Tibetan Zhentong Discourse II
Submitted by Michael R. Sheehy on Mon, 2008-12-08 14:33
However, Longchenpa’s view on the tathāgatagarbha does closely resemble that of Dolpopa’s, and his elaborations on the multi-stratum universal ground are remarkably similar to Dolpopa’s understanding of pristine awareness as the universal ground (kun gzhi ye shes).
Fortunately, the views of this Sakya exponent of zhentong gained the attention of Tāranātha, and were compared with the views of Dolpopa in Tāranātha’s text on the Twenty One Profound Points Differentiating the views of Śākya Chokden and Dolpopa]],
The omniscient Jonangpa Dolpopa asserts that although in actuality this [[nondual] pristine awareness is definitively not either singular nor multiple, a presentation of it as singular within certain contexts is correct; and it is constant because it is asserted to be indivisible, all-pervasive, free from constructs, and beyond expressions.
Though there are a variety of differences to explore and splice in views of these masters, Tāranātha assures us that the primary distinction to be made between them is that while Śākya Chokden accepts nondual pristine awareness (gnyis med kyi ye shes) to be impermanent or not constant (mi rtag pa),
With this in mind, it is worthy to note that Tāranātha does include Śākya Chokden in his supplication to the Zhentong Madhyamaka and that he is accepted among the Jonangpa as one who upheld the zhentong tradition.
While it is evident that Mipham was sympathetic to some of the underlying tones presented in Dolpopa’s zhentong, he did not align his views strictly with that of Dolpopa and went to great efforts to juxtapose zhentong with rangtong ― using them as markers for ontological extremes.
His immediate disciple was the founder of the Geluk tradition, the famed Tsongkhapa Lozang Drakpa (1357-1419) whose critique of the zhentong view sparked a polemic debate that rages on to this day within the Tibetan rangtong / zhentong discourse.
1. This is the second part of the previous post, Tibetan Zhentong Discourse I. See Karmay, S.G. The Great Perfection: A Philosophical and Meditative Teaching of Tibetan Buddhism, 184-5. Leiden: Brill, 1988.
2. Tāranātha. Zab don nyer gcig pa. In Rje btsun Tā ra nā tha’i gsung ‘bum, 18, 209-22. ‘Dzam thang. See also Mathes, K.D. 2005. "Tāranātha's Twenty-one Differences in Respect to the Profound Meaning: A Possible Starting-point for Studies in the Gzhan stong Madhyamaka." In JIABS, 278-321.