Śākya mchog-ldan on gotra in Yogācāra and Madhyamaka

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Śākya mchog-ldan on gotra in Yogācāra and Madhyamaka

Citation: Gilks, Peter. "Śākya mchog-ldan on gotra in Yogācāra and Madhyamaka." Paper presented at the 17th Congress of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, Vienna, August 2014.

Article Summary

This paper is being presented as part of a panel on the topic of Reformulations of Yogācāra in Tibet. Particularly, it relates to Tibetan commentary on Abhisamayālaṃkāra (AA) I:39, in which it is taught that the foundation (pratiṣṭhā) for religious practice is the dharmadhātu and that since the dharmadhātu is undifferentiated (asaṃbhedā), there are ultimately no distinct gotras corresponding to the three vehicles. This teaching is usually interpreted as a Mādhyamaka justification for one final vehicle, as opposed to the three-vehicle theory, attributed to Cittamātra/Vijñaptimātratā, and which is closely related to the doctrine of three gotras found in sutras such as Saṃdhinirmocana and Laṅkāvatāra and śāstras such as Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra. However, there are some Tibetan writers outside the influential Gelug tradition who see the equation of gotra with dharmadhātu as an essentially Yogācāra doctrine. This alternative viewpoint implies that Yogācāra and Cittamātra are not, as is commonly held to be the case, the same thing and brings to the fore the question of whether Yogācāra is better understood as a tradition that transcends traditional doxographic categories. Through an analysis of Śākya-mchog-ldan’s explanation of AA I:39, which includes a differentiation of two other terms that are also often held to be synonymous, namely gotra and buddha-essense (or tathāgatagarbha), I aim to highlight some of the ways in which his ‘reformulation’ of Yogācāra implies a reformulation of certain Cittamātra doctrines. Finally, I conclude the paper with a brief discussion on the extent to which doxographical discourse both restricts and allows for the formulation of an individual point of view. (Gilks, introduction, 1)


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