The Buddha Within: Tathagatagarbha Doctrine according to the Shentong Interpretation of the Ratnagotravibhaga-Review by Griffiths

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The Buddha Within: Tathagatagarbha Doctrine according to the Shentong Interpretation of the Ratnagotravibhaga-Review by Griffiths
Review
Article


Citation: Griffiths, Paul J. Review of The Buddha Within: Tathagatagarbha Doctrine According to the Shentong Interpretation of the Ratnagotravibhaga, by S. K. Hookham. Journal of the American Oriental Society 113, no. 2 (1993): 317–19.

Article Summary

This book aims to expound, for both scholars and practitioners of Buddhism, the doctrine of the "emptiness-of-the-other" (shentong, to adopt the author's more-or-less phonetic method of rendering terms in Tibetan; a more formally accurate transcription would be gzhan-stong), a Buddhist tradition of metaphysical reasoning that has its roots in Indian tathāgatagarbha thought and is associated especially with the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages in Tibet. This tradition of reasoning, as the author claims, has been given little attention by Western scholars working on Indo-Tibetan Buddhism; they have focused on the Madhyamaka schools in India and on their Gelug and Sakya inheritors in Tibet, and to a somewhat lesser extent upon Indian Yogācāra. In so far as they have said anything about the Shentong tradition or its Indian precursors, they have tended to dismiss it as heretical or not really Buddhist-often following in this the rhetoric of Gelug polemics. Dr. Hookham's book is therefore a welcome corrective, being, as she claims, "the first book in a Western language to discuss at length the views of Tibetan Shentong writers on the basis of their own works" (p. 5). (Griffiths, Review of The Buddha Within, 317-18)

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