ’khrul pa srid pa’i phyir ro. when this adventitious delusion arises in one’s mind. one’s suchness is not known as it is.182 He argues that since there cannot be the slightest qualitative or temporal difference in the nature of the immutable unconditioned. . “Naming a Quiet Revolution: The Panentheistic Turn in Modern Theology.and post-union would by definition contradict the unchanging divinity. unrestricted (mu med) appearances arise such as the body. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Brierley.. For example.2-578.” in Philip Clayton and Arthur Peacocke (eds. stong thun seng ge’i nga ro. 1-15.) In Whom We Live and Move and Have Our Being: Panentheistic Reflections on God’s Presence in a Scientific World (Grand Rapids. called “panentheism” (lit. this reality may or may not be actualized due to the presence of adventitious defilements that obscure reality. the basis of designation of saṃsāra is only this deluded mind together with its object (yul). We can see this first argument in general as a teleological argument for the immanence of the divine: if a future is acknowledged when beings are united with a perfect and unchanging divinity. however. God-in-everything) addresses issues of the relationship between the 369 divine and the world in terms such as “inextricable intertwining. due to the power of solely the mental-consciousness. 370 Mi-pham. then that unchanging divinity must also in some way participate in the present world because any change between pre. then the nature cannot be different at the time of the effect and at the time of the cause. A current trend in theology.369 Mi-pham compares the mind that does not realize the suchness of reality to consciousness in a dream:370 Although the suchness that is the luminous and clear wisdom pervades everything without distinction. 578. 2004). due to this delusion.

183 objects. even so. Likewise. “Mi-pham’s Theory of Hermeneutics. ed.” in Buddhist Hermeneutics. 373 Mi-pham. Therefore. 560-561. snang ba lhar bsgrub. proving the cause from the effect is called “reasoning of dependency.2: ’bras dus kyi chos sku mngon du gsal pa’i rtags kyis rgyu dus kyi rigs yon tan ye ldan can yod par sgrub pa ste/ gnas tshul la snga phyi rgyu ’bras su med kyang snang tshul la ltos nas rgyu ’bras su bzhag dgos pa’i phyir ’bras bu las rgyu bsgrub pa ltos pa’i rigs pa zhes bya ba yin no. See also Kapstein. vol. primordially endowed with qualities. just as all phenomena being empty does not entail that phenomena are realized as such by everyone. however.” 371 We will see that Mi-pham uses this type of reasoning to also establish “the great purity” (dag pa chen po) of all appearances. He argues that just because the luminous and clear wisdom pervades everyone does not mean that everyone must realize this. in dependence (ltos) upon the mode of appearance. merely being as such does not entail that everyone realizes this because there is the possibility of delusion—appearances that do not accord with the mode of subsistence. spyi don ’od gsal snying po. 1988). 1 (Sichuan: Nationalities Press. 457459. See Rong-zom. Wisdom of Buddha. the mental-consciousness itself is not able to know its own mode of being (yin lugs). At that time. Donald Lopez (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. it is necessarily posited as cause and effect. even though it is not known. although the subject and object are observed and apprehended separately.6-579. there is nothing other than that mode of being. all phenomena abide as emptiness. . in Powers. Mi-pham. These same three reasons are found in Rong-zom’s Establishing Appearances as Divine. See Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra. cited below. etc. Rong-zom’s Collected Works. 372 Mi-pham explains each of the first three verses of the stanza from the Uttaratantra in terms of three of the four types of reasons from the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra. stong thun seng ge’i nga ro. 578. and eye-consciousness. 155-157. 284-285. exists at the time of the cause because there is no temporal causality (snga phyi rgyu ’bras) in the mode of subsistence.371 He calls the argument in the first verse a “reasoning of dependency” (ltos pa’i rigs pa).372 proving the cause from the effect:373 The evidence (rtags) of a clear manifestation of the Truth Body at the time of the fruition establishes that the heritage. 1999). in which the perceived [object] and the perceiving [subject] are not established as different.

“reasoning of suchness.2-579.” or more literally.yos par chos nyid kyi rigs pas grub pas na sangs rgyas kyi snying po can du nges.” is as follows: since all phenomena of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa are of one taste (ro gcig)—indivisible within the great primordial luminous clarity of the emptiness that is the abiding reality—Buddhas and sentient beings also are ultimately indivisible due to the equality of existence and peace (srid zhi mnyam pa nyid).4: rkang pa gnyis pa/ de bzhin nyid dbyer med phyir dang/ zhes pa’i don ni/ ’khor ’das kyi chos thams cad gnas lugs stong pa nyid gdod ma’i ’od gsal chen por dbyer med ro gcig pas na/ sangs rgyas dang sems can kyang don dam par dbye ba med de srid gzhi mnyam pa nyid do/ /de’i phyir ’khrul pa glo bur bas sprul pa’i sems can ltar snang ba rnams kyang gnas lugs don dam pa’i chos nyid las cung zad kyang ma g. Buddha and sentient beings are ultimately indivisible. Therefore. hence. it is established by the reasoning of the nature of things (chos nyid kyi rigs pa) that there is not the slightest deviation from the ultimate suchness of abiding reality. but in reality there is no deviation from the suchness of reality. In the mode of subsistence.” perhaps like a response to a question why fire is hot and burning—because it is. We will consider Mi- 374 Ibid.184 He states that a clear manifestation of the Truth Body is posited as the effect of a cause in the mode of appearance. the possession of the essential nature of Buddha (sangs rgyas kyi snying po) is certain. the heritage. He calls this verse “reasoning of the nature of things. he is giving the reason for Buddha-nature as: “because that is just the way things are. this is not the case within the way things are—in the mode of subsistence. although appearing as emanated sentient beings (sprul pa’i sems can) due to adventitious delusion.” Effectively. He says that sentient beings appear as “emanated” due to delusion that is adventitious. Mi-pham continues his explanation of the second verse of the stanza:374 The meaning of the second [verse]. 579. . is not the prior cause of a later effect. Due to the indivisibility of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa within the abiding reality. however. primordially endowed with qualities.. “because suchness is indivisible.

the possession of the heritage that is the potential to be a Buddha entails that these embodied beings (lus can) are possessors of Buddha-nature because (1) there is a context of them being a Buddha and (2) since the Buddha’s Truth Body is also established as essentially unconditioned. (1) the heritage that is the suchness itself (chos nyid de bzhin nyid) is unchanging. is reasoning of efficacy (bya ba byed pa’i rigs pa). 375 Mi-pham.1-583. due to the mere presence of the cause. 583. stong thun seng ge’i nga ro. and (3) no matter how long the duration of the adventitious defilements is. knowing the production of the effect from the cause. This third reason. the emergence of an effect is not merely inferred because. there is no temporal or qualitative distinction [between the Truth Body and Buddha-nature] from the aspect of the essence. (2) at the time of the effect there is no qualitative difference in the essence. In this way.” is as follows: all sentient beings have the heritage that is the potential to be a Buddha because it is established that (1) defilements are adventitious and suitable to be relinquished and (2) the Truth Body primordially endowed with qualities exists in everything without distinction. “because of possessing heritage. due to the essential fact that it is impossible that the heritage would ever diminish in the event of becoming a Buddha (sangs rgya ba). .5: rkang pa gsum pa rigs yod phyir na/ zhes pa’i don ni/ sems can thams cad la sangs rgya rung gi rigs yod de/ dri ma glo bur ba spang rung du grub cing/ yon tan ye ldan gyi chos sku kun la khyad med par yod par grub pas so/ /de ltar sangs rgya rung gi rigs yod na lus can de dag sangs rgyas kyi snying po can du nges te/ de dag sangs rgyas pa’i gnas skabs yod la/ sangs rgyas chos sku de yang ngo bo ’dus ma byas su grub pas snga phyi la bzang ngan gyi khyad par ngo bo’i cha nas med pa’i phyir ro/ rigs pa gsum pa ’dis rgyu las ’bras bu skyed par shes pa bya ba byed pa’i rigs pa yin no/ /’dir rgyu yod tsam gyis ’bras bu ’byin par dpog pa tsam min te/ chos nyid de bzhin nyid kyi rigs la ’gyur ba med pa dang/ de ’bras dus ngo bo la bzang ngan med pa dang/ glo bur ba’i dri ma rnams yun ji ltar ring yang ’bras [read ’bral] rung yin pas rigs de sangs rgya ba la nam yang chud za ba mi srid pa’i gnad kyis so. they are suitable to be separate. Here.185 pham’s use of reasoning below after we address his explanation of the third verse:375 The meaning of the third [verse].

Mi-pham argues that this reason is not merely an inference of the emergence of an effect because the effect. in meaning.1: de ltar rgyu rigs yod pa de ’bras dus kyi chos sku dang ngo bo khyad med dang/ ’bras dus kyi chos sku yod na de sems can gyi dus na’ang ’phel ’bri med par yod dgos pa dang/ rgyu ’bras dang snga phyir btags kyang don la chos dbyings ’gyur med kyi ngo bor ro gcig pa’i rigs pa de gsum gyis sems can thams cad de bzhin gshegs pa’i snying po can du ’grub ste dngos po’i stobs kyis zhugs pa’i rigs pa yang dag gi lam nas so. Mi-pham summarizes the three reasons for all beings possessing Buddha-nature as follows:376 In this way. it is a reason that infers the effect from the cause. Thus. they are accidental and contingent—not inherent within the nature of beings—and (2) the Truth Body pervades everything without distinction. 583. in essence. heritage can be seen as somewhat like a divine spark in beings.. 376 Ibid. To conclude. and (3) although there is the imputation of causality and temporality. and (2) if the Truth Body at the time of the fruition exists. is immanent due to there being no qualitative difference in the essence of a sentient being and a Buddha. then at the time of sentient beings it [the heritage that is essentially the Truth Body] also necessarily exists without increase or decrease. heritage. in essence. Since suchness is unchanging. the expanse of phenomena is one taste within the immutable essence. Moreover. a continuity—or common ground—of sentient beings and Buddhas is necessitated. the three reasons establish that all sentient beings are possessors of Buddha-nature due to the authentic path of reasoning that is engaged by the power of fact (dngos po’i stobs kyi zhugs pa’i rigs pa). . (1) the existence of the cause. The possession of heritage that is the potential to be a Buddha is called “reasoning of functionality”. beings presently participate in the changeless and timeless nature of the Buddha.5-584. is essentially not distinct from the Truth Body at the time of the fruition. In this light.186 Mi-pham agues here that all beings have the potential to be a Buddha because (1) defilements are advantageous.

5-18. The first “reason” is based on the assumption of a Buddha. However.187 In this way. It does not take a trained logician. in consideration of the second reason. all beings could be said to share the undivided nature of a Buddha if one were to accept the assumption of the existence of a Buddha. First we will look at Pödpa Tulku’s discussion of these three reasons. in Buddhist logic or modern logic. even if one were to find the indivisibility hypothesis a workable description of reality. which brings us back to assumptions of tradition. and the last “reason” is based on another assumption of tradition—the possession of heritage. one could take a skeptical approach towards the experience of a differentiated world. We will explore further implications of this in Mi-pham’s use of reason to establish appearances as divine (lha). (2) reasoning of the nature of things [investigating] the essence. the indivisibility of suchness. not reason.1: gshegs snying sgrub byed kyi rigs pa la/ ’bras bu ltos pa’i rigs pa dang/ ngo bo chos nyid kyi rigs pa dang/ rgyu bya ba byed pa’i rigs pa dang gsum gyi[s] gru ba [read sgrub]/ de yang dang po ’bras rtags dang/ phyi ma gnyis rang bzhin gyi rtags yin/ dang po dag gnyis ldan gyi ’bras bu rtags su bkod nas ngo bo ye dag gis [read gi] sangs rgyas yod par sgrub cing ngo bo ye dag dang/ dag pa gnyis ldan gyis sangs rgyas gnyis ldog cha tha dad kyi sgo nas ’jog go sems can sangs rgyas yin zhes pa rang bzhin rnam dag gi sangs rgyas yin pas sems kyi chos nyid yin gyi de’i ’bras bu min pas rgyu la ’bras gnas kyi skyon med do. We can see here that Mi-pham is involved in an intricate scholastic project of reconciling reason and tradition. stong thun gnad kyi zin thun. . The first. and (3) reasoning of efficacy [investigating] the cause. Moreover. Pöd-pa Tulku takes up Mi-pham’s three reasons and describes the first reason as evidence that is a result (’bras rtags) and the last two as evidence of [identical] nature (rang bzhin gyi rtags):377 There are three reasonings that establish Buddha-nature: (1) reasoning of dependency [investigating] the effect. through putting forward as evidence the 377 Pöd-pa Tulku. he puts forward reasons “by the power of fact” to support Buddha-nature. At best. the first is evidence that is an effect and the latter two are evidence of [identical] intrinsic nature. to see that the status of these as “reasons” is quite spurious. 17.

“sentient beings are Buddhas. then it is necessarily an animal. there is also no fault of the effect abiding in the cause. 72-82. Pöd-pa Tulku states that it is posited by means of the contradistinctive aspect. therefore. The observation of a lack of relationship permits the third of the three types of evidence in Buddhist logic. India: Ngagyur Nyingma Institute. tshad ma rigs pa’i them skas (Bylakuppe. the evidence of non-observation (ma dmigs pa’i rtags). or. of only the Buddha’s natural purity. then it is necessarily an impermanent phenomenon—the two entities have a relationship of essential identity.379 Evidence of identical intrinsic nature is such that. not the effect which is that [Buddha endowed with the two-fold purity]. 40-44. in the case of phenomenon and product. They are not actually distinct. it does not refer to the two-fold purity of a Buddha at the time of the effect when the qualities of a Buddha are manifest. if it is a product. The Character of Logic in India (Albany: 378 SUNY Press. Therefore. but are merely conceptually distinct. the two are equivalent. See Bimal Krisna Matilal. 1998). 108-116. such as the claim that the effect is present in the cause . In the case of the essential identity of a sentient being and Buddha. Since the statement.188 effect—that which is endowed with the two-fold purity (dag pa gnyis ldan)—establishes the existence of the essence of the primordially pure Buddha. not the two-fold purity. for example. it [refers to] the suchness of mind. 18-19. there are only two types of affirming evidence (sgrub rtags) in Buddhist logic. Pöd-pa Tulku shows that the relationship of essential identity378 between sentient beings and Buddhas refers to (1) the suchness of the mind of a sentient being and (2) the natural purity. the actual Buddha is endowed with the two-fold purity: (1) natural purity and (2) purity that is the freedom from the adventitious [defilements] (glo bur bral dag). Moreover. Thus. he concludes that there is no fault here of accepting an effect as abiding in a cause. if it is a dog. or conceptual distinction. they are said to have “different contradistinctions. corresponding to the two types of relations accepted—causal relationships and relationships of essential identity.” Also. See also Karma Phuntsho (slob dpon karma phun tshogs). or primordial purity. it is posited by means of the two separate contradistinctive aspects: (1) the Buddha that is the primordial pure essence and (2) the Buddha that is endowed with the two-fold purity. 1997).” is [in reference to] the Buddha that is natural purity (rang bzhin rnam dag). of the Buddha. 379 Such concerns show the similarity of Buddha-nature with doctrines that Buddhists have tended to refute.

593. I should note that Mi-pham affirms that the Sāṃkhya (grangs can pa). He adds that it has been said to be “very similar to the philosophical slant of the False-Aspectarian Mind-Only” (grub mtha’ bab sems tsam rnam brdzun pa dang ches nye ba). Mi-pham.5-594. omniscience is permanent:380 In accord with the mental perspectives of others—those to be trained who have not been transformed—the scriptures say that omniscience is impermanent. thus However. 380 Mi-pham. entities. is “the best of the non-Buddhist philosophies” (phyir rol pa’i nang nas grub mtha’ legs shos). and there is reason also in the Pramāṇavārttika [2.5: gnas yongs su ma gyur pa’i gdul bya gzhan gyi bsam ngo dang bstun te rnam mkhyen mi rtag ces lung las gsungs shing/ rigs pa yang rnam ’grel las/ tshad ma rtag pa nyid yod min/ /dngos yod rtogs pa tshad phyir dang/ /shes bya mi rtag pa nyid kyi/ /de mi rtag pa nyid phyir ro/ /zhes gsungs te/ /sems bskyes pa dang stong nyid goms pa la sogs lam gyi rgyu las rnam mkhyen ’byung gi rgyu med du ’byung ba mi rigs pa dang/ de chos thams cad la mngon sum pa’i tshad ma yin pa’i phyir/ tshad ma ste mi bslu ba’i blo yin na rtag pa zhig med de dngos po yod pa la de de bzhin ’jal ba’i tshad ma yin la/ de’i yul shes bya ni mi rtag pa nyid kyi phyir ’jal byed tshad ma de yang mi rtag ste rim can du ’byung gi /rtag pa yin na don byed nus pas stong par tshad mas grub pa’i phyir yul ’jal ba la sogs pa’i byed pa mtha’ dag gis stong par nges pas na rnam mkhyen ni rtag par shin tu mi rigs te mi rtag par ’grub la/ de bzhin dngos po thams cad mi rtag pa dang/ dngos med la rtag par btags kyang rtag rgyu’i gzhi med pas rtag pa mtshan nyid pa’i chos gang yang mi rnyed par ’gyur ro/ /tshul ’di ni phyi rol mu stegs can dang/ bsam gyis mi khyab pa’i chos nyid kyi ngo bor gnas gyur pa’i tshul la blo ma sbyangs pa’i theg pa thun mongs pa’i ngor de ltar sgrub dgos te/ rnam shes kyi ngor snang tshul la de las gzhan du ’char ba’i thabs ci yang med do/ /’on kyang gnas yongs su gyur pa’i ye shes kyi gzigs pa’i dbang du byas na rnam mkhyen rtag par ’grub ste. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. Mi-pham states that from the perspective of sentient beings. 248.189 Establishing Appearances Appearances as Divine We will continue to explore Mi-pham’s use of reasoning by looking further into his text. In this text. the classic exemplar of satkāryavāda and parināṃavāda. the Lion’s Roar: Exposition of Buddha-Nature. in the perspective of wisdom. exclusively observes functional. . ordinary conventional valid cognition impermanent.8]: There is no permanent valid cognition (satkāryavāda) and the claim that change is a transformation of a single substance (parināṃavāda). stong thun seng ge’i nga ro.

Omniscience arises through causes such as the generation of the mind [of awakening] and meditation (goms) on emptiness because it is not reasonable to arise without a cause. and that [omniscience] is valid cognition that is the direct perception of all phenomena. Since its objects are only impermanent objects of knowledge.” since there is no basis of something permanent (rtag rgyu gzhi med). because it is established by valid cognition that what is permanent is incapable of functioning. Likewise. If valid cognition is a non-deceptive cognition. it is established as impermanent. pramāṇa). hence.190 Because the realization of the existence of entities is valid and Objects of knowledge are impermanent. as for (dbang du byas) the vision of thoroughly transformed wisdom (ye shes). there is no genuinely permanent phenomena found. devoid of functional capacity. However. all entities are impermanent and although non-entities are designated as “permanent. That [omniscient valid cognition] is only impermanent. Mi-pham contextualizes the statements regarding wisdom as impermanent. However. Therefore. This fact is necessarily established as such for the perspectives of non-Buddhist heretics and those of the common vehicles who have not trained their minds in the manner of transformation within the essence of inconceivable suchness (bsam gyis mi khyab pa’i chos nyid kyi ngo bor gnas gyur pa’i tshul) because they have no method whatsoever for the arising of what is other than the manner of appearance from the perspective of consciousness (rnam shes). then the evaluating valid cognition also must be impermanent. it is extremely unreasonable that omniscience is permanent. where cognition is said to be impermanent because of the mutually exclusive dichotomy of (1) functional entities and (2) permanent non-entities. omniscience is established as permanent. occurring sequentially. it would certainly be incapable of all activities such as evaluating objects. then there are no permanent phenomena because it is valid cognition that evaluates existent entities as they are. he says that the absence of permanent phenomena is necessarily established as such in the perspectives of non-Buddhists and others who have not trained their minds in the manner of “transformation within the essence of . Functional entities are necessarily impermanent phenomena. a claim made within the Buddhist epistemological system of valid cognition (tshad ma.

191 inconceivable suchness. now we will look into the two conventional valid cognitions. Steven Goodman and Ronald Davidson (eds. see Matthew Kapstein.381 We discussed the valid cognitions of the uncategorized and categorized ultimate in chapter 2. 382 Mi-pham.3-800. spyi don ’od gsal snying po. published in bka’ brgyad rnam bshad dang spyi don ’od gsal snying po yang dag grub pa’i tshig ’grel bcas bzhugs (Sichuan: Nationalities Press. “What is Buddhist Logic?” in Tibetan Buddhism: Reason and Revelation. With regards to the conventional also there are two thoroughly conventional valid cognitions (kun tu tha snyad tshad ma): Based upon impure confined perception and Based upon pure vision. 4.” He delimits the necessity of cognition being permanent to only the perspective of consciousness. 800. (Albany: SUNY Press. don rnam par nges pa shes rab ral gri mchan bcas. See also Mi-pham. vol. 2000). Mi-pham delineates four perspectives.5: tha snyad la yang gnas snang dag/ /mi mthun snang ba yod 381 pa’i phyir/ /ma dag tshur rol mthong ba dang/ /dag pa’i gzigs pa la brten pa’i/ kun tu tha snyad tshad ma gnyis/ /mi dang lha yi mig bzhin no. Mi-pham’s Collected Works. Like a person’s eye and a divine eye. Using the language of Buddhist traditions of epistemology. “Mi-pham’s Theory of Hermeneutics. he makes a distinction between appearance and reality based on consciousness and wisdom. For a discussion of the functions of Mi-pham’s four valid cognitions. 159. Donald Lopez (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. ed. The two conventional valid cognitions are respectively based on: (1) confined perception (tshur mthong). . as four valid cognitions—two that are conventional and two that are ultimate.). and (2) pure vision (dag gzigs). 447: kun du tha nyad pa’i tshad ma la gnyis yod de/ tshu rol thong ba la brten pa kun tu tha nyad pa’i tshad ma dang/ dag pa’i gzigs pa la brten pa kun tu tha nyad pa’i tshad ma gnyis su gnas pa’i phyir ro. not the perspective of wisdom. 1992). Pöd-pa Tulku’s presentation of these four valid cognitions is also discussed in Kennard Lipman. Mi-pham states in his Sword of Supreme Knowledge:382 Since there are appearances that do not accord with [the mode of] subsistence. respectively. 27-39. Thus.” in Buddhist Hermeneutics. 1988).

192
Similar to the distinction Mi-pham makes between the categorized and the
uncategorized valid cognitions analyzing the ultimate truth, his division of
two types of conventional valid cognition is also based upon two modes of
understanding. The conventional valid cognition of pure vision functions
to affirm a reality that is otherwise inconceivable and conflicting with
ordinary perception. Conventional valid cognition of confined perception,
on the other hand, concerns ordinary modes of being in the world.
Valid cognition is an important means by which Mi-pham affirms his
views. However, he also argues that it is extremely closed-minded (blo

gros shin tu rgya chung ba) to think that only ordinary confined perception
is the consummate conventional reality (tha snyad kyi gnas tshul mthar

thug).383 Thus, ordinary valid cognition is superceded by wisdom’s
inconceivable mode of knowledge. In his overview (spyi don) of Longchen-pa’s commentary on the Guhyagarbhatantra, Mi-pham states:384
The unique object of this latter [conventional valid cognition of pure
vision] is (1) that which appears such that it conflicts with the
objects of ordinary confined perception and (2) that which is an
inconceivable domain such as:
• an appearance of as many [Buddha-]fields as dust motes within
the breadth of a single dust mote
• a show (ston pa) of many aeons’ activities in one moment of
time

383
384

Mi-pham, spyi don ’od gsal snying po, 447.
Ibid., 448: phyi ma ’di rang yul mthun min ni/ rdul gcig gi khyon la rdul snyed kyi zhing

snang ba/ dus skad cig la bskal pa mang po’i mdzad pa ston pa/ chos dbyings ’gyur med
las ma g.yos bzhin du sprul pa’i rol pa ston pa/ rnam rtog dang bral ba’i thugs kyis shes
bya thams cad dus gcig tu mkhyen pa sogs/ bsam gyis mi khyab pa’i spyod yul gang zhig
tha mal pa’i tshul mthong gi yul du ’gal ba lta bur snang. The valid cognition of pure
vision seems to stem from yogic direct perception (rnal ’byor mngon sum, yogipratyakṣa),
a special form of awareness among the four types of direct perception. Yogic direct
perception is one of four types of direct perception, the others being sense direct
perception (dbang po mngon sum), mental direct perception (yid kyi mngon sum), and
reflexive awareness direct perception (rang rig mngon sum). We also can see a parallel
here with the two types of dependent nature (gzhan dbang, paratantra), pure and impure,
in Yogācāra discourses.

193

showing a display of emanations without wavering from the
immutable expanse of phenomena
knowledge of all objects of knowledge instantly with a nonconceptual mind (thugs).

In this way, the conventional valid cognition of pure vision allows Mi-pham
to provide a context of valid cognition to affirm what is inconceivable. The
two-tiered structure of conventional valid cognitions is his attempt to affirm
a legitimate presence of an inconceivable world without undermining the
grounds for an epistemology of pragmatic truths on the level of worldly
transactions.

In this way, we can see how Mi-pham’s four-fold

perspectival epistemology integrates (1) two conceptual approaches to
reality, based on confined perception and the categorized ultimate, and (2)
two approaches to reality that defy ordinary conceptual modes of being,
based on pure perception and the uncategorized ultimate. Moreover, he
states:385
In this way, one should be learned (mkhas) in the essential point
that the profound meanings—all phenomena are primordially
Buddha, etc.—are not established by only confined perception, yet
are not utterly without a valid means of establishment either.
The role of valid cognition supports Mi-pham’s agenda to affirm a view in
accord with certainty induced by reason. He disagrees with the position
that the authentic path is incompatible with reason also in his Lion’s Roar:

Exposition of Buddha-Nature:386
It is necessary to be learned in the essential point of the manner of
accomplishing the path, having expelled the obscured stupidity
(rmongs mtshang brtol) of thinking: “Even though it is the authentic

385

Mi-pham, spyi don ’od gsal snying po, 449: de ltar chos thams cad ye nas sangs rgyas

pa la sogs pa don zab mo rnams tshur mthong kho nas bsgrub pa ma yin zhing/ sgrub
byed tshad ma gtan med pa’ang ma yin par gnad kyi don la mkhas par bya’o.
386 Mi-pham, stong thun seng ge’i nga ro, 589.2-589.3: lam rnam dag yin kyang rigs pas
sgrub mi nus te myong bas rtogs dgos so zhes pa dang/ tshur mthong gi lam du ma gyur
na lam yang dag min no snyam pa’i rmongs mtshang brtol nas lam sgrub tshul gyi gnad
la mkhas par bya dgos so.

194
path, since it cannot be proved through reason, it has to be
understood through experience (myong bas rtogs),” or, “If it is not
the path of confined perception, then it is not an authentic path.”
Here we can see that Mi-pham disagrees with the beliefs that (1) the
authentic path cannot be established through reason, but must be realized
through experience, and (2) if it is not the path of confined perception, it is
not authentic. The former reveals his emphasis on establishing a view of
reality that is compatible with reason, whereas the later reveals his appeal
to a higher authority, an authority that is incompatible with, or rather is not
limited to, (ordinary) reason.

Thus, we can see that Mi-pham’s

epistemology spans sūtra and tantra.
Pöd-pa Tulku states that without the conventional valid cognition of
pure vision, the view of great purity of the relative taught in tantras such as
the Guhyagarbha would be a mere assertion without support. He says
that such divine appearances cannot be established by ultimate valid
cognition because if they were said to exist from the ultimate perspective,
then they would be truly established:387
387

Pöd-pa Tulku, lta grub shan ’byed ’grel pa, 110: tha snyad dag pa’i tshad ma med du

zin na/ sgyu ’phrul gsang ba’i snying po sogs kyi skabs nas bstan pa’i kun rdzob dag pa
chen po yod par dam bca’ ba tsam las sgrub byed kyi tshad ma mi rnyed de/ don dpyod
tshad mas ni de sgrub par mi nus pa tsam du zad/ de’i ngor mi stong par yod pa tsam du
smras kyang bden grub du ’gyur zhing tshul mthong tshad mas ni phung lnga ma dag pa
dang/ sa sra zhing ’thas pa/ me tsha zhing bsreg pa tsam du ’grub kyi phung lnga rigs
lnga dang/ ’byung lnga yum lnga’i dkyil ’khor du bsgrub ga la nus. Pöd-pa Tulku also
states here that because of the division of two ultimate valid cognitions: by means of
temporarily (re zhig) accepting the valid cognition that analyzes the categorized ultimate,
all the views of the lower vehicles and philosophies are not disregarded—from the
selflessness of persons in the Vaibhāṣika up to the concordant ultimate (mthun pa’i don
dam) of the Svātantrika. By means of accepting the valid cognition that analyzes the
uncategorized ultimate, the great empty essence is ascertained without superimposition
or denigration—from the great empty ultimate (don dam stong pa chen po) of the
Prāsaṅgika, through the great equality (mnyam pa chen po) of Mahāyoga, all the way up
to the primordial purity of the ground-expanse (gzhi dbyings ka nas dag pa) of Atiyoga
(the Great Perfection). Similarly, he explains that because of the division of two
conventional valid cognitions: by means of accepting the valid cognition of confined
perception, the mode of appearance of impure phenomena are ascertained without

195
As soon as there is no conventional valid cognition of pure vision,
there is no valid cognition found as a means to establish the
existence of the great purity of the relative, as shown in the
Māyājāla Guhyagarbha and so forth, other than a mere assertion
because (1) ultimate valid cognition is not only simply unable to
establish that; even if it were said to just exist as not empty in that
perspective [of ultimate valid cognition], it would be truly
established, and (2) confined conventional valid cognition
establishes only the impurity of the aggregates, fire to be hot and
burning, and earth to be hard and obstructive, etc. How could
confined conventional valid cognition establish the five aggregates
to be the five Buddha families and the five elements to be the
maṇḍalas of the five goddesses?
The divine nature of appearances is not established by ordinary
conventional valid cognition. Pöd-pa Tulku shows how the conventional
valid cognition of pure vision functions to affirm the purity of appearances
by establishing the purity of relative phenomena—such as the five
aggregates as the five Buddha families and the five elements as the
maṇḍalas of the five goddesses.388 Furthermore, Pöd-pa Tulku states that
such conventional valid cognition is unlike ordinary other-emptiness
(gshan stong phal):389
superimposition or denigration—such as aggregates, elements, and sense-fields that
comprise the truths of suffering and origin in the tradition of the “vehicle of characteristics”
(mtshan nyid theg pa). By means of accepting the pure conventional valid cognition (tha
snyad dag pa’i tshad ma), the distinctive luminous and clear nature of the great purity of
the relative is established without superimposition or denigration—from the luminous
clarity that is the appearing aspect of Buddha-nature, the definitive meaning of the
vehicle of characteristics, through the great purity (dag pa chen po) of Mahāyoga, all the
way up to the spontaneous presence of the ground-appearance (gzhi snang lhun gyis
grub) of Atiyoga. Pöd-pa Tulku, lta grub shan ’byed ’grel pa, 109-110.
388 The five aggregates are: forms, feelings, perceptions, formations, and
consciousnesses; and the five Buddha families are: Tathāgata, Vajra, Padma, Ratna, and
Karma. The five elements are: earth, water, fire, wind, and space; and the five
goddesses are: Ākāśadhātvīśvarī, Buddhalocanā, Pāṇḍaravāsinī, Māmakī, and
Samayatārā.
389 Pöd-pa Tulku, lta grub shan ’byed gnad kyi sgron me, 37: don dpyod tshad mas dpyad

bzod bral/ /gzhan stong phal dang ’di mi ’dra/ /rnam dag tshad ma’i rnyed don phyir/
/bden stong phal gyis do zla min.

196
This is unlike ordinary other-emptiness
Because [it] cannot bear the analysis of ultimate valid cognition;
Due to being the object found by the valid cognition of pure [vision],
It is not in conflict (do zla) with the ordinary emptiness of true
existence.
Following Mi-pham, Pöd-pa Tulku draws from valid cognition to establish
the purity of appearance. Mi-pham also sets forth an argument in the
classical syllogistic form of Buddhist logic to establish the purity of
appearances:390
It follows that the subject, all these appearances, are established in
the mode of subsistence as the maṇḍala of the Buddha-body and
wisdom because the Sublime Ones free from distorting pollutants
see [appearances] as pure; like someone with unimpaired vision
seeing a conch as white.
People with undefiled perception see reality as it is, while people infected
by defilements perceive a distorted reality; this is evident in the fact that
ordinarily people see a conch shell as white, while someone with jaundice
sees it as yellow. Mi-pham argues here that even though the way things
appear may not be pure, appearances are pure in a Sublime One’s
undistorted vision.

Furthermore, he shows a parallel here with the

reasons that establish the emptiness of phenomena:391

Mi-pham, spyi don ’od gsal snying po, 444: ’di ltar snang ba thams cad chos can/ gnas
tshul la sku dang ye shes kyi dkyil ’khor du grub ste/ phyin ci log gi bslad pa dang bral
ba’i ’phags pa rnams kyis dag par gzigs pa’i phyir/ mig kyon med pas dung dkar por
mthong ba bzhin. See also nearly verbatim text in Yön-tan-gya-tso, yon tan rin po che’i
mdzod kyi ’grel pa bden gnyis gsal byed zla ba’i sgron ma, vol. 3, 75.5.
391 Mi-pham, spyi don ’od gsal snying po, 457-458: dper na chos kun stong par gtan la
’bebs pa’i tshe mi stong pa’i sgrub byed du/ las rgyu ’bras dang ’khor ba dang myang
’das kyis chos gang bgod [read bkod] kyang/ sgrub byed de nyid snga ma bsgrub bya
dang mtshungs te kho rang yang rang bzhin ma grub par sgrub nus pas na/ ci tsam mi
stong par bsgrub pa’i sgrub byed bkod pa thams cad kyang bud shing me la bsnan pa
ltar stong nyid sgrub pa’i rigs pa’i grogs su ’gro bas na [omit repeated ’gro bas na] stong
pa nyid sun ’byin pa’i rigs pa shes bya’i khongs nas mi snyed pa bzhin du/ /’dir yang chos
rnams dag pa min pa’i sgrub byed du gang dang ji bkod kyang sgrub byed de nyid kho
390

197
For example, when ascertaining that all phenomena are empty, no
matter what phenomena are set forth as a means to establish
(sgrub byed) what is not empty—cause, effect, saṃsāra, nirvāṇa—
that very means of establishment is similar to what is established
(bsgrub bya) in the former [i.e., empty]; it also can be proven to lack
intrinsic nature. Hence, whatever is put forward as a means to
establish the non-empty also goes to assist the reasoning that
establishes emptiness—like adding kindling to the fire. Therefore,
just as nothing is found within the sphere of what can be known that
can refute emptiness, here as well, anything whatsoever that is put
forward to establish phenomena to be impure, that very means of
establishment also is itself what is established [i.e., pure].
Therefore, an argument that is able to refute the reasoning that
establishes all phenomena as pure in the mode of subsistence is
not found within the sphere of what can be known.
Mi-pham states that just as all the same reasons that are set forth to show
that reality is not empty (e.g., because there is cause and effect, there is
no emptiness), in fact support the case for emptiness (e.g., lacking
intrinsic nature), in the same way, all the reasons that are set forth to show
that reality is not pure (e.g., because of impure appearance) actually
support the case for purity (e.g., impure appearances appear due to
deluded perception of what is pure).

Moreover, he argues that since

reality does not appear the way it is due to confusion, one must cultivate
the path to actualize it, just as the case with emptiness:392
It does not appear as the mode of subsistence because of arising
from pollutants due to delusion; therefore, in order to remove
delusion one needs to train (goms)—just as the nature of all
phenomena is emptiness, even so, one needs to tread the path in
order to actualize that.

rang dag par bsgrub bya yin pas na shes bya’i khongs na chos kun gnas tshul la dag par
sgrub pa’i rigs pa la sun ’byin nus pa’i gtan tshig mi rnyed de.
392 Ibid., 459: gnas tshul ltar mi snang ba ni ’khrul pas bslad pa las byung bas na ’khrul
pa sel phyir lam goms dgos te chos kun gyi rang bzhin stong pa nyid yin kyang/ de
mngon du bya ba’i phyir lam la gom dgos pa bzhin.

what is hidden (lkog gyur) is the domain of inference. Yet when direct perception no longer presumes ordinary direct perception. evoking what can be known only individually by reflexive awareness. we may wonder—do the rules of inference also change? Do the criteria that determine the correctness of a syllogism in Buddhist logic—the complete three conditions (tshul gsum tshang ba)—change when the evidence that establishes appearances as divine is uncertain (ma nges) due to being evidence beyond ordinary perception? Here we are confronted with tantra’s peculiar relationship with Buddhist logic. as an implication. and Mi-pham. reason appears to play a different role. Mi-pham states in his Discourse on the Eight Commands:396 In general explanations of valid cognition. 471-472. dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. enlists reason in tantra to establish what is “extremely hidden” (shin tu lkog gyur). cit. 394 See Mi-pham. 395 It may be that the reason why the logic here does not follow the intersubjective rules 393 for validity (between two parties) is because it is intended for a different use. 14.395 In any case. opt. bka’ brgyad rnam bshad. 43-44: gsang sngags pa’i gzhung gis chos thams cad ye nes lha yin no zhes grags pa de ji ltar bsgrub par bya na/ lung dang rig[s] pa man . what is typically portrayed as the exclusive domain of scriptural authority. particularly in the use of reasoning surrounding the exegesis and practice of the Guhyagarbhatantra. 396 Mi-pham. In contrast to the certainty induced by reason in the ascertainment of emptiness—a firm conclusion as to the absence of true existence that Mi-pham emphasizes is necessary in order to understand primordial purity394—in the context of the purity of appearance. what is evident (mngon gyur) is the domain of direct perception. Mi-pham explicitly affirms that reason alone is not sufficient. in a provisional way. along with other Nying-ma exegetes. This is an area where more research needs to be done.393 Buddhist logic relies upon the foundations of principles of validity—inference and direct perception. and what is extremely hidden (shin tu lkog gyur) is the domain of scripture. he says that the view that all phenomena are primordially divine cannot be realized without relying upon scripture and quintessential instructions (man ngag). perhaps in meditation for subjectively. nges shes sgron me. 88.198 Mi-pham.

it is to be established by scripture. it is not the view. Then merely meditating on the relative as divine Is just an aspiration (mos pa tsam). even so.. 397 Mi-pham.lung dang man ngag med par gsang sngags gtan la dbab mi nus. and quintessential instruction.. Furthermore. it cannot be invalidated either through analysis into reality:399 Regarding this. which is naturally pure from the beginning. 28: don dam gnas lugs rtogs pa yis/ /kun rdzob lha ru yid ches kyi/ /gzhan du ’khrul ba’i snang tshul la/ /gnas nas lha ru ji ltar ’grub. Mi-pham states that conviction (gdengs) in the ultimate is necessary to have the view that the relative is divine:397 Without the conviction in the ultimate. 26: don dam gdeng dang mi ldan par/ /kun rdzob lha ru bsgom pa tsam/ /mos pa tsam yin lta ba min.. reasoning. The conviction that the relative is divine comes through the realization of ultimate reality:398 The belief (yid ches) that the relative is divine Comes through the realization of the ultimate abiding reality. he argues that even though the claim that reality necessarily appears as only divine appearance cannot be established. nges shes sgron me. 399 Ibid. 398 Ibid.199 Concerning how to establish the proclamation within scriptures of Secret Mantra that “all phenomena are primordially divine”. ngag gsum gyis bsgrub par bya ste. 37: de la mthar thug mnyam nyid dbyings/ /lha snang kho nar snang ngo zhes/ /phyogs gcig sgrub par mi nus kyang/ /rang bzhin gdod nas dag pa yi/ /dbyings dang snang cha ye shes sku/ /’du ’bral med phyir snang ba’i cha/ /gdod nas lha ru dag pa la/ /gnas lugs dpyad pas kyang mi gnod.. Due to the expanse.. through abiding in the deluded mode of appearance How would [the relative] be established as divine? Furthermore. .without scripture and quintessential instruction.. one cannot ascertain Secret Mantra. although one cannot singlely establish (phyogs gcig sgrub) [The statement that] “The expanse of consummate equality Appears as only divine appearance”. Otherwise.

. 401 Mi-pham characterizes his tradition of exegesis on the Guhyagarbhatantra as the “Rong-Long tradition” (rong long lugs). Mi-pham concludes that it is his tradition of the Nying-ma alone that establishes the nature of all appearances to be divine through valid cognition. to introduce Mi-pham’s depiction of Buddhanature in light of Mantra. in contrast to the “Zur tradition” (zur lugs). One can neither invalidate the appearing aspect—primordially pure as divine— Through analysis into the abiding reality. establishing the nature of all appearances as divine Through this manner of valid cognition Is exclusively our tradition of the old translations— The lion’s roar that is the elegant discourse Of the omniscient scholar. The other main Tibetan scholar with whom Mi-pham aligns his Nying-ma tradition with is Long-chen-pa. being neither conjoined nor separable. In the Causal Vehicle. Buddha-nature is seen as a seed that develops into 400 Ibid. Rong-zom.200 And the appearing aspect. which is the wisdom body.401 We will now turn again briefly to Long-chen-pa. Buddha--Nature and a Difference Between Sūtra and Mantra Buddha Long-chen-pa states that the “Causal Vehicle” (rgyu’i theg pa) is so called because of accepting temporal causality (rgyu ’bras snga phyi). spyi don ’od gsal snying po. which he attributes to Rong-zom. 34: de phyir tshad ma’i tshul ’di yis/ /snang kun rang bzhin lhar sgrub pa/ /snga ’gyur rang lugs kho na ste/ /kun mkhyen rong zom paṇdi ta’i/ /legs bshad seng ge’i nga ro yin. and he attributes this to the works of Rong-zom:400 Therefore. Mi-pham states that the tradition that establishes appearances to be divine through valid cognition is only his Nying-ma tradition. We will see how an immanent Buddha-nature in the Resultant Vehicle of Mantra is distinguished from Buddha-nature in the Causal Vehicle. Mi-pham. 388-389. the tradition of Rong-zom and Long-chen-pa. .

I wish to point out that the Causal Vehicle of Sūtra and the Resultant Vehicle . grub mtha’ mdzod.. Kong-trul also has a nearly verbatim passage as Long-chenpa’s in Kong-trul. temporal causality is asserted because of accepting the existence of Buddha-nature as a seed that is further developed through the conditions of the two accumulations. Mi-pham comments on Long-chen-pa’s text as follows:403 In the Causal Vehicle. yid bzhin mdzod ’grel.404 it is important for 402 Long-chen-pa. 59. the Vajrayāna.2-1032. 488. is merely a seed that is further developed through the conditions of the two accumulations. or vehicle.. lam rim ye shes snying po’i ’grel pa ye shes snang ba rab tu rgyas ba. on the other hand. 403 Mi-pham.6-60. by which after a long time one accomplishes the fruition of Buddhahood. I capitalize Sūtra as a path. vol. In Mantra. While this is not the context to go into the details of Mantra and the differences between the paths of Sūtra and Mantra.1: khams bde gshegs snying po sa bon tu yod pa tsam rkyen tshogs gnyis kyis las gong du ’phel bas sangs rgyas thob bar ’dod pa’i phyir rgyu’i theg pa zhes bya ste rgyu ’bras snga phyir khas len pa’i phyir ro/ sngags kyi snying po de sems can la rang chas lhun grub tu yon tan rgya chen ma tshang ba med par yod.3. 2. [In contrast.professes the philosophy (grub mtha’) of the indivisible cause and fruition.1-488. Long-chen-pa characterizes the Resultant Vehicle as taking the effect as the path in Long-chen-pa. as opposed to a text or a philosophical system that simply describes and represents reality. Although such as distinction is not unproblematic. and leave “sūtra” uncapitalized as a text.] that essential nature of Mantra exists in all sentient beings—inherently and spontaneously present— complete with vast qualities. yid bzhin mdzod kyi grub mtha’ bsdus pa. the essential nature exists as spontaneously present in all beings:402 It is called the “Causal Vehicle” because of asserting temporal causality—due to accepting that the basic element. by which one attains Buddhahood. Through this 404 distinction.201 Buddha. the Buddhanature. the metaphor of a vehicle reveals more of the practical means by which the path is traversed.3: ’bras bu rang dang ’dra ba lam du byed pas ’bras bu’i theg par gzhag pa. 1032.4-1170.4: rgyu’i theg par khams bde gshegs snying po sa bon du yod pa rkyen tshogs gnyis las gong du ’phel ba las dus ring zhig ’bras bu sangs rgyas su ’grub par ’dod pas rgyu ’bras snga phyir khas len la…rdo rje theg pas ni…rgyu ’bras dbyer med pa’i grub mtha’r smra’o. 1169.

dbu ma rgyan rtsa ’grel. 462.. here [in Mantra]. 437-438: mdo sngags kyi khad par yod dam med ce nas/ gzhal bya chos kyi dbyings spros bral du gtan la ’bebs pa tsam la khyad med kyang/ chos dbyings mthong tshul gyis yul can la khyad yod la/ lta ba ni yul can gyi ngos nas ’jog pas na khyad shin du che’o/ /de la lta bas gtan la dbab bya’i yul chos dbyings de bzhin nyid gcig min na/ chos rnams kyi de bzhin nyid la rigs mi ’dra bar yod par thal ba dang/ mdo yi mthong lam gyis de bzhin nyid ma mthong bar thal ba dang/ mtha’ bzhi’i spros pa las lhag pa’i spros pa gcod rgyu rigs pas grub dgos pas na/ mdo sngags kyi mthong lam chos nyid mngon sum mthong ba la gnad gcig par mkhas grub thams cad bzhed pa mthun no. spyi don ’od gsal snying po. awareness (rig pa) itself is the consummate great bliss because of being awareness-wisdom (rig pa ye shes)—the ultimate immutable bliss—which transcends the eight collections [of consciousness] that are the bases of designation of mind (blo). 405 . 462-463: theg pa ni bzhon pa dang ’dra ste/ de la gnas na rang ’dod pa’i ’bras bu la phyin par byed pa yin la. they are like what is said in the Kālacakra. it takes you to your desired effect. and consciousness (shes). Therefore. whereas in the path of Mantra. 406 Mi-pham. but inclusive of a subjective view. when you remain in it. He states that most Middle Way meditations strongly adhere to emptiness as a freedom from constructs.”. awareness itself is the consummate great bliss. however. awareness specifically concerns subjective cognitions:406 of Mantra should not necessarily be conflated with a different corpus of texts. as a practical means.. Mi-pham expresses a distinction between Sūtra and Mantra as follows in his Trilogy of Innate Mind:405 Since most Middle Way meditations have a strong adherence (zhan shas che) to the emptiness that is a freedom from constructs. is reflected in Mi-pham’s depiction of vehicle as: “A vehicle is like something you ride.” Mi-pham. as well as the cognitions of the subject. gnyug sems book 2.3: dbu ma’i sgom phal cher spros pa dang bral ba’i stong par zhen shas che bas/ gang zhig ’gyur med dang bral sogs dus ’khor nas gsungs pa ltar la/ ’dir rig pa nyid bde ba chen po mthar thug yin te/ blo rig shes gsum gyi gdags gzhi tshogs brgyad las ’das pa’i rig pa ye shes don gyi bde chen ’gyur med yin pa’i phyir/ des na sngags lam mdo las ’phags.1-462. Mi-pham. tantras. the path of Mantra is superior to Sūtra. “Vehicle” (theg pa). sūtras vs. awareness (rig). Emptiness concerns the quality of objects.202 our discussion of Buddha-nature to address a central aspect of how Mipham shows the superiority of Mantra. “that which is free from the immutable.

sdom gsum rab dbye 3. and not the object that is free from conceptual constructs. [appearing] like [reflections in a] divination mirror (pra phab). if the object ascertained by the view—the thusness expanse of phenomena (chos kyi dbying de bzhin nyid)—were not the same. it is the quality of the 407 Kong-trul states that proponents of self-emptiness claim that the only difference in Mantra is the subject. shes bya kun khyab. and (3) reasoning would have to establish a construct to be eliminated (gcod rgyu) in addition to the constructs of the four extremes. [through] the method of bliss. . Regarding this.255: pha rol phyin pa’i spros bral las/ /lhag pa’I lta ba yod na ni/ /lta de spros pa can du ’gyur/ /spos bral yin na khyad par med). then that view would possess constructs. Proponents of other-emptiness assert that the object also is not merely the freedom from constructs. since the view is posited from the side of the subject. on the other hand.” Kong-trul. 1182-1251) states that there is no view higher than the freedom of constructs taught in the Perfection Vehicle: “If there were a view superior to the freedom from constructs of the Perfection [Vehicle]. Mi-pham states that Mantra is not distinct concerning the object. “Is there a difference in the views of Sūtra and Mantra.” Sa-kya Paṇḍita. but is endowed with all the supreme aspects. and not the object. 308. therefore. which is the freedom from constructs. 2002).). then there is no difference [in view between Mantra and the Perfection Vehicle]. Edition from Jared Douglas Rhoton (trans. 716: sngags su yul can bde ba’i thabs kyis khyad/ /sprod bral yul la khyad med rang stong lugs/ /gzhan stong yul yang spros bral tsam po min/ /rnam kun mchog ldan pra phab lta bur bzhed. or not?” Although there is no difference in the mere ascertainment of the object of evaluation—which is the expanse of phenomena free from constructs—there is a difference in the manner of perceiving the expanse of phenomena.203 If it is asked. which is the subject (yul can). then it would [absurdly] follow that: (1) there would be different types of thusness(es) of phenomena. there is a great difference [in view]. Sa-kya Paṇḍita (sa skya paṇḍita. A Clear Differentiation of the Three Codes. (Albany: SUNY Press. all scholars and accomplished adepts (mkhas grub) are in accord in accepting the single essential point that Sūtra’s and Mantra’s path of seeing directly perceives suchness. proponents of other-emptiness claim that there is a difference in the object as well: “Mantra distinguished by the subject. (2) Sūtra’s path of seeing (mthong lam) would not perceive thusness. the expanse of phenomena (yul chos kyi dbyings)407. is the tradition of self-emptiness. if free from constructs.

then that is not suitable as suchness. then that is not suitable as suchness:409 In the authentic abiding reality. . then that is counted as an entity. or awareness that is separate from emptiness. as the optimized subjectivity that is dis-covered within.5-625. 19: spros bral tsam gyi cha nas ni/ /de gnyis khyad par med do gsungs/ /stong par zhen pa bzlog phyir du/ /sngags las bde ba chen po bstan/ bde stong gnyis su med pa’i dbyings/ /yul dang yul can bral ba yi/ /tshul gis nyams su myong bar byed/ /snang dang gsal dang rig pa gsum/ /bde ba de yi rnam grangs yin. and likewise.204 subject (yul can) that differentiates the respective views of Sūtra and Mantra:408 From the aspect of only the freedom from constructs It is said that these two are not different In order to avert adherence to emptiness Great bliss is taught in Mantra. if there is bliss. gnyug sems book 3. a re-cognition. Mi-pham states that if there is bliss. clarity. “clarity” and “awareness. it is a phenomenon.1: yang dag pa’i gnas lugs la ni stong pa las logs su gyur pa’i bde ba’am gsal ba rig pa zhig yod na/ de dngos po’i grangs su bgrang ste chos can yin gyi chos nyid du mi rung zhing rnam shes kyi sa las ma ’das so/ bde ba’am gsal ba’am rig pa las tha dad pa’i stong pa zhig yod na/ de ni dngos med kyi grangs su bgrang ste/ de yang chos can yin gyi chos nyid du mi rung zhing sems med kyi cha las ma ’das so. The non-dual expanse of empty bliss (bde stong) Is experienced through a manner That is free from subject and object. clarity. he affirms that Mantra is distinguished by means of the manner of experience free from subject and object. or rather. or awareness that is separate from emptiness. if there is an emptiness that is distinct from bliss.” In this way. nges shes sgron me. Such wisdom. clarity. 409 Mi-pham. Mantra involves a new ascription of subjectivity. and “awareness” (rig pa) Are the synonyms for this “bliss” (bde ba). He states that “bliss” is synonymous with “appearance”. Moreover. is the unique subject matter of Mantra. “clarity” (gsal ba). but is not suitable as suchness and is not 408 Mi-pham. “Appearance” (snang ba). or awareness. 624.

lta grub shan ’byed ’grel pa. emptiness is a unity beyond the domain of consciousness and beyond the mere aspect of the non-existence of mind. Pöd-pa Tulku affirms a difference between the luminous clarity taught in the Causal Vehicle and in Mantra by stating that Mantra has the distinctions of indicating luminous clarity: (1) clearly (gsal ba). it also is a phenomenon.410 He states:411 Such distinctions are not present in the Causal Vehicle because [luminous clarity] is not taught other than: (1) as a mere illustration by means of an example. or awareness. In this way.205 beyond the domain of consciousness (rnam shes kyi sa). (2) as a mere brief summary of the possession of Buddha-nature.. 4: mdor na rgyu yi grub mtha’ bzhi/ /bdag med rdzogs tshul zab khyad yod/ /gsang sngags rgyud sde rnam pa bzhi/ /lta ba lhun grub zab khyad yod. The four tantra sets of Secret Mantra 410 411 Pöd-pa Tulku. but is not suitable as suchness and is not beyond the aspect of the absence of mind (sems med kyi cha). luminous clarity is not as fully developed as it is in Mantra. lta grub shan ’byed gnad kyi sgron me. and (3) as a mere luminous clarity that is the suchness of mind. . If there is an emptiness that is distinct from bliss. 412 Pöd-pa Tulku. (2) extensively (rgyas). Here Mi-pham emphasizes a continuity between the emptiness taught in sūtras and the subjective awareness indicated in the tradition of Mantra. and (3) completely (rdzogs). Although addressed in texts of the middle and last wheels of sūtra doctrines. clarity. 84. 84: de ’dra’i khyad par mtshan nyid theg par med de/ dpe’i sgo nas mtshon tsam dang/ sangs rgyas kyi snying po can du mdor bsdus pa tsam dang/ sems kyi chos nyid ’od gsal ba tsam kho na las ma bstan pa’i phyir. Indeed it is the affirmed presence of luminous clarity that is the emphasis of Mantra. Pöd-pa Tulku states:412 In short. Ibid. the four philosophical systems of the Causal Vehicle Have the profound distinction (zab khyad) of the manner of completing the absence of self (bdag med rdzogs tshul). then it is counted as a non-entity.

it does not affirm the existence of self-existing luminous clarity. the relationship between the Causal and Resultant Vehicles can be understood as respectively emphasizing the transcendence of the unified two truths (emptiness) and the immanence of the unified two truths (presence). that is not produced by the causes of karma and disturbing emotions (las nyon):413 Also in sūtra.4-491. Therefore. [in the middle wheel] the Buddha-body and wisdom must be accomplished anew by a cause. In this way. in which Prāsaṅgika is supreme. . in the middle wheel all phenomena are ascertained as a mere unity of the emptiness that is a lack of intrinsic nature and dependently arising appearance. Mi-pham shows that the middle wheel affirms the development of the Buddha-body and wisdom through the causes of the accumulations 413 Mi-pham. the accumulations of great compassion are asserted because the sole realization of emptiness. These modalities of truth are uniquely intertwined in Mi-pham’s exegesis. the Buddha-body and wisdom. or quality of transcendence. or suchness. cannot [accomplish] that. the emphasis is on the view of spontaneous presence—an immanent presence. In the philosophies within the Causal Vehicle. the existence of the Buddha-body and wisdom—the self-perception (rang snang) of self-existing luminous clarity which is not produced by the causes of karma and disturbing emotions—was not taught. Furthermore. However. In this way. the absence of the self is emphasized—the emptiness. 490. in which the Great Perfection is supreme.206 Have the profound distinction of the view of spontaneous presence (lta ba lhun grub). In the tantras of Secret Mantra.1: mdo las kyang ’khor lo bar par chos kun rang bzhin med pa’i stong pa dang rten ’byung gi snang ba zung ’jug tsam gtan la phab kyang/ las nyon gyi rgyus ma bskyed pa’i rang byung ’od gsal ba’i rang snang sku dang ye shes yod par ma gsungs pas/ sku dang ye shes ni gzod rgyus sgrub ste ’byung gi stong nyid dam chos nyid rtogs pa tsam gyis de mi nus pas snying rje chen po’i tshogs rdzogs par ’dod. gnyug sems book 2. Mi-pham states that although the middle wheel of sūtra teaches the ascertainment of a mere unity of appearance and emptiness.

in merely realizing this through the method taken as the path (thabs kyis lam du byas). which is the expanse of phenomena. 491. is dependent upon the cause of accomplishing the two accumulations. is itself taught to be primordially inseparable from the appearance of the Buddha-body and wisdom. 414 Ibid. the heritage of the Mahāyāna:414 In the last wheel. as the self-existing luminous clarity not produced by causes. the existence of the Buddhabody and wisdom. therefore. . The last wheel indicates the suchness of mind as primordially inseparable from the Buddha-body and wisdom. it is taught in dependence upon the cause of accomplishing the two accumulations—the cause which illuminates (gsal byed) that. the Buddha as such (sangs rgyas nyid) is made manifest—without needing to search some other place for a Buddha that is newly established through a cause.1-491.207 of the merit of great compassion. since the suchness of mind. he explains that there is no newly produced Buddha to be sought after that is accomplished by a cause:415 In Mantra. all sentient beings are pervaded by Buddha-nature—the heritage of the Mahāyāna.2: ’khor lo tha mar sems kyi chos nyid chos kyi dbyings de nyid sku dang ye shes kyi snang ba dang ye nas ’bral med bstan pas sems can thams cad la theg pa chen po’i rigs bde gshegs snying pos khyab pas sangs rgya rung du bstan kyang/ de’i gsal byed kyi rgyur tshogs gnyis sgrub pa’i rgyu la ltos par bstan. all living beings are potential Buddhas because they are pervaded by Buddha-nature.4: sngags su de ’dra’i ye nas rnam par dag pa’i sangs rgyas kyi dkyil ’khor rang bzhin lhun grub tu bzhugs pa thabs kyis lam du byas na de rtogs pa tsam gyis sangs rgyas nyid mngon du ’gyur gyi rgyus sgrub pa’i gsar byung gi sangs rgyas logs su ’tshol mi dgos par. In Mantra. hence they are potential Buddhas.. 491. was not taught.. Mi-pham explains that the last wheel teaches that the appearance of the Buddha. which is primordially inseparable from the suchness of mind. however. the maṇḍala of such a primordially pure Buddha naturally abides as spontaneously present. However. However.3-491. 415 Ibid.

However. regarding that existence. he states that the manner of joining Sūtra and Mantra has been said to be the fact that the qualities of Buddha-nature are present from beginning. 19: rang byung rnams kyi don dam de/ /dad pa nyid kyis rtogs bya yin/ /nyi ma’i dkyil ’khor ’od ’bar ba/ /mig med pas ni mthong ba med. the blazing disk of the sun cannot be seen by the blind. he also reveals the difference between Buddha-nature in Sūtra and in Mantra:416 In the path of Sūtra. Uttaratantra 1. the ultimate truth is said to be understood by faith alone.417 and is 416 Ibid. In the path of Sūtra. it is to be known through faith. .5-454. 453. 417 In the Uttaratantra. yet the intrinsic nature of Buddha-nature (bde gshegs snying po’i rang bzhin) is not explicitly taught to be a path that is ascertained right now (da lta nas). which has been called the manner of joining Sūtra and Mantra (mdo sngags mtshams sbyor). the qualities of Buddha-nature are said to be “present from the beginning” (ye ldan yod). Buddha-nature. However.208 Furthermore. but is fully disclosed in Mantra.” rgyud bla ma rtsa ’grel.1: mdo yi lam na bde gshegs snying po yon tan ye ldan yod ces gsungs pa mdo sngags mtshams sbyor gyi tshul du gsungs kyang/ de yod par sangs rgyas kyi gsungs la brten nas dad pas rtogs bya yin la/ de ltar shes pas kyang nyes pa lnga spong bar gsungs kyi/ bde gshegs snying po’i rang bzhin da lta nas gtan la ’babs pa’i lam dngos su gsungs pa med. and also by knowing it as such. is not taught in sūtra. it said [in sūtra] that based upon the teachings of the Buddha. explicitly shown as a present reality to be ascertained right now. one abandons the five faults.. Buddha-nature is taught as what is known by faith.156: “The ultimate truth of the self-existing is understood only by faith.

. denigration of the authentic truth. sems nyid ngal gso’i ’grel pa. (3) through holding onto the extreme of emptiness. (5) by not seeing other sentient beings and oneself as equal. one will disparage the authentic doctrine.. Uttaratantra 1. considering ourselves superior. 419 Long-chen-pa. (4) denigration of the authentic truth. 328.6.” which will hinder the attainment of the higher path. one will incur the faults of holding onto self and other.3-905. and (5) considering ourselves superior.418 Long-chen-pa explains the five faults as follows:419 If the essential nature of awakening (byang chub kyi snying po) is not seen to exist within oneself.rigs kyi rnam par gzhag pa ’di ni drang don du mi lta bar/ nges pa’i don ’ba’ zhig tu bzung ste. (4) due to falling to an extreme of eternalism or nihilism. then these faults will arise: (1) one may become discouraged.209 also explained in order to remove five faults.” rgyud bla ma rtsa ’grel. .1: byang chub kyi snying po rang la yod par ma mthong bas/ bdag lta bus sangs rgyas mi thob ces sems zhum nas byang chub tu sems mi bskyed pa dang/ bskyed kyang bdag byang chub sems dpa’ gzhan tha mal pa zhes sems can la brnyas pas lam gong ma thob pa’i gegs byed pa dang/ stong nyid mthar ’dzin gyi dbang gis don dam pa’i rang bzhin chos kyi dbyings la mi ’jug pas yang dag par mi ’dzin pa dang/ rtag chad du lhung bas yang dag pa’i chos la skur ba ’debs pa dang/ bdag dang sems can mnyam par ma mthong bas/ bdag gzhan du ’dzin pa’i nyes pa ’byung ba ste. 435. [thinking] “I am a bodhisattva. 902. others are ordinary. heritage is said to be taught in order to remove five faults: (1) discouragement.. See also.5-329.[On the other hand. theg pa chen po rgyud bla ma’i bstan bcos kyi mchan ’grel.5. (2) disparagement of inferior beings. (3) non-apprehension of the authentic. one will not engage in the ultimate nature of the expanse. and thus not apprehend the authentic..4-437. one may disparage others.. [thinking] “someone like myself cannot become a Buddha. Mi-pham. Long-chen-pa.” and not generate the mind of awakening. one In the Uttaratantra. not apprehending the authentic. disparagement of inferior beings.de lta bu’i khams rang gzhan la lhun grub tu yod par shes na/ rang gi sems thar bar bsgrub pa la dka’ ba med par shes te spro ba dang sems can thams cad la sangs rgyas bzhin du gus pas ’tshe ba dang gnod pa med kyi steng du phan ’dogs pa dang/ don dam pa’i dbyings rtogs pa’i shes rab dang/ gnas lugs mthong ba’i ye shes dang/ byams pa tshad med pa’i dkyil ’khor rgyas pas gzhan don bsgrub par nus pa ste..] by knowing that such a basic element exists as spontaneously present in oneself and others.160: “The existence [of the basic element] is taught to relinquish these five faults: discouragement. 20: sems zhum sems can dman la brnyas pa dang/ /yang dag min ’dzin yang dag chos la 418 skur/ /bdag cag lhag pa’i skyon lnga gang dag la/ /yod pa de dag de spong don du gsungs. (2) even if [the awakened mind is] generated. grub mtha’ mdzod.

‘the luminous clarity of innate mind’. He states that: “‘The luminous clarity of the expanse of phenomena. (2) with respect for all sentient beings as Buddhas—in addition to not inflicting harm or hurting them—one will benefit them. 456. but they are not different in 420 Mi-pham.1: chos kyi dbyings ’od gsal lam/ rang byung ye shes sam/ gnyug sems ’od gsal lam/ bde gshegs snying po zhes pa rnams don gcig te/ ’di sangs rgyas kyi rigs te.5-456. He shows how such a teaching has great purpose and affirms that it is the definitive meaning. He also says that Buddha-nature is the essential point in the Vajrayāna that the nature of mind (sems nyid) is primordially Buddha:420 The five faults arise because of not hearing about Buddha-nature existing in all sentient beings. (4) wisdom that sees the abiding reality.3-456.”421 Moreover. one will be able to accomplish the benefit of others through developing: (3) supreme knowledge that realizes the ultimate expanse. not viewed as a provisional meaning. he says: “‘Innate mind’.this presentation of heritage should be held as only the definitive meaning. . this is the essential point of establishing one consummate vehicle. ‘mind of luminous clarity’.. this is the heritage of Buddha.. Mi-pham affirms Buddha-nature as a central topic in Buddhism. and this is also the essential point in the Vajrayāna that the nature of mind is primordially Buddha. ‘Buddha-nature’. In this way.’ ‘self-existing wisdom’. ‘ultimate mind of awakening’.4: nyes pa lnga po gshegs snying sems can thams cad la yod par ma thos pa las ’byung/ mthar thug theg pa gcig ’grub pa’i gnad la de yin la/ rdo rje theg par sems nyid ye sangs rgyas pa’i gnad kyang ’di yin no.210 will be able to accomplish great benefit for others: (1) one will be joyous. and (5) the maṇḍala of limitless love. gzhung spyi’i dka’ gnad. ‘self-existing wisdom’. knowing that the accomplishment of liberating one’s mind is without difficulty. gzhung spyi’i dka’ gnad. Mi-pham explains that the five faults arise because of not hearing about Buddhanature. Long-chen-pa explains the purpose of the teaching of the basic element to remove the five faults. and ‘Buddha-nature’ are the same meaning. 455. 421 Mi-pham. and ‘the expanse of phenomena’ are distinct contradistinctions by name.

According to Mi-pham’s depiction. or Buddha-nature. the primordial ground maṇḍala. Thus. in sūtras such as the Perfection of Wisdom. it is called “the indivisible appearance and emptiness that is the identity of great purity and equality. from different perspectives and in different contexts. spyi don ’od gsal snying po. .” etc. 423 Mi-pham. directly or indirectly. 399: de lta bu’i gzhi de nyid la stong pa nyid kyi cha nas rgyal ba’i yum la sogs pa las chos kyi dbyings dang/ yang dag pa’i mtha’ dang/ de bzhin nyid la sogs pa’i ming gis bstan cing/ sku dang ye shes kyi snang ba dang bcas pa’i cha nas snying po bstan pa’i mdo la sogs pa nas de bzhin gshegs pa’i snying po zhes pa’i ming gis bstan la/ nges don sngags kyi theg pa ’dir ni snang stong bden pa dbyer med dag mnyam chen po’i bdag nyid gdod ma gzhi yi dkyil ’khor zhes bya’o. no 422 Mi-pham. is a common subject matter of Sūtra and Mantra. purity and equality.211 meaning. the ground. 434.1-755. Mi-pham states:424 If the genuine meaning (don rnal ma) of non-arising that is taught in sūtras is understood. but are simply two descriptions of one ground. gnyug sems book 3. 424 Mi-pham.1: gnyug sems dang/ bde gshegs snying po/ ’od gsal ba’i sems dang/ don dam byang chub kyi sems dang/ rang byung gi ye shes dang/ chos kyi dbyings rnams ming gi ldog pa tha dad kyang/ don la tha mi dad pa yin.” “thusnness. he states:423 Such a ground.2: mdo las gsungs pa’i skye med kyi don rnal ma rtogs na zung ’jug rnam kun mchog ldan gyi stong nyid de las gzhan du med pas mtho mtho zab zab kyi ming ci btags kyang don la de ga rang yin a bo rnams/ ’di gal che. primordial purity and spontaneous presence. all Buddhist doctrines indicate this reality. therefore. then there is no other unified emptiness endowed with all supreme aspects other than that. 755. the word “Buddha-nature” is used in the [Buddha-]nature Sūtras.”422 In this way. explicitly or implicitly. from the aspect of the endowment of the appearance of the Buddha-body and wisdom. from the aspect of emptiness is taught as “the expanse of phenomena.” “the authentic limit. gnyug sems book 1.” The common ground of Sūtra and Mantra is the indivisibility of Buddhanature as appearance and emptiness. here in the definitive Mantrayāna.6-435. statements of emptiness in the middle wheel and statements of the primordial endowment of the qualities of a Buddha in the last wheel are not only without contradiction.. Furthermore. Furthermore.

1-358. Buddha--Nature as the Ground of the Great Perfection Buddha We will conclude by briefly exploring the Great Perfection. and particularly the third wheel doctrines. which is spontaneous presence. Buddha-nature is most fully articulated in Mi-pham’s explanations of the view of Vajrayāna. it is selfluminous without bias (ris med). Although the immanence of the Buddha is indicated within sūtras. This is important. Buddha-nature as such is most explicitly affirmed in descriptions found in tantras. Mi-pham characterizes the ground in the language of the Great Perfection as follows:425 The ground itself.212 matter what high and profound words are designated. Mi-pham. confinement (rgya chad). the summit of the Resultant Vehicle of Mantra. In this way. As the source of all appearances of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa. brothers. in relation to Buddha-nature. The three endowments are empty essence (ngo bo stong pa). 358. it is said to be “allpervasive compassionate resonance”. Mi-pham’s interpretation of Buddha-nature reflects the Great Perfection. 425 . and all-pervasive compassion resonance (thugs rje kun khyab). natural clarity (rang bzhin gsal ba). and in particular the Great Perfection. it is called “the ground abiding wisdom with three endowments” (gzhi gnas kyi ye shes gsum ldan). Mi-pham shows that the genuine meaning of non-arising that is taught in sūtras is none other than the meaning of emptiness endowed with all supreme aspects—the fully qualified ultimate truth. or partiality (phyogs lung)—spontaneously present. is primordially pure. gnyug sems book 1. which is primordial purity. Unlike a mere space-like absence. it is just that meaning. the pinnacle of the Buddhist vehicles.2: gzhi de nyid spros pa gang yang med pa’i cha nas ka dag dang/ stong kyang nam mkha’ lta bu min par rang gsal ris med rgya chad phyogs lhung med par lhun gyis grub pa/ ’khor ’das snang ba kun gyi ’byung gnas yin pas thugs rje kun khyab ces gsungs te/ rdzogs chen gyi rgyud kyi chos skad la gzhi gnas kyi ye shes gsum ldan zhes gsungs. In the language of the Great Perfection tantras. from the aspect of lacking any constructs.

therefore. svabhāva “intrinsic nature. His interpretation of Buddha-nature reflects the dual quality of empty essence and natural clarity of the Great Perfection. natural clarity. then Mi-pham would not be a proponent of self-emptiness because he asserts the nature of reality as clarity (rang bzhin gsal ba). stong thun seng ge’i nga ro. lta grub shan ’byed ’grel pa. 205: rigs kyi ngo bo ni gnas lugs ye dag snying po’i chos su gyur pa gang zhig ngo bo stong pa la rang bzhin gsal ba thugs rje kun khyab kyi rang bzhin ste/ khyad chos gsum ldan gyi bdag nyid can du bzhed pa ste/ mdor bsdus na/ gnas lugs ye dag snying po’i chos su gyur pa gang zhig/ khyad chos gsum dang ldan pa de rigs kyi mtshan nyid du ’dod do. and all-pervasive compassionate resonance. and all-pervasive compassionate 426 Mi-pham.2: ’di ltar skye zhing ’gag par snang ba’i ’dus byas rnams ni snang ba ltar ma grub pa’i phyir dbyings kyi gshis la des gos pa yod ma myong bas/ ’khor ba rgyu ’bras ye nas dag cing rang bzhin lhun gyis grub pa’i ’od gsal zag med kyi snang ba rnams dang ’du ’bral med pa’i gnad ’dis bde bar gshegs pa’i snying po’i tshul phyin ci ma log pa ngos zin par bya dgos so. conditioned phenomena that appear to arise and cease in this way have never tainted the basic nature of the expanse. are neither conjoined nor separable.427 Pöd-pa Tulku’s representation of the own essence of heritage also echoes the Great Perfection:428 The essence of heritage is asserted to be (1) the abiding reality that is the primordially pure property (chos) of the essential nature (2) bearing the identity (bdag nyid can) that is the endowment of the three distinctive qualities (khyad chos gsum ldan)—the nature of empty essence. natural clarity. 428 Pöd-pa Tulku. if a proponent of self-emptiness is defined as one holding the 427 view that the nature of reality is only empty. Mi-pham associates Buddha-nature with a distinguishing feature of the Great Perfection—the unity of primordial purity and spontaneous presence. which are the luminous clarity of the spontaneously present nature. the word “essence” (ngo bo) and the word “nature” (rang bzhin) are both words that are used to translate the same Sanskrit word.” Thus. .213 as seen in his statements in the Lion’s Roar: Exposition of Buddha- Nature:426 Due to not existing as they appear. One should note that in the triad of empty essence. through this essential point that (1) the primordial purity of the causality of saṃsāra and (2) the uncontaminated appearances. 572. the undistorted manner of Buddha-nature should be identified.1-572.

205-206: ngo bo stong pa ’khor lo bar ba dang rang bzhin gsal ba tha ma’i dgongs don dang/ thugs rjes kun khyab bar tha ’gal med bstan.214 resonance. In this way. Buddha-nature is also the suchness of reality as the indivisible truth beyond dichotomies. Mi-pham explains that the Buddha is not newly produced. is an all-pervasive compassionate resonance.. and the non-contradiction of the middle and last wheels demonstrates allpervasive compassionate resonance:429 The intended meaning of the middle wheel is empty essence and the intended meaning of the last wheel is natural clarity. as empty essence and natural clarity. In short. the [unity of the] middle and last [wheels] without contradiction indicates allpervasive compassionate resonance. the last wheel’s intended meaning is natural clarity. the explicit teaching of emptiness in the middle wheel reflects primordial purity and the presence of wisdom emphasized in the last wheel reflects spontaneous presence. . Such a unity is represented in Mi-pham’s depictions of emptiness and Buddha-nature. Conclusion We saw that Buddha-nature is the potential to be Buddha that exists as the suchness of all beings’ minds. He makes a distinction between appearance and reality through which he asserts the primordial endowment of the Buddha as the mode of 429 Ibid. Mi-pham’s treatment of Buddha-nature reflects Long-chen-pa’s description of the ground. the defining characteristic of heritage is: the abiding reality which is the primordially pure property of the essential nature endowed with the three distinctive qualities. The unity of the middle and last wheels. but is merely made manifest through removing the conditions that obscure its reality. Pöd-pa Tulku also interprets sūtras in the language of the Great Perfection. He states that the intended meaning of the middle wheel is the empty essence.

where Buddha-nature is the immanent Buddha. but Buddha-nature evokes more of the quality of presence. Mi-pham uses reason to affirm his representation of Buddha-nature and his tradition’s claims that all appearances are pure by nature. However. Indeed. The unity of primordial purity and spontaneous presence can be seen in a dialectic of presence and absence—as the two truths of appearance and emptiness unified as the concordant modes of appearance and subsistence. Mi-pham’s exegesis of Buddha-nature and emptiness thus reflects the Great Perfection. the present reality to be ascertained right now. and depicts temporal and qualitative distinctions as the mode of appearance. The reasonings are similar to those that he uses to establish the emptiness of phenomena. the full disclosure of Buddha-nature is found in Mantra. . emptiness has the same meaning as Buddha- nature.215 subsistence. the pinnacle of Buddhist vehicles.

it is the unity of appearance and emptiness. This synthesis of the explicit teachings of the Madhyamakāvatāra and the Uttaratantra is an important part of Mi-pham’s integration of the middle and last wheels of doctrine. but wisdom and appearances from the perspective of wisdom are also ultimate. that he puts forward to most fully represent reality. it is the unity of emptiness and appearance. Buddha-nature is indivisible with emptiness.216 Concluding Concluding Remarks In this dissertation. in which Buddha-nature is explicitly taught. The ultimate within the two truths distinguished as authentic/inauthentic experience is a presence. This unity is expressed by Buddha-nature and is embodied in authentic experience. wheras the ultimate within the two truths distinguished as appearance and emptiness is an absence. Buddha-nature embodies both the empty and appearing aspects of reality. is also reflected in his depiction of emptiness. I have tried to shed some light on the central place of Buddha-nature across Mi-pham’s interpretation of a range of Buddhist doctrines. In his two-truth model of appearance/emptiness. and accords with Candrakīrti’s Madhyamakāvatāra. We saw how Mi-pham delineates two models of the two truths. However. as such. The other two-truth model of authentic/inauthentic experience delineates not only emptiness. We have seen how Mi-pham’s depiction of Buddhanature. emptiness also appears. and the primordial purity and spontaneous presence of the Great Perfection in particular. as a unified truth. It is the resonance found in and between both models. However. The appearance/emptiness model of the two truths is reflected in the explicit teachings of emptiness in the middle wheel of doctrine. This latter two-truth model accords with the last wheel of doctrine and the Uttaratantra. only emptiness is ultimate and any appearance is necessarily the relative truth. As such. the unity of the two . there is another meaning of emptiness other than solely appearances’ lack of true existence.

as the ultimate status of the nondual cognition of Yogācāra. The two truths as authentic/inauthentic experience reflects a Yogācāra delineation of the non-dual wisdom as ultimate. he makes a distinction between Prāsaṅgika and Svātantrika that reflects the tradition of the Great Perfection. He shows that Svātantrika discourse emphasizes the discourse of the categorized ultimate. he argues that the two truths are not actually distinct. the domain of wisdom. the ultimate as known by consciousness. He consistently affirms that the ultimate truth is not a referent of language and thought. as in absolutist traditions and claims of otheremptiness (that do not include empty-essence as a quality of phenomena). In contrast. . Mi-pham’s tradition of Great Perfection can be seen to resemble traditions that affirm some sort of metaphysical realism. The ultimate as only authentic experience has a tendency to be reified as a truly established presence. By affirming wisdom as ultimate. In this way. It is within the dialectical interplay of both two-truth models that Mi-pham represents Buddhanature. He argues that conventionally the ultimate truth can be said to exist. emptiness in the appearance/emptiness model of two truths also has the danger of becoming reified as an absence. Mi-pham depicts the discourse of Prāsaṅgika as emphasizing the uncategorized ultimate. He emphasizes this unity of the two truths in contrast to (1) a delineation of only the empty quality of phenomena as the ultimate truth.217 truths. This distinction between consciousness and wisdom is an important distinction in the Great Perfection. Mi-pham also uses the distinction between consciousness and wisdom to demonstrate the difference between Svātantrika and Prāsaṅgika. Mi-pham distances himself from naïve metaphysical assertions by emphasizing the ineffable quality of ultimate reality. In this way. as solely an absence of true existence. However. while ultimately there is no difference between the two truths. as opposed to consciousness. that represents Buddha-nature and the dialectic of presence and absence. Also.

He makes a case that even though certain Buddhist doctrines may appear to contradict reason. such as found in the works of Gadamer and Ricoeur. Rather than a cynical skepticism or an uncritical. Thus. Mi-pham represents the path of Buddhism through a process of reasoned analysis. Mi-pham offers an interpretation that he claims is founded upon reason. which are assumptions of the heremeneutic traditions stemming from Heidegger. He consistently shows that the view of Buddhism is supported by. Mi-pham portrays temporal and spatial distinctions as ultimately superimpositions that are not intrinsic to the understanding reality. using Buddhist logic as a tool.218 or (2) a position that the ultimate truth is different from relative phenomena. . he supports the assumptions of tradition.” In any case. he concludes that temporality is an illusion. We can see how Mi-pham is involved in a project of reconciling reason and tradition. the Buddhist mythos. they accord with the truth. The product of such reason. on another level. and the endemic place of conceptual experience is important for Mi-pham. and arrived at. Such a conclusion is what we may call an optimistic response to skepticism. it may be called a “skeptical optimism. he uses the dialectic component of philosophy to critique conceptual experience. is not necessarily accessible to everyone. which effectively obscures the unified ineffable truth. but not 430 In particular.”430 Through reasoning into ultimate reality. with a reasoned procedure. via a reasoned analysis. Although the intimate relationship between language and thought. he argues. I refer here to the epistemological critiques of Yogācāra discourse as empirical skepticism and ontological critiques of the Middle Way as logical skepticism. An important part of Mi-pham’s critical procedure may be called “skepticism. naïve optimism. he parts ways with the temporality of understanding and the universality of linguistic experience. as if lying somewhere else behind phenomena. thereby reaching the conclusion that temporal and linguistic experience is the fabric of reification and delusion (the so-called “veil of māyā”).

in Mantra and in the Great Perfection in particular.. his claims are grounded in the assumption of a meaningful. divine existence. it can be observed that the a priori which directs the induction and the deduction is a type of mystical experience.’ an awareness of something that transcends the cleavage between subject and object. Mi-pham does not reject language or reason. as well as in the much more numerous cases of their mixture. Through such means he affirms a process of subjectively verified truth.219 completely subsuming understanding within that conceptual framework— as in the case of a meditative equipoise that is induced by analysis. A similar foundation of dialectical inquiry is found in Paul Tillich’s “mystical apriori” in the context of Christian theology: “In both the empirical and metaphysical approaches. 9. vol.” Paul Tillich. Thus. yet only preceded by such analysis. Mi-pham’s arguments for Buddha-nature reflect his arguments for the pure and divine nature of reality. 1951).. . And if in the course of a ‘scientific’ procedure 431 this a priori is discovered. its discovery is only possible because it was present from the very beginning. Systematic Theology.The theological concepts of both idealists and naturalists are rooted in a ‘mystical apriori. And it is by no means a vicious one. In this way. 1 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. This is the circle which no religious philosopher can escape. An important part of Mi-pham’s affirmations of wisdom and the purity of appearances is his conventional valid cognition of pure vision. In contrast to his treatment of emptiness.. not objectively verifiable. but also cannot be definitively proven false. he affirms that the divine nature of reality cannot be definitively ascertained by reason.. he portrays them as instrumental to the process of bringing forth true understanding.based on an immediate experience of something ultimate in value and being of which one can be initiatively aware. The dialectical component of Mi-pham’s representation of Buddhanature integrates the analytical inquiry of the discourses of valid cognition as a provisional means to discovering truth that is intimately grounded in subjectivity.431 The unity of the two truths is most fully articulated in Mantra. but unlike a scientific method. Every understanding of spiritual things (Geistwissenschaft) is circular. where the perceived appearances are pure and the subjective cognition is wisdom.

truth is a monistic unity but it is not monological. In this way. . but are immanently grounded within a particular persective. his perspectival system of four-fold valid cognitions accommodates a dialectical component to an inquiry into reality.220 Through a system of four valid cognitions—two concerning the categorized/uncategorized ultimates and two based on confined perception/pure vision—Mi-pham is able to maintain a rigorous analytical approach to truth that is situated within the tradition of the Great Perfection. His affirmations of tradition are unique in that his claims are not disembodied.

Homage to the guru! The path of reasoning that ascertains the primordially stainless suchness of mind As the identity of the definitive meaning hero Mañjuśrī Is a continuous onslaught of sharp swords That cuts the net of thoroughly afflicted existence.2- 606. Mi-pham. . The Tibetan text was completed in 1891.4. the foundational viewpoint (dgongs pa’i mthil).221 Document 1 Introduction In his Lion’s Roar: Exposition of Buddha-nature. Concerning this. and at other times elucidated the nature (rang bzhin) of the Buddha-nature 432 As stated in the colophon of the text. even for the great lords on the ten [bodhisattva] grounds. when speaking. needless to mention ordinary beings! Moreover. 606.432 The Tibetan editions of the text I have consulted thus far were printed from the same wood-blocks—the Der-ge edition of Mi-pham’s collected works. here is the essence (snying po) of the speech of the Victorious Ones of the three times. like a form in the night. after additional supplements were added to the first version composed in 1889. Lion’s Roar: Exposition of BuddhaBuddha-Nature By MiMi-pham [564] namo gurave . Since this fact (tshul) is extremely profound. the Sugata teacher sometimes elucidated the essence (ngo bo) of the Buddha-nature by means of teaching emptiness. Mi-pham presents a concise and lucid discourse on Buddha-nature. it is said to be difficult to realize as it is. and the single essential point of all the doctrines of sūtras and tantras—only this all-pervasive Buddha-nature (bde gshegs snying po). stong thun seng ge’i nga ro.

433 434 rig read rigs [566. . holding onto a mere void (stong rkyang). Various chatters of refutation and assertion. However. The three analyses are: (1) that the demonstration of what is evident (mngon gyur) is not invalidated by direct perception (mngon sum). the means of [assessing] the purity of a scripture. remain in the denigrating position of a view of annihilation that cannot posit the primordial endowment of the inseparable qualities of wisdom. [566] Here in general the valid measure (tshad ma) of the Tathāgata’s Word is the authentic. the scriptures in general are determined to be authentic by means of the purity through the three analyses. However.2]. fortunate ones who are embraced by the quintessential instructions of a teacher—within a state of conviction in the meaning of the non-contradictory unity of the empty expanse (stong pa’i dbying) and the luminous clarity of wisdom (’od gsal ba’i ye shes)—as if their hearts were satisfied by an excellent nectar extract—abide in the pacification of partial fixation on the extremes of either appearance or emptiness. due to the influence of not having found conviction (yid ches) in the extremely profound of profound essential points—the indivisibility of the two-truths—some people view the Buddhanature as a permanent phenomenon that is not essentially empty. concerning the literal meaning indicated by the scripture. [565] These two need to be unified without contradiction. infallible scriptures. to ascertain its infallibility. it is not appropriate to solely believe according to whatever is said because it is This refers to the process of determining the validity of a scripture. like a rumbling ocean. and (3) that the demonstration of what is extremely hidden (shin tu lkog gyur) is not contradicted (internally) by previous or later statements. Having thrown out reason.222 through the aspect of teaching the [Buddha’s] qualities of the powers and so forth as a primordial endowment. others. are proclaimed in hopes of establishing each respective claim. it should be regarded as the definitive meaning through (1) a lack of invalidation by reason434 and (2) the presence of an authentic means of establishment. and speak as follows. (2) that the demonstration of what is hidden (lkog gyur) is not invalidated by inference (rjes dpag). However.433 In particular.

in the tradition of the Victorious Ones together with their lineage of great offspring [bodhisattvas].2].437 a truly established [phenomenon] that is essentially non-empty and (2) is a void (phyan chad) emptiness lacking qualities. [567] In a path that is not established by reason. dissenter’s tongues will naturally be curtailed and irreversible joy will arise in those maintaining one’s one position. Therefore. are able to determine the topics to be engaged by means of the three valid cognitions. adherence to partiality is discarded through engaging. If established by reason. Conversely.436 the assertion that Buddha-nature (1) is permanent. if one is not able to determine by one’s own valid cognition nor able to establish for another dissenter’s perspective. one is like a person. and the existence of the [Buddha-]nature as the basic element of beings—an sma ba read smra ba [567. When the manners of demonstrating the presentation of Buddha-nature and the authentic reasonings to establish them are assessed with an honest mind. In this. and among authentic scriptures as well there is the distinction of definitive and provisional [meanings].3].435 heaps of faults will upsurge like water from a geyser (lu ma’i chu). glus read blo [567. 437 brtag read rtag [567.223 undeniable that generally there are authentic scriptures and bogus (ltar snang) scriptures.1]. Therefore. “There is a ghost in front of here!” Words like these have no ability to generate conviction for oneself or others. despite whatever way it may be decorated by many words. having cut through misconceptions by study and contemplation. discourse in accordance with the path of authentic reasoning is the manner of learned people (mkhas pa). for whom a ghost is imperceptible (sha za bskal don du song ba) claiming. irreversible conviction arises in those ordinary beings who. undisturbed by conceptuality. 435 436 . both are seen to lack a means of establishment and a means of invalidation [is present].

Also. however. Regarding this. [568] Regarding this.5] The ancient ones in Tibet—having explained “the body of the perfect Buddha is radiant” as merely the wisdom Truth body (ye shes chos sku) encompassing all objects. the evidence is uncertain (rtags la the tshom za ba).24]: Because the body of a perfect Buddha is radiant. and suchness as a mere void being similar in type (rigs ’dra ba). due to not being manifest now. the genuine heritage is not established by merely the Truth Body encompassing [all] objects because the Buddha’s wisdom—which perceives that which is comprised by others’ continuums—simply encompassing all objects is present in all entities. the mere categorized emptiness (stong pa rnam grangs pa) does not at all have the meaning of heritage because from the perspective of your thinking. all beings always possess the essential nature of Buddha (sangs rgyas rnying po). Because of possessing heritage.224 empty essence with a nature of primordially endowed qualities—is seen to lack a means of invalidation and have a means of establishment. and “possessing heritage” as merely the potential to be a Buddha (sangs rgya rung). they spoke few words. if you assert that this heritage is the potential to newly produce [a . As for the Truth Body of one’s own continuum. Stating Other Traditions [567. Because suchness (de bzhin nyid) is indivisible. Therefore. There are two presentations ascertaining the meaning of this statement by means of reason: (1) stating other traditions and (2) presenting our own authentic tradition. someone may first ask: “What is the means of establishing the existence of the basic element of Buddha-nature in the continuums of beings? In the Mahāyānottaratantra [1. merely by this presence there is no reason for all this to become Buddha. failing to evoke the crucial point from the position of the essential nature in the Uttaratantra scripture. 1.

earth. also lack true existence. then it is not reasonable that there be any such quality [of potential transformation] in the contradistinctive aspect (ldog cha) of an existential negation that is an emptiness of true existence— which is an unconditioned phenomenon that lacks the ability to perform a function—because the aspect of a conditioned seed conventionally may transform into a sprout. yet the aspect of a seed’s lack of true existence can never transform into a sprout. [the potential of] being Buddha is undetermined because even though all phenomena. rocks. again it is necessary to become decorated with limitless accumulations according to your position. asserting as heritage only the ability to remove obscurations by observing a lack of true existence is nonsense because by only observing emptiness.. myur gu read myu gur [568.2]. the [assertion that] the essential point of the lack of true existence establishes the potential to be a Buddha is also nonsense.439 etc. Moreover. rgo read rdo [568. 440 ’dog read ’dod [568. without reason for cognitive obscurations (shes sgrib) to be relinquished. it is impossible for that to know anything whatsoever even at the time of being Buddha. the potential to be a Buddha is not established because: (1) there is no ability in merely this to establish any legitimacy (’thad pa) for the occurrence of omniscient wisdom after abandoning cognitive obscurations and (2) since there is no cognitive quality within the essence of an existential negation. who is able to establish that everything that lacks true existence is a potential Buddha? Also. in lacking true establishment. there would simply be no potential to be a Buddha. even so.225 Buddha] when conjoined with the conditions of the path—like a seed that is transported (go ’pho ba) to a sprout438—despite now having no qualities of Buddha whatsoever.6].440 Calling such an existential negation [569] “Buddha-nature” is a senseless assertion because it becomes a heritage shared with Auditors and Self-Realized Ones (nyan thos). Although it is true that if the mind were truly established. 438 439 .5]. but through this.

” If this also is asserted as the unconditioned. so get rid of it! If one thinks. then since this is established as such by scripture and reasoning. which is emptiness. are potential producers of later [instances]. it would have no ability for the slightest activity of production—since the quality-bearers (chos can). making the claim that the qualitybearer that is a unity with emptiness is the aspect of momentary consciousness. unproductive. and powers in the mental-continuums (sems kyi rgyud) of all beings from beginningless time—even wild beasts. which is wisdom (ye shes) as distinguished from consciousness (rnam shes).226 Therefore. which is the clarity of mind. because once the causality of production is necessitated (skyed byed gyi rgyu ’bras yin dgos phan chad). rather than asserting an existential negation as the heritage. the unconditioned heritage is seemingly not need by you. love. then it certainly is [heritage]. However. through conjoined with the path and freed from obstacles. [570] “[Heritage] is not posited having distinguished the two truths because heritage is asserted as the abiding reality that is the indivisibility of (1) the quality-bearer (chos can). etc. the instants of mind. possess such [qualities] of love for their children and recognition of benefit and harm—such that when further developed. nonentity as the cause is indeed astonishing! Some people think as follows: “Everything lacking true existence is not the heritage. ogres. and (2) suchness. then thinking “this is progressively transported to a Buddha” is senseless because it would [absurdly] follow that the heritage . but only the lack of existence that is the nature of mind is reasonable to be the heritage. immutable wisdom. in considering this manner of the transforming conditioned heritage (gnas ’gyur ’dus byas kyi rigs). and powers. to disregard the momentary entity which is the productive cause and assert an unconditioned.” Even if it were the lack of true existence of mind. it is better to assert a seed (sa bon) of wisdom. it is merely that which is the potential to become a Buddha endowed with limitless knowledge. love.

the unconditioned. 441 442 . all presentations are established as a path of Mahāyāna artifice. stong read stor [570.5]. Misidentifying this. such as: • the assertion of the Buddha’s heritage as that [categorized ultimate] • the meditation of the perfection of wisdom through observing just that [categorized ultimate] • the assertion of that [categorized ultimate] as the cause of the Natural Body (ngo bo nyid sku) This is also taught in this way in [scriptures] such as the Perfection of Wisdom Sūtras. 443 ’byung read bzung [571. like seeing a group of monkeys in a forest and mistaking them for the gods of [the realm of] thirty-three. That being the case. Consequently. and the conditioned would become the genuine heritage (rigs mtshan nyid pa) capable of producing effects. in claiming a heritage posited in terms of a produced effect and a producing cause that the mind is not able to relinquish. the viewpoint of all of the Mahāyāna Sūtras— asserting that the unconditioned naturally abiding heritage (rang bzhin gnas rigs) is the expanse of phenomena—would be relinquished. which has no use or ability.227 would have both a conditioned and an unconditioned aspect. ’ga’ read ’gal [570. the meaning of the thoroughly non-abiding Middle Way itself. consequently. as soon as the immutable expanse of phenomena is asserted as the heritage of the Buddha. would become the nominal heritage (rigs btags pa ba).441 Therefore. to assert [the expanse of phenomena] as merely the categorized ultimate.4]. it is nothing but merely the blatant evidence of the incompatibility442 of one’s words and beliefs. [571] what is not the expanse of phenomena is apprehended443 as the expanse of phenomena.1]. although one may speak of the pure expanse of phenomena as the naturally abiding heritage. one should first identify that which is the basis of the designation of “expanse of phenomena”—the uncategorized ultimate that is the great unity of the two truths. Hence.

through this essential point that (1) the primordial purity of the causality of saṃsāra and (2) the uncontaminated appearances. is called “the naturally pure expanse of phenomena” and “emptiness”. Since it is asserted as such by the great being of the tenth ground. conditioned phenomena that appear to arise and cease in this way have never tainted the basic nature (gshis) of the expanse. therefore. The Meaning of the First Verse “Because the body of the perfect Buddha is radiant” [572. are neither conjoined nor separable. the sublime Nāgārjuna. the meaning of the first verse [“because the body of the perfect Buddha is radiant”] in the previous [stanza] is as follows: since the Truth Body. 2. the expanse which is the unity of the two truths. the regent [Maitreya]. its essence lacks arising or ceasing.2] 1. Being unconditioned. this is said in all the Mahāyāna Sūtras and commentaries on the viewpoint to be the genuine heritage of the Buddha as well as the Natural Body endowed with the two-fold purity. in the Uttaratantra and is also clearly stated by the glorious protector. this naturally abiding heritage is not suitable to be asserted as anything other than unconditioned. This expanse itself is the abiding reality of all phenomena. stating our own tradition.3] Then for the second part. and [572] it abides as the identity of indivisible appearance and emptiness.228 Therefore. Hence. Due to not existing as they appear. the meaning that is distinct from all the webs of conceptual constructs [and] known by the individual reflexive awareness. Presenting Our Own Authentic Tradition [572. which are the luminous clarity of the spontaneously present nature. it does not fall to partiality. in the Dharmadhātustotra. our own tradition asserts the unconditioned expanse of phenomena as the heritage following these scriptures. henceforth the qualities of the Truth Body also are not suitable to be asserted as anything other than freed effects—by its essential nature it is not reasonable for itself to cease and produce another effect. the consummate . the undistorted manner of Buddha-nature should be identified.

radiant. 11]: If there is the basic element. or manifest from a former continuum of a thoroughly bounded (’ching ba kun ldan) ordinary being. . [573] Someone may think.5]. in the Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra: O Monk of perfect discipline. Regarding this. the Buddhas. “Although the mind is established as a mere cause which is the potential to be a Buddha. The second [extraordinary justification] is a demonstration of the justification of that [statement that Buddha-nature presently exists in the continuums of sentient beings].229 body of a complete and perfect Buddha. If there is no basic element. later is made clear. have the wisdom body which is the identity distinguished by the unconditioned. then through action The pure gold will be seen. therefore. The first444 [common justification] is that sentient beings who actualize the wisdom Truth Body necessarily have a mind possessing the heritage which is the potential to be a Buddha because it is unreasonable as such without a heritage at all. how can you establish the distinctive heritage that is primordially endowed with Buddha’s qualities?” This is also established because the Blessed Ones. the statement “presently the Buddha-nature exists in the continuums of all sentient beings” is established. as said in the Dharmadhātustotra [v. then even action Will only generate disturbing emotions. as such with the qualities equal to [the extent of] space. as for scriptures. 444 dngos po read dang po [572. The justification of how it is established by this is two-fold: common and extraordinary. like the example of crops potentially growing on a field. it is better to die than to become a non-Buddhist by calling the unconditioned Tathāgata a conditioned Tathāgata. it is established through scriptures and reasoning that they do not have the nature of the conditioned and impermanent phenomena.

And. That which is liberation is the basic element which is uncontrived. if the omniscient wisdom itself—the consummate fruition of equal taste. the indestructible body. [the unconditioned wisdom body of the Buddha] is extensively taught in the definitive meaning sūtras. they cannot be known. non-dual with the primordial expanse of phenomena—were an impermanent entity that is newly formed by . As is shown. The Buddhas’ view of suchness. Hence. merely the aspect of an existential negation is not suitable as nirvāṇa. not a body of flesh. Also. It is better to die having touched this blazing heap of wood with your tongue everywhere than to utter the words “the Tathāgata is impermanent.230 And. [574] And from the Vajracchedikā also: Those who see me as form [and] Those who hear me as sound Have entered the wrong path. As for reasoning as well. [and] Suchness.” Do not heed those words. you still find nothing at all. are not objects of knowledge. Noble child. as the Truth Body. again from the scripture [Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra]: “Emptiness. The guides’ Truth Body. Furthermore. They do not see me. The Nirgrantha also have “nothing at all. the vajra body.” but liberation is not like that. emptiness” no matter where you search. it is the Tathāgata. now see the permanent body of the Tathāgata.

is not like that [impermanent cognition] because in the state (ngang) of unchanging luminous clarity.231 causes and conditions. being a dependent entity which is conditioned Therefore.446 which is the self-effulgence (rang gdangs) 445 446 nye tsho read nyi tshe [575. the non-dual wisdom body should be viewed as unconditioned and as the sacred permanence (rtag pa dam pa). having abandoned this inferior path. gsel read gsal [575. then there would be the faults of [absurd] consequences such as: • It would not be the self-existing wisdom • It would not have relinquished the pains of change • It would have the aspects of again ceasing and again arising • It would be deceptive due to disintegrating by its own essence • It would not be the perpetual refuge (1) because of ceasing as soon as it arises and (2) because there is [only] a limited domain (nyi tshe bar gnas) where there is a complete gathering of causes • It would not be of equal taste in all phenomena • It would not have transcended all extremes • It would not have ceased such [phenomena] as the taking of a birth that is of mental nature • It would be without independence. the view of the vajra body as impermanent brings about enormous faults. by asserting in this way. [575] [One may] think: “Through evaluating by means of merely an awareness that relies upon ordinary confined perception. “the one with the space-vajra pervading space” (mkha’ khyab mkha’ yi rdo rje can).2]. hence.2]. the wisdom that is the one-taste (ro gcig) of the knower and known. .” This is nonsense because even though partial cognitions (shes pa nyi tshe ba)445 that cognize objects are necessarily impermanent. unconditioned wisdom is impossible because there is no common locus of a cognition and a permanent entity.1-575.

fake. there is not even the slightest qualitative or temporal difference in the mode of subsistence because it is the intrinsic nature of the immutable unconditioned. And does not depend on another. an equality. which is able to actualize that at one time (nam zhig). and unconditioned [576]. Therefore. Entities and non-entities are conditioned.2]: Nature is uncontrived. all the phenomena of nirvāṇa and saṃsāra are incorporated (’ub chub). when authentically analyzed they are hollow. As is said in the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā [15. And [25. which is authentically non-deceptive. Although it may or may not be actualized in the mode of appearance free or not free from adventitious defilements. or dependent imputations. because it is not at all like a mere non-entity. wisdom such as this is the “great unconditioned. the suchness of all phenomena that are entities or non-entities. then the cause. Buddha-nature is the great unconditioned. completely pervading nirvāṇa and saṃsāra. to be the nature of the immutable ultimate truth. Since entities and non-entities are phenomena and are dependent arisings. and reasoning analyzing the consummate [reality]. . reasoning that analyzes the consummate [reality] (mthar thug dpyod pa’i rig shes) establishes that there is primordially no arising or ceasing in the essence of that. And [1. and deceptions. In this way. if the wisdom of the consummate Truth Body is established by scriptures of definitive meaning sūtras.” which does not abide in either extreme of being conditioned or unconditioned. is presently the nature of the wisdom Truth Body abiding in the manner of suchness without decrease or increase.51]: As it was before so it is later— The immutable suchness.232 of the unconditioned. Nirvāṇa is unconditioned.63].13]. hence. lies. In the Uttaratantra [1.

from the beginning neither mixing nor polluting the luminous clarity of the primordial basic nature. the essence of the basic element is empty of these faults.3]. like space. and within the self-effulgent basic nature of the non-deluded. It is undisturbed by adventitious defilements Such as attachments that arise from the imagination of the unreal.233 The luminous clarity that is the nature of mind Is immutable like space. All the phenomena of saṃsāra are changing and unstable. it should be known as was frequently taught that the purity of mind.158]: The basic element is empty of those adventitious [phenomena] that have the character of separability But not empty of the unexcelled properties that have the character of inseparability. Furthermore. Since this deluded mind also is adventitious like clouds in the sky. it is not empty of that which is inseparable. the qualities of fruition. the basic element of consummate qualities. such as the powers. In this way. Without depending on the polluting delusion. In this way. . the unconditioned expanse of luminous clarity is naturally pure. these faults are individually distinguished from the basic element and are suitable to be removed. within447 the natural state (rang gi ngang gis) of its own luminous clarity and the self-existing wisdom that abides as the suchness of all phenomena. Therefore. [577] All of the faults of saṃsāra arise from the deluded mind which apprehends a personal self or a self of phenomena. abide without separation—like the sun and light rays. because in its own essence this is the basic nature from which it is inseparable—like the sun and light rays. in the Uttaratantra [1. is without change. the naturally abiding heritage is established as the unconditioned essence of the Truth Body primordially endowed with 447 las read la [577. and while there appears to be transformations within the state of the suchness of all this. it is untainted. the Buddha-nature. untainted by delusion.

etc. in which the perceived [object] and 448 449 khag read khags [578. [578] if the effect is present in the cause.3]. some people think. the mental-consciousness itself is not able to know its own mode of being (yin lugs). it is established that “the essence of the Buddha presently resides. the potential to be a Buddha is established by the power of fact (dngos stobs kyis grub). At that time. then there is invalidation by reason such as the reasoning that eating food would [absurdly entail] the eating of excrement. “Since the Buddha is the effect and sentient beings are the cause. necessarily resides in the continuums of all sentient beings because in training in the path. it is no wonder448 that such qualms have arisen! However. due to the power of solely the mental-consciousness. . For example. “If the essence of the Buddha presently resides. having been guided by merely a limited understanding of the common scriptures. and eye-consciousness.2].” For you who have not trained in the meaning of the extremely profound definitive meaning sūtras. fixating upon the range of meanings (go yul) of the common vehicle. although the subject and object are observed and apprehended separately. Due to the potential to be a Buddha. Since the Truth Body at the time of being a Buddha is unconditioned due to the impossibility of being a conditioned phenomenon newly formed by causes and conditions. when this adventitious delusion arises in one’s mind. they think. one’s suchness is not known as it is. that [what you have said] is not the case because although the suchness that is the luminous and clear wisdom pervades everything without distinction. when sleeping.234 qualities. without increase or decrease. the wisdom Truth Body. unrestricted (mu med) appearances arise such as the body. why does that omniscient wisdom not dispel the obscurations of those sentient beings?” Also.” Regarding this. the basis of designation of saṃsāra is only this deluded mind together with its object (yul). objects. due to this449 delusion. de read des [578.

Therefore.” is as follows: since all phenomena of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa are of one taste (ro gcig)—indivisible within the great primordial luminous clarity of the emptiness that is the mode of subsistence—Buddhas and sentient beings also are ultimately indivisible due to the equality of existence and peace (srid zhi mnyam pa nyid).” 2. however. also the Buddha and sentient beings are taught in terms of the mode of subsistence (gnas tshul) and the mode of appearance (snang tshul). even so. Therefore. all phenomena abide as emptiness. even though it is not known. “because suchness is indivisible.5]. . in dependence (ltos) upon the mode of appearance. it is established by the reasoning of the nature of things (chos nyid kyi rigs pa) 450 las read pas [578. In this way. proving the cause from the effect is called “reasoning of dependency. showing the invalidation with the reason that the effect exists in the cause is simply not understanding the position. The Meaning of the Second Verse “Because suchness is indivisible” [579. although appearing as emanated sentient beings due to adventitious delusion. Therefore.235 the perceiving [subject] are not established as different. for this reason. Likewise. there is nothing other than that mode of being. primordially endowed with qualities. this reasoning is that the evidence (rtags) [579] of a clear manifestation of the Truth Body at the time of the fruition establishes that the heritage. exists at the time of the cause because there is no temporal causality (snga phyi rgyu ’bras) in the mode of subsistence.2] The meaning of the second [verse]. merely being as such does not entail that everyone realizes this because there is the possibility of delusion—appearances that do not accord with the mode of subsistence. it is necessarily posited as cause and effect. since450 mind and the wisdom of the essential nature (snying po’i ye shes) are [respectively] phenomenon (chos can) and suchness (chos nyid).

positing their possession of heritage is not necessitated because earth and rocks. appear due to the power of mind. they are not necessarily separate. Concerning the authentic meaning. if the heritage is established by being merely indivisible as suchness. and are primordially the nature of the actual Buddha. the appearances of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa are merely the play of consciousness and wisdom. . then it [absurdly] follows451 that the earth and rocks. etc. the possession of the essential nature of Buddha (sangs rgyas kyi snying po) is certain. then non-minds. therefore. we emphatically assert that all these appearances. etc.236 that there is not the slightest deviation from the ultimate suchness of abiding reality. Sūtras also state that all phenomena are primordially luminous clarity. not deviating from the state of suchness that is primordially Buddha. even though conventionally they are indivisible as suchness. also are not beyond the essential nature (ngang 451 thol read thal [579. the mind does not arise due to the power of external objects such as the earth and rocks. also have the heritage.5]. Khen-po Pe-ma-shey-rap. are primordially nirvāṇa. do not possess the accomplishment of the path.” If “heritage” is necessarily posited as the faultless cause452 of a Buddha which—through the complete abandonment of the two obscurations that arise due to the power of a deluded mind—develops awareness (blo) that is not deluded concerning the nature of knowledge (shes bya). “Well. hence. materials such as earth and rocks. [580] Hence. 452 A cause of a freed effect. Through knowing that the suchness that is the Buddha-nature—the uncontaminated naturalness of ultimate virtue— resides in this mind that is the producer of the three realms like wetness within water. as you previously expressed to another. This should be known as illustrated by the example of the appearances of a dream and the cognition at the time of that [dream]. Someone may think.

237 tshul453) of the Tathāgata. or nature. the effect. when the defilements of the basic element of the subjective awareness are exhausted. the distorted images are automatically cleared. The purity of omniscience. then does a Buddha experience (mnga’) all these impure appearances or not? If a Buddha does. The purity of form and the fruition are the purity of omniscience. no impure454 objective entities remain left over. “Well. One may think. being a Buddha. . there is perception in which appearance conflicts with the mode of subsistence.1]. Tulku Nyi-ma-gyal-tsen explained this as knowledge of the path of actions that cause rebirth in the each of the different realms of 456 saṃsāra. [581] like when an eyedisorder is cured. As is said in the condensed [Prajñāpāramitāsūtra]: The purity of form should be known as the purity of the fruition. and form Are like space—indivisible and inseparable. then all phenomena are not actually perfected as Buddha. “Well. 455 bar snang read rang snang [581. at the time of one person becoming a Buddha. bos read bo ma [580. of objects (yul) such as form because other than the manner of perception. if appearance is completely in accord with the mode of subsistence at the stage of the Buddha. Therefore.” ngang tshul was explained to be equivalent to rang bzhin by Tulku Nyi-ma-gyal-tsen. which is a progressive freedom from the obscurations of one’s own perception (rang snang). Someone may think.” It is not so because the obscurations of each individual’s own perception455 obscures his or her own self. all impure appearances will be ceased. then it is impossible for a Buddha to know the path of all transmigrations (kun tu ’gro ba’i lam)456 and so forth. 453 454 This is one of the ten powers of a Buddha. The purity of the subject (yul can) free from obscurations is the purity. the essential meaning abides primordially free from obscurations. If not.6].

238 The omniscient wisdom effortlessly and spontaneously knows from within the state of equal taste of itself and the whole entirety of phenomena of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa.457 457 Madhyamakāvatāra 11. Not to mention beings with confined perception. the meaning of this fact is explained in the Bodhisattvapiṭaka (byang chub sems dpa’i sde snod): The equality of all phenomena as equal Is known by the self-existing [wisdom]. Due to the power of exhausting all obscurations of the dualistic appearances of subject and object. In this.11. . all phenomena that exist—through the essential point of being encompassed within the expanse (klong du chud pa) of suchness in the manner of an unmixed. [582] The complete actual Buddhas. in the way they respectively appear. understanding authentically the equality of taste You of good wisdom understand the objects of knowledge instantly. And. the supreme knowledge of a single instant of mind is called the unexcelled complete and perfect awakening of an actual perfect Buddha. this is difficult to fathom for even those abiding on the [bodhisattva] grounds! Also. By the natural luminous clarity of mind known as such. while it does not transgress the vision of the great purity of everything from its own perspective. As said in the words of the master Candrakīrti: There are divisions of vessels and no division in space Likewise. Therefore. the vision of the Tathāgatas. complete entirety—are spontaneously perceived by the wisdom of equal taste that is free from arising and ceasing. are equal. it perceives the appearances of the six classes of beings also. there are divisions of entities yet no divisions in suchness. Therefore.

239 The great wisdom which is non-dual with the expanse pervades458 everything and effortlessly perceives all phenomena from the state of the thorough pacification of conceptuality—pervasive in the manner of stars shining in the ocean—this [omniscient] vision is the suchness residing within the wisdom ground of self-existing luminous clarity due to the power of exhausting all obscurations and actualizing that [suchness] as it is. by relying on the authentic reasoning of the nature of things that analyzes the consummate [reality]. The Meaning of the Third Verse “Because of possessing heritage” heritage” [583. 3. even though there is. an irreversible conviction is found. In this way.1] [583] The meaning of the third [verse]. Therefore. it is established to be equivalent to an ordinary transient mind • The assertion that the realm of sentient beings is not perceived [by the Buddhas]. “because of possessing heritage. there is no wisdom. . through an evaluation by a limited intellect. I see an influx of contradictions and a lot of impurity of thoroughgoing conceptuality taken up. the possession of the heritage that is the potential to be a Buddha entails that these embodied beings (lus can) are possessors of Buddha-nature because (1) there is a context (gnas skabs) of them being a Buddha and (2) since the Buddha’s Truth Body is also established as 458 bya ba read khyab [582.” is as follows: all sentient beings have the heritage that is the potential to be a Buddha because it is established that (1) defilements are adventitious and suitable to be relinquished and (2) the Truth Body primordially endowed with qualities exists in everything without distinction. otherwise. or.3]. such as: • At he stage of the Buddha. or [that Buddhas] have impure perceptions • The lack of ability to establish the equal taste of [the wisdom that knows] the way things are and [the wisdom that knows] everything that exists.

due to the mere presence of the cause. and the ultimate abiding reality of all phenomena. (2) at the time of the effect there is no qualitative difference in the essence. a single consummate vehicle is established if it is known to arise through the power of the Buddha-nature itself. then it [the heritage that is essentially the Truth Body] also necessarily exists without increase or decrease at the time of sentient beings. in meaning.4]. they are suitable to be separate. This third reason. Otherwise. the Tathāgata. there is the establishment of the non-distinction of consummate liberation. the expanse of phenomena is one taste within the immutable essence. the heritage. is essentially not distinct from the Truth Body at the time of the fruition. . due to the essential fact that it is impossible that the heritage would ever diminish (chud za ba) in the event of becoming a Buddha (sangs rgya ba). and (3) although there is the imputation of causality and temporality. the three reasons establish that all sentient beings are possessors of the Buddha-nature due to the authentic path of reasoning that is engaged by the power of fact. [584] In this way. through this reasoning that establishes that all sentient beings have Buddha-nature. the emergence of an effect is not merely inferred because.240 essentially unconditioned. such as the ones who assert: (1) “Buddha-nature” is not in the basic element of sentient beings. furthermore.459 In this way. and (3) no matter how long the duration of the adventitious defilements is. knowing the production of the effect from the cause. one will part ways with the reasoning that establishes the single consummate vehicle in the traditions of those who turn their back on the Mahāyāna. (2) it does 459 ’bras read ’bral [583. (1) the existence of the cause. is reasoning of efficacy (bya ba byed pa’i rigs pa). Here. and (2) if the Truth Body at the time of the fruition exists. (1) the heritage that is the suchness itself (chos nyid de bzhin nyid) is unchanging. there is no temporal or qualitative distinction [between the Truth Body and Buddha-nature] from the aspect of the essence.

Therefore. no matter how many faults in dependence upon the conventional—such as the consequence that there would be a common locus of the minds of Buddhas and sentient beings—the talk is nonsense. In this. [585] The Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra states: The character of the conditioned realm and the ultimate. since it is taught as the consummate of profundity. Even though the reasoning that analyzes the ultimate establishes the emptiness of all phenomena. whoever understands these to be either the same or different Has entered into a distorted [view]. Thus. even though it is difficult to comprehend by one’s own power. Is the character free from being the same or different. Even though the mode of subsistence is not other than the meaning of suchness. the qualities are newly possessed at the time of the effect. the basic element which is the essential nature. and through their relinquishing delusion by the path. Thus.241 not exist at the time of the Buddha. since positing the existence of the basic element primordially endowed with qualities at the time of sentient beings is a profound and inconceivable topic. (1) the suchness of mind. and (3) there are no qualities at the time of the cause. In this way. the existence of Buddhas is also established. As is said. smallminded intellectuals consistently make objections to this. there is the possibility of deluded sentient beings. but otherwise there would be faults such as the nonexistence of liberation or the impossibility for anyone to be deluded. as for the mode of appearance. those who aspire to the topic of the supreme vehicle should train intelligently with regards to this topic. Therefore. and (2) the phenomenon of mind (chos can kyi sems) do not need to be asserted as either the same or different. it does not negate the qualities of . because there is appearance that does not accord with the mode of subsistence. there is the possibility of delusion. even the Buddha spoke to his audience in a manner that they should trust his discourse and that it is nondeceptive. there is not only no contradiction.

they are also claimed to be essentially empty. then by merely this fact it is superior to the middle wheel.2]. Although the meaning of the last wheel is praised in the sūtras and commentaries. By maintaining both of these [wheels] to be the definitive meaning. Therefore. This can be clearly ascertained as such through other sūtras such as those that teach the basic element of heritage460 through the example of purifying a jewel. gsal read bsal [586. but it is spoken in this way concerning the definitive meaning position of demonstrating the [Buddha]nature. Therefore. nor separable (’du bral med) from the appearances of the empty-natured [Buddha-]body and wisdom—is [586] the viewpoint of the definitive meaning sūtras of the last wheel. Without dividing or excluding461 the definitive meaning subject matters (skor rnams) of the middle and last wheels. through the Buddha-nature as such becoming the meaning of the causal continuum. the meaning demonstrated by the middle wheel that all the phenomena of thorough affliction and complete purification (kun byang gi chos) are taught to be empty is established as such because Buddha-nature is also the nature of emptiness. both should be held to be the definitive meaning in the way of just this assertion by the omniscient Longchen-pa.242 [Buddha-]nature because although the sublime qualities exist. but having integrated them. However. . Therefore. [this does] not [refer to] everything in the last wheel. there is not only no contradiction that one [wheel] must be held as the provisional meaning. there is the essential point of the quintessential instructions of the Vajrayāna. you should know how the teachings of the Buddha converge on this single essential point and that this consummate meaning is the single viewpoint of the Sublime Ones such as Nāgārjuna and 460 461 rig read rigs [586. since this teaching of [Buddha-]nature— characterized as neither conjoined with. the emptiness taught in the middle wheel and the [Buddha-] body and wisdom taught in the last wheel should be integrated as a unity of emptiness and appearance.3].

243 Asaṅga.462 In this way. As master Nāgārjuna states: All the sūtras demonstrating emptiness That the Victorious One taught [587] Were all uttered to avert disturbing emotions. in saṃsāra and nirvāṇa. for it can be clearly understood through [Nāgārjuna’s] Dharmadhātustotra. it is not that suchness does not exist. and domains (yul) of the three realms of saṃsāra appear in this way and the nature of suchness is not seen. for example. self or other. 22. or aspects such as the good or bad. Although the mode of subsistence is as such. here or there. etc.—the expanse of phenomena is the unchanging (’pho ’gyur med). Not to diminish the basic element. Therefore. it exists without deviating in the slightest from its own nature. single sphere (thig le nyag gcig). in accord with the perspective of the appearances of adventitious delusion. . without temporal distinctions such as the past or future. minds (sems). it abides in the manner of an extract or an essential core in the center and is called the “heritage” or the “essential nature” (snying po). etc. although the suchness of mind is as such. even when bodies (lus). Since the expanse is impenetrable (mi phyed pa) by intellectual cognition. all phenomena are encompassed within the expanse (klong du chud) of suchness and the own essence of suchness abides. Now for the explanation of how these basic elements abide in the continuums of sentient beings: in terms of the own essence (rang gi ngo bo) of the mode of subsistence. without arising or ceasing. greater and lesser. Even so. and [Asaṅga’s] commentary on the Uttaratantra and so forth. it is not actualized (mi mgnon) due to being enclosed by adventitious defilements. there is no grounds for the entrance of faults in dependence upon the ultimate. it is known by illustration through the nine metaphors such as the underground 462 Dharmadhātustotra v.. Bodhicittavivaraṇa. the established result of examining through ultimate analysis is the vajra-like meaning of the consummate indivisible truth. as an equality.

244 treasure. Suchness. Such profound discourse as this is not to be taught to immature people or heretics because they are not suitable receptacles to hear this profound doctrine. as is said. . One then negates and establishes. That nature is stainless and non-dual.. and also the heritage.. See rgyud bla ma’i rtsa ’grel.47]. (2) variously impure and pure.464 Without knowing this. impure/pure. however. In the Uttaratantra [1. it is futile. And [1. one holds in the mind “Buddha-nature” [residing] in some uncertain place in the snare of the aggregates like a juniper berry supported in a bowl—as the character of a mind deluded and non-deluded associated like light and darkness. in accordance with that there will only be the lamentation of oneself not having gone at all in the direction of the intended meaning (dgongs don) of the Mahāyāna. 463 yang read yi [588. Its463 nature is the Truth Body. The names “sentient beings. According to the progression of impure. And likewise [1. [588] Even though it is posited in three contexts depending on the adventitious defilements: (1) impure. And extremely pure.” And “Tathāgatas” are given.28]: Since the Buddha’s wisdom enters into the assembly of sentient beings.” “bodhisattvas. in a crowd of negative intellectuals who have not trained in the Mahāyāna.2]. Therefore. etc. 8. and (3) extremely pure. All beings are said to possess the essential nature of Buddha.. 464 The last verse of Mi-pham’s citation is worded with a slight difference in the Uttaratantra.147]. The heritage of Buddha is designated upon that effect. there is no distinction in the own essence of the basic element. even though the discourse of the essential nature is proclaimed.

“If it is not the path of confined perception. demonstrating the essential nature is futile because it cannot be established through only confined perception.” In response to the question. and eternal Buddha-nature abiding in the enclosure of defilements.’ In order for immature beings to abandon the domain of fear due to no-self. hence. it has to be understood through experience (myong bas rtogs). etc.245 To them.” . by means of Buddha-nature they demonstrate the realm that is nonappearing and non-conceptual.’ ‘nirvāṇa. then it is not an authentic path. having expelled the obscured stupidity (rmongs mtshang brtol) of thinking: “Even though it is the authentic path. it is necessary to be learned in the essential point of the manner of accomplishing the path. and (3) refuting the apprehension of it as impermanent and conditioned. to refute a few wrongly conceived positions with regards to the nature of the basic element: (1) refuting the view that it is truly established and not empty. 1.” Now. Refuting the View that [the Basic Element] is Truly Established and Not Empty [589. [589] Otherwise. If the discourse of the Buddha-nature is progressively taught to those who have trained from the lower Buddhist philosophies and have generated a distinctive certainty in the uncategorized great emptiness. bodhisattvas and great beings of the present and future should not fixate upon a self. The Buddhas show the Buddha-nature in [590] the meanings of the words ‘three gates of liberation. Therefore. and that should be established by reasoning. (2) refuting the view that it is a void emptiness. which is spoken in the Buddha’s sūtras.” or. “How is the permanent. stable. different from the Self of the non-Buddhists? The non-Buddhists also speak of a self that is without qualities.4] In the Laṅkāvatārasūtra: The bodhisattva Mahāmati spoke to the Blessed One.’ and ‘non-arising. Mahāmati. since it cannot be proved through reason. it becomes a topic of superimposition and denigration. the doctrine should be taught beginning with selflessness and impermanence and so forth. “It is not the same. then they will believe. the Blessed One spoke.

. permanent as long as time. therefore. also by reasoned analysis. etc. Also. Moreover. then that also is like an illusion and a dream.. it is because in both there are faults. being truly established it is completely impossible to be the suchness of an extrinsic phenomenon (chos gzhan gyi chos nyid). Constructs are the hold of demons One should transcend existence and non-existence. inconceivable. In accord with the meaning of these scriptures.. However. [591] it impartially appears in all aspects of quality: it is suitable to be the suchness of mind. emptiness of other while not empty of its own essence is not sufficient as emptiness because the emptiness of something in another is an inferior emptiness among the seven types of emptiness. nirvāṇa. True establishment is not established by conventional valid cognition either because even though [it may appear to be] truly established from that [conventional] perspective. If it is asked why. Without being able to be established by the two valid cognitions. If there is something beyond the supreme truth (chos). by merely this there is never an ability to establish phenomena to be nonempty. And. due to the essential point that Buddha-nature is essentially empty.246 Moreover. the Tathāgata is neither permanent nor impermanent. Mahāmati. it is said that there is no liberation for one with the notion of entities. And.. the means of establishment has gone the way of a [non-existent] spaceflower. all-pervasive everywhere. establishing this becomes meaninglessly tiresome.. It also cannot be the result of an ascertainment of valid cognition analyzing the ultimate because the result of evidence for something truly established is unacceptable. as a handprint [result] of the analysis of the lack of true existence of all phenomena—like darkness [arising] from light. and that is said “to be abandoned.” extensively. while not empty of its own essence.

nor move. . Conceptualizing the doctrine of absence Is the movement that ensnares immature beings. In the condensed [Prajñāpāramitāsūtra]: Even in realizing “the aggregates are empty. Therefore. Emptiness is non-arising.” Later some will come Who delight in speech and say “everything is empty.4. 66. It is not seen. In the Samādhirājasūtra: “Existence” and “non-existence” are both extremes “Pure” and “impure” are also extremes. does not arrive. those who do not understand the position of the expanse that is a unity of appearance and emptiness establish contradiction in scriptures that state the qualities as a primordial endowment. vol. Refuting the View that [the Basic Element] is a Void Emptiness [591. saying “we train well in emptiness” Those speakers are the thieves of the doctrine.466 And. the expanse of phenomena.247 2. This is extremely inappropriate. [592] Those who abide in reference. 32.4] By holding a mere existential negation that is the categorized ultimate as the basic element. 270b. completely abandoning the extremes of both 465 P.6. 264b. In the Jñānamudrāsamādhisūtra (ye shes phyag rgya’i ting nge ’dzin gyi mdo): Without longing for truth. p.799. 466 P.” bodhisattvas Engage in signs without faith in the domain of non-arising. and emptiness. vol.”465 And. seeking gain Those without restraint claim to be “training in awakening. no one produced it. 32.799. 68. p.3-264b.

Also. These two destroy the sacred doctrine and turn the sacred doctrine upside down. . Refuting the Apprehension of [the Basic Element] as IImpermanent mpermanent and Conditioned [593. It is often said in the sūtras and śāstras that fixating upon emptiness. the antidote which extracts all views. all conditioned phenomena are suffering.248 The wise do not remain even in the middle. it is appropriate for novices to contemplate as merely a gateway to that [abiding reality]. is surpassed by the countless greater merit generated by another bodhisattva who contemplates. A sūtra says: Mañjuśrī. that in existence all conditioned phenomena are impermanent. in examining through reasoning. for even the time of a finger snap. like the sun free from clouds—is 467 dko read dkon [592. 3. however. it is not necessary to say a lot here since it is easy to gain confidence that merely the designation by a conceptual apprehension of the elimination of the object of negation—the contradistinctive aspect of an existential negation only eliminating true establishment—has not gone in the direction of the abiding reality which is free from imputations. In the Aṅgulimālīyasūtra: Alas! There are two [types of] beings who destroy the sacred doctrine in this world: those who view an extreme emptiness and those who profess a self in the world.4] One may wonder whether the omniscient wisdom that actualizes the ground—the Buddha-nature as it is.2]. [593] The mere aspect of an existential negation that is the emptiness of true existence is not the genuine expanse of phenomena nor the abiding reality. all conditioned phenomena are selfless. as an entity or a non-entity is an incorrigible view and that it is necessary to relinquish all that is not beyond reference upon anything empty or non-empty. the merit generated by a bodhisattva who gives the three jewels467 whatever is needed for a hundred god-years. all conditioned phenomena are empty.

hence. Omniscience arises through causes such as the generation of the mind [of awakening] and meditation (goms) on emptiness [594] because it is not reasonable to arise without a cause. it is extremely unreasonable that omniscience is permanent. the meaning is as follows: in accord with the mental perspectives of others— those to be trained who have not been transformed—the scriptures say that omniscience is impermanent. there is no genuinely permanent phenomena found. then there are no permanent phenomena because it is valid cognition that evaluates existent entities as they are. then the evaluating valid cognition also must be impermanent. it would certainly be incapable of all activities such as evaluating objects. Therefore. it is established as impermanent. and that [omniscience] is valid cognition that is the direct perception of all phenomena. and there is reason also in the Pramāṇavārttika [2.8]: There is no permanent valid cognition Because the realization of the existence of entities is valid and Objects of knowledge are impermanent That [omniscient valid cognition] is only impermanent. Since its objects are only impermanent objects of knowledge. all entities are impermanent and although non-entities are designated as “permanent. This fact is necessarily established as such for the perspectives of non-Buddhist heretics and those of the common vehicles who have not trained their minds in the manner of transformation within the essence of inconceivable suchness (bsam gyis mi khyab pa’i chos nyid kyi ngo bor gnas gyur pa’i tshul) because they have no method whatsoever for the arising of what is other than the .” since there is no basis of something permanent (rtag rgyu gzhi med). occurring sequentially. If valid cognition is a non-deceptive cognition. Sometimes in the sūtras omniscience is said to be permanent and sometimes it is also said to be impermanent.249 permanent or impermanent. Likewise. because it is established by valid cognition that what is permanent is incapable of functioning.

250 manner of appearance from the perspective of consciousness (rnam shes). are only the appearances as such from the perspectives of those who have not thoroughly transformed. All spatial aspects and temporal changes (dus kyi ’gyur ba) are incorporated (’ub chub) within that state. although there are unrestricted appearances of various temporal limits (dus kyi mtha’) and spatial aspects (phyogs kyi cha).. there is the incontrovertible and undeniable appearance of inequality—all the changing. occurring sequentially as arising and ceasing moments. good and bad. and dualistic phenomena are not established. ceasing. omniscience is established as permanent because (1) the arising and ceasing of instances of knowable objects and (2) also the subjective wisdom arising sequentially and so forth. which derive from that. in terms of the meaning of the mode of subsistence. etc. saṃsāra and nirvāṇa. However. the basic nature abides as the great equality in which arising. then needless to mention that the sequence of time and so forth. Without distinction as to before and after. Therefore. So why not give this the name “great . however. like the appearances from one’s own perspective in a dream. This exists as the domain of a Sublime One’s individual reflexive awareness wisdom and there is no pollution by the changes of the three times. are not established—for example. put forward to prove the impermanence of that [omniscience]. unity. [595] However. it is called the “naturally abiding heritage. adventitious defilements suitable to be removed. the basic nature of mind—suchness. the meaning of the non-arising. it is not established as only this because when there is no phenomenon whatsoever that even arises momentarily. they are not established as such.” To an untransformed one who has dualistic perception. unceasing suchness is like that because the thoroughly transformed consummate wisdom is the wisdom body that is the indivisibility of the knowing and the object known and at the time without transformation also. as for (dbang du byas) the vision of thoroughly transformed wisdom (ye shes). naturally luminous clarity—is unchanging.

Through eliminating the defilements through the power of realization and abandonment comprised by the five paths. without conceptualizing and without effort. all changing entities and non-entities such as space. are subsumed as an equal taste within this suchness. although clouds are subsumed within space. their own nature is not manifest. it is praised as equal to receiving a prophecy of a Non-Returner.251 permanence”? [It is designated as such] because (1) it exists and (2) it does not arise and cease momentarily. the Truth Body freed from adventitious defilements is a freed effect (bral ba’i ’bras bu). However. by this fact. [596] In this way. etc. One attains the omniscient wisdom that spontaneously knows. it merely appears as such in the way of appearance for those who are untransformed (gnas ma gyur pa’i snang tshul). [597] primordially nirvāṇa. there is merit in viewing the Tathāgata’s wisdom . this suchness is not at all subsumed within the phenomena that change and so forth—for example. in terms of the actual meaning. if proper belief arises. Therefore. However. the equal taste that is the basic nature of the suchness of all cognitions—the unchanging self-existing wisdom. so you should aspire to this fact. Although it appears to be newly produced by a cause. for someone temporarily defiled. although the basic nature—the luminous and clear expanse of great equality that is suchness—is the single self-existing wisdom that innately abides as naturally pervading all entities. all objects of knowledge of space and time. from the beginning all phenomena are—as an equality—the actual Buddha (mngon par sangs rgyas pa). This consummate viewpoint of the profound sūtras is a topic that is difficult to fathom for pure beings (dag pa’i sems dpa’). self-existing wisdom is not produced by a cause because actually. one attains the great wisdom that is the indivisibility of the knowing and the object known. naturally luminous and clear. In this way. needless to mention ordinary people! Nevertheless. in the essence of the Truth Body. space is not subsumed within clouds. which is the nature of suchness without arising or disintegration.

compared to any noble son or daughter who offers whatever is desired to the four assemblies468 in each of the worldly realms of the ten directions for ten million god-aeons. Those who view the Tathāgata’s body as impermanent have not even gone for refuge. having acknowledged this as is said in the sūtras. free from all grasping is the good view that realizes the ultimate. the own essence of Buddha-nature is free from all conceptual constructs such as existence and non-existence. “The Tathāgata is permanent.” That [latter] one generates countless greater merit than the other. seeing as it is the suchness of one-taste of all phenomena of appearance and existence is the meaning of seeing authentically with nothing to add or remove. and (4) female laypersons (dge 468 bsnyen ma). another noble son or daughter who stirs for the purpose of acting accordingly. (3) male laypersons (dge bsnyen). In this way. In the Praśantaviniścayaprātihāryasamādhisūtra (rab tu zhi ba rnam par nges pa’i cho ’phrul gyis ting nge ’dzin): Mañjuśrī. (2) fully ordained nuns (dge slong ma). and there are limitless faults in viewing the vajra body as impermanent. noble sons and daughters should always one-pointedly persist in these two phrases: “The Buddha is permanent and the Buddha abides.. Therefore.” And. it is the equality of the single sphere of indivisible truth (bden pa dbyer med thig le nyag gcig). the authentic meaning should be respected. In the state of that abiding reality..252 body as permanent. saying. permanence and annihilation. And in the Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra: Kāśyapa. In the Bodhipakṣanirdeśasūtra (byang chub phyogs bstan pa): The four assemblies are: (1) fully ordained monks (dge slong). Whoever persistently perceives that the inconceivable [598] is permanent is a source of refuge. . The Tathāgata is steadfast.

meditated [upon].469 In the Gaganagañjaparipṛcchāsūtra (nam mkha’ mdzod kyi zhu pa): Entities. which is incontrovertible causality 469 P. p. there is no phenomenon whatsoever in front of a Sublime One’s supreme knowledge or wisdom that is any phenomenon that is thoroughly known. or abandoned. 103. in the context of differentiating well by means of the valid cognition analyzing the conventional. . the self-existing wisdom totality of [ultimate] aspects (rnam pa thams cad pa). never changes • Knowing the non-existent as non-existent—such as knowing that the appearances of self and perceived-perceiver [duality] are not intrinsically established • Apprehending the existent as existent—such as knowing (1) the mode of appearance of dependent arising. sees authentically.5. vol. and Whatever abides in the authentic limit— The view of entities and non-entities Is not held by the wise. 34. 253b.845. In the Bodhisattvapiṭika: Ultimately. without duality. non-entities. whoever sees. the abiding reality of entities in the mode of apprehension of undistorted supreme knowledge is conventionally: • Knowing the truth as truth—such as knowing the undeceiving path of the Sublime Ones (’phags pa’i lam) • Knowing the false as false—such as knowing those who profess liberation through meditating on the self to be misguided • Knowing the impermanent as impermanent—knowing all conditioned entities to be momentary • Knowing the permanent as permanent—knowing that Buddha-nature.253 Mañjuśrī. actualized. consciousness. [599] However. the equality (mi mnyam pa med) of all phenomena as non-dual.

also for many aeons may 470 brgya read rgyal [600. and so forth. vast qualities are attained because this is the non-deluded root of virtue. Constantly make daily offerings to the Victors of doctrine in Buddha-fields equal in number to dust motes. Through manifest joy in the inconceivable qualities One surpasses the merit of all sentient beings. through knowing and abiding as such. Thus. and self are taught in order to know the existent as existent—the unchanging consummate quality of peace. limitless benefit ensues in merely being inspired (mos pa). and also is inspired having heard. Any other who hears mere words of this. Through this virtue gains much more merit than through generosity. [and] unmoving is called “self. the Buddha-nature.” Having heard the explanation of the manner of the profound Buddhanature in this way. Through seeking awakening. with golden fields adorned with jewels. also in sūtras many doctrines are taught in general and specific ways. An intelligent one wishing for awakening. That which is sovereign. unchanging. bliss. naturally abiding in all sentient beings. In particular.3-5. and perfection which is the non-abiding great nirvāṇa. It is said in the Uttaratantra [5. the Buddha-nature transcending both conceptual constructs of self and no-self [600] is said to be the great self. although a self of persons does not exist. permanence. one may.254 (rgyu ’bras) and (2) the spontaneously present qualities of suchness. In the Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra: The “self” is the authentic permanence of whatever it is that is true. the supreme qualities of the perfection of purity. .5]: An intelligent one aspiring to the domain of the Victorious Ones470 Is a vessel for the accumulation of the qualities of Buddha. Therefore.3]. coolness (bsil ba).

[601] Through this virtue gains much more merit than through discipline. p. they think of the faults of that also.471 And in the Sarvavaidalyasaṃgrahasūtra (rnam pa ’thag pa bsdus pa’i mdo): Thus. 35. Like an arrow shot in the sky falling down. Any other who hears mere words of this. since stupid people go to the lower realms due to the blessings of demons. hence. 35. 153. This demonstration of the discourse of Buddha-nature—the roar (sgra) of the non-returning lion that is the essential nature of the supreme vehicle—is the excellence of immense profundity. p. may In meditation on the method of unshaken awakening complete the perfections of the abodes of the gods and Brahma.255 Uphold immaculate discipline of body. and also is inspired having heard.895. 197a. . Any other who hears mere words of this. for those who have little previous training and are mentally deficient. 268a. and mind effortlessly.472 471 P. it is difficult to aspire to.1. there is great purpose in knowing and aspiring to what is so profound and difficult to fathom. Thus. Through this virtue gains much more merit than through concentration. vol. and also is inspired having heard.8-168b. One whose concentration drives out the fire of disturbing emotions of the three realms. they think of the faults of the spoken doctrines bestowed by the Tathāgata. 472 P. vol. Likewise.8. 125.893. It does not abide. speech. In the Tathāgatasaṃgatisūtra (de bzhin gshegs pa ’gro ba’i mdo): This wisdom of mine Is doubted by those with immature minds.

reliance on the definitive meaning. p. one becomes an evil-doer. they have doubts and qualms as a nonBuddhist. reliance on wisdom. are attached to dispute.473 And. The mind of an angered one also cannot be protected. this world will become filled by such unholy beings who drown in the path of sustenance. not individuals. through the power of being born at the end of the teachings of P. through the manner of a perverted understanding of the four reliances. 21a.826. reliance on the meaning. Having abandoned everything with an essence The faithless hold onto the dregs. and harm themselves and others. 186. 33. when doubts in the doctrine are generated One becomes crazy for billions of aeons.475 have come to mostly denigrate the essential point of the tradition of the supreme vehicle and contrive the doctrine. 475 Reliance on the doctrine. Considering the fact of what has been said. Having squandered and contradicted the doctrine. not words. 186. However. vol. 33. 473 474 . They contradict with meaningless words The teachings of the Victorious Ones Through the defilements.7. They become boastful and constantly haughty. It is extremely rare also for a mind to cherish this which is like the life-force of the path of the Mahāyāna. not consciousness.256 And in the Brahmadattaparipṛcchā (tshangs pas byin gyis zhu pa): When the well-spoken doctrine is taught Those within the realm of evil hold it as unreasonable [602] Without faith.826. 20b. p. not provisional meanings. P. Through thinking without faith. The faithless do not bow down to others. The faithless even abandon the doctrine. vol. the degenerate time is booming and those beings born at the end of the teaching.5-20b.6.6-21a.474 In the Duḥśīlanigrahīsūtra (tshul ’chal tshar gcod pa’i mdo): Śāriputra.

the self. the omniscient vajra splendor [Jam-yang-khyen-tsey-wang-po]. . they do not “proclaim the lion’s roar”.257 the old translation lineage of awareness-holders. the well-spoken meaning of the naturally abiding heritage—the expanse of phenomena in the manner of the thoroughly non-abiding unity free from all extremes—is the lion’s roar. selfless. In the Brahmaviśoṣacintaparipṛcchāsūtra (tshangs pa khyad par sems kyis zhus pa’i mdo): Divine child. it is professing only that the Tathāgata is permanent. although they state the empty topics a lot. [604] It should be known as illustrated by the extensive speech on the meaning of the example of proclaiming the lion’s roar. the youthful Mañjuśrī displayed in human form. whatever doctrines are spoken without attachment to anything are the lion’s roar (seng ge’i sgra). Teaching a view to be taken up is not the lion’s roar. I saw and heard many precious oral instructions of the lineage. bliss. proclaiming the lion’s roar is not professing that all phenomena are impermanent. And. they are fox’s chatter (wa’i sgra). I have gained a bit of confidence in this profound topic through the power of having the good fortune to take upon the crown of my head the lotus feet of many authentic virtuous spiritual friends such as the powerful victor and regent of Padma[-sambhava]. Those spoken with attachment to something are not the lion’s roar. In the Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra: Proclaiming the lion’s roar is definitively stating that all sentient beings have the nature of Buddha and that the Tathāgata is always abiding and is immutable. Noble child. and completely impure.” Regarding this. In this way. proclamations in the midst of a large assembly of wise scholars are “proclamations of the great lion’s roar. suffering. and completely pure. [603] Although I am of an age and intellect that is not mature.

Likewise. “What is protecting the doctrine?” It is defeating those who disparage the doctrine of the Buddha in accordance with the doctrine. And. one upholds the doctrine of the Sugatas and Repays the actions of all the Buddhas. It is also upholding the doctrine. This manner is also protecting the doctrine. In the Tathāgatamahākaruṇānirdeśasūtra (de bshin gshegs pa’i snying rje chen po nges par bstan pa’i mdo): In this way. In this way.258 If there is discord with others in speaking the own path of the Sugatas truthfully as such. In the Gaganagañjaparipṛcchā: The character of the doctrine completely upholds Whatever character the Victorious Ones’ awakening possesses. In the Madhyamakāvatāra [6. upholding the doctrine is repaying the actions of the Buddhas and also gaining immeasurable merit. having renunciation and lacking disturbance (zang zing).118]: The śāstras demonstrate thusness for the sole purpose of liberation. In the Samādhirājasūtra: Regarding this. Through this. closely abiding by the Victorious One’s doctrine and Through the doctrine. there is no measure to the merit . Not for the sake of attachment to analysis and disputation. if it is asked. do not make others disturbed. since it is a presentation of the authentic path. [605] And in the Gaganagañjaparipṛcchā: Although expressed for ten billion aeons There is no limit to Buddha’s wisdom. If in explaining thusness other scriptures are destroyed There is no fault. Whoever knows the extent of the stainless [doctrine] Upholds the doctrine of all the Buddhas.

Thus it is said. following after famous people And lacking an intellect that discriminates the proper and improper Most are possessed by the demon of jealousy— I know this is not a time to deliver elegant speeches. and May the essential nature of the Victorious One’s teaching spread across the ten directions! .259 Of upholding the sacred doctrine of the Tathāgata. [606] Overwhelm the hordes of beasts with bad views. Therefore. At that time. Although I have developed a little confidence here In the scriptural tradition of the supreme vehicle. The lion’s roar of the supreme vehicle. prolonged joy had arose In persistent intimacy (goms) with elegant sayings. I am young in age and immature in training— Who would rely upon the speech of a crazy monk [like] myself? These days. May the unity of appearance and emptiness that relinquishes all grasping. this is a feast for the gathering of fortunate ones. At a later time and in another land also Sacred joy in the Victorious One’s doctrine will become like the waxing moon. From this discourse of consummate profundity The joy that arises in intelligent ones Is not like the happiness that falls to the extremes of existence or peace. with constant devoted worship to the supreme teacher And exalted deity on the lotus of my heart The clear aspects of the words and meanings of the excellent scriptures Have clearly dawned in the expanse of awareness. However.

“Write an explanation of ‘because the body of a perfect Buddha is radiant.’ whatever comes to mind.. and supreme knowledge (shes rab)... .” this was precisely written down by the monk Lo-drö-dri-mey (blo gros dri med). meditative stabilization (ting nge ’dzin). May it be virtuous! 476 The three trainings are: discipline (tshul khrims). bearing the treasury of jewels of the three trainings.260 At the request of my brother in the doctrine named Guṇa.476 who said.

is [my] object of veneration! Regarding this. the only edition of the text that I have had access to thus far is a photocopy of a digital input of the text that I obtained from She-chen monastery in Nepal. . The meaning complete with the essential points of all Sūtra and Mantra is as follows: due to the essential point477 of the indivisibility of appearance and 477 kyi read kyis [3. [Mi--pham’s] Exposition Notes on the Essential Points of [Mi Buddha--Nature] [of Buddha By PödPöd-pa Tulku [2] namo guru mañjuśrīye . the definitive meaning Buddha-nature [3] is directly and indirectly the consummate topic of all Sūtra and Mantra.Homage to the guru Mañjuśrī! The one with the maṇḍala of wisdom and love endowed with the two-fold purity— The natural purity of the essential basic element of awakening [and] The Truth Body completely devoid of adventitious defilements— Radiant with thousand-fold light [rays] of benefit and happiness. I included this translation because it is a useful supplement to the translation of Mi-pham’s Lion’s Roar: Exposition of Buddha-Nature above. Unfortunately.261 Document 2 Introduction Pöd-pa Tulku’s Notes on the Essential Points of [Mi-pham’s] Expoistion [of Buddha-Nature] addresses a number of issues found within Mi-pham’s Lion’s Roar: Exposition of Buddha-Nature. Also.2]. which are discussed as the topics are raised. I have consistently found Pöd-pa Tulku’s systematization of Mi-pham’s works very helpful. The short text is thematically organized around a list of topics.

. the path of liberation without hardship through sustaining the state of cutting through (khregs chod). path. there is the realization of the ground. and in particular. the nature of the Middle Way—the unity of appearance and emptiness—in all the contexts of ground. [5] the latter [purity that is free from adventitious defilements] is distinguished by the realization through the power of the adventitious [defilements] of the subject (yul can) being perfected or not. The following is the manner how the nature of this is realized: while the aspect of natural purity is directly realized from the first [bodhisattva] ground. there is the view of the ground— the realization of the indivisibility of purity and equality—and the unity of the two stages478 of the path. winds (rlung). as well as the essential point of actualizing the qualities of the path and fruition through applying the key points of the channels (rtsa). the indivisibility of primordial purity and spontaneous presence. and essences (thig le) • In the uncommon Mantra [the Great Perfection]. there is the essential point of actualizing the qualities of the path and fruition through abandoning the two obscurations • [4] In the common unexcelled Mantra. the manner how its essence is indicated in sūtras is as follows: the manner that the middle Word indicates the essential 478 The two stages are: the generation stage (bskyed rim) and the completion stage (rdzogs rim). all the essential points of Sūtra and Mantra are complete in this. such as: • In the path of Sūtra. which are not produced through the mind or impure winds. Moreover. and fruition are not transgressed. and the appearances of direct crossing (thod rgal). the qualities of the purity that is free from the adventitious [defilements] is a topic difficult to realize even for the lords on the tenth ground.262 emptiness. The own essence of the object (yul) in the former [natural purity] does not have the aspects of being seen or not.

In accord with the intended meaning of the middle wheel. Within the first. constituents. there are two: (1) valid cognition that analyzes the categorized and (2) valid cognition that analyzes the uncategorized. it does not become the genuine emptiness which is the indivisible two truths because of being distinct and unmixed with appearance due to: (1) an appearing entity not mixing with an existential negation that is an absence of true existence and (2) a nonentity that is an existential negation abandoning appearance. it is the great unity free from extremes. so it is free from the extreme of non-entity annihilation. the empty essence is clearly shown. thereby. it also becomes that which joins Sūtra and Mantra. it is free from the extreme of permanence. Also. there are two valid cognitions— ultimate and conventional analyses—which ascertain the two truths. its nature is luminous clarity when evaluated by the thoroughly conventional valid cognition based upon pure vision. However. from the aspect of suchness. the expanse of phenomena is taught as the naturally abiding heritage. . there is no fault of the absurd consequence that there would thus be no difference between Sūtra and Mantra because the aggregates.” Since conventional production by its own characteristics is not negated. Concerning the meaning of this. Therefore. and sense-fields are not taught [in Sūtra] as the divine maṇḍalas presently in a complete manner. The first [valid cognition that analyzes the categorized] distinguishes the two truths and applies the operator “ultimately not established.263 emptiness is through indicating the divisions of the quality-bearers (chos can) such as the twenty emptinesses. Since the last Word indicates the [Buddha-]body and wisdom from the contradistinctive aspect (ldog cha) of the luminous and clear nature of mind. therefore. [6] In accord with the intended meaning of the last Word. it abides as the empty essence when evaluated by the valid cognition that analyzes the ultimate. it is limited emptiness.

480 kyi read kyis [7. However. there is not only no ensuing fault of the over-pervasion of the object of negation. it is the genuine unity.36. [8] The first is the wisdom of a Sublime One’s continuum and the second is the mind of an ordinary being.264 [7] The second [uncategorized] is as follows: as is said. the first is the unmistaken valid cognition and the second is a mistaken cognition.. due to the essential point480 of not dividing the two truths.”479 without dividing the two truths. the indicated meaning of the middle Word as it is should be ascertained as the great emptiness which is the uncategorized ultimate—the essence of Buddha-nature that does not in the slightest degree withstand ultimate analysis. there are two conventional valid cognitions: (1) thoroughly conventional valid cognition based upon pure vision and (2) thoroughly conventional valid cognition based on impure confined perception. Therefore. If having divided the two truths one also negates appearance. even mere appearances—from form to omniscience—through reasoning are unable to withstand analysis and are ascertained as the great emptiness. its aspect of appearance also is not like a limited entity posited by confined perception. . there also ensues the fault of the over-pervasion (khyab ches ba’i skyon) of the object of negation. nor separable from... Moreover. hence. Madhyamakāvatāra 6. it is established by the power of fact (dngos stobs kyis) to be the nature that is neither conjoined with. but it is this which hits the essential point that evokes the genuine indivisibility of the two truths. Second. “Through this reasoning [production] is not reasonable even conventionally. appearance and emptiness.4]. That emptiness also is not a limited non-entity which is posited from a valid cognition of confined perception. It is the object found as it is by the thoroughly conventional valid cognition based on pure vision in accord with the intended meaning of the last 479 Candrakīrti. which is separate from appearance and (2) an appearance that is not empty are impossible. Therefore. (1) a non-entity emptiness.

they both are also false. nor separable from. Otherwise. Therefore.54. . it indicates the unity of appearance and emptiness which is neither conjoined with.481 Since the appearances of the six classes of beings are deluded perceptions and the perception of pure wisdom is non-deluded. Also. then that heritage is not suitable as anything other than what has fallen to the extreme of non-entity annihilation. the [Buddha-]body and wisdom. Madhyamakāvatāra 6. it is the object found by the valid cognition of pure vision. if it is asserted to be not empty or to withstand analysis even from the perspective of ultimate analysis. which is the conventional mode of subsistence?” 481 Candrakīrti. since pure wisdom knows both pure and impure objects of knowledge. it becomes a permanent and true existence. if one does not know how to establish its existence from the perspective of conventional valid cognition of pure vision. [the latter] is necessarily the conventional mode of subsistence. To the clear vision of objects.265 Word—in the way that it appears in accord with the mode of subsistence—it is ascertained as the identity of the great luminous clarity. it does not in the slightest degree withstand analysis in the evaluation of ultimate analysis and (2) from the aspect of the nature of clarity. the definitive meaning Buddha-nature—the single essential point of the non-contradictory viewpoint of the middle and last Words—accords with the statement: The mind is devoid of mind because The nature of mind is luminous clarity. how the valid cognition of pure vision is established is as follows: [10] Candrakīrti states: Compared to that mind. (1) From the aspect of the empty essence. they both are true. If someone asks. “Well. [9] In short.

two truths are posited in which the aspect of appearance is relative and the aspect of emptiness is ultimate. it is not posited as relative.266 The wisdom that knows all there is (ji lta mkhyen pa) perceives both the pure and the impure. then because ‘the ultimate Buddhanature’ states it as ultimate. and if posited as relative. If is it said. [11] all appearances such as pots are the mind’s self-perception (rang snang). is posited as ultimate and [12] saṃsāra. nirvāṇa. it perceives only great purity and equality. “Well. As is said: The mind is devoid of mind because The nature of mind is luminous clarity. however. they are not established in meaning. and (2) by means of the object of conventional valid cognition of pure vision being authentic or not. hence. that is posited as the conventional mode of subsistence. not the conventional mode of subsistence. According to the former [appearance/emptiness model]. appearance which accords with the mode of subsistence. appearance which is in discord. Although it knows the impure. The establishment of the possession of the essential nature of Buddha is posited as the heritage which is the basic element—the Buddha-nature. there are two manners: (1) by means of the object found by ultimate valid cognition being authentic or not. that is not its own perception (rang snang) because that is the deluded perception of the six classes of beings. are all objects of knowledge the nature of Buddha?” In this context of the vehicle of characteristics (mtshan nyid theg pa).” In accord with the viewpoint of the great scriptures. “Well. which is the manner of positing the two truths in the Prāsaṅgika tradition?” . it becomes truly established. In its own perception. therefore. is posited as relative. If someone asks. “Well. If it is asked. if this is posited as ultimate. [Buddha-nature] has aspects of both truths. it is posited as ultimate according to the latter [authentic/inauthentic experience model].

” Concerning the manner of positing the provisional and the definitive in general. and sūtras that mainly express the topic of the conventional. Moreover. by means of what is or is not invalidated by valid cognition analyzing the ultimate. emphasizing the former [appearance/emptiness model]. [14] Candrakīrti accepts sūtras that mainly express the topic of emptiness as the definitive meaning. although emphasizing the latter [authentic/inauthentic experience model]. is not from the perspective of ultimate analysis [13] because if something withstands analysis from that perspective. The Uttaratantra. Therefore. Therefore. Since whatever speech of the [Buddha-]body and wisdom is not in the slightest degree [concerning] an entity found by a valid cognition of confined perception. Candrakīrti. sūtras are provisional meanings when the meaning of the literal teaching has all three complete: a basis with an [other] intention. “How can the viewpoints of the middle and last wheel not contradict? Their provisional and definitive sūtras are distinct. it is posited by means of whether or not it exists as the consummate object found by the valid cognition of pure vision. . being empty of mistaken phenomena that are separable. without contradiction. and not empty of phenomena that are inseparable with emptiness. [or] relative.267 Both are posited without contradiction. elucidates the empty essence of all phenomena. as Prāsaṅgika scriptures. The opposite of this is posited as the definitive meaning. what is provisional. it is truly established. there is no occasion for a common locus (gzhi mthun) of a permanent phenomenon and an entity. and explicit invalidation. this is the reason why both the Madhyamakāvatāra and the Uttaratantra fall to one essential point. If one says. truths as provisional meanings: Whatever sūtras have the meaning that does not explain thusness Know those to also explain the relative. and so forth. in accord with the viewpoint of the Samādhirājasūtra and so forth. Consequentially. is in accord with the former because the nature of emptiness is established as luminous clarity. Therefore. a purpose.

the scriptures of the middle and last Words and the commentaries on the viewpoint such as the Uttaratantra and the Madhyamakāvatāra will have an indivisible viewpoint. if you understand the essential point of the noncontradiction of the viewpoints of the sūtras and śāstras that teach (1) the great emptiness. the object found by ultimate valid cognition. by the example of cleansing a jewel. Hence.268 Know those that have the meaning of emptiness as the definitive meaning.482 Therefore. the manner of positing is by means of the topic: the first Word is provisional.97. Buddha-nature. the Uttaratantra and the Dharmadhātustotra and so forth. and the last is a mix of provisional and definitive meanings. Hence. sūtras that teach the consummate definitive meaning. the middle is definitive. the contradistinctive aspect of the relative. [16] there is the essential point of releasing the seal of difficult points of the indicated meaning of the 482 Madhyamakāvatāra 6. In accordance with sūtras that show the heritage. . However. the last Word teachings in which the definitive meaning Buddha-nature is the topic—the nature of inseparable appearance and emptiness and the ultimate that is appearance in accord with the mode of subsistence—are the definitive meaning because [Buddha-nature] is the object found by the valid cognition of pure vision. without having an influx of contradictions as to the respective provisional and definitive meanings of the beginning and end of the Uttaratantra. are asserted as the definitive meaning. as the consummate definitive meaning and (2) a provisional meaning from the aspect of appearance. In particular. the basic element (rigs khams). it does not follow that a meaning taught in a sūtra that Candrakīrti has said to be a provisional meaning is necessarily non-existent conventionally because all presentations of relative truth are the expressed meanings of a provisional meaning. by means of whether there is or is not [15] invalidation through the [conventional] valid cognition of pure vision in accord with what is found by the valid cognition of pure vision.

Regarding this. are also indicated by the name “disturbing emotion” in sūtras and śāstras. The cognitive obscurations (shes sgrib). are completely abandoned up to the seventh ground. The aspect of the extremely subtle latency (bag nyal) of that is abandoned by the vajra[-like] meditative stabilization (rdor ting). are progressively abandoned by the nine grounds of the path of meditation (sgom lam). such as understanding nothing to divide or remove (dbye bsal med). the viewpoints of the great chariots are in accord: asserting that disturbing emotions are abandoned up to the seventh ground and . [17] The obscurations that are disturbing emotions (nyon sgrib). Their latency is abandoned on the three pure grounds. Therefore. Therefore.269 scripture. The latency of the obscurations that are disturbing emotions. and (2) since whatever indications of empty essence are not [concerning] a non-entity like a rabbit horn posited by confined perception. it is free from the extreme of annihilation. Their extremely subtle habitual tendency (bag chags) is abandoned by the vajra[-like] meditative stabilization. there is no common locus of a permanent phenomenon and an entity. together with the [Buddha-]body and wisdom. among the two-fold division [of obscurations into those which are] disturbing emotions and cognitive. The aspect of the imputed are discards of the path of seeing (mthong lam). The manner of purifying the defilements of the basic element is as follows: the two obscurations are divided into two: imputed obscurations (kun brtags) and innate obscurations (lhan skyes). (1) since whatever indications of Buddha-nature. are not [concerning] an entity posited by confined perception. which there are eight aspects within the innate obscurations. which are cognitive obscurations. it is the nature of indivisible appearance and emptiness like the statement: The mind is devoid of mind because The nature of mind is luminous clarity.

Moreover. there is also no fault of the effect abiding in the cause. If one thinks. . There are three reasonings that establish483 Buddha-nature: (1) reasoning of dependency [investigating] the effect.5]. therefore. Since the statement.” since its essence is primordially pure of defilements. At the time when the selfless abiding reality of mind is realized through the power of 483 gyi gru ba read gyis grub [17. “Does the Buddha that is the mode of subsistence abandon the obscurations to be abandoned or not?” If you speak concerning the basic nature of the Buddha that is the mode of subsistence called “the essential Buddha of primordial purity. not the effect which is that [Buddha endowed with the two-fold purity]. the first is evidence that is an effect and the latter two are evidence of [identical] intrinsic nature. (2) reasoning of the nature of things [investigating] the essence. what defilements are there to be abandoned? The defilements to be abandoned are not established.270 asserting that disturbing emotions are abandoned until the end of the continuum (rgyun mtha’). it also is not contradictory. since a person is deluded by the adventitious [defilements]. and (3) reasoning of efficacy [investigating] the cause. [18] The first. in any case.” is [in reference to] the Buddha that is natural purity (rang bzhin rnam dag). The evidence put forward as an effect is from the contradistinctive aspect of being the effect endowed with the two-fold purity. it [refers to] the suchness of mind. through putting forward as evidence the effect—that which is endowed with the two-fold purity (dag pa gnyis ldan)—the existence of the essence of the primordially pure Buddha is established. “sentient beings are Buddhas. it is posited by means of the two separate contradistinctive aspects: (1) the Buddha that is the primordial pure essence and (2) the Buddha that is endowed with the twofold purity. obscurations are not able to be abandoned due to not realizing the nature of the mode of subsistence. [19] Although there are obscurations in the mode of appearance for sentient beings.

Having written this in accord with the words spoken by the lord of refuge. love. by only this the two-fold purity is not asserted. that one becomes a Buddha endowed with the two-fold purity due to actualizing the infinite mode of subsistence of the two wisdoms: knowing as it is and knowing all there is. a person so endowed does not become omniscient because of being a person for which appearances do not accord with the mode of subsistence. the lord of the expanse of phenomena free from activity. all the obscurations. Therefore.271 meditating on the path. Also. May all beings actualize the Truth Body of the Sugatas! May it be virtuous! sarva mangalaṃ. when such a person [20] is free from the defilements of deluded perceptions together with their habitual tendencies. Through the power of meditating on the path. which are rooted in the adventitious apprehension of self. Through the virtue of Do-ngak-ten-pay-nyi-ma. and powers in the mode of subsistence. The following is an investigation into whether the Buddha that is the mode of subsistence perceives objects of knowledge or not: although the manner of the primordially pure essence—the essence which is the nature of luminous clarity—resides as the identity of knowledge. the one from the eastern region of Dak-po. the fruition which is the endowment of two-fold purity will be actualized. through this essential point one can know whether or not the Buddha is endowed with the two-fold purity. will be progressively abandoned. .

1990). 15 (Beijing: Nationalities Press. it is found in the second volume of a two-volume printed edition of Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa’s major works. I will refer to this edition as DT. the eighty-four thousand sections of doctrine. vol. however. I also consulted another edition of the text that I aquired while in Go-lok (mgo log). a cursive (dbu med) edition of Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa’s collected works reportedly printed in Dzam-thang. 485 Yön-tan-zang-po (yon tan bzang po). in the series gang can rig brgya’i sgo ’byed pa’i lde mig. Excerpt from Roar of the Fearless Lion [48. path.. the section concerning the three wheels of doctrine. The Tibetan text I used for the translation was the edition that Matthew Kapstein had published in India from a block-print from Sey Monastery (bswe dgon pa). the profound point of these. vol. was omitted from that edition.2--97.272 Document 3 Introduction Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa’s Roar of the Fearless Lion is an exegesis on the distinctive Jo-nang doctrine of other-emptiness. a. . The text is organized around a presentation of the ground.4] By KhenKhen-po LoLo-drödrö-drakdrak-pa [48. the exerpt from the text translated below. Collected Works (rje skyab mgon ma ti’i gsung ’bum).484 Another edition of Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa’s Roar of the Fearless Lion can be found in a nearly verbatim abridgement of the text attributed to one of his main students485. the consummate definitively secret essence falls upon only one 484 Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa.2 [48. rgyu ’bras theg pa mchog gi gnas lugs zab mo’i don rnam par nges pa rje jo nang pa chen po’i ring lugs ’jigs med gdong lnga’i nga ro..2] . are included into two: the Causal Perfection Vehicle and the Resultant Vehicle. and fruition— following a similar structure as Dol-po-pa’s Ocean of Definitive Meaning.All that was spoken by our teacher [the Buddha].

due to the various quintessential instructions (man ngag) as to the manner of realizing the abiding reality of the Middle Way philosophy of the Mahāyāna. Also. Path. Mahāmudrā. path. and fruition. The Subject of the Extensive Discussion Here Progression of Profound Points of the Ground. path. The presentation of the four philosophies in our system flourished in the Noble Land [of India]. in Tibet as well. there arose distinct ways in which the status (gnas lugs) of the three vehicles is realized through the means of various practices for different contexts.. Here. With respect to how this is so. and the way that the explanation is beneficial [the latter two topics are not included in this translation]. [49] will be progressively disclosed based on this tradition. and an appended brief disclosure of the profound points of the ground. This has two parts: the subject of the extensive discussion here. From among these. the subject of the teaching which is the actual profound abiding reality of the ground. and fruition of the Sūtra Perfection Vehicle. and Fruition of the Sūtra Perfection Vehicle This has three parts: the manner of the teaching of the profound abiding reality of the definitive meaning of the Perfection Vehicle. From there. The essential points of the profound meaning of the Middle Way of otheremptiness in Sūtra and Mantra. the many various philosophies progressively split. there came to be distinctive views and philosophies of the Middle Way. in dependence upon the individual constituents and faculties of each disciple. and the Great Perfection (rdzogs chen). an Explanation of the 1. and fruition of the Vajrayāna of Mantra [the latter topic is not included in this translation]. . path. an explanation of the progression of profound points of the ground. the great lord Jo-nang-pa [Shey-rap-gyal-tsen] thoroughly opened the way for the chariot tradition in the exceptional manner of the definitive meaning—the Great Middle Way.273 viewpoint (dgongs pa).

1. he mainly taught relative phenomena in the manner of their existence as true entities. Concerning the Middle [Word. śravakayāna). and the way that these commentaries on Buddha’s viewpoint (dgong ’grel) are supreme.6] This section has two parts: presenting scripture and establishing the reason for that being the way it is. the wheels of doctrine indicated in Dhāraṇīśvararājaparipṛcchāsūtra.” for disciples of not very mature faculties. who although had not trained in many stages of the vehicle of the Mahāyāna.5] This has three parts: the wheels of doctrine indicated in the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra. . The Wheels of Doctrine Indicated in the Sa Saṃ ṃdhinirmocanasūtra [49. The Progression of the Wheels of Doctrine which are the Means of Teaching Te aching the Definitive Meaning of the Abiding Reality [49.274 1.486 and in accord with that.] the wheel of doctrine of “the absence of attributes. The Manner of the Teaching of the Profound Abiding Reality of the Definitive Meaning of the Perfection Vehicle [49. stemming from the topic of the four truths. vol. he mainly taught all phenomena. 1.814. in the manner of their lacking true 486 P. Presenting Scripture [50. for those disciples of dull faculties who had not trained in the Mahāyāna and were to engage in the vehicle of the Auditors (nyan thos kyi theg pa. were in general to engage in the Mahāyāna. 32. the way they are indicated in the Nirvāṇa[sūtra] and so forth. with respect to the supreme teacher’s first Word.1] [50] In general.5] This has two parts: the progression of the wheels of doctrine which are the means of teaching the definitive meaning of the abiding reality. dharmacakra) of the four truths. the wheel of doctrine (chos ’khor. 1. from form to omniscience.

and eternal in the perspective of the wisdom of the Sublime Ones because it is the primordially unchanging essence of the indivisible expanse and awareness (dbyings rig dbyer med). the signs of the self of phenomena. it was not taught that these illusory relative phenomena are not suitable to exist in general. However. what is to be refuted. do not exist in the way that one clings [to them] through the reification of signs (mtshan ’dzin).1] read rtul [DT 54. and (2) relative phenomena comprising the perceiving [subjects] and perceived [objects] as not truly existing.” for disciples of sharp and extremely mature faculties who had trained their mental continuums through all the vehicles. other than not teaching rdul [51. he taught relative phenomena in the manner of their existing as true entities—that is to say. In the last [Word. knowing that the expanse (dbyings) of profound wisdom. was temporarily not the subject of this teaching based on the mental capacities of the disciples of that occasion. he taught that the incontrovertible functionings of conventional [phenomena] are truths only relatively. ’brang [51. meaning that it is permanent. 487 488 .487 mediocre. in accordance with their appearance. steadfast. 489 ya [51. meaning that they are primordially non-arising like reflections in a mirror—merely expressions (rnam ’gyur) of the ultimate. he mainly taught. through elegantly differentiating: (1) the ultimate truth itself as truly existing.4].1] read ’bring [DT54. he taught that in the context of analyzing the abiding reality.2]. In the middle wheel is the teaching that all phenomena of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa lack true nature— that is to say. [51] Therefore.] the wheel of doctrine of “the thorough differentiation of the ultimate. Moreover. they were not taught to exist as truly established in the context of analyzing the abiding reality.488 or sharp faculties—in order that they progressively reach the consummate abiding reality of phenomena: in the first wheel.275 nature. he progressively [taught] the disciples of the three wheels according to their respective mental abilities—being of dull.4] read ye [DT 55.489 the abiding reality beyond the domain of reified signs.3].

the great wisdom. that is to say. the non-conceptual groundexpanse.4]. 491 Another name for Tāranātha. Aside from merely distinctive teachings emphasized in accordance with necessity.5] read char [DT 55.276 it to be either existent or non-existent. However. the ultimate definitive meaning was taught. the luminous clarity. the totality of all aspects. in the middle. Consequently. Therefore. the sublime and honorable Nāgārjuna. merely half of the definitive meaning. So it is also in our tradition of the scriptural viewpoint of the lord. the Blessed One at 490 tshar [51. the expanse free from the constructs of all signs [52] was taught. the clear distinction of the situational (gnas skabs) and the consummate (mthar thug) is elegantly pronounced in the manner of the supreme teacher’s own definitive elucidation of the viewpoint. finally. as well as the gentle protector Kün-ganying-po (kun dga’ snying po). the great Jonang-pa [Shey-rap-gyal-tsan].492 that is to say. directly and indirectly is one. Asaṅga and [half-]brother [Vasubandhu]. the ultimate self-existing wisdom which is free from all signs. due to the context. the ornaments of this continent (’dzam gling. “Initially. [From the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra]: Thereupon. the emptyground. the bodhisattva Paramārthasamudgata said to the Blessed One (bcom ldan ’das). the three wheels are in fact definitively one in the end. there was no teaching upon having resolved that this kind of profound expanse is completely untrue—a lie. the Buddha-nature (bde gshegs snying po.491 the master bearing his lineage. Moreover. with minds in harmony. the disciples: first the relative was taught in the manner of the ordinary four truths. the status of being surpassable and unsurpassable by way of whether [it] is the provisional or definitive meaning. with regard to such a progression of the three wheels of the Word. sugatagarbha) itself—the ground-expanse. 492 This is a reference to the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra (dgong pa nges ’grel). established the three wheels as having one viewpoint. the prior great chariots. the consummate viewpoint of all three490 wheels. Jambudvīpa). .

[53] Furthermore. Furthermore. If the mere explicit meaning of this 493 thegs [52. this wheel of doctrine that the Blessed One turned is surpassed. and naturally complete nirvāṇa. affords no occasion [of refutation]. and is not the subject of dispute. in general. there is a viewpoint higher than the main explicit meaning of the topic of this wheel. this wheel of doctrine that the Blessed One turned is surpassed. compared with the consummate viewpoint of the teacher. the Blessed One taught the completely amazing and miraculous third wheel endowed with the excellent differentiation. is the provisional meaning. and is the subject of dispute. affords an occasion [of refutation]. and is the subject of dispute. This wheel of doctrine turned by the Blessed One is unsurpassed. The disciples for which the turning of the first wheel concerns are those of the Hīnayāna (theg pa dman pa). Therefore. affords an occasion [of refutation]. and based on non-arising.277 Ṛṣivadana in Deer Park. are obscured about the selflessness of persons (gang zag gi bdag med). primordial peace. and naturally complete nirvāṇa. . in the region of Vārāṇasī.6]. primordial peace. human or deity.5] read theg [DT 56. Based on the essencelessness of phenomena. unceasing. Hence. of the dull faculty-type. based on the essencelessness of phenomena. However. is the provisional meaning. the teacher indicates to those disciples the style of doctrine mainly in accord with such a manner. taught the four noble truths to the ones who fully engage in the vehicle493 of the Auditors. and based on non-arising. is the definitive meaning. unceasing. and in particular. for those who fully engage in all of the vehicles. since on this occasion merely the fact of that system is taught in accordance with their faculties and constituents. at the appropriate time. and there is still another occasion which is the domain of the definitive meaning. and [54] are obscured as to the way of the causality of thorough affliction and complete purification (kun byang) in general. He fully turned the miraculous and amazing wheel of doctrine in a way unlike anything that had been turned in this world before by anyone. for those who fully engage in the Mahāyāna. the Blessed One turned the greatly miraculous and amazing second wheel of doctrine with the feature of the discourse of emptiness.

through their greatly distinctive power of mind. this is a provisional meaning and a domain which is a subject of dispute. Therefore. an extensive presentation of emptiness free from constructs according to [their] constituents and faculties. who. hence. the profound and secret essential point of the . of the mediocre-type. in order to purge their conceptualities which reify signs. he mainly taught.278 [wheel] is held to be the consummate viewpoint. Therefore. Furthermore. it is not the consummate viewpoint. of extremely sharp faculties. Therefore. teacher and retinue which are the self-appearance of luminous clarity and the perpetually unceasing expansive appearance of wisdom completely encompassing the parameters of thoroughly impartial space. it is not the consummate viewpoint. hence. [55] The disciples for which the turning of the last wheel concerns are those of the Mahāyāna. the totality of ultimate aspects. the reality of the definitive meaning. The disciples for which the turning of the middle wheel concerns are those of the Mahāyāna. the Causal Perfection Vehicle according to [the disciples’] constituents and faculties. the viewpoint of the main explicit meaning of what is taught in this wheel is surpassed. there would have to be something that one needs to be directed to other than that. who engage the appearances of constructed signs as real entities when analyzing the character of phenomena. are the type that can splendidly engage in the abiding reality of the Great Middle Waythe unity of the emptiness of signs and the non-emptiness of natural realityin the manner of the essential point of the definitive meaning: the expanse free from all constructs of relative [phenomena]. by merely eliminating the object of negation. [and affords] an occasion [of refutation]. the supreme teacher indicated to the disciples of this occasion in the way of this tradition. compared with the more grand consummate viewpoint which is the definitive meaning of the Great Middle Way. [the first wheel] is a subject of dispute by the sequence of inferior and superior vehicles. the greatly wondrous array of habitat and inhabitants. Consequently.

on the side of sūtra. or later. there exists an indeterminate [and] varied sequence of sūtras of the three wheels. were taught when the Victorious One was [56] on the verge of death (parinirvāṇa) • Most of the chapters of the Avataṃsakasūtra of the last wheel were spoken before the turning of the wheel of the four truths. That 2. the three vehicles are not definitely posited through temporality. just the way it is. for instance. as well as the vast activities of the Mahāyāna. such as for instance: • Some sūtras of the first wheel that teach impermanence. the middle Word extensively teaches mainly the freedom from constructs which is all relative phenomena’s emptiness of true existence. . the last Word 494 The Nirvāṇasūtra. [based on] being earlier. not surpassed nor [affording] an occasion [of refutation].5] In general. a last wheel sūtra with the same name. here the three wheels are excellently posited through the levels of meanings of the topics. the definitive meaning not subject to dispute. at the vajra seat. etc. is not to be confused with the [Mahāpari-] nirvāṇasūtra. a first wheel sūtra. there is nothing more consummate than this. Establishing the Reason for T hat Being the Way It Is [55.. For this reason. in the middle. the topic of this last wheel is the consummate viewpoint. because. immediately after the Buddha’s enlightenment in the abode of the ruler king of the gods (lha’i rgyal po dbang bsgyur gyi gnas) • The Nirvāṇasūtra (mdo sde myang ’das) [a first wheel sūtra494] was taught at the time when [the Buddha] was on the verge of death (parinirvāṇa) Therefore. the selflessness of phenomena. The first Word teaches the status of the four truths principally [in the manner of] the selflessness of persons. hence.279 consummate definitive meaning. without being limited to such an order.

in order to progressively guide them. the actual reality of phenomena remains as taught in the last wheel. having excellently distinguished as separate: • The manner of relative phenomena that are empty of their own essences • The manner of the ultimate ground-expanse which is the totality of all [ultimate] aspectsbecause of being true in the abiding reality of that basic nature.280 clearly teaches the difference between the true and false. based on the fact of there being a different series of topics by way of those teachings. . while certainly never at any time tainted by the signs which are the constructed masses of other relative [phenomena] This manner of positing the meaning of the three wheels of doctrine. as explained earlier. but all phenomena are truly established and according to the middle [Word].5]. even the statements in the last [Word] that teach the manner of the lack of true existence of the relative and the true existence of the ultimate directly contradict both the first and middle Words. initially he taught merely the mode of doctrine which just fits in the 495 dbar [57. are taught in the manner of [their] existing as true entities. therefore. [57] Some people think this: “The first Word teaches all phenomena as self-instituting (tshugs thub pa) and the middle [Word] teaches all phenomena as not truly existent. due to the faculties495 of the disciples. not empty of its own essence nor nothing at allexisting primordially unchanging. Hence. not only the ground-expanse. even though it was not the appropriate time to teach that actual reality. according to the first. consequently. all phenomena comprising the two truths including the ground-expanse are just not true. relative [phenomena]. Other than that. considered merely in the way they appear.3] read dbang [DT 62.” I will explain this: in the first Word. is the unsurpassed excellent tradition because it is done in accord with the Victorious One’s viewpoint as he himself explains it.

Also.. in the Sūtra of the Instructions to Kātyāyana (ka tya ya na la gdams pa’i mdo): Kātyāyana. However. however. sorrow. is not negated in the Chapter of the Request of Maitreya (byams zhus kyi le’u): The Blessed One spoke to the bodhisattva Maitreya. however. in accord with the position of the sublime Nāgārjuna.281 minds of these disciples. lamentation. suffering and unhappiness and distress. in the middle Word. there is also the fact that the ultimate ground-expanse itself. the expanse free from constructs which itself is the viewpoint of the middle and last [Word].. it does not contradict the viewpoint of the last [Word]. the consummate meaning. the consummate viewpoint of the first wheel is not suitable to be anything other than the totality endowed with [ultimate] aspects. then one will not be freed from the coarse and subtle saṃsārais in fact taught. not because they exist under their own power. the mode of the ascertainment of only the Middle Way relinquishing the two extremesthat if one does not progressively realize the abiding reality of the Middle Way of the categorized (rnam grangs) and uncategorized (rnam grangs ma yin pa) free from the ordinary and extraordinary extremes of eternalism and annihilationism. one will not be completely free from birth. One will not be liberated from the five migrations of saṃsāra. death. [58] Therefore. Imagined forms should be viewed as substantially existent since conceptuality is substantially existent. completely imagined forms should be viewed as insubstantial. old age. . because of grasping to existence and non-existence. it is said that everything exists in the explicit teachings. “Maitreya. but as for the actual reality. but as distinguished by ultimacy. [in] this world. it is stated that everything does not existtrue entities are negated with regard to all phenomena comprising the relative.. Also. true as the natural state (gshis lugs). sickness. it is taught in that way with respect to mere relative appearances out of necessity.. Suchness form (chos nyid kyi gzugs) should be viewed as neither insubstantial nor substantially existent.

it is not our tradition that the topic of the first wheel is only true establishment and the topic of the middle [wheel] is only a lack of true existence. hence. that very truth of the ground-expanse. Therefore. the middle teaching is the definitive meaning and the first and last teachings are provisional meanings. [59] It excellently delineates the imagined natures (kun btags) of form and so forth as insubstantial. not merely a voidness that is an existential negation that negates true existence. the actual viewpoint in fact is not distinct from the viewpoint of the last [wheel]. Therefore. free from all the constructs of the relative. other people claim as follows: “Since the disciples of the first Word are exclusively Hīnayānists. consequently. being free from constructs from the mere perspective496 of the disciples on that occasion. without being refuted. Also. apart from the middle wheel’s merely being taught from the aspect of a freedom from constructs out of necessity. and the disciples of the last Word are of a variety of vehicles. . in the manner of being endowed with all [ultimate] aspects.1].3] read ngor [DT 65. this middle Word also definitely contains the consummate viewpointthe empty-ground of the abiding reality. it is not reasonable that the last wheel is the definitive meaning. even though the main topic extensively teaches all relative phenomena to lack true existence. is established. For these reasons. there is no fault of contradiction between the first and middle [wheels] and this [last wheel]. and the abiding reality of suchness which is the thoroughly established nature (yongs grub) as the reality of the definitive meaning of the ultimate. conceptual imputations.282 The three natures (mtshan nyid gsum) are delineated variously earlier and later [in the Maitreya Chapter]. Consequently.” 496 ngod [59. Nevertheless. the disciples of the middle Word are exclusively Mahāyānists. the dependent natures (gzhan dbang) as efficacious [phenomena] which are the mere appearances of the relative. even the viewpoints of the middle and last [wheels] do not contradict.

the ultimate Buddha of the groundexpanse endowed with all [ultimate] aspects is the definitive meaning. that which teaches the relative truth as a support for the path that leads to the supreme reality is “the provisional meaning.283 [60] Regarding this.” Although that is said in general.” is called “the definitive meaning.” As is said. and changing. P.842.” The ultimate Tathāgata. vol. Accordingly. In the Akṣayamatinirdeśasūtra:497 Those sūtras that teach the establishment of the relative are called “the provisional meaning. 34. Therefore. and unchanging. but our tradition is as follows. and all the other ephemeral appearances of the relative are provisional meanings. that permanent mode of the indivisible ground and fruition just as it is. in the Nirvāṇasūtra (myang ’das): That which expresses “the Tathāgata is impermanent. is said to be the definitive meaning. . principally the topic of the last [wheel] 497 blo gros mi bzad [bzad read zad] pa bstan pa’i mdo.” Those sūtras that teach the establishment of the ultimate are called “the definitive meaning. as for the topics in accord with that: • The mode of the relative is taken as what is principally the topic of the first [wheel] • The mode of the categorized ultimate is taken as what is principally the topic of the middle [wheel] • The consummate uncategorized definitive meaning is taken as what is clearly.” and that which teaches the reality of the ultimate truth is called “the definitive meaning.” is the meaning which guides. and those impermanent and changing phenomena other than that are said to be provisional meanings. immutable. in particular. That which expresses “the Tathāgata is permanent. generally there are many ways the provisional and definitive meanings are set forth due to philosophies. mutable.

the manner of taking the first and last [wheels] as provisional meanings and the middle [wheel] as the definitive meaning is not asserted in our498 tradition. [62] Moreover. to again be instructed in a provisional meaning. even though the consummate viewpoint of the three wheels. from a certain angle there is a manner of greater and lesser [degrees of] accordance because (1) from a particular angle. from the aspect of taking the provisional meaning. it would not be proper. consummate topic difficult to realize is established to be the teaching of only the last wheel. it is not appropriate for the consummate meaning of the topic to be the provisional meaning. they are not suitable recipients for the mode of that teaching. I do not teach this to immature beings (byis pa). nor is it good pedagogy that after a disciple has been instructed in the definitive meaning. comes down to just one. In that way. there is great accordance between the first and middle wheels and (2) there is a vast 498 dang [61. the profound. It is said that if the ultimate expanse were taught to be true to those whose minds have not been trained by the middle wheel. Hence. the manner of what is principally taught in each [wheel] is distinct. therefore. . Therefore. However. the temporary definitive meaning.3] read rang [DT 67.284 [61] Hence. Moreover.” Thus. the statement in the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra that the disciples of the last wheel are those “who fully engage in all of the vehicles” moreover should be understood as extremely mature bodhisattvas with sharp faculties whose minds have been trained through engagment in all the vehicles. as explained before. there is a danger that the view of a self will arise.5]. Therefore. nevertheless. in the Laṅkāvatārasūtra: “If it were conceptualized as a self. and the consummate definitive meaning as what is principally the topic. the sūtras of provisional and definitive meaning are posited in that way in consideration of the topic in the sequence of the three wheels in general.

This follows because: (1) There is great accordance [between the first and middle wheels] due to such factors as: • both of the first two [wheels] do not teach appearances to be mind • nor mention the eight collections of consciousness • also. between the first and last wheels. five principles. the first and last wheels can be known to be discordant [with respect to being] provisional meanings. etc. and so forth are not mentioned at all in the first [wheel]. there is a manner of positing the first and middle wheels as provisional meanings and the last wheel as the definitive meaning because. Through this fact as well.285 difference. not at all asserted by the Auditors. presentations of the five principles (chos lnga). three natures. from the aspect of merely the topic: • the firstthe angle of the relative. Also. the four [noble] truths • the middlethe angle of a mere emptiness which is included in the relative • the lastthe angle of ultimate reality. as truly established. without such great accordance. in considering from a certain angle the topic in the three wheels. and three natures • external objects as asserted by the Auditors are taught to be nonexistent • there are teachings of non-dual wisdom. . nor even in the middle [wheel] did they appear extensively • such a teaching of the last wheel as the wisdom without duality of subject and object was not explained in either of the two [other wheels] (2) However. there is a great difference [between the first and last wheels] because in the last wheel: • appearances are taught to be mind • there are extensive teachings of the eight collections of consciousness.

which is an object of negation [in our tradition]there is a manner of great difference.” Regarding this. This is so because (1) the wisdom that is the subject of the last teaching is truly established due to its being true in the abiding reality of the basic nature (gshis)499 as the object of the sublime reflexive awareness free from constructs. become the tradition of the Mind-Only Realists (dngos smra ba’i sems tsam pa) through the mere teaching that generally the non-dual wisdom is truly established because there is a great difference in the utterly dissimilar ways of establishing as true (1) the truly established wisdom that is the subject of the teaching of the last wheel and (2) the truly established dependent and thoroughly established natures of the tradition of the MindOnly Realists.286 [63] The first and the second are asserted as provisional meanings and the last as the definitive meaning. In particular. some people claim as follows: “The last wheel in general and also the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra in particular. it does not follow that the subject. as will be explained below. other than being mere Mind-Only Sūtras. . from the aspect of [their] observing signs as true entities.5] read gshis [DT 70. However. Moreover. are not reasonable to be Middle Way Sūtras for such reasons as: (1) the [Buddha-]Nature Sūtras and so forth of the last Word generally [teach] that the non-dual wisdom is truly established (bden grub) and (2) the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra delineates all phenomena by the three natures. through the occurrence of an extensive presentation of the three natures. there is no conflict in meaning. the [Buddha-]Nature Sūtras and so forth.4]. the supreme sūtras of the last Word. and (2) since the truly established dependent and thoroughly established natures of the Mind-Only tradition are posited from a philosophy which is not beyond the appearance factor of consciousness. the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra [64] does not become the tradition of the Mind-Only Realists because if it did: 499 gshes [63.

The first [point] is established because: (1) the three natures are delineated in the Chapter of the Requests of Maitreya by way of extensively stating: Maitreya. 243. consciousness up until the attributes of a Buddha: In this way. this is imagined consciousness. this is suchness feeling. this is completely imagined consciousness. 501 Pañcaśatika. Perfect Wisdom: the Short Prajñaparamitā 500 Texts (London: Luzac and Co. an inferior entity.3. this is suchness consciousness…[65] In this way. this is an imagined Buddha attribute. this is imagined formation. this is suchness form. form is a non-existent entity. In this way. . this is completely imagined feeling. this is suchness formation. and obscure [reality]. and thoroughly established natures. this is imagined form. In this way. this is completely imagined formation. In this way. Ltd. this is imagined feeling. not knowing form as three types (le’u). perception. designate classifications of form through three types. dependent. this is completely imagined form. 1973). see Edward Conze. formation. they grasp at form. It should be known that the designated classifications [encompass] from feeling. it should be known that the bodhisattvas engaged in the Perfection of Wisdom and abiding in the skill of completely discerning phenomena. this is a suchness Buddha attribute… (2) the three natures are clearly taught in the Five-Hundred Stanza Prajñāpāramitā through its extensively saying:501 Subhūti.287 • the Chapter of the Requests of Maitreya in the Prajñāpāramitā and also the Five-Hundred Stanza Prajñāpāramitā extensively teach the three natures • and thus even these two sūtras would have to be asserted as sūtras of the Mind-Only Realists Such is unreasonable. this is completely imagined perception. and an existent entity]…Since immature ordinary beings.. 108.500 In this way. establish it. this is a completely imagined Buddha attribute. an inferior entity. do not know the authentic as it is. this is imagined perception. this is suchness perception. and an existent entity…mental-consciousness [is a non-existent entity. Since through grasping at and establishing form they These three are equivalent to the three natures: the imagined.

supreme definitive meaning sūtras of the tradition of Great Middle Way because these scriptural collections are unexcelled scriptures which signify well suchness. the scriptural tradition of the Middle Way which vastly teaches profound emptiness. needless to mention [that Mahāyāna deliverance would occur] by means of the Mahāyāna. and primordial peace. Moreover. to be supreme as naturally nirvāṇa. unceasing. the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra. In reliance on authentic observation. In particular. . Therefore. The Mahāyāna will not be seen. This follows because this sūtra teaches the adventitious phenomena of the relative to be non-arising. the collections of the last wheel of the Word. it follows that the subject. In reliance on non-appearance. the last Word is not Mind-Only scripture because the Victorious One himself says that it transcends Mind-Only in the Laṅkāvatārasūtra: In reliance on mind-only. and the empty-ground. the abiding reality that relinquishes the two extremes. If a yogi remains in non-appearance. is not a scripture of the MindOnly Realists because it teaches the abiding reality of the Middle Way. which is the ultimate truth itself. if by means of even the vehicle of the Auditors or the vehicle of the Self-Realized Ones deliverance does not occur.288 obscure [reality]. are the extraordinary. Mind-only will be transcended. it follows that the subject. The second [point—that asserting the Chapter of the Requests of Maitreya in the Prajñāpāramitā and the Five-Hundred Stanza Prajñāpāramitā as sūtras of the Mind-Only Realists is unreasonable—] is established because these two sūtras are great scriptural collections of the Prajñāpāramitā. Non-appearance will be transcended. External objects will not be imagined.

The Wheels of Doctrine Indicated in the Dhāra ṇīśvararājaparip [67.3] This section has two parts: presenting scripture and establishing [the reason for that being] the way it is.3] read gzungs [DT 74. elegantly turned the three progressive wheels of doctrine for the sake of progressively purifying—through practicing the meaning of the teaching expressed as the mode of the doctrine—the gross and subtle defilements which obscure the seeing of the Buddha-nature.4] Initially. However. and teaches in accord with the meaning of the consummate Vajrayāna.289 Therefore. the second Victorious One. knowing well the manner of refining gems. [68] thoroughly washes it with a haircloth to refine it. Dhāraṇ īśvararājaparipṛṛcchā502 2. Presenting Scripture [67. also the foremost king of the three realms. the teacher himself. the middle wheel being the definitive meaning and the last wheel the provisional meaning itself invalidates [your position]. teaches the meaning of the consummate Great Middle Way. observe this: a person skilled in gemstones. “Since the middle wheel is the Middle Way and the last wheel Mind-Only. 1. he does not cease his 502 gzugs [67. from the Dhāranīśvararājaparipṛcchāsūtra: Noble child. for instance. the great Jo-nang-pa himself.” This is extremely unreasonable (1) because there is neither scripture nor reasoning whatsoever that the last wheel is Mind-Only scripture and (2) because that [last wheel] teaches what is beyond Mind-Only. takes a thoroughly impure gemstone from the class of valuable gemstones. by means of the three wheels according with the respective disciples of the occasion. the suchness that resides in their respective mental continuums. and after leaving it in astringent salt water. with this fact in mind spoke these words: If [67] it is said.6]. Furthermore. .

for example.814. after that he leaves it in a great medicinal serum and then washes it with a fine cloth to refine it. However. and impurity. a Tathāgata does not cease his efforts by just this. suffering. he does not cease his efforts with just this. upon having taken the defilements of the mental continuum endowed with the [Buddha-]nature as defilements of the essential nature. by means of the discourse of emptiness. after that. However. through the aspect of partial concordance with the exemplified meaning. just so a Tathāgata as well.4-177a. he causes them to realize the manner of the Tathāgatas. by means of the disquieting discourse of impermanence. 32. they are called “the unexcelled place of offering. However. it is called “the great class of vaiḍūrya” (star-gem). . 176b.290 efforts with just this. mainly teach in accordance with the needs of the disciples. Here is the elegant teaching in this [Dhāranīśvara-]sūtra illustrating. knowing the constituents of thoroughly impure sentient beings. after that. through distinguishing the definitive and provisional meanings from the aspect of the meaning of the topic. Regarding this system. and extremely subtledefilements of the 503 This quote can be found in the Tathāgatamahākaruṇānirdeśasūtra (de bzhin gshegs pa’i snying rje chen po nges par bstan pa’i mdo) P. signlessness. Noble child. by means of the discourse on the wheel of the irreversible doctrinethe discourse on the complete lack of the three-fold conceptualization (’khor gsum)—he causes those sentient beings who are the results of various natures to enter the realm of the Tathāgatas.3. the wheels of doctrine [indicated] in the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra. selflessness. Engaging and realizing the Tathāgata suchness. makes sentient beings who delight in saṃsāra give rise to disillusionment. 300.”503 As discussed previously. subtle. the method for cleansing the defilements in three stages through the example of cleansing the impurities of a jewel. vol. p. causing them to enter into the disciplinary doctrine of Sublime Ones. Thoroughly refined and free from defilements. and wishlessness. a Tathāgata does not cease his efforts by just this. after that. he leaves it in an astringent fluid (zas kyi khu ba) and washes it with a woolen cloth to refine it. someone skilled with gemstones brings out the natural luster of a gem through cleansing well the threegross.

which are the gross defilements included within the discards of the [path of] seeing • in general. the view of the unity of appearance and emptiness. Similarly. Therefore. and so forth. namely the numerous types of paths which are mainly three: • the selflessness of persons • the selflessness of phenomenaa mere freedom from constructs • the luminously clear nature. by means of practicing in such a way. [70] which are the extremely subtle defilements included within the discards on the [path of] meditation of the three pure grounds. He teaches: • the view of the transitory [collection] thoroughly imagining a self of person and so forth. suffering. skilled in the constituents of the disciples. the Victorious One. Moreover: (1) The first wheel clearly teaches the mode of impermanence. they are made to directly see the truth of the doctrine of the Sublime Ones—they are made to enter the discipline. thereby accomplishing the benefit of whatever is desired. which are the subtle defilements included within the discards of the [path of] meditation up to the seven impure grounds • the subtle three-fold conceptualization and so forth. the disciples of this occasion. . discerning the distinctive sections of the path of skillful means in accord with the propensities (rgyud tshod) of the disciples. purifies in stages the three defilements of the mental continuums of the disciples which are the adventitious defilements arising due to the power of beginningless habituation to the defilements—in the mental continuum of the one to be trainedobscuring the proper vision of the primordial Buddha. relinquish the discards of the [path of] seeing. the mere apprehension of an I or self and so forth. He does this by means of excellently teaching the methods of thorough purification.291 gem in progression through three separate methods. selflessness.

the disciples of [this] occasion.6] read gshis [DT 79. the nature free from constructs.1]. the luminously clear Buddha-nature with all the ultimate aspects. (2) then seen as the quality of emptiness. since the defilements of the disciples are progressively purified by the three wheels. consummate suchness as the reality of the basic nature—the realm of the Tathāgatas empty of all the aspects of the relative and certainly not empty of the nature of the great treasury of the expansive attributes of the three mysteries of the ultimate primordial Buddha. is progressively actualized: (1) initially seen as merely the abiding reality of common truths.292 (2) The middle wheel clearly teaches the mode504 of the three gates of liberation and so forth. the consummate ground empty of the constructs of the relative. the realization of the mode of the Tathāgata—the profound suchness free from constructs— is made more intense than before through relinquishing the defilements which are the discards of the seven impure grounds. Therefore. even though it is nothing other than the sole ground-expanse itself. the disciples of this occasion. the results of an abundance of manners of realization (rtogs rigs) of all the vehicles. the different ways of seeing arise as such due to the power of meditators on the path. according to the way it is (yin lugs). gshes [70. This 504 505 tshal [70. are made to authentically ascertain the aspect of the empty property of reality. hence. . (3) then the mode of subsistence of the ultimate Buddhanature as it is.4] read tshul [DT 78. (3) The last wheel excellently teaches the irreversible. Therefore. the ground-expansethe Buddha-nature as suchdue to temporarily being seen in different ways. are made to enter the ever-immutable. In this way. by means of practicing in such a way.5]. distinguishing separately the modes of (1) the non-existence of the adventitious constructs in the basic nature505 [71] and (2) the primordial existence of the natural reality.

293 manner can be known through Buddha’s teaching by way of the example of the jewel. are the scriptures of the lesser. [72] the supreme among the three wheels is firmly established as the last Word which itself distinguishes the ultimate. (2) this being the case. by means of the mode of the abiding reality demonstrated being a more profound meaning indicated in the latter [wheels] than that indicated in the previous.6] Since the nature of the abiding reality demonstrated by the three wheels on this occasion is also elegantly taught by means of the later [wheels] clarifying much more than the previous. Regarding this. Establishing [the Reason for That Being] the Way It Is [71. and yet more supreme than that is the last [wheel] teaching clearly the freedom from constructs from the aspect of [the endowment of] the totality of [ultimate] aspects. some people say: “If the manner of purifying the defilements of disciples by the wheel of doctrine of this [last] occasion is as such. and paramount facultiesbecause the mental continuums of the disciples of the middle occasion are more excellent than the mental continuums of the disciples of the first occasion. and greater scriptural collections demonstrating the progressively more excellent meaning indicated. it is necessarily that: the first [wheel] teaching the mere common abiding reality is exceeded by the middle [wheel] teaching the Middle Way which is the nature free from constructs. The disciples of this [teaching] as well. and the mental continuums of the disciples of the occasion of the last phase are even more excellent and mature than those. according to the Saṃdhinirmocana. 2. This is so because (1) the three-stage wheels. middling. higher. proceed by the manner of the transformation of their mental continuumsa progression of the lowest. then it [absurdly] follows that whoever are the disciples of this [last wheel] exclusively possess the indeterminate heritage (rigs) because: [73] (1) whoever is a disciple of this [last wheel] necessarily progressively .

due to the influence of that heritage. the progression of the intended meaning which is taught in the wheels of doctrine is that excellent506 path itself which is uncorrupted as to 506 lags [74. it is also suitable to progressively actualize the meaning of the abiding reality according to the meanings indicated in the three wheels. Temporarily. and disciples of all three wheels. for instance: there are even disciples exclusively of the first wheel. regent [Maitreya] and his followers. distinctive. Therefore. some people say: “It is not reasonable that the continuums of disciples are necessarily [74] purified progressively by the three wheels in this way because unlike such a progression. mere temporary heritages are necessary. In the end. the first [wheel] is intended as [that of] the Auditors. in the end—at the time when whoever of them connects with the fortune of meditating on the Mahāyāna path—there is not anyone who does not actualize unexcelled awakening. we assert that even if heritage is determinate for the distinctive temporary vehicles (gnas skabs kyi theg pa). .1]. therefore. lacking a determinate heritage for a distinctive vehicle. at the time of possessing the fortune of the Mahāyāna. and the last as Mind-Only. the progression of purifying defilements also is not consistent with such a sequence. disciples have various [heritages].294 engages in the three vehicles and (2) as such. since there is not a single being who does not possess the essential nature of Buddha (sangs rgyas kyi snying po). the second as the Middle Way of Mahāyāna.” Here in our tradition of the Middle Way of definitive meaning. since we do not accept the endowment of determinate heritage for three distinctive consummate vehicles (mthar thug kyi theg). Also.” In the tradition of the Victorious One. merely disciples of the first and second. it also does not necessarily follow that whoever is a disciple of [the last wheel] is exclusively indeterminate. they are exclusively those who progressively engage with an indeterminate heritage.3] read legs [83. hence. in our tradition.

as soon as that tradition is taken up it becomes adverse to our own tradition of the Middle Way of definitive meaning. the manner of the corrupt.4] read ’grig [DT 83. they are caused to be liberated. crooked sequence of obscuring gibberish could never be the way it is. gdul [74. and extremely subtle defilements of the Buddha-nature which is like a wish-fulfilling jewel.295 the sequence of the method for progressively actualizing the abiding reality as it is. meditation on the profound definitive meaning of the Mahāyāna. the first wheel is also a preliminary for. This bestowal of greater liberation is the intended meaning (dgongs don) of this [last] wheel of doctrine. by means of entering the realization of the selflessness of phenomena exceeding that [realization of the first wheel]. the third wheel—by 507 508 ’khrigs [74. the great lord Jo-nang-pa said: Through practicing the meaning of the three wheels. they enter the path of discipline508. in the way [explained] above. one accords with the purifying of the gross. . there is no contradiction in whichever way it is explained. the second wheel also accords with the practice of the exceptional meditative stabilization of resting in equipoise on the profound meaning. thus becoming mature. subtle. Therefore. Moreover. the disciples enter the realization of the selflessness of persons. some people also say: “The wheels of this [are as follows]: through the first [wheel].4].” In our tradition.3]. and follows in accord with. what inconsistency507 from any angle (thad) is there in that sequence as [mentioned] previously? There certainly is none. through the last [wheel] they are caused to enter the gate of practice together with the vast path of the characteristics of the relative exceeding that [of the middle wheel].4] read ’dul [DT 83. if the primordially [75] residing Buddha-nature of the continuums of disciples is progressively actualized like a jewel. but once one considers the Truth Body to be only a new production of what did not previously exist. through the middle [wheel]. in that way. Also. Since it is needless to say that after the abiding reality is seen.

and an appended identification of the scriptural collections of definitive meaning. Buddha-nature. there is also a mode in which this Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra. 1. the [Mahāyāna] sūtra collection emerged. Presenting Scripture from the Nirvā Nirvāṇ ṇasūtra [75. from the Prajñāpāramitā. Presenting Scripture [75. “the nature of Buddha” is the Tathāgata. the extremely expansive collection (shin tu rgyas pa’i sde) emerged.6] This section has two parts: presenting scripture from the Nirvāṇasūtra and presenting scripture from the Aṅgulimālīyasūtra. In Accord with That. In particular. self-existing wisdom. being the consummate of all the scriptures of the Perfection Vehicle among all the sūtra collections is the general mode. from the [Mahāparinirvāṇa-]sūtra itself: From the twelve[-branched] sūtra collections. from the [Mahāyāna] sūtra collection. the ground-expanse. of the category of the last Word. the Mahāparinirvāṇa completely emerged. the Way They are Indicated in the Nirvā Nirvāṇ ṇa[sūtra] and so forth [75. 3. and so forth in the arising of exceptional meditative stabilization—points out (ngo sprod pa) in accord with the profound Secret Mantra. from the extremely expansive sūtra collection. the Prajñāpāramitā emerged.296 distinguishing well what exists and what does not exist. 1. This is the mode of our tradition. there is no difference with respect to what is mainly indicated by the last Wordsuchness. from the aspect of making such a definitive meaning what is principally the topic. is the supreme consummate essence of all the scriptural collections on the side of sūtra.6] [76] In general. establishing through reasoning that being the way it is. the totality of ultimate aspectstherefore.5] This section has three parts: presenting scripture. . “Butter-essence” is an example for the nature of Buddha (sangs rgyas kyi rang gzhin). like the butter-essence.

from [the Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra] itself: “A”510 is the culminant tantra. for example. in the way the beings of the Northern [Continent of] Kurava (sgra mi snyan) are endowed with merit.509 taught the definitive meaning of the consummate profound meaning. having finished teaching the meaning of the nine-branched scriptures. great beings.3] read pa’i [DT 86. it is said to be the mode of the unexcelled 509 510 pas da [77. the supreme essencethe Prajñāpāramitā Sūtras [emerged]. culminant sūtras such as this are said to be consummate.4]. I taught the single letter or the single sphere (thig le) that was previously unheard by all of the Auditors and Self-Realized Ones. he taught “the permanent Buddha-nature” from the culminant tantra of Buddhanature to the monks. Therefore.” Since the profound meaning of the viewpoint of the culminant sūtras is not the domain of the Hīnayāna. is said to be this Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra itself which teaches the Buddha-nature of definitive meaning. Moreover. . and more essential yet is the extremely expansive collection. the supreme essence which emerged from the twelvebranched scriptures is the Mahāyāna Sūtras. from such Mahāyāna [Sūtras].” here understood as a sūtra: Since the Tathāgata had completed the [teaching] activity of the meaning within the nine-branched scriptures. calling it “the tantra teaching the essential nature.297 As is said. like the butter-essence. those who listen to this great sūtra collection are transcendentit should be known that [78] they are bodhisattvas. This is the short vowel a in Sanskrit. the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet. this sūtra is said to be the consummate of all scriptural collections because the teacher. “greater” is the meaning of “culminant tantra. this sūtra collection teaches the culmination of the culminant meaning of all the sūtra collections. Therefore. [77] and yet more consummately essential than these Prajñāpāramitā Sūtras. Moreover. This great sūtra collection is supremely sacred because.

it also becomes ‘a medicinal elixir!’ Having heard this. and the sublime Pūrṇa. I will peel my skin to use it as a foundation to write letters on. they do not enact a virtuous mind. Furthermore. since that Mahāparinirvāṇa[sūtra] teaches Buddhanature. draw [my] blood to use it as ink. Blessed One. and act according to the sūtra. It is as [the Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra] itself says: Then. In the end.298 most secret supreme meaning. after the Buddha spoke the sūtra.5] read srung [DT 87. reciting. understanding. the son of Maitrāyaṇīthrough the manner of trying to settle whether the consummate reality is either (1) selflessness. [the Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra] itself clearly states that the reason this is so is the elegant teaching of the ultimate essential nature itself: In that way. the meaning of the last Wordhold a dialogue. in a respectful manner. the Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra. . the sublime Aṅgulimāla extensively 511 srong [78. is supremeis paramount! For whoever drinks it. and expounding it extensively to others. [I will] also endure reading. an emanation of the Tathāgata. Presenting Scriptur Scripture ture from from the Aṅgulimālīyasūtra [79.3] Aṅgulimāla. and crack my bones for a pen[I will] endure writing this sūtra collection of the Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra! Having written it. teaching. the meaning of the two initial Words or (2) the ground-expanse of self-existing wisdom.7]. it is boundless. The manner in which this supreme sūtra is the supreme essence of all sūtra collections is the realization of the audience retinue of great beings. discussing by means of questions and answers about this topic. I think that [79] those who do not listen to nor want this sūtra collection are extremely foolish. as the Tathāgatas taught. made a firm pledge to uphold. the bodhisattva Kāśyapa511 said this to the Blessed One: “Blessed One. like the butter-essence. 2. the audience. extract [my] marrow to use it as water. the various illnesses also will be purified. propagate.

What is the meaning of these words?” Pūrṇa replied: “The Buddhas and the Blessed Ones of the past. the being. a human. the son of Maitrāyaṇī: “That which every Buddha and Auditor never finds. passed away thinking. Buddhas and Blessed Ones of the future as well will not find any sentient being lacking the element of sentient being. a human being. . Having fully become Buddha. the human. do not say anything! Pūrṇa. that doctrine (chos) Will be taught to all living beings (srog chags). the Buddhas and Blessed Ones of the present and future also do not find nor will find. thus. Having stated that it applies in the same way to all the Auditors and Self-Realized Ones. not finding the element (dbyings) of a sentient being. a person. thinking that selflessness is the doctrine is falling like a moth into the flames of deluded doctrine. emptiness is taughtthe discourse of such a doctrine is taught.’ Similarly applied. the son of Maitrāyaṇī. even though they searched all phenomena with extreme persistence. Also. the Self-Realized Ones and the Auditors in the three 512 sta [80. the sentient being. In that way.512 ‘selflessness is the word of the Buddha. you. stupid like a bee. saying: “Alas! You noble Pūrṇa. the element of self are taught not to exist. since you [81] do not know the covert speech (ldem po’i ngag) of the Tathāgata.” Aṅgulimāla again addressed Pūrṇa. the soul. in this way. the person. The Buddhas and Blessed Ones of the present also do not find any sentient being lacking the element of self.7]. a soul.299 explains the essential viewpoint (dgongs bcud) of the Sugatas and [bodhisattva] children of the three times—the mode of the definitive meaning essential nature. a self. selflessness is taught. Seen here stated extensively in the Aṅgulimālīyasūtra: Then Aṅgulimāla [80] addressed Pūrṇa. ‘That which the Buddhas do not find’: the Buddhas and Blessed Ones of the past passed away without finding in any sentient being a lack of Buddhanature. acting the behavior of a bee.3] read ste [DT 89. do not know how to indicate the discourse of doctrine! Bees also know how to produce a buzzing sound.

for instance. nor will find any sentient being without Buddha-nature.879. do not. . vol. and the supreme sūtra collection of the [Mahāpari-]nirvāṇa itself in particular.” The meaning of the scriptural words of Aṅgulimāla is as follows: in response to a question to Pūrṇa. from the aspect of the meaning of the topic. 2.3.300 times have not. Pūrṇa explains the abiding reality according to the explicit teaching of the first and middle Words—the meaning of the two-fold selflessness—as the viewpoint of the Buddhas and [bodhisattva] children. This is the meaning of that 513 verse. permanent. Establishing through Reasoning That Being the Way It Is [82. like the butter-extractthe essential topic [of all scriptures]and hence.8-158b. Aṅgulimāla extensively speaks of the abiding reality of the explicit teaching of the last Word which exceeds that—the essential nature of the Victorious Ones.1] Generally. by 513 P. that the glorious melody of the Victorious One himself teaches that the scripture collection of the Mahāparinirvāṇa is the essence of all sūtra collections. 317. through the impact of statements over and over as to [this] culminant sūtra itself teaching the consummate abiding reality of the definitive meaning endowed with limitless good qualities. This is so because there is the fact. according to the spoken words of the Omniscient Victorious One himself who has thoroughly actualized the consummate abiding reality and thus possesses the unexcelled supreme knowledge in which all delusion is exhausted. p. 157b. [82] Thereby. the perfection of the sacred self. that very ground-expanse which is all-pervasive. he elegantly establishes the intended meaning of the last wheel as the consummate abiding reality. 34. is the essence of all the sections of scripturethe unexcelled definitive meaning Word which teaches the consummate abiding reality of phenomena. the last wheel Word in general. the mode of the consummate grand viewpoint of the Buddhas and [bodhisattva] children.

the sūtra excellently distinguishes as separate the modes of: • the categorized abiding reality. as to the state of the intrinsic basic nature of the suchness of all phenomena—not merely reduced to an existential negation. thoroughly lucid like a vaiḍūrya (star-gem) which itself innately exists primordially. excellently distinguishes the differences of the three sequential wheels of the Word through its manner of teaching because that sūtra. the totality of [ultimate] aspects naturally luminous and clear. by means of excellently gaining certainty. rare like an udumbāra flower. That [reason] entails [excellently distinguishing the differences of the three sequential wheels of the Word through its manner of teaching] because: (1) on the occasion of explaining the abiding reality in the manner of suchness. emptiness that is nothing whatsoever.301 means of that fact itself the other similar sūtra collections of the last Word can be understood to be definitive meaning sūtras. (2) Scriptures that clearly teach in stages this abiding reality itself are certainly like the progression as was explained before according to the way of the three-stage wheel of the Word. it follows that the subject. the sole ground-expanse empty of all relative constructs. as the mere negation of the constructs which are the objects of negation—[but] in the manner of the great self-existing wisdom which is the immutable essence of the reality of the basic nature. that sūtra which teaches the definitive meaning. . Moreover. in excellently distinguishing the manner of the profound abiding reality. certainly engenders a greatly distinctive and glorious quality of causing those fortunate disciples who are close to activating the power of the heritage of the supreme vehicle to quickly reach the inner-expanse definitive meaning of the abiding reality and actualize it as it is. extensively and in detail. the lack of constructs which is a mere existential negation and • the consummate abiding reality. the luminous clarity which is the totality of [ultimate] aspects.

“the one with a garland of fingers. “Well. isn’t this sūtra renowned as a Mind-Only Sūtra?” Even though it is renowned as such a sūtra. If it is said.” . For example. although the Vaibhāṣikas and the Sautrāntikas do not have different sūtra collections.” 514 Literally. If it is thought. “The words of Aṅgulimāla514 are not suitable to be the source of the definitive meaning because he was a great evil-doer. [the difference] is merely how they adopt a viewpoint (dgongs pa len lugs). Again. there is no ground of likeness with the Mind-Only Realist’s own traditions’ assertions. wouldn’t there be no difference between the sūtra collections of both MindOnly and the Middle Way?” There is no difference between the sūtra collections of those two because aside from the mere distinction between better and worse ways of explaining the viewpoint of one sūtra. Hence. actually that sūtra is unmistakably certain to be a scriptural source of the definitive meaning Great Middle Way. aside from being renowned as that through later proponents of Mind-Only merely taking the viewpoint of the sūtra as their own tradition.302 Some people say: “Isn’t that Mahāparinivāṇasūtra [84] a sūtra of the MindOnly Realist’s own tradition?” It is not because: (1) the abiding reality of the Mind-Only Realist’s own tradition does not transcend the mere appearance factor of consciousness and (2) the abiding reality that is explicitly taught by this sūtra is the selfexisting wisdom. “According to this [Great Middle Way] tradition. which transcends consciousness. someone may say. the totality of [ultimate] aspects free from constructs. actually there are no sūtras to be distinctly posited.

in general. since the time had also come to teach the consummate definitive meaning to the mature disciples [86] with extremely sharp faculties of the last [wheel] for the sake of that tradition accomplishing vast benefithe elegantly distinguished the ultimate in the last Word.” selflessness was taught. p.6] read rung [DT 95. 91. If the demonstrated teaching was spoken otherwise.6-113b.4]. having seen the degeneration of some fools with faulty views of emptiness. the Blessed One. would it not [merely have referred to] death? It is renowned that the Buddha. the teacher extensively taught the manner of the selflessness of persons in the first Word in order to destroy the view of a self of worldly people. from then. taught selflessness. causing [disciples] to enter the gate of the doctrine. The Victorious One himself taught in the Mahābherīsūtra:516 In order to destroy the “self of worldly people. In that way. evoking 515 rang [84. in that pure realm called “Adorned With All Precious Gems” there resided a Buddha called “Sarvalokapriyadarśanābhyudgatamahābhiyukta” and he emanated as Aṅgulimāla. 113a. in the middle [wheel]. by teaching this type of emptiness he caused [the disciples] to strive in training and endeavoring in that manner.3. 516 P. Moreover. the purpose of these supreme sūtras is to elegantly establish the last [Word] as the consummate definitive meaning by means of the manner of the three wheels being progressively more excellently supreme. . to the disciples who were able to comprehend the expanse of the selflessness of phenomena even more free from constructs than that [selflessness of persons in the first wheel]. Moreover.888. 35.303 It is not suitable515 to entertain doubts in this way [85] because the sublime Aṅgulimāla was an emanation of the Buddha. to turn them away from wrong views in order to at some point guide them on the authentic path after their faculties have progressively maturedand in particular. this is because the Aṅgulimālīyasūtra itself says that to the south of this land. vol. beyond as many Buddha-fields as the grains of sand in sixty-two Ganges rivers.

Since there is no other who knows properly by means of omniscience [everything] without exception and supreme thusness. Then after that. thinking this. one is caused to enter the teaching by means of causes and hundreds of thousands of reasonings. and strive in the doctrine of emptiness.304 astonishment and after that. [87] Regarding the manner endowed with this purpose excellently spoken from the Buddha’s own mouth. seeing a view that wastes liberation. and other than he himself. therefore. he should be held as the valid measure (tshad ma). persevere. And: If the discourse of the Buddha-nature is not taught. the discourse of the permanent Buddha as such is rejected. Therefore. do not disturb whichever sūtra collections the Sage himself set forth Because [this] destroys the manner of the Capable One and also causes harm to the sacred doctrine. The fools who do not know the meaning of emptiness and selflessness will degenerate. in the words of the undefeated victorious regent [Maitreya]: There is not a single person in this world more greatly learned than the Victorious One. fools teach emptiness and selflessness from among all the [Buddha’s] teachings. Who can have faculties superior to the Victorious One himself? Since the source of the doctrine’s tradition comes to only the Buddha. since the essential nature is denigrated. at some point when faith in the most high is born and enters. Through being caused to enter that way. one is caused to train. the person will not pass beyond sorrow. since there is no one in this world more greatly learned than the Victorious One himself. wrongly disturbing the viewpoint of the exceptional sūtra collections destroys the manner of the Capable One’s doctrine (thub pa’i chos) and is therefore inappropriate. due to that. And in the words of the sublime Nāgārjuna: . there is no one who knows all phenomena without exception.

therefore. the ultimate.3] read dwangs [DT 99. is the primordially residing ultimate suchness of luminous claritya predicative negationwithin the ground of the emptiness of all relative constructs. the relative. of the self-existing ultimate Buddha who has never been stained by any negative fault. in the words of the great lord Jo-nang-pa: In that way. teaching through distinguishing the existent and the non-existent. Who has faculties superior to the Victorious One?” And so forth.there is a 517 518 twangs [88. exceeding the number of grains of sand on the Ganges. within that basic nature518 are the spontaneously present. emptiness. Consequently. does not exist and is empty and so forth—[88] teaches through the manner of pointing out in accordance with the way it actually is. Since the indicated meaning of the three wheels is as such. because everything does not abide as non-existent and not established and so forth: since within the ground of an existential negationnon-existence. and the grounds of those. etc. [89] etc. since it was said intending that manner. when there arises the meditative stabilization of the unity of tranquility (zhi gnas) and special insight (lhag mthong) through the engagement in the yoga of the Perfection of Wisdom. is changeless in the manner of inclusion (yongs gcod) within the ground of elimination through the exclusion (rnam par bcad) of the relative. since the ultimate totality of aspects. .305 Regarding this meaning. not being reduced to the non-establishment of everything or simply a mere emptiness that is a non-existence. an existential negation. confidence is excellently brought forth for the disciples of this occasion: the way things are in the consummate abiding reality. This is so. the lucid517 great wisdom completely free from constructs.3] read gshis [DT 99.7]. exists and is not empty. and the adventitious fabrication. primordial qualities. there needs to be the pointing out of the way it is according to the way things abide. the empty and not empty. this last wheel of the Word—having elegantly distinguished the way that the natural basic nature. gshes [88.6].

306
predicative negation; and since inclusion resides within the ground
of elimination by exclusion; and since within the ground that
naturally relinquishes all faults resides the spontaneously present
realization complete with all consummate qualities. Therefore, the
third wheel is called “that endowed with excellent differentiation.”

3. An Appended Identification of the Scriptural Collections of Definitive
Meaning [89.3]
Thus, appended to the explanation of the wheels of doctrine, a
concise summary, identifying through mainly roughly sketching the
scriptures from which arose the Great Middle Way of the definitive
meaning Causal Vehicle, set forth here according to what was said in the
words of the foremost lama, the gentle protector Kün-ga-nying-po. This
supreme mode of the Middle Way of other-emptiness is the consummate
viewpoint of all three wheels, yet the sūtra collections mainly relied upon
are: the Maitreya Chapter of the Twenty-Five Thousand Stanza

Prajñāpāramitā,

the

Five-Hundred

Stanza

Prajñāpāramitā,

the

Saṃdhinirmocana, the Laṅkāvatāra, the Gaṇḍavyūha (rgyan thug po), the
common and concordant explanations in the Avataṃsaka (phal po che),
the Tathāgathagarbhasūtra, [90] some sections of the Mahāratnakūta
(dkon mchog btsegs pa) such as the Śrīmālādevīsiṃhanādasūtra (dpal

’phreng

seng

ge

sgras

zhus

pa’i

mdo)

and

so

forth,

the

Avikalpapraveśadhāraṇī (rnam par mi rtog pa la ’jug pa’i gzungs), the
Suvarṇaprabhā (gser ’od dam pa), the Dhāranīśvararājaparipṛcchā, the
Tathāgataguṇajñānācintyaviṣayāvatāra (yon tan dang ye shes bsam gyis
mi khyab pa la ’jug pa), the Aṅgulimālīyasūtra, the Mahāmegha (’phags pa
sprin chen po), the Ratnamegha (’phags pa dkon mchog sprin), the
Mahābherīhārakaparivarta

(’phags

pa

rnga

po

che’i

le’u),

the

Mahāparinirvāṇa, the Praśantaviniścayasamādhisūtra (rab tu zhi ba rnam
nges kyi ting nge ’dzin gyi mdo), and so forth in addition to most of the
tantra collections which teach very clearly the extraordinary meaning are
relied upon.

307
The explicit teaching of the middle wheel for the most part mainly
applies to meditative equipoise (mnyam bzhag)being situated at the
time of resting in equanimity (mnyam par ’jog) on the profound expanse
without any reference, and the teachings by means of delineating objects
of knowledge are explained as other-emptiness according to how the
teacher himself explained in the Maitreya Chapter and the Five-Hundred

Stanza Prajñāpāramitā. There are mistaken assumptions that some sūtra
collections [91] such as the Ratnolka? (dkon mchog ta la la) 519 teach selfemptiness; however, while the Bodhisattvacārya and a plethora of sūtra
collections that mainly teach a presentation of the path and fruition are
connected with both [self-emptiness and other-emptiness], there are many
in accord with this tradition of the Middle Way in most of those remaining,
the Buddhabhūmi (’phags pa sangs rgyas kyi sa), the Dharmasaṃgīti
(chos yang dag par sdud pa), and so forth. As is said.

2. The Way that These Commentaries on Buddha’s Viewpoint are
Supreme [91.3]
In general, that which is the supreme doctrine of the Middle Way of
definitive meaning, the profound essential point of the Victorious One’s
consummate viewpoint, is the distinctive Kṛtayuga doctrine excluding the
three-fold debasements (gsum ldan mar bcad); moreover, there are two
“Kṛtayuga” in terms of time: the great four times and the lesser four times.
The great four times are posited based on the quality of the time of the
aeon: a quarter of the 4,320,000 years of that being made into four
segments (rkang ba) [1,080,000 years], when these four are totally
complete it is the Kṛtayuga; and similarly, the first, second, and third
segments are progressively posited as the Tretayuga, the Dvāparayuga,
and the Kaliyuga. The four lesser times are posited by means of the
quality of the teaching; [92] a quarter of the span of 21,600 human years

519

I am not sure what text Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa is referring to here. The DT edition

has one less la [90.6, DT 102.6] after dkon mchog ta la.

308
[5,400 years] of that being made into the length of the respective four
times: flawless, complete with good qualities is the Kṛtayuga doctrine;
similarly, the degeneration of a quarter is the former Tretayuga, the
degeneration of nearly half is the latter Tretayuga, the remainder of the
degeneration of three-quarters is the Dvāparayuga, and when there does
not exist even a quarter it is posited as the Kaliyuga.
Therefore, the teaching, as if undiluted, on the occasion when the
Buddha was residing, if treated in terms of the context of the flawless
teaching, in general is the Kṛtayuga doctrine of such an occasion, and
from among the [teachings] as well, there is a reason for calling the sūtra
collections of the last Word the Kṛtayuga doctrine because they are called
such since the ultimate abiding reality of the expanse of phenomena is
thoroughly and completely taught.

Compared with that, the other

scriptural collections, from the aspect of teaching a little bit variously,
without teaching thoroughly and completely the factor of the expanse of
phenomena, could be posited as Tretayuga and so forth; however, the
actual three-fold debasements came later—the scriptural traditions
explaining everything to be exclusively self-empty which are unable to
reach the consummate viewpoint of the Victorious One.
I have previously addressed solely sūtras in the progression of the
Word which is the supreme [93] excellent teaching of the Kṛtayuga
doctrine transcending such three-fold debasements. Also, the progression
of śāstras, composed by many great masters and accomplished beings,
provide commentary on the viewpoint of the definitive meaning sūtra
collections. There are extremely many exceptional commentaries on the
Buddha’s viewpoint variously present or absent from the Tibetan region—
the works of the regent Maitreya:

the Abhisamayālaṃkāra, a commentary of Buddha’s viewpoint of the
middle wheel of the Word

the Mahāyanāsūtralāṃkāra, a commentary of Buddha’s viewpoint of
the Mahāyāna Sūtra collections in general

309

the

Dharmadharmatāvibhāga

and

the

Madhyāntavibhāga,

commentaries of the Buddha’s viewpoint of the Mahāyāna in general,
principally [explaining] the viewpoint of the last Word

the Uttaratantra, a commentary of Buddha’s viewpoint of the distinctive
last Word.

Maitreya’s five, exceptionally supreme vehicle commentaries on Buddha’s
viewpoint, first opening the way of the chariot tradition of the definitive
meaning Middle Way, are the consummate śāstras that are the doctrinal
source of the Great Middle Way; and the commentaries on the viewpoint
of the Doctrines of Maitreya composed by the sublime Asaṅga, praised by
the scriptures as supreme in distinguishing the definitive and provisional
sūtra collections by the Victorious One himself, who having met the
supreme regent and obtained well the instructions of those profound
doctrines, excellently opened the way in this world for the chariot tradition
of the Great Middle Way, the supreme Kṛtayuga doctrine; and the
commentaries on the viewpoint composed by Vasubandhu, the [half-]
brother of the great master; and the followers of these two, [94]
progressively, masters Sthiramati, Diṅnāga, Dharmakīrti, and later arrivals,
the honorable Ratnākaraśānti, as well as Vinītadeva, Guṇaprabha,
Candragomin, Līlāvajra, Ānandagarbha, Buddhajñāna, Buddhaguhya, the
sovereign Maitrīpāda, and so forth.
In general, the scriptural traditions of the Doctrines of Maitreya,
Asaṅga, and his [half-]brother [Vasubandhu] teach through integrating the
consummate viewpoint of all three wheels, and also in accord with these,
the sublime Nāgārjuna who came before them, in the Madhyamakakārikā
[15.7]:
The Blessed One,
Knowing entities and non-entities,
Refuted existence and non-existence
In the Instructions to Kātyāyana…
He establishes that the first wheel also teaches the Middle Way free from
the two extremes.

Also, since he states, “Nirvāṇa, being the sole

310
truth…,”520 the consummate viewpoint of the middle wheel as well is
excellently taught as the definitive meaning Middle Way of otheremptiness.

This sublime master himself in the commentaries on the

viewpoint of the last Word, [95] the Collection of Praises: the

Dharmadhātustotra, Paramārthastotra, Nirṇpamastotra, Lokātītastotra,
and so forth; and also through some scriptures of Mantra, indisputably
explains well, certainly in accord with the viewpoint of the profound
essential point of the supreme Kṛtayuga doctrine as well as the Doctrines
of Maitreya and their followers.

Due to this, among the gathering of

disciples of this master, such as master Lu-pö (klu bos),521 many came
who were great developers of the tradition of the definitive meaning
essential nature. From them, the followers of that lineage as well, by
means of upholding and developing the Kṛtayuga doctrine, the viewpoint
of the last wheel, there were many who contributed various short works
(gsungs zur) that engage the definitive meaning Great Middle Waythe
consummate viewpoint.
In that way, in the Noble Land [of India], while the viewpoints of the
two chariots, Nāgārjuna and Asaṅga, are not conflicting, there were many
followers of these two also, who in certain respects were greatly in accord
with the definitive meaning Middle Way; and in the time before master
Buddhapālita came, there was nothing other than the manner of the single
Great Middle Way, the viewpoint of both Nāgārjuna and Asaṅga.
If it is thought, “Then what is to be identified as the śāstras of the
Realist Mind-Only tradition?”
Previously, before Nāgārjuna came, [96] and after the five-hundred
Yogācāra masters who were proponents of the Mahāyāna, such as the
great venerable Apitarka, it is reasonable that some from among them
produced some scattered śāstras of the Realist Mind-Only tradition;
however, like the śāstras of the eighteen sects, they were not translated
In Yuktiṣaṣṭikā (rigs pa drug cu pa), v.35; D.3825, vol. 68, 21b.5; see also Christian
Lindtner, Master of Wisdom (Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1997/1986), 84.
520

521

I am not sure who Khen-po Lo-drö-drak-pa is referring to here.

311
into Tibetan. Later, Asaṅga and his [half-]brother [Vasubandhu] came,
and although these two together with their followers were not at all MindOnly Realists, they were merely renowned as such later, after
Buddhapālita and so forth came.
Although here in the land of snow, among these there were many
upholders of the way of our tradition of the Kṛtayoga doctrine of the regent
[Maitreya] and his followers, the greatly exceptional one who opened the
way of the chariot tradition is the foremost, second Victorious One, the
ruler of the authentic and profound wheel of doctrine in the three realms,
endowed with the heritage (rigs ldan), the great emanation body (sprul

sku), omniscient Jo-nang-pathe sole, unsurpassed supreme guide of
the definitive meaning, “the one with the four reliances,”522 whose
supreme deeds are certainly meaningful; and the thoroughly perfect
sovereign of the definitive meaning teaching of this supreme guide and
lord of doctrine, the foremost Dröl-wey-gön-po (sgrol ba’i mgon po,
Tāranātha), the bearer of the treasury of the profound great secret.
Concerning the elegant opening of the way of the supreme Kṛtayuga
doctrinethe excellent tradition of the essential naturein the cool land
[of Tibet], [97] these two, who are the peerless lords of the definitive
meaning teaching, explained the suchness of the profound abiding reality
in accord with the viewpoint of the Victorious One, the regent [Maitreya],
and their followers.
This expression follows them as much as my mind can fathom,
through previous karma this fortune of the doctrine—the descent of the
divine flower523—has befallen me at this time, as such here it is. This
completes the brief progression of the wheels of doctrine.
Since the Victorious One himself explained his own viewpoint—
The dew[-like] nectar of the viewpoint of the All-Seeing Guide
An epithet for Dol-po-pa. The four reliances are: reliance on the doctrine, not
individuals; reliance on the meaning, not words; reliance on the definitive meaning, not
provisional meanings; reliance on wisdom, not consciousness.

522

523

This is in reference to throwing a flower into the maṇḍala during initiation.

312 In the manner of the miraculous last wheel excellently distinguishing [the ultimate]— It is reasonable that there is no one more learned on this subject.4] . A stanza of the interlude. [97.

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