A Historical Survey of the Shentong Tradition in Tibet
Stearns, Cyrus. "A Historical Survey of the Shentong Tradition in Tibet." Chapt. 2 in The Buddha From Dolpo: A Study of the Life and Thought of the Tibetan Master Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications, 2010.
This advice by the omniscient Dölpopa should be kept as the key point in our hearts: "If buddhahood will be reached merely as a result of having heard the term 'sugata essence,' what need to mention what will happen from actualizing that by means of faith and devotion, and meditating on it? Thus compassionate experts should teach it even if they might lose their lives and so forth, and those who strive for liberation should seek it out and listen even if they must cross a great pit of fire."
- Jamgön Kongtrul
Little is known about the early Tibetan proponents of philosophical points of view that would later come to be known as shentong. According to Lhai Gyaltsen, many persons with partial realization of the teachings of definitive meaning had appeared in Tibet before the fourteenth century, most of them dedicated practitioners. But no one until Dölpopa had mastered all the teachings of definitive meaning in the various scriptures, treatises, and esoteric instructions, and then formulated that realization into a coherent philosophical tenet. Tāranātha traces one lineage for what he calls "instructions on the view of the Madhyamaka emptiness of other," and a second lineage for the Kālacakra teachings passed down in the Jonang tradition.  The first of these concerns the practical instructions that epitomize the intentions of all the sūtras and commentaries of the third turning of the Dharma wheel. This lineage is primarily traced through Maitreya and the Indian brothers Asaṅga and Vasubandhu, who are considered the founders of the doctrine, but a transmission is also traced from Nāgārjuna. This first text is a record of the names of teachers who taught the shentong view based on the teachings of the Mahāyāna scriptures and commentaries. Jetsun Tāranātha's second text, concerned with the lineage of the Kālacakra teachings transmitted in the Jonang tradition, records the names of teachers who taught the shentong view based on the tantras, specifically as articulated in the Kālacakra Tantra and related literature. Examples of the writings of very few of the Tibetan masters in each of these lineages before the time of Dölpopa seem to have survived.
1. The Shentong Tradition in Tibet before Dölpopa
According to Tāranātha, one of the earliest Tibetan masters in the shentong lineages based on Mahāyāna teachings was Drimé Sherab, better known as Tsen Khawoché (b. 1021), who was most intimately connected with the transmission of the Highest Continuum (Uttaratantra). In his important collection of one hundred guiding instructions from various lineages, Kunga Drölchok preserved some instructions of this teacher, which are the earliest extant materials about the shentong view in Tibet. Kunga Drölchok first provides some historical context.
As for the guiding instructions on the view of an emptiness of other, Tsen Khawoché said, "Sañjana, the paṇḍita of Kaśmīr, made this very significant statement: 'The Conqueror turned the Dharma wheel three times. The first wheel taught the four truths, the middle one taught the lack of defining characteristics, and the final one made carefully thorough distinctions. Of these, the first two did not distinguish between the real and the imaginary. The final one, at the point of certainty concerning the absolute, taught by distinguishing between the middle and the extremes, and distinguishing between phenomena and true nature. Only the original manuscripts of Distinguishing Phenomena and True Nature and the Highest Continuum were rediscovered. If these two texts had been lost, it would have indicated Maitreya's passing away into bliss.'"
Appearing in an old notebook of Tsen Khawoché himself bearing the title Lotus Hook, this is persuasive against the later claim that the distinction of an "emptiness of other" was totally unknown in India and only appeared later in Tibet with the omniscient Dölpopa. Please also closely examine the statement appearing in one of the all-knowing Butön's replies to questions, where he mentions the earlier existence of the philosophical tenet of Tanakpa Rinchen Yeshé that seems to have been later enhanced and maintained by Dölpopa.
Kunga Drölchok considers this statement by Tsen Khawoché to be a very important example of an early precedent for the philosophical distinctions later formulated by Dölpopa. Here Tsen Khawoché refers to his teacher Sañjana's opinion that only the third turning of the Dharma wheel, where clear distinctions are made between phenomena and true nature, represents the definitive meaning of the Buddha's teachings. Kunga Drölchok feels that this refutes Tibetan critics who claimed the shentong view was completely unknown in India and Tibet until the time of Dölpopa. He further remarks that even the great Butön commented that Dölpopa had enhanced an earlier Tibetan philosophical tenet held by one Tanakpa Rinchen Yeshé, and directs the reader to one of Butön's written replies to questions. Unfortunately, there is no mention of Dölpopa in the replies of Butön that have been preserved. However, Dölpopa did indeed study with the Tanak master Rinchen Yeshé. When still quite young, just before his teaching debut at Sakya in 1313, Dölpopa spent about three months at Tanak, where he studied with Rinchen Yeshé and received an explanation of the Five Treatises of Maitreya, two of which are the Highest Continuum and Distinguishing Phenomena and True Nature. The question of such important influences on Dölpopa's formulation of the shentong view will be discussed below.
The lineage of the Kālacakra teachings transmitted in the Jonang tradition emphasized the definitive aspect of the doctrine long before the time of Dölpopa. This is most obvious in a group of short works entitled Set of Four Bright Lamps (Gsal sgron skor bzhi), composed by the eleventh-century Kālacakra master Yumowa Mikyö Dorjé. Yumowa is clearly dealing with some of the same themes that Dölpopa later elaborated. Tāranātha even identifies Yumowa as having "initiated the tradition of the philosophical tenets of tantric shentong." But it is very significant that none of the key terms associated with Dölpopa's theories, such as gzhan stong (emptiness of other) or kun gzhi ye shes (universal-ground primordial awareness) appear in the extant writings of Yumowa, nor does he use the terminology that Dölpopa apparently borrowed from certain Mahāyāna sūtras and treatises.
Nevertheless, seven hundred years after Yumowa, the Geluk master Tuken Losang Chökyi Nyima (1737–1802), who despised the shentong view, says in his Crystal Mirror of Philosophical Tenets that Yumowa was the founder of the shentong teachings, which he so named, and that they were passed down orally until the time of Dölpopa as a hidden doctrine without any written texts. The earlier comments of the Kagyü master Gö Lotsāwa Shönu Pal (1392–1481) in a letter to the Jang ruler Rikden Namgyal Draksang simply focus on the teachings of the sugata essence and definitive meaning:
I have a slight understanding that this Dharma language of the sugata essence is the excellent heart of the ultimate doctrine of definitive meaning. In ancient times, most spiritual friends in Central Tibet and Tsang turned away from discussion of discriminating self-awareness. The doctrine started from the great adept Yumowa's composition of the treatises of the Four Bright Lamps. At a later time, the great omniscient Dharma lord [Dölpopa] spread and increased it.
Dölpopa actively taught Yumowa's Four Bright Lamps, yet he neither mentions Yumowa in his own writings nor quotes directly from his texts. But the early Jonang master Kunpang Tukjé Tsöndrü does specifically identify the Four Lamps as the crucial source of direct introduction to the essence of the Six-branch Yoga of Kālacakra.
Yumowa's four brief treatises are ultimately concerned with the correct practice of the Six-branch Yoga, the completion-stage meditation system grounded in the Kālacakra Tantra. The four texts focus on unity (zung 'jug), the Great Seal (phyag rgya chen po), luminosity ('od gsal), and emptiness (stong nyid). A prayer to the masters in the transmission line of the Kālacakra teachings according to the Jonang lineage is appended to the first of the four texts, indicating that the extant manuscript was passed down in the Jonang tradition.
Yumowa discusses many tantric topics in his writings that are beyond the scope of this book. But one of his recurrent concerns is to emphasize that he does not accept the opinion of most scholars that the path consists of realizing the true mode of the existence of phenomena, or the true nature of all phenomena, to be an emptiness not established by any intrinsic nature, free from the extremes of existence, nonexistence, both, and neither. He identifies this as the meaning of the view, the philosophical tenet that establishes the true mode of existence of all entities. This is not what is to be cultivated as the path according to the stages of esoteric instruction. In short, Yumowa teaches that emptiness in the context of the path of meditation absolutely must be experiential. An emptiness of any nature whatsoever cannot be directly experienced. For Yumowa, emptiness that is the valid path is experienced during the practice of the Six-branch Yoga, when "images of emptiness" are actually beheld. This is the direct experience of emptiness as the path according to the teachings of the Kālacakra Tantra. Yumowa says that emptiness arrived at through reasoned analysis and emptiness without mental activity are not the path; it is the emptiness seen with the eyes during meditative concentration that is the subject of his work. Concerning these images of emptiness, the Jonang master Kunpang Tukjé Tsöndrü writes, "Precisely that is beholding the face of the divine chosen deity of the absolute true nature." Echoes of this point of view will be found in the works of Dölpopa.
The texts translated in part 2 of this book will show that the teachings of Dölpopa were solidly grounded in the doctrine of the tantras, especially the Kālacakra Tantra, and that his treatises do not simply follow established philosophical tenets, but represent a synthesis of the view and practice of Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna Buddhism.
2. Dölpopa and the Shentong View
Early Tibetan masters such as Tsen Khawoché and Yumowa, who taught what was later referred to as the shentong view, did so only to small groups in the context of private instruction. Very few texts written by any of the later members of their lineages, from the eleventh century until the late thirteenth century, have survived. It was not until Dölpopa proclaimed his realization and gave his doctrine the name "shentong" that this term and the teachings now associated with it became widely known in Tibet. The circumstances surrounding Dölpopa's initial proclamation of the shentong were described in chapter 1, and the nature of his ideas will become clear in chapter 3 and in part 2. Here some of the influences behind his theories, his innovative use of language, his motivation, and the method by which he approached the Buddhist scriptures will be discussed.
Dölpopa's statements show that the most important scriptural sources for his controversial theories were the set of texts known as the Bodhisattva Trilogy, which are the definitive Indian commentaries on the Kālacakra Tantra, the Hevajra Tantra, and the Cakrasamvara Tantra. For example, in a text that he sent to the ruler of the region of Jang, Dölpopa specifies these works as the key influences in his conversion from the view of absolute reality as an emptiness of self-nature. Of these, the Stainless Light of Kalkī Puṇḍarīka held special significance for him. Dölpopa once remarked, "All the key points of the profound definitive meaning were discovered in the great commentary to the Kālacakra Tantra, so it has been remarkably kind."
Dölpopa was a consummate practitioner of the Six-branch Yoga, the completion-stage practices of Kālacakra. He based his doctrinal discussions on scripture, particularly the cycles related to the Kālacakra Tantra, but his own experience in meditation was crucial to the formation of his theories. As George Tanabe has emphasized in his study of the Japanese master Myōe, "Buddhists have long insisted that the primary experience—and experience is primary—is that of meditation and practice." Dölpopa obviously felt that he had experienced the definitive meaning of the Buddha's message that was known in the mystical land of Shambhala, but not understood in Tibet. He once claimed to have actually gone to Shambhala during an evening meditation session. The next morning he gave an extensive teaching about the layout of Shambhala, its relation to the rest of the universe, and the esoteric instructions of the Kālacakra Tantra. After directly beholding Shambhala, he composed eulogies to it, declaring in one that he had discovered precisely how Shambhala and Kailash exist, which was previously unknown to Indian and Tibetan scholars.
When giving personal meditation advice to his students, Dölpopa most often speaks of the special knowledge he had discovered. He emphasizes that many in Shambhala understand the experiences that arise from meditation on the Six-branch Yoga, but no one understands in Tibet except for him. His own awareness is due solely to the kindness of the Kalkī emperors. For example, he writes the following verses in an instruction to one of his disciples:
Generally, if I speak frankly,
other people don't like it.
If I speak what other people say,
it would deceive my students.
It is difficult to be a teacher nowadays.
Nevertheless, I will speak frankly to you.
The Kalkī lives in Shambhala to the north.
In the Dharma palace of Kalāpa
live many who understand these
types of experiences.
In the snowy land of Tibet,
just I understand
these types of experiences.
And to another disciple he writes:
These days this procedure
is not known by most
who are famed as scholars,
who claim good meditation
and high realization,
and who are conceited great adepts,
but I have discovered it
by the kindness of the Kalkī.
The combination of Dölpopa's experience in meditation on the Six-branch Yoga, his visionary contact with the land of Shambhala and its Kalkī emperors, and their special blessings, certainly provided the primary inspiration for his views. But many of the themes of interpretation that came to fruition in his teaching had been present in the Buddhist traditions of Tibet for centuries. The teachings of Tsen Khawoché and Yumowa mentioned in the previous section are just two examples of earlier Tibetan teachers whose views certainly provided a precedent for some of Dölpopa's theories.
In this context, it is very interesting that some Tibetan sources also speak of the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorjé, as a possible direct influence on Dölpopa, or even as the first adherent to the shentong. The earliest available account of the meeting between these two teachers is by the sixteenth-century Sakya master Mangtö Ludrup Gyatso:
Moreover, this lord [Dölpopa] met with Karma Rangjung Dorjé and, it is said, when [Dölpopa] upheld the philosophical tenet of the emptiness of self-nature, the Karmapa prophesied that he would later become an adherent of the emptiness of other. In general, I think the tradition of the emptiness of other was first upheld by Karma Rangjung Dorjé. Those at Jonang became adherents to the emptiness of other after the great omniscient [Dölpopa].
According to Tāranātha this meeting seems to have taken place when Dölpopa was twenty-nine or thirty years old, just prior to his trip to Jonang to meet Yönten Gyatso in 1322:
Then [Dölpopa] traveled to Lhasa, Tsurpu, and so forth. He had many discussions about Dharma with Dharma lord Rangjung. Rangjung could not match the scriptural reasoning of this lord, but he had fine clairvoyance and prophesied, "You will soon have a view, practice, and Dharma language much better than this that you have now."
Tāranātha apparently quotes from the Karmapa's prophecy, but makes no mention of him as a possible source for Dölpopa's development of the shentong view. Unfortunately, no record of this meeting is found in the early biographies of either teacher. However, a later history of the Karma Kamtsang tradition written by Situ Panchen Chökyi Jungné (1700–1774) specifies that Dölpopa still adhered to the view of an emptiness of self-nature at the time of the meeting. According to the chronology of this work the meeting between the two masters occurred between 1320 and 1324.
One of the most innovative aspects of Dölpopa's philosophical approach was his development of a new Dharma language (chos skad) to express a wide range of themes found in Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna scripture. Tāranātha mentions that when Dölpopa first taught the shentong he wrote a number of texts containing a certain Dharma language that was incomprehensible to many scholars, who upon reading them experienced a state of what might be called "hermeneutical shock." As just mentioned, Karmapa Rangjung Dorjé also prophesied that Dölpopa would soon develop a new and superior terminology.
Dölpopa did two things with language that were largely unprecedented in Tibet. Much research remains to be done, but it is probable that he first developed a special terminology or Dharma language that involved the appropriation of key terms from Mahāyāna sūtras and treatises, terms that were acceptable in their original context within scripture, but were almost never used in ordinary scholarly discourse. Then he created, or a least made first extensive use of, several Tibetan terms such as gzhan stong (shentong, "emptiness of other") and kun gzhi ye shes ("universal-ground primordial awareness") to express scriptural themes he wished to emphasize. He also drew into his vocabulary some key terms such as dbu ma chen po ("Great Madhyamaka") that had been in use in Tibet for centuries, but are not found in any Indian scriptures or commentaries. In this second phase he employed what may be referred to as source-alien terminology, utilizing previously unknown terms to explicate ideas and themes already present in many Buddhist scriptures.
In his unique use of language Dölpopa first borrowed loaded terminology from Mahāyāna sūtras and treatises and incorporated it into his own compositions. A few examples will illustrate this unusual facet of his work. One of the controversial points in his teaching is the assertion that ultimate truth, referred to by terms such as sugatagarbha ("sugata essence"), dharmadhātu ("basic space of phenomena"), and dharmakāya ("dharma body"), is permanent or eternal. Statements to this effect are certainly not unusual in many Mahāyāna sūtras and treatises, but for most scholars in Tibet the hermeneutical approach was to view those statements as provisional (neyārtha, drang don) and in need of interpretation. For Dölpopa, such statements in the scriptures and commentaries were of definitive meaning (nītārtha, nges don) and to be understood literally. He began to freely use the terminology of these scriptures in a way suggesting that no interpretation was required, and this was no doubt shocking. For instance, the Tibetan terms bdag (ātman), rtag pa (nitya), and brtan pa (dhruva), as well as ther zug, g.yung drung, and mi 'jig pa (all used to translate Sanskrit śāśvata), are found in the Tibetan translations of treatises such as the Highest Continuum and sūtras such as the Laṅkāvatāra, Ghanavyūha, Aṅgulimālīya, Śrīmālā, and Mahāparinirvāṇa, where they are used to describe the dharmakāya, the Tathāgata, and the buddha nature, or sugata essence. These terms, which can be translated as "self," "permanent," "stable," "everlasting," "eternal," and "indestructible," are used by Dölpopa throughout his writings, not just when discussing the meaning of a passage in scripture. Butön Rinchen Drup's refutations of the Jonang interpretation of these very terms as used in scripture clearly shows that this was one of the areas where Dölpopa's contemporaries reacted strongly.
In one of Dölpopa's early and brief compositions, General Commentary on the Doctrine, which is considered a major work, most of these terms from the sūtras and Indian treatises are already in use. In another early and important text, Exceptional Esoteric Instructions on Madhyamaka, which he wrote at the request of his teacher Sönam Drakpa, several of these terms are also found and some of the themes he would later develop are present in embryonic form. The crucial terms continue to be found in all of his later writings. In his last major works, the Fourth Council and its Autocommentary, Dölpopa frequently uses all the terms listed above, as well as other unusual compounds such as "eternal kāya" (g.yung drung sku, ther zug sku).
Dölpopa never dated his major works, but it may be possible in the future to establish an approximate chronology of his writings through analysis of the terminology used in the different texts. For example, General Commentary on the Doctrine and Exceptional Esoteric Instructions on the Madhyamaka do not contain the terms gzhan stong or kun gzhi ye shes. This gives the impression that they are very early works and that the borrowing of vocabulary from scriptural sources, which is present in these works, was the first step in the evolution of his use of terminology, later to be followed by the creation of his own Dharma language.
The term gzhan stong (shentong) is most often associated with Dölpopa, who is usually thought to have coined it. However, there is some evidence of at least a few isolated occurrences of the term before his time. Dölpopa himself quotes a master called Lord Poripa, who makes a statement that could have come from Dölpopa:
Relative truth is empty of self-nature
and absolute truth is empty of other.
If the mode of emptiness
of the two truths is not understood
in this way, there is danger
of denying complete buddhahood.
This is certainly the most significant occurrence of the term by a writer who may predate Dölpopa, but very little is known about any earlier master called Poripa. The single possible identification is with the obscure early Kagyü teacher Poriwa Könchok Gyaltsen.
Another example of the use of the term gzhan stong is found in the biography of Ra Lotsāwa Dorjé Drak (eleventh–twelfth centuries), who contrasts it to the term rang stong in a mystical song. But there are strong reasons to conclude that this biography was extensively reworked in the seventeenth century, and so the occurrence of the term is probably not significant.
Dölpopa's contemporary, the famous Nyingma master Longchen Rabjampa, also mentions the term when discussing the three-nature (trisvabhāva) theory of the Yogācāra tradition. He contrasts the three categories of "empty of self-nature" (rang gis stong pa), "empty of other" (gzhan gyis stong pa), and "empty of both" (gnyis kas stong pa), but with none of the connotations inherent in Dölpopa's usage. During a discussion of the buddha nature, the expression gzhan stong is also used once in a text attributed to Padmasambhava in the Heartdrop of the Dakinis (Mkha' 'gro snying thig), which was revealed in the thirteenth century by Pema Lendrel Tsel. Once again, the usage of the term is not similar to that found in Dölpopa's works.
This evidence shows that the term gzhan stong had been used in Tibet before the time of Dölpopa, albeit only in isolated instances. The tradition itself certainly considers him as the one who coined the term, but it is perhaps more accurate to say Dölpopa made use of an obscure term that had very limited use before him, and gave it a place of fundamental importance in the expression of his philosophy.
Another central theme of Dölpopa's thought is the contrasting of universal-ground consciousness (kun gzhi rnam shes) and universal-ground primordial awareness (kun gzhi ye shes). The term kun gzhi ye shes is not found in the writings of any earlier Tibetan authors, and Dölpopa includes it in a list of topics previously unknown in Tibet that he had realized and explicated.  The phrase "mirrorlike universal-ground primordial awareness" (kun gzhi me long lta bu'i ye shes) is found in one of the works of Longchen Rabjampa, where he uses it to characterize the dharmakāya and contrast it with the universal-ground consciousness as one of the eight modes of consciousness. In this one instance there are some similarities with Dölpopa's ideas, but Longchenpa's usual position is to identify the universal ground (kun gzhi) only with impure states of mind.
Until 1322, when he was thirty years old, Dölpopa had primarily studied Buddhist literature, philosophy, and practice according to the Sakya tradition. For most of the previous decade he had studied and taught at Sakya Monastery itself. He would certainly have been very familiar with the works of Sakya Paṇḍita Kunga Gyaltsen (1182–1251), such as Distinguishing the Three Vows, which are fundamental to the education of a Sakya scholar and practitioner. The similarities between Sakya Paṇḍita's statements about his motives for composing his controversial works, and Dölpopa's statements about his own motives are as striking as the fact that the two masters were at opposite ends of the spectrum of doctrinal interpretation.
A example of Dölpopa's familiarity with Sakya Paṇḍita's work and his sympathy for the Sakya master's sentiments is found at the end of the Autocommentary to the "Fourth Council". Dölpopa takes a couplet directly from Distinguishing the Three Vows and then extends Sakya Paṇḍita's metaphor by repeating it in a series of verses. The gist of Sakya Paṇḍita's verse is that no matter how many traditions of Dharma there may be, if they are not linked to an authentic source, they are lifeless, like gaming pieces that are off the board and irrelevant. Dölpopa uses the first couplet of Sakya Paṇḍita's verse as a point of departure and, through its repetition, addresses a number of related issues. For example, he says there may be numerous teachings of the degenerate Tretāyuga, but if they are not linked to the perfect Kṛtayuga they are lifeless, like dead bodies. He continues in this vein, contrasting the fully established nature with the imagined nature, the absolute with the relative, emptiness of self-nature with emptiness of other, and so forth. This borrowing was certainly deliberate and would have called to mind the themes and tone of Sakya Paṇḍita's treatise, especially since it was one of his descendants, Lama Dampa Sönam Gyaltsen, who had requested Dölpopa to compose the Fourth Council and its Autocommentary.
Some of Dölpopa's clearest comments about his motives and sentiments are found at the end of his Brief Analysis, which he sent to the ruler of the principality of Jang to explain his doctrinal views. It is a significant spiritual and autobiographical testament:
These [investigations] lay a plumb line straight upon reality's true mode of being, just as it is. They are not contaminated with impurities such as prejudice, partiality, and the notion that a claim is stronger just because it was made earlier. I have taken as witnesses the opinions of the omniscient Buddha, the Blessed One; the excellent lords on the tenth level, such as the Lords of the Three Families, Vajragarbha, and Maitreyanātha; the great founders and excellent realized experts such as noble Asaṅga, the great brahmin Saraha, and the great paṇḍita Nāropa. I have avoided exaggeration and denial and have written after fully comprehending their intentions exactly as they are.
You might think, "You are arrogant about having realized their intentions exactly as they are, but do your ideas actually disagree with those of other Tibetan teachers because you have not realized them?"
That is not the case. The causes for not understanding are certainly inferior intelligence, lacking the oral instructions of an excellent master, little study, no experience and realization in meditation, being filled with pride and arrogance, defining true and false on the basis of the notion that a claim is stronger just because it was made earlier, popularity, and so forth. But I first engaged in much study of the great scriptural traditions, then I engaged in the practice of the oral instructions of India and Tibet that are known to be profound, and then the precise experience and realization of each of them actually arose.
Then, based on the infusion of a little of the blessing of having encountered the definitive meaning of the great root tantras, the oral instructions of glorious Kalāpa, the profound uncommon heartfelt advice of the Kalkīs on the tenth level, I discovered many profound key points that have not been discovered, have not been realized, and have not been fully comprehended by self-clinging paṇḍitas, most dedicated meditators endowed with experience and realization, and most who are arrogant about being great upholders of secret mantra. A fine realization burst forth from within. Therefore, not only most dedicated meditators endowed with experience and realization, and those who are arrogant about being great upholders of secret mantra, but even the Buddha definitely could not turn me back from this truth, because I have an exceptional certainty with no doubts to ask about.
You might also think, "All that certainty is from blurred and dim meditation or from misunderstanding; you have no perfect scriptural quotations for proof."
That is not lacking, because there are very many clear quotations, together with reasoning and with esoteric instructions, from those on the twelfth level, those on the tenth level, and excellent realized experts such as Nāgārjuna and his spiritual sons, and the great paṇḍita Nāropa. Nevertheless, I have not written them here from fear of being verbose. But if you wish and are so interested, I will write and offer them later.
Of these points, several exceptional ones certainly disagree with some that have been known in Tibet before. But you have been accustomed to an earlier philosophical tenet for a long time, so the propensity for it has become firm, and many in Tibet adhere to that tradition. So there is certainly a difference of firm and unstable propensities for these previous and later philosophical tenets, and a difference in the number of adherents. However, without giving in to the influence of those differences, please take as witnesses the scriptures of the Buddha and the bodhisattvas, and examine them with an attitude of unbiased honesty as to which [system] is true.
As this and many other passages make clear, considerable opposition to Dölpopa's theories certainly arose. Specifically, he felt that most people had already closed their minds to the teachings of definitive meaning. The mistaken notion that a claim is stronger just because it was made earlier, and the prejudice inherent in the established traditions of his time were some of the greatest factors inhibiting the widespread acceptance of his ideas. He was presenting his case to a prejudiced jury. It is therefore curious that not a single contemporary text has survived in which hostile testimony against Dölpopa is preserved. Perhaps full reaction to his doctrine did not develop and gain open expression until after his death.
3. The Shentong Tradition after Dölpopa
Dölpopa was surrounded by a group of experts as formidable as any in fourteenth-century Tibet. His most influential successors in the Jonang tradition were probably Choglé Namgyal, Nya Ön Kunga Pal, and Mati Panchen Lodrö Gyaltsen. Important works by all these masters are extant and demonstrate the extent to which they followed Dölpopa's example concerning crucial doctrinal issues. In particular, it was apparently the teachings of Choglé Namgyal and Nya Ön that provoked polemic responses and negative reactions.
The most famous and influential early opponent of the Jonang tradition was the Sakya master Rendawa Shönu Lodrö (1348–1413), who was also one of the most important teachers of the great Tsongkapa Losang Drakpa (1357–1419). Rendawa is generally credited with establishing the Prāsaṅgika form of Madhyamaka philosophy in Tibet, but he came to be viewed by the Jonang tradition as a vicious opponent of the teachings of definitive meaning so successfully spread by Dölpopa. For example, a pseudo-prophecy said to be Dölpopa's last testament, but surely composed much later by a Jonang follower and added to his biography, describes Rendawa as an evil demon who would spread the view of nihilism. Moreover, he would refute the doctrine of the buddha nature, or sugata essence, as the ultimate ground, deny the Six-branch Yoga as the ultimate path, and deny the existence of the ultimate result as a separation from all taints. He would also criticize the Kālacakra Root Tantra because it did not begin with the words "Thus have I heard," as do other sūtras and tantras, and would make various criticisms of the Condensed Kālacakra Tantra. Finally, he would gather copies of the Stainless Light and have them thrown into rivers.
These are serious allegations, but are also tainted with a considerable degree of hysteria. Rendawa's biography specifically points out that he was famous in Tibet for having said that the Kālacakra Tantra was not Dharma, but that this was incorrect. While he did see internal contradictions in a literal reading of the Kālacakra, he did not dismiss it as a non-Buddhist teaching (chos min). Rendawa makes this clear at the end of the Jewel Garland, the text where he voiced his objections to specific points in the Kālacakra Tantra:
Nevertheless, while it
may or may not have been
composed by a Noble One,
seeing that it also has many fine explanations,
I have not denied this totally
by saying, "It is not an entryway
for those who wish liberation."
Rendawa's main quarrel was not actually with the content of the Kālacakra Tantra itself, but with the prevalent practice of understanding its words literally. This is specified in his Reply to Questions, a text in which he specifically defends the Kālacakra Tantra against some of his own earlier objections:
Nowadays arrogant scholars
in the land of glacial mountain ranges
have become conceptually attached
to the literal meaning of the words
in the Kālacakra Tantra and its commentary,
which present the profound
by means of implicit language.
After seeing the spread of many
wrong distinctions that contradict
the collection of pure sūtras and tantras,
I have written this by means of objection and analysis,
as though straightening a crooked stick.
Rendawa is indeed the most famous (or infamous) critic of the Kālacakra tradition in Tibet. But he had first studied with some of Dölpopa's major disciples, such as Nya Ön Kunga Pal and Mati Panchen, and been extremely impressed with the Jonang philosophical tenets. He then decided to fully investigate the fundamental Indian texts emphasized by his Jonang teachers, such as the Kālacakra Tantra, the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra, Maitreya's Highest Continuum, Nāgārjuna's Eulogy to the Basic Space of Phenomena, and so on. He analyzed these works three times. After the first reading he was certain that the Jonang position was correct. On the second reading he became uncertain as to whether it was correct or incorrect. After the third reading he was sure that the Jonang interpretations were incorrect. Rendawa then went to Sakya and reported to another of his teachers, the great abbot Sangyé Pel, that he had decided the Jonang doctrine was wrong, and his conclusion was encouraged. He then apparently embarked on a crusade to discredit the Jonang tradition and call into question the internal contradictions he perceived in a literal reading of the Kālacakra Tantra. First he sent a message to his teacher Nya Ön telling him what he had decided. Nya Ön was very displeased at this reversal in Rendawa's view. Nevertheless, Rendawa felt that because of Nya Ön's great intellectual powers, and specifically his consummate knowledge of epistemology, he could be convinced that the Jonang view was wrong if Rendawa could demonstrate this through reasoning and scriptural quotations. He was sure that once Nya Ön was converted, all the other members of the Jonang tradition would change their views. Nya Ön is certainly portrayed here as one of the leading proponents of Dölpopa's teachings.
However, when Rendawa went to Tsechen Monastery to speak to Nya Ön, his old teacher indicated his displeasure in many ways, and Rendawa recognized there was no point in broaching the subject. Instead, he returned to Sakya and composed the Jewel Garland, his famous critique of the Kālacakra Tantra. In front of a huge assembly presided over by Drung Zhitokpa (1339–99) at Sakya, Rendawa debated against the Kagyü scholar Karma Könshön (b. 1333) on the question of internal contradictions in the Kālacakra Tantra. Then he was invited to Jonang itself, where he debated on the status of the buddha nature. According to Rendawa's biography, he was successful in converting many Jonang monks, caused others to doubt their views, and prevented still others from joining the Jonang tradition. In short, he seems to have led a strong reactionary movement against the Jonang philosophical tenets less than thirty years after the death of Dölpopa.
Rendawa's Jewel Garland provoked a series of written refutations, beginning with a harsh rebuttal by the master Jangchup Sengé, who succeeded Choglé Namgyal on the monastic seat of Jonang in 1381. In the fifteenth century, Rikden Namgyal Draksang, the Sakya teacher Taktsang Lotsāwa Sherab Rinchen, and the Kagyü master Gö Lotsāwa Shönu Pal all wrote further refutations of Rendawa's work.
Nevertheless, it is now clear that Rendawa's attitude was considerably more ambivalent than the account in Tibetan historical sources. In the latter part of his life he lived in semi-seclusion at a hermitage in the region of Gangbulé. During this time he composed his most substantial work on the Kālacakra Tantra, entitled Jewel Lamp Illuminating the Definitive Meaning of the Glorious Kālacakra. Unlike his two earlier polemic works, the first of which was certainly written while Rendawa was not yet thirty years of age, this fascinating treatise is a thorough and positive analysis of the Kālacakra meditation practices. The text is obviously an attempt to extract the profound essence of these teachings while correcting some errors of interpretation made by others. In light of Rendawa's reputation as an opponent of the Jonang tradition and a critic of the Kālacakra Tantra, it is shocking to find the following passage in this final work:
According to the tradition of this tantra, the classification of the two truths is like this: all the phenomena of the incidental stains that arise from the confusing circumstances of ignorance are relative truth, because they obscure the perception of thatness and are reference points for total affliction. Because that is also not established as the object of a perfect primordial awareness, it is empty of self-nature, a nihilistic emptiness, and an inanimate emptiness. All the phenomena of luminosity, the nature of original mind, are absolute truth. And not because it has been proven able to withstand reasoned analysis . . . It is the absolute because it is a nonconceptual field of experience. Because the incidental stains are absent, it is empty of other, and because it is experienced through a discriminating self-awareness, it is not a nihilistic emptiness and an inanimate emptiness . . .
Because the emptiness of self-nature falls into the extreme of nihilism, its realization is not the perfect path of liberation; only the emptiness of other, the true nature of mind, luminosity, an immutable inner pure awareness experienced through the force of meditation and through a discriminating self-awareness, is accepted as the perfect path.
Could Rendawa have actually come to accept that the definitive meaning of the Kālacakra Tantra was compatible with the shentong view held by the Jonang tradition? Nevertheless, at other points in this important text he continues to strongly condemn the notion of a permanent and eternal absolute reality, which he equates with the teachings of the Vedic scriptures. Without a more careful study of Rendawa's works it is difficult to know how he was able to admit the validity of the shentong in the context of the definitive view of the Kālacakra Tantra, but reject the various other aspects of the theory, such as the permanent and eternal status of the buddha nature. In any case, it is certain that later generations in Tibet continued to view Rendawa as a determined enemy of both the Jonang tradition and the teachings of the Kālacakra Tantra, despite the evidence to the contrary in his final work on the subject.
Even with such doctrinal backlash against the Jonang tradition in the late fourteenth century, Dölpopa's legacy remained powerful for many decades in the province of Tsang before other influences gained the upper hand. Tāranātha later remarked that the prophecy about Dölpopa found in the Sūtra of the Great Drum was correct, since the practice of the Six-branch Yoga that he spread throughout Tibet, and the teaching of the Sūtras on the Essence, the Highest Continuum, and other key texts of the third turning of the Dharma wheel that proclaimed the buddha nature remained strong in all teaching institutes for more than eighty years. After that point, Tāranātha said, the teaching of those scriptures was not as influential as before, because many people became obsessed with the provisional meaning and having the highest view, as well as gaining reputation, power, and large entourages. This is clearly a negative reference to the rise of the Geluk tradition founded by lord Tsongkapa, whose main disciples, Khedrup Gelek Palsang (1385–1438) and Gyaltsap Darma Rinchen (1364–1431), led the attack against the Jonang tradition in the fifteenth century. Nevertheless, Tāranātha continued, even around the beginning of the seventeenth century the practice of the Six-branch Yoga and the teachings on the buddha nature had still managed to survive.
From the period after Dölpopa's immediate disciples up until the time of Kunga Drölchok (1507–66), very few texts are available that were written by Jonang masters concerned with the shentong view and other issues raised by Dölpopa. And Kunga Drölchok just mentions the shentong in a few of his texts. This situation would change only with the writings of Tāranātha, who began to revive the tradition around the beginning of the seventeenth century.
For this period of almost two hundred years (from the beginning of the fifteenth century until the beginning of the seventeenth century) most available information about the Jonang tradition and the shentong teachings is thus found in polemic writings from other traditions, nearly all hostile, with the notable exception of the Sakya master Serdok Panchen Shākya Chokden (1428–1507). Presently available sources portray Shākya Chokden as one of the most influential advocates of the shentong in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. This impression is strengthened by Tāranātha, who composed a fascinating text about twenty-one differences in the views of Dölpopa and Shākya Chokden concerning profound points of Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna doctrine. In the late eighteenth century the Geluk critic Tuken Losang Chökyi Nyima does not mention any shentong masters after Dölpopa's direct disciples until he singles out Shākya Chokden with particular venom. This role as an important upholder of the shentong view (although somewhat different than that of the Jonang tradition) is all the more remarkable because Shākya Chokden was, with the possible exception of Goram Sönam Sengé (1429–89), the greatest Sakya scholar of his time.
Where did Shākya Chokden come in contact with the shentong teachings and how did he remain a staunch Sakya master while upholding this view? There is not total agreement about the source of the shentong received by Shākya Chokden. One of his main teachers was the Sakya master Rongtön Sheja Kunrik (1367–1449). The modern Tibetan scholar Dhongthog Rinpoché says Shākya Chokden followed the example of his teacher Rongtön in professing the shentong in secret and refuting the exegetical tradition of lord Tsongkapa through logical reasoning. While Rongtön's views cannot be examined in detail here, there is probably some truth to Dhongthog Rinpoché's statement. For example, a eulogy to Dölpopa composed by Rongtön has survived, which at least indicates that this prominent Sakya teacher had great respect for Dölpopa and his views.
In the Kagyü tradition, the Seventh Karmapa, Chödrak Gyatso (1454– 1506), is said to have inspired Shākya Chokden to accept the shentong point of view. As previously mentioned, the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorjé, is sometimes named as an influence on Dölpopa's initial development of the shentong teachings. At the present stage of research the dynamics of how the shentong came to be accepted by many members of the Kagyü tradition, especially in the Karma Kamtsang branch, is not well understood, but it was certainly a powerful force within this lineage, perhaps from the time of the Third Karmapa.
The earliest available source on the life of Shākya Chokden, written by Jonang Kunga Drölchok, says he met Karmapa Chödrak Gyatso on two occasions, but contains no mention of the shentong or similar topics. These meetings can be dated to the year 1502. The most significant event was the second meeting, at the Rinpung court of Dönyö Dorjé, who was the most powerful ruler in Tibet. According to the Kagyü historian Pawo Tsuklak Trengwa (1504–66), who was writing between the years 1545 and 1564, about twenty to thirty thousand people are said to have gathered from throughout the Tsang region to welcome the Karmapa on his arrival in Rinpung. Shākya Chokden stayed with the Karmapa for about one month. During this period he received many of the Kagyü hierarch's uncommon profound instructions, which greatly enhanced his experience of renunciation and realization in meditation, and caused him to accept the Karmapa as his main master.
An eighteenth-century history of the Karma Kagyü tradition elaborates further, saying that the Karmapa accorded Shākya Chokden the incredible honor of sitting on a throne of equal height in the midst of the assembly, and that they spent the month in discussion of the most profound topics. On this occasion the Karmapa said his mind and Shākya Chokden's mind had blended into a single mindstream (thugs rgyud gcig pa). A passage later in the same work finally mentions that in his writings Shākya Chokden accepted, as did the Karmapa, that the ultimate view of the two great traditions of the Mahāyāna was the shentong view of the absolute as only empty of other relative phenomena. Shākya Chokden was already seventy-three or seventy-four years old, but this event is often considered to have been the deciding factor in his acceptance of the shentong. However, it now seems more likely that Shākya Chokden had upheld the shentong view for many years, and that this lengthy discussion with the Karmapa was more of a further validation and enrichment of his realization than a change of view. If this were not the case, it would have to be accepted that all his works dealing with an emptiness of self-nature and an emptiness of other were composed in the last five years of his life.
In addition to Shākya Chokden's biography, Kunga Drölchok also wrote a biography of Rikden Namgyal Draksang (1395–1475), the great ruler of the region of Jang, who was a master physician and scholar. Namgyal Draksang studied with many teachers of different traditions, but described himself as a follower of the Jonang teachings, especially those of the Kālacakra and the Six-branch Yoga, and considered Dölpopa to be the ultimate authority on these topics. Like Dölpopa before him, Namgyal Draksang was believed to be an emanation of the Shambhala emperor Kalkī Puṇḍarīka and wrote many important works, but very few seem to have survived. Shākya Chokden and Namgyal Draksang corresponded by letter and met on several occasions. Their last meeting was in 1475 at the elderly ruler's residence near Ngamring, which Shākya Chokden visited on his return trip from a lengthy stay in Mustang, in present-day Nepal. During this visit, the sovereign master (who passed away soon after) resolved all Shākya Chokden's remaining doubts and questions about the Stainless Light, the great commentary on the Kālacakra Tantra. Shākya Chokden also received initiation in the maṇḍala of the Mahāsamvara form of Kālacakra from Namgyal Draksang and accepted him as his sublime vajra master (mchog gi rdo rje slob dpon chen po).
In this specific context Kunga Drölchok quotes Shākya Chokden at length concerning his early interest in the Great Madhyamaka and the teachings of definitive meaning. When he was a child, Shākya Chokden once accompanied his teacher Dönyö Palwa on a visit to the great scholar Khenchen Pema Sangpo. This teacher stressed that the Five Treatises of Maitreya were all Great Madhyamaka, which was different that what Dönyö Palwa accepted. In Shākya Chokden's own words:
[Pema Sangpo] looked at me and said, "Wise young nephew, closely investigate topics such as this!" and also gave me a gift of tea.
After that time I closely investigated the definitive meaning, but did not really record it in great detail in treatises strictly devoted to the works of the philosophical tenets. I just spoke of it a little bit in conversation. Later, because I received the command of the great Rikden [Namgyal Draksang], I have specially emphasized it.
Kunga Drölchok further notes that Shākya Chokden spoke of this often in the monastic assembly, and that if his works written before the trip to Mustang, in Ngari, and the works he wrote after that time are carefully examined with the "eye of wisdom," certainty about this distinction will arise.
Kunga Drölchok was the greatest upholder of Shākya Chokden's transmission of the Sakya teachings, and these quotations and comments clearly point to the Jonang master Namgyal Draksang as the key influence in Shākya Chokden's decision to openly write about the shentong or teachings of definitive meaning during the last thirty-two years of his life. It seems significant that Kunga Drölchok does not refer to any Sakya or Kagyü influences on Shākya Chokden's views.
The works of Shākya Chokden were later banned in Tibet during the middle of the seventeenth century. Bigoted supporters of the Geluk tradition, who held political power, sealed the printery where the blocks for his writings were kept and ordered copies of his works to be confiscated. But a unique manuscript of his collected writings survived in Bhutan and was finally published more than three hundred years later. The banning of Shākya Chokden writings in Tibet no doubt had a lasting effect on the later doctrinal development of the Sakya tradition.
Shākya Chokden's works often focus on a theme of reconciliation and synthesis between traditions that have become polarized over doctrinal issues. His brand of shentong differs in many respects from that of Dölpopa, although they agree about the ultimate import of the view. In one brief work Shākya Chokden compares the views of Dölpopa and Butön (both of whom he considers to be Sakya) and comes to the startling conclusion that in the ultimate sense there is no basis for disagreement between the Jonang and Shalu traditions concerning emptiness of self-nature and emptiness of other, because in the context of the definitive meaning of the tantras Butön's tradition also accepted the view of the emptiness of other.
The theme of synthesis, or at least accepting an absence of contradiction between these two points of view, was also the approach of the Seventh Karmapa, Chödrak Gyatso, as recorded by his disciple Karma Trinlepa (1456–1539). The text that best exemplifies this is Karma Trinlepa's brief versified response to some written questions he had received. This work, which must surely be the one mentioned two hundred years later by Belo Tsewang Kunkhyap as "the brief treatise that shows there is no contradiction between an emptiness of self-nature and an emptiness of other," specifically summarizes the view of the Seventh Karmapa on this topic. As several modern writers have already noted, the Eighth Karmapa, Mikyö Dorjé (1507–1554), also wrote a text on the shentong view, although later in his life he changed his mind and wrote refutations of Dölpopa and Shākya Chokden.
The yogin Shongchen Tenpai Gyaltsen, who lived in the sixteenth or seventeenth century, also wrote an interesting short text attempting to bring the views of an emptiness of self-nature and an emptiness of other into harmony. Shongchen was responsible for codifying the teachings on Severance (Gcod) that had been passed down in an oral transmission from the great adept Tangtong Gyalpo (1361? –1485), who claimed to be the rebirth of Dölpopa. Shongchen's work is a versified presentation of the key points involved in the philosophical tenets of Great Madhyamaka.
From the late fifteenth century through the late sixteenth century the Sakya position concerning the Jonang teachings of the shentong and related topics is extremely complex. With the exception of Shākya Chokden and Gorampa, only a handful of writings by Sakya masters of the period are available that specifically discuss these issues. However, a number of brief passages in biographies and some minor texts give indications of the situation. Important information is found in the biographies of Gorumpa Kunga Lekpa (1477–1544), who held the monastic seat of Jonang for many years while he was also a leading exponent of the Sakya teachings of the Path with the Result (Lam 'bras); the great Tsarchen Losel Gyatso (1502–66), who was the most highly regarded master of the Path with the Result in the sixteenth century and who received many teachings from Gorumpa; Jonang Kunga Drölchok, who was the main holder of Panchen Shākya Chokden's lineage of Sakya explication and practice; and Jamyang Khyentsé Wangchuk (1524–68), who studied with all three of these masters.
The biography of Gorumpa is a major source regarding the situation at the great hermitage of Jonang from the late fifteenth century to the middle of the sixteenth century. The Jonang tradition was still obviously strong in the Tsang region and Dölpopa's major treatises such as the Mountain Dharma, the Fourth Council and its Autocommentary, and the General Commentary on the Doctrine were being transmitted and studied at Jonang. In 1516 Gorumpa ascended the throne at Jonang and held the monastic seat there until 1527. During this time, and during the tenure of his hand-picked successor, Namkha Palsang, who held the position from 1527 to 1543, Dölpopa's teachings of definitive meaning were preserved without any corruption. Gorumpa taught not only the Jonang specialties, but many tantric instructions of the Sakya tradition, such as the Path with the Result. During these years he was clearly a prominent example of what must have not been an uncommon situation—the practice and study of both Jonang and Sakya teachings without any serious obstacles to such an approach. Gorumpa seems to now be remembered only in the Sakya tradition.
Kunga Drölchok is one of the most famous masters of the Jonang tradition. Like Dölpopa more than two hundred years earlier, he was born in a region (Mustang) that is now inside the borders of Nepal, was raised and educated in the Sakya tradition, and then traveled to Tibet for advanced studies. He first received teachings in Tibet from major disciples of Panchen Shākya Chokden at the Sakya monastery of Serdokchen, and later visited other regions and received a vast number of teachings from masters of every lineage. Kunga Drölchok was particularly attracted to the teachings of the Six Dharmas of Niguma in the Shangpa tradition, which he practiced and taught very widely. He received the Jonang transmissions of the Kālacakra Tantra and the Six-branch Yoga from the master Lochen Ratnabhadra (1489−1563), who became one of his most important teachers.
Kunga Drölchok was invited to take the monastic seat of Jonang in the middle of the sixteenth century and become the leader of the tradition. Before making a decision, he traveled to Jonang to offer prayers in front of the image of the omnisicient Dölpopa. Just as Kunga Drölchok's name was read out three times by one of the masters in attendance, an earthquake occurred, which caused all the bells on the great stūpa of Jonang to jingle. Kunga Drölchok felt that this was a perfect omen, indicating the spread of the teachings of definitive meaning, and immediately wrote out his letter of acceptance. In one of his autobiographical writings he says he was now able to partially benefit the Jonang tradition because, in a previous lifetime, he had been a fellow student along with Dölpopa at Sakya Monastery. Receiving many tantric teachings together from the master Kyitön Jamyang Drakpa, they became vajra brothers bound by the sacred commitments.
Kunga Drölchok's extensive autobiographies, his One Hundred Guiding Instructions of Jonang, and his other miscellaneous works show that he was authentically unbiased and truly represented many lineages. The three main systems of tantric practice most important to him were the esoteric instructions of the Shangpa Kagyü, the Jonang tradition of the Six-branch Yoga, and the Sakya practices of the Path with the Result. He constantly bestowed these teachings throughout his life. In the present context, what is striking is the apparent lack of any strong attempt to spread the shentong view of Dölpopa. Kunga Drölchok seems to have been more interested in creating an atmosphere of tolerance for all lineages of explication and practice than furthering that of only one. This is also perhaps indicative of the situation in which the Jonang tradition now found itself.
Since the time of Dölpopa, the great majority of Sakya teachers had increasingly distanced themselves from the Jonang view and doctrinal position. But there was not such a rift between the two traditions concerning practice, as illustrated by the presence of four great Jonang masters in the lineage of the Sakya teachings of the Path with the Result. The writings of both Shākya Chokden and Kunga Drölchok show that many members of the Sakya tradition during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were influenced by the unique views of lord Tsongkapa, whose supporters had continued to increase in number. Quite a few Sakya scholars after Rendawa had rejected the theories of Dölpopa and apparently adopted views more compatible with the new Geluk tradition of Rendawa's disciple, lord Tsongkapa, even though Tsongkapa's theories were very questionable in light of the ancient teachings of the original Sakya masters. Shākya Chokden and Kunga Drölchok refer to this trend among some Sakya followers as the "lately arisen Sakya tradition" (phyis byung sa skya pa), and discuss a tension between the "new and old Sakya traditions" (sa skya pa gsar rnying), especially in regard to the teachings of the Path with the Result. They saw this new development as a serious corruption of the teachings of the original Sakya founders, whose ultimate intentions they felt were closer to those of the Jonang tradition than those of the Geluk. Kunga Drölchok saw these adherents to a "new Sakya" movement as wolves in sheep clothing who were destroying the true Sakya teachings. In short, they were Geluk followers masquerading as members of the Sakya tradition. On the other hand, some Sakya followers may also have been attracted to the shentong orientation precisely in order to counteract the dominant Geluk influence in Tibetan politics and religion.
One of Kunga Drölchok's great strengths is an exceptional ability to focus on the specific teachings of a given lineage without being influenced by those of other lineages, even the Jonang tradition he represented. If he is writing about the Sakya teachings of the Path with the Result, he carefully distinguishes its view from that of traditions that have different approaches, and when discussing the Jonang teachings of the Six-branch Yoga, he keeps precisely to Dölpopa's interpretation as the ultimate authority. In the latter context he once referred to himself as Dölpopa, the embodiment of the buddhas of the past, present, and future, once again returned to sit on his teaching throne and preserve his tradition:
As the physical embodiment
of the three regal masters,
and the single protector of mother
living beings in the three realms,
wasn't Sherab Gyaltsen the name
of the glorious Dölpopa, Embodiment
of the Buddhas of the Three Times?
Sitting on that lord's Dharma throne,
and maintaining that lord's tradition,
am I not the yogin Rangdröl,
the lord Buddha from Dölpo returned again?
When teaching instructions in a lineage that came from Dölpopa, Kunga Drölchok did not hesitate to use terminology reminiscent of his great predecessor, speaking of "the great kingdom of natural luminosity, the permanent and stable stone mountain of the basic space of phenomena," and "the immutable and permanent kāya of primordial awareness."
Jonang was flourishing during this period. Tsarchen Losel Gyatso, considered the greatest Sakya master of tantra in the sixteenth century, received the Jonang instructions of the Six-branch Yoga from Gorumpa, as well as many Sakya teachings of the Path with the Result. In 1539 Tsarchen visited Jonang and, reminiscent of Dölpopa's initial experience there, looked up at the stone meditation huts on the mountainside and was filled with awe at the tradition of continuous meditation retreat that had been maintained there:
The next morning we visited the great Stūpa That Liberates on Sight, the temple of the lineage of the Six-branch Yoga, and so forth. When I gazed from afar at the hermitages, my mind went out to them and I was enthralled. A distinctly vivid pure vision dawned in the center of my heart and I thought, "The early excellent masters established a continuous meditation center in a site such as this. Placing many people on the path of liberation, their way of life was so amazing and so incredible. When will we also practice for enlightenment in an isolated site such as this?"
Tsarchen revisited Jonang two years later, when a model of the great stūpa of Svayaṃbhunāth in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal was being erected in the center of the Jonang teaching arena, and was warmly greeted by his younger friend and teacher, Kunga Drölchok. Generally speaking, there were clearly very cordial relations between Sakya and Jonang masters at this time.
Jamyang Khyentsé Wangchuk, whose instruction manuals for major tantric practices in the Sakya tradition are authoritative to the present day, studied with Gorumpa as a youth and later with Tsarchen. He also received various teachings from Kunga Drölchok. In particular, from Gorumpa he received the full transmission of the Jonang teachings of Dölpopa, the Sakya teachings of the Path with the Result, and other esoteric instructions. Then he received all the Sakya esoteric transmissions (and many Shangpa and Nyingma teachings) from Tsarchen and became his principal Dharma heir. Khyentsé's autobiography shows that he was deeply committed to meditation practice, of both the Jonang and Sakya traditions, in contrast to scholastic studies. On one occasion he expressed his deep wish to go into isolated retreat far from everyone and practice (the Sakya) Naro Khachöma for the creation-stage meditation and (the Jonang) Six-branch Yoga of Kālacakra for the completion stage. This is indeed remarkable for a master who would later ascend Butön's teaching throne at Shalu Monastery.
One revealing episode occurred when Khyentsé Wangchuk visited the Kagyü monastery of Ralung in 1550. He listened quietly one day as a group of scholars discussed points of doctrine and practice and heard one of them declare that Dölpopa had maintained that a permanent entity existed (rtag pa'i dngos po yod), which was the buddha nature. No one disputed this. Khyentsé Wangchuk thought to himself that Dölpopa certainly did accept that the buddha nature was permanent, but he did not accept that it was an entity. In all his writings Dölpopa had said that the ground of emptiness was unconditioned natural luminosity (stong gzhi rang bzhin 'od gsal 'dus ma byas), and while you could object to this, it was not something that could be proven or refuted through vain argumentation. In any case, Khyentsé Wangchuk commented, Butön had said the same thing! Once again the impression is that there was really no serious disagreement between the ultimate intent of the greatest masters, only between later interpreters who did not fully comprehend their teachings.
Unlike the works of Kunga Drölchok, in which evidence of Dölpopa's theories is scarce, the writings of Kunga Drölchok's reincarnation, Jetsun Tāranātha, are filled with the teachings of the shentong and related themes. In the history of the Jonang tradition Tāranātha is second in importance only to Dölpopa himself. He was responsible for the short-lived Jonang renaissance in Tsang and Central Tibet during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, and the widespread revitalization of the shentong theory in particular. Like Kunga Drölchok, Tāranātha also practiced and taught a wide variety of tantric teachings from different lineages and was very nonsectarian in his approach to realization. He was also one of the last great Tibetan translators of Sanskrit tantric texts. Tāranātha was respectful of all forms of authentic Buddhism, including the tradition of Butön and that of the Geluk, which were both antagonistic toward the Jonang. He also emphasized the practice of the Sakya teachings of the Path with the Result and the esoteric instructions of the Shangpa Kagyü, as had Kunga Drölchok, but focused on the explication of the Kālacakra and the practice of the Six-branch Yoga as the most profound of all the teachings given by the Buddha. It is especially clear in his writings that Tāranātha considered Dölpopa to be the ultimate authority in matters of doctrine and practice.
Tāranātha's autobiography gives exceptional access to the condition of the Jonang tradition from the viewpoint of its leader. He took upon himself the responsibility of causing Dölpopa's insights to once again reach a wide audience and was determined to revive what he saw as a priceless transmission lineage in danger of being lost. For example, in the early 1590s Tāranātha wrote that it had been many years since the complete instructions of the Six-branch Yoga had been given in the Jonang assembly. The instruction manual of Dölpopa's Dharma heir, Choglé Namgyal, was still being used at Jonang to teach the Six-branch Yoga transmitted from Dölpopa, but very few people understood the philosophical tenets of Dölpopa and his disciples. It was even more worrisome that some of the previous holders of the monastic seat of Jonang, such as lord Orgyan Dzongpa, had given initiations and instructions according to the Jonang tradition, but had also criticized and refuted Dölpopa's vajra proclamations of the ultimate view of shentong, which Tāranātha felt was the secret teaching of all the buddhas and bodhisattvas. As a result, many unfortunate things had occurred. Even though Tāranātha personally disavowed any ability to refute another system, on this occasion he felt the need to defend the original views of Dölpopa through refutation of erroneous opinions, and to establish the correct interpretations according to his lineage.
In 1604, after a decade of great efforts to revive the original Jonang teachings, all of Tāranātha's work was threatened by serious political conflict between the regions of Jang and Tsang. Jonang itself was in immediate danger of being attacked by hostile armies. While meditating at Dölpopa's great stūpa, Tāranātha became very despondent and, seeing all his efforts about to be wiped out and the tradition itself perhaps destroyed, felt only like going into retreat to practice far away from all the troubles created by deluded and impassioned people. Then, one morning at dawn, the image of Dölpopa at the stūpa clearly transformed into Dölpopa himself and spoke to Tāranātha, encouraging him to continue as before, and assuring him that his efforts would not be in vain. The next night Tāranātha prayed to Dölpopa, who manifested in the divine form of the bodhisattva Dharmodgata and spoke four lines of verse that expressed the essence of his doctrine. At that very moment Tāranātha arrived at the deepest level of Dölpopa's shentong teachings, and all his uncertainties and doubts were completely removed. He felt that a great key had been placed in his hands with which to open all the doors of the Buddha's doctrine. As an expression of his realization he then composed the versified text entitled Ornament for the Madhyamaka Emptiness of Other, which is one of his most important works devoted solely to the explication of the shentong view, and a companion text of quotations from scripture in support of the ideas therein. Describing the same vision of Dölpopa in another of his autobiographical writings, Tāranātha mentions that he received several prophecies from him, and from that time on met him many times, both actually and in dreams. He comments, "That is the reason I am now an expert in the great omniscient Dölpopa's view and preserve his true intentions."
Throughout Tāranātha's life he often encountered resistance and opposition to the Jonang doctrine of the shentong. For example, he once spent considerable energy trying to explain the shentong view to the ruler of Jang, the abbot of Ngamring Monastery, and a group of scholars who had gathered at Trompa Lhatsé. His audience was interested, but gained absolutely no comprehension of the actual nature and significance of the teachings he gave. The main cause for the inability to understand was that these learned people identified the shentong doctrine with the tradition of the Cittamātra that did not accept the validity of a cognitive image (sems tsam rnam rdzun pa). The scholars were completely unable to comprehend the great differences between shentong and Cittamātra. Even masters such as the sixth Shamarpa hierarch of the Kagyü tradition, Chökyi Wangchuk (1584–1635), with whom Tāranātha exchanged letters in about 1620, had mistaken assumptions about the Jonang view. The Shamarpa was under the impression that the Jonang philosophical tenet of a permanent, stable, and eternal absolute entailed the acceptance that the first turning of the Dharma wheel taught the existence of a veridically established absolute, the second taught the nonexistence, and the third taught the existence. Tāranātha wrote that the Jonang accepted that all three turnings had a single intention, not that the later ones found fault in the earlier ones.
Shortly before his death, Tāranātha appointed his disciple Sangyé Gyatso (d. 1635) as his successor on the monastic seat of Takten Damchö Ling. However, Sangyé Gyatso passed away not long after Tāranātha himself. Thus another of Tāranātha's disciples, Kunga Rinchen Gyatso, was appointed to the monastic seat and led the Jonang tradition for the next fifteen years. A series of events then occurred that were crucial for the future of the Jonang tradition, but that have not been clearly explained. It has generally been said in Western works on Tibetan history that the suppression of Jonang and the conversion of its monasteries to the Geluk tradition occurred in 1658. This is only partially correct. The political situation of the seventeenth century was extremely complex, and to the future misfortune of the Jonang tradition Tāranātha was one of the main religious advisors to the rulers of Tsang during their struggle against the Geluk powers of Central Tibet for political supremacy. Some modern authors have even blamed Tāranātha's role for the eventual Jonang downfall. Although the details are still quite sketchy, a somewhat more complete picture of the situation can now be drawn.
In 1642, seven years after the death of Tāranātha, an alliance of Mongol armies led by Gushri Khan finally defeated the Tsang rulers and enthroned the Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Losang Gyatso (1617–82), as the supreme political ruler of all Tibet. In his autobiography the Dalai Lama briefly touches on the fate of the Jonang tradition. At the instigation of a certain Jamyang Trulku, a Geluk teaching institute was established at Takten Damchö Ling, the monastery built by Tāranātha not far from the original site of Jonang. The philosophical tenet of the monastery was thus converted from Jonang to Geluk in the Iron Tiger Year (lcags stag, 1650). This was when the shentong doctrine was banned at Takten by order of the victorious Geluk authorities. The year 1650 also matches the end of the tenure of Kunga Rinchen Gyatso, who went to live for the latter part of his life at the monastery of Sangak Riwo Dechen.
It was originally the prompting of the Jamyang Trulku that provided the pretext for the Dalai Lama to intervene at the Jonang monastery of Takten Damchö Ling. But who was this figure? Fortunately, much earlier in his autobiography the Dalai Lama identifies Jamyang Trulku as the son of the Khalkha Tushiyetu king. Now the situation becomes even more interesting. Jamyang Trulku was the son of the Khalkha Mongol Tushiyetu Khan Gönpo Dorjé, and the grandson of Erke Mergen Khan. Better known by the names Yeshé Dorjé and Losang Tenpai Gyaltsen (1635–1723), Jamyang Trulku had actually been recognized by the Fifth Dalai Lama, the First Panchen Lama, Losang Chökyi Gyaltsen (1567–1662), and the Tibetan State Oracle as the rebirth of Tāranātha and as the first of the series of Mongol incarnations known as the Khalkha Jetsun Dampa. He was generally referred to as Jamyang Trulku, "emanation of Jamyang," because he was believed to also be the rebirth (sku skye) of Jamyang Chöjé (1357–1419), the founder of the great Geluk monastery of Drepung, after which he was said to have appeared as Tāranātha's reincarnation (yang srid). The earlier lifetime as Jamyang Chöjé was understandably emphasized by the Geluk authorities to establish a profound prior connection with the Geluk tradition and lord Tsongkapa himself. However, the gap of 156 years between the death of Jamyang Chöjé and the birth of Tāranātha was not explained, and Kunga Drölchok, Tāranātha's predecessor, is not mentioned in the incarnation line of Jamyang Trulku, the Khalkha Jetsun Dampa. The Jonang tradition seems to have played no part in the recognition of its great master's reappearance as a Geluk teacher who now demanded the conversion of Takten Damchö Ling into a Geluk establishment.
The biography of the Khalkha Jetsun Dampa contains some interesting material about his recognition as Tāranātha's reincarnation. According to an earlier source quoted in the biography, just before Tāranātha passed away his Jonang disciples and patrons prayed for him to reincarnate for the purpose of spreading the Jonang doctrine. In this source he is quoted as having given the following reply:
Be satisfied with just this much expansion of our Jonang doctrine. Through the force of supplications by the Ganden protectors and the force of previous prayers, I will now spread the doctrine of lord Tsongkapa in a barbarian borderland.
Tāranātha's own extensive autobiographical writings and religious works are filled with evidence of his devotion to Dölpopa and the teachings of definitive meaning that characterize the Jonang tradition. It seems highly unlikely that he would have made such a statement or chosen to be reborn in the very tradition that became the instrument for the destruction of Dölpopa's Jonang tradition as a viable independent school in Tsang and Central Tibet. This statement is also not recorded in modern Jonang accounts of Tāranātha's last days. And yet, the most unlikely of scenarios appears to have actually occurred.
One of Tāranātha's major disciples was a woman known as Jetsun Trinlé Wangmo, or Ratna Badzriṇi (1585?–c.1668?), who became a great teacher and lineage holder of the Jonang tradition. She was also Tāranātha's primary consort. Trinlé Wangmo's autobiography, with her eyewitness account of Tāranātha's last days, has recently come to light, containing many of her private conversations with the great master. Her description is the original source of all later (and less complete) versions of these events:
Also, when [the venerable lord Tāranātha] came here [to Jonang] once from Takten, he commented, "The other day a certain Drepung monk came. Their Dharma protector also arrived behind him and said I must come to benefit the Genden doctrine. With fervent devotion in my heart, I immediately accepted. In particular, a day or two after that a letter of discussion among the officials of Takten was given to me by way of the nephew. The gist of it was insistent: 'Except for as long as the present precious rebirth himself is here, after him the master of the monastic seat must come from the progeny of our nephew.' According to these two earlier and later omens, for me to not take birth in order to maintain the religious and secular traditions is completely natural. Thus I definitely must take birth in a place that will benefit the Drepungpa doctrine."
At that point I exclaimed, "You must regard us with compassion and remain firmly in this life, consider all sentient beings in general and, in particular, what is crucial for just this monastery. Consider the doctrine of definitive meaning and once again also benefit the doctrine of this very [tradition] with your rebirth!"
But he replied, "Setting aside everything else, even in just all of this upper and lower valley itself there are many different opinions. You alone have a pure mind. Even so, a single-minded supplication from everyone in unison is necessary. That would be best. Nothing certain will come from just mouthing the words. Now I will fall under the control of what omens come into alignment and what is most intense. If the way to transform omens is understood, it is still possible that I may also benefit the doctrine of this [tradition].
Contrary to expectations, it is now clear that Tāranātha actually did say he would appear in his next lifetime in a place where he could benefit the Ganden, Genden, or Drepungpa (all synonyms for Geluk) doctrine. Years later, when Trinlé Wangmo finally heard that Tāranātha's reincarnation had appeared in Mongolia, she rejoiced at the news and prayed for him to benefit Tibet.
When the fifteen-year-old Khalkha Jetsun (Tāranātha's reincarnation), who had received a strict Geluk education in Mongolia from disciples of the Dalai Lama, asked the Dalai Lama to establish the institute at Takten, Tāranātha's monastery was converted into a Geluk center. Later in 1650 the young man traveled to Tashi Lhunpo Monastery and received novice vows and various teachings from the First Panchen Lama. Then the Panchen Lama was urgently asked to go to Takten, undoubtedly for the purpose of accomplishing the conversion into a Geluk monastery. There he gave a number of initiations for the major tantric lineages followed by the Geluk tradition, and textual transmissions for many of the texts required for the liturgical practices of that tradition. He also gave teachings to the nuns at nearby Jonang during the same visit. Curiously, the Khalkha Jetsun himself does not seem to have visited Jonang or Takten at the same time.
Trinlé Wangmo specifically says in her autobiography that the Jonang philosophical tenet at Tāranātha's monastery of Takten Damchö Ling was changed by order of the government in the eighth month of the Tiger Year (1650). The Dalai Lama notes in his autobiography that the monks who had remained there from before did not actually change their views and practices, and even newly arrived ones were predisposed toward the original Jonang teachings. The Dalai Lama uses the example of brass coated with gold to refer to them as Jonang with only a Geluk veneer. To remedy the situation, the Geluk authorities expelled the monks to other monasteries, made harsher regulations concerning the Geluk conversion, and gave the monastery the new name Ganden Puntsok Ling. These actions were all taken in 1658.
From this point the Jonang tradition ceased to exist as an independent entity in Tsang and Central Tibet. The Jonang teachings of the shentong and the Kālacakra continued to be transmitted even in those regions, but the tradition's monasteries and hermitages in the far eastern area of Amdo now became the only remaining institutions that were openly Jonang. The connection between Jonang in Tsang and the eastern regions of Tibet had been established more than three hundred years before, when Jampa Khawoché had studied with Dölpopa himself for six years and then returned home to found a hermitage in Kham. The master Ratnashrī (1350–1435) later traveled from the east to Central Tibet and Tsang and received a vast number of teachings from several of Dölpopa's great Dharma heirs, such as Choglé Namgyal, Mati Panchen, and Nya Ön Kunga Pal. After returning home, in 1425 Ratnashrī founded the monastery now known as Chöjé Gön in Dzamtang, which became the main monastery of the Jonang tradition in Amdo.
In the seventeenth century, Lodrö Namgyal (1618–83) received the Jonang transmissions in Tsang from Tāranātha and Kunga Rinchen Gyatso, and later lived and taught at Tsangwa Gön in Dzamtang for many years. Soon after the death of Tāranātha in 1635, the master Kunga Palsang traveled to Tsang and received the Jonang teachings at Takten and Jonang from several of Tāranātha's major disciples, such as Kunga Rinchen Gyatso, Lodrö Namgyal, and especially Jetsun Trinlé Wangmo, and later established the monastery of Drogé Gön in the Ngawa region. The Jonang tradition has continued to thrive in eastern Tibet, with a strong presence today in the areas of Dzamtang, Gyalrong, Ngawa, and elsewhere.
The shentong view and the Kālacakra practices are thus fully maintained in the Jonang tradition in Amdo at the beginning of the twenty-first century. However, these teachings have been passed down in the mainstream of Tibetan Buddhism primarily due to the efforts of several great Nyingma and Kagyü masters from the area of Kham in eastern Tibet. The Jonang tradition itself has flourished in the relative isolation of Amdo, but it does not seem to have had widespread influence outside of that region.
The Nyingma master Katok Rikzin Tsewang Norbu (1698–1755) began a general renaissance of the Jonang teachings of the shentong and the Kālacakra by introducing them to some of the leading Kagyü teachers of his time. In one of his versified autobiographical accounts, Tsewang Norbu notes that even as a child he felt great faith whenever he heard the names of Dölpopa and his immediate disciples. His natural affinity for the shentong view and the Kālacakra teachings became understandable later when the master from whom he received the transmission of the Jonang teachings recognized him as the rebirth of Dölpopa's disciple Mati Panchen Lodrö Gyaltsen, one of the pair of translators responsible for the Jonang translation of the Kālacakra Tantra and the Stainless Light.
In 1726, as Tsewang Norbu was passing through the Tsang region in route to the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, he first tried to obtain the Jonang teachings from the great yogin Kunsang Wangpo, who was in strict retreat at the hermitage of Rulag Drepung, which had been renamed Ganden Khachö when converted into a Geluk establishment. Tsewang Norbu was not even able to see Kunsang Wangpo, although he spent three days trying. He was very impressed with this master's dedicated meditation practice and became even more determined to receive the Jonang transmissions from him.
On his return to Tibet toward the end of 1728, Tsewang Norbu again approached Kunsang Wangpo, and this time succeeded in receiving the entire transmission of the Jonang teachings. Kunsang Wangpo bestowed the guiding instructions of the view of shentong, or Great Madhyamaka, the full Kālacakra initiations, the complete instructions of the Six-branch Yoga, and many nonsectarian teachings. Tsewang Norbu also received Kunga Drölchok's One Hundred Guiding Instructions of Jonang and the reading transmission of the collected works of both Dölpopa and Tāranātha. Although the Jonang monasteries in Tsang and Central Tibet had been converted to the Geluk tradition, this shows that the original teachings of Dölpopa and his great successors were still taught and practiced in those same centers even in the middle of the eighteenth century. The Fifth Dalai Lama's earlier attempts to stamp out the Jonang teachings had been successful only on the surface, as was the case in the initial phases of the conversion operation discussed above. Contrary to the general impression, the teaching transmissions had survived not only in the far eastern region of Amdo, but in the original Tsang areas near Jonang. This is further clarified by the fact that Tsewang Norbu traveled again to Jonang in 1734, ascended the teaching throne previously occupied by Dölpopa and Tāranātha, and gave many initiations, textual transmissions, and esoteric instructions of the original Jonang teachings to a large gathering. During this period at least, the Geluk authorities were obviously not exerting great efforts to prevent the teachings of the Jonang tradition from being spread or revived even in Tsang.
Tsewang Norbu later gave the Jonang teachings in Central Tibet, where he passed a number of transmissions to the Thirteenth Karmapa, Düdül Dorjé (1733–97), and the Tenth Shamarpa, Chödrup Gyatso (1742–92). However, Tsewang Norbu's most significant role in terms of the continuation of the Jonang lineages was as a teacher of the great Situ Panchen Chökyi Jungné (1700–1774). Situ Panchen had already been to Takten and Jonang in 1723, several years before Tsewang Norbu's first visit. From the description in Situ's autobiography, it was an important event. His account mentions that Tāranātha's silver stūpa reliquary at Takten had been destroyed long before, when the Geluk conversion was ordered by the Fifth Dalai Lama at the instigation of his teacher Möndropa. Situ notes that Takten was now a Geluk institute, but some old monks had not given up the original Jonang tradition. He tried to obtain copies of Jonang writings, but they had been placed under seal by order of the Tibetan central government. Situ felt great sadness at the misfortune that had so quickly overtaken Tāranātha's monastery, and lamented the degenerate times. Going to Jonang the next day, he found about seven hundred nuns who had not changed their tradition from Jonang to Geluk.
Twenty-five years later, in 1748, Tsewang Norbu and Situ Panchen spent time together in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal. Situ had clearly been very interested in the Jonang tradition for many years, but it was his teacher Tsewang Norbu who now insisted that he accept the shentong view, which he taught him in great detail, apparently at the stūpa of Bodhnāth. Situ says Tsewang Norbu ordered him to uphold the profound view of the shentong and told him acceptance of this view would create an auspicious pattern of events that would lead to Situ's longevity and the vast spread of his activities. Situ also mentions several different types of shentong, among which he adhered most closely to that of the Seventh Lord and Silungpa, which was somewhat different than that of Dölpopa. In the end it would be Situ, more than anyone, who would create the environment for the widespread acceptance of the shentong teachings in Tibet during the next century. As Gene Smith first mentioned in 1970, "It was Si-tu who had blended the seemingly irreconcilable gzhan stong and Mahāmudrā positions and spread them throughout the Dkar-brgyud-pa traditions of Khams."
The eventual result of this revival (outside the Jonang areas in Amdo) by Tsewang Norbu and Situ Panchen was the crucial role of the shentong and other Jonang teachings in the phenomenal nonsectarian (ris med) movement of nineteenth-century Kham, spread by such great masters as Dza Paltrul (1808–87), Jamgön Kongtrul (1813–1900), Jamyang Khyentsé Wangpo (1820–92), and later Mipam Gyatso (1846–1912). Jamgön Kongtrul was the most assertive of these teachers in his advocacy of the shentong, which he fully incorporated into his own immensely influential works. Kongtrul was also devoted to the Six-branch Yoga of the Kālacakra, for which he carefully followed the tradition of Dölpopa and Tāranātha.
The shentong and the Jonang practices of the Six-branch Yoga have reached a widespread audience through the lineages of Kongtrul, Khyentsé, and Mipam, but the Jonang tradition in Amdo has continued to produce many great masters of their special teachings. The prolific author Bamda Gelek Gyatso (1844–1904) was probably the tradition's most influential teacher in the late nineteenth century, and his disciple Tsoknyi Gyatso (1880–1940) was very highly regarded. The Jonang tradition in Amdo has been graced by a series of remarkable masters into the twentieth-first century. Tsoknyi Gyatso's disciple, Ngawang Lodrö Drakpa (1920–75), was the author of a large treatise on the shentong and an extensive history of the Jonang tradition. Khenpo Lodrak, as he is often called, was perhaps the most famous Jonang master of the twentieth century. Kunga Tukjé Palsang (1925–2000) and Ngawang Yönten Sangpo (1928–2002) were also great recent teachers.
Masters in the lineages of Kongtrul, Khyentsé, and Mipam have continued to have a great impact in Tibet, India, and beyond. Dzongsar Khyentsé Rinpoché, Jamyang Chökyi Lodrö (1896–1959), the great heir to the nonsectarian movement, greatly appreciated the shentong. In his secret autobiography he writes of a marvelous dream-vision of Tāranātha, who bestowed upon him the Kālacakra initiation. This experience in 1943 caused him to have the greatest faith in Tāranātha. More recently, the eminent masters Dilgo Khyentsé Rinpoché (1910-91), Kalu Rinpoché (1905–89), and Dudjom Rinpoché (1904–87) all accepted the shentong view. Most Kagyü and Nyingma teachers follow the lines of explication and practice passed down by these last three masters, and the shentong interpretations of Kongtrul and Mipam in particular are now prevalent.
All the special teachings of the Jonang lineage and the vital transmission of the collected writings of Dölpopa and Tāranātha have been maintained by the Jonang tradition in Amdo. But even the reading transmission of any of Dölpopa's writings seems scarce among leading shentong adherents of the Kagyü and Nyingma traditions. When the shentong is taught by these teachers, the different works of Kongtrul and Mipam, which vary a great deal from the original teachings of Dölpopa, are usually the treatises of choice. What is now taught as the shentong view in the Kagyü and Nyingma traditions represents a synthesis that has developed over time, primarily in order to enable Dölpopa's most profound insights to be incorporated into the established doctrines of the Great Seal and the Great Perfection. Thus the shentong view and Six-branch Yoga taught by the living masters of the Jonang tradition in Amdo, based on the oral transmission and literary legacy of the ancient masters of Jonang, is certainly closer to what was transmitted centuries ago by Dölpopa and Tāranātha. In the following chapter some of the most essential aspects of Dölpopa's own doctrine will be presented as a preface to the translations of his works in part 2.
- Jamgön Kongtrul, Guiding Instructions on the View of the Emptiness of Other, 609: kun mkhyen dol po pas/ bde gshegs snying po'i mtshan thos pa tsam gyis kyang sangs rgyas thob par 'gyur na/ dad cing gus pa dang mngon tu byas nas bsgoms pa lta ci smos/ mkhas pa snying rje dang ldan pa rnams kyis rang gi srog la sogs pa dor nas kyang bstan par bya ba dang/ thar pa don du gnyer ba rnams kyis me'i 'obs chen po las 'bogs nas kyang btsal cing mnyan par bya'o/ zhes gdams par  mdzad pa nyid snying gi thig ler bcang bar bya'o/. Dölpopa's original words are found in Dölpopa, Mountain Dharma, 109.
- See Lhai Gyaltsen, Biography of the Dharma Lord of Jonang, 54b: sngar bod du nges don phyogs re tsam nas dgongs pa'i gang zag ni mang du byon zhing/ khyad par sgom chen pa rnams shas che na'ang bka' bstan chos man ngag rnams kyi nges don mtha' dag thugs su chud pas grub mtha' khyad par can myur du sangs rgya ba'i lam mchog ston pa ni/ chos rje rin po che 'ba' zhig las sgnar bod du ma byon no/.
- Tāranātha, Supplication to the Lineage of the Profound Madhyamaka Emptiness of Other, and Tāranātha, Untitled.
- Tāranātha, Supplication to the Lineage of the Profound Madhyamaka Emptiness of Other, 488–89. Dölpopa's teacher Kyitön Jampaiyang (Skyi ston 'Jam pa'i dbyangs) is listed here before Dölpopa, and Chomden Raltri (Bcom ldan Ral gri) is listed before his student Kyitön. Chomden Rikpai Raltri (Bcom ldan Rig pa'i ral gri, 1227−1305) was a great scholar of the Kadampa (Bka' gdams pa) tradition. His inclusion in a shentong lineage is fascinating and unexpected. Some of Rikpai Raltri's works have now been published, and future research into his views may indicate why he is considered to have passed on the shentong teachings.
- Tāranātha, Supplication to the Lineage of the Profound Madhyamaka Emptiness of Other, 485, lists the Tibetan translator Gawai Dorjé (Dga' ba'i rdo rje), who translated for Tsen Khawoché (Btsan Kha bo che), as the first Tibetan in the lineage of the shentong approach to Madhyamaka realization. He says this translator was a great expert who had a vision of the deity Cakrasamvara, taught the shentong view in Tibet (phyogs 'dir), and achieved the vajrakāya in Kaśmīr. Tāranātha provides the personal name of Tsen Khawoché, mentions that he was a monk, and says Tsen (Btsan) was his family name. For some very brief information on Tsen Khawoché's life, see Roerich (1976), 347–48.
- A translation of the only extant passages from the work of Tsen Khawoché, which was also preserved by Kunga Drölchok (Kun dga' grol mchog), is found in chapter 3, section 2.
- Kunga Drölchok, Lineage History of the "Hundred Guiding Instructions," 325–26: gzhan stong lta khrid yang btsan kha bo che'i gsung las/ kha che paṇḍi ta sadzdza na'i gsung gis rgyal bas 'khor lo dang po bden bzhi/ bar pa mtshan nyid med pa/ mthar legs par rnam par phye ba'i chos kyi 'khor lo bzlas pa lan gsum bskor ba las snga ma gnyis dngos btags ma phye ba/ phyi ma don dam par nges pa'i tshe/ dbus dang mtha' phye/ chos dang chos nyid phye nas gsungs zhing/ chos nyid rnam 'byed dang rgyud bla ma'i dpe'i phyi mo tsam g.yar ba la yang dpe 'di gnyis nub na byams pa bde bar gshegs pa'i tshod tsam yin zer bka' gnad chen po byung zer la/ padma lcags kyu'i ming bzhag pa'i btsan kha bo che rang gi zin tho rnying pa zhig snang ba 'dis/ phyis gzhan stong bya ba'i tha snyad rgya gar du gtan ma grags bod du yang kun mkhyen dol bu phyi na byung zhes sgrogs pa la bya gtong du mtshon zhing/ thams cad mkhyen pa bu ston gyi dris lan zhig na'ang/ sngon rta nag pa rin chen ye shes pa'i grub mtha' zhig yod pa phyis dol bu pas rtsal 'don du skyong bar snang gsungs pa la yang zhib dpyod mdzad 'tshal. The text actually has the spelling Dol bu pa, an alternate form for Dol po pa, which has been standardized in the translations.
- A reply to a Lama Rinchen Yeshé (Bla ma Rin chen ye shes) is included in Butön's Collected Works, but no passage there corresponds to Kunga Drölchok's reference. See Butön Rinchen Drup, Miscellaneous Works, 185–216.
- Tāranātha, History of the Kālacakra Teachings, 25, also mentions that these teachings were received while Dölpopa was performing certain fasting austerities that involved subsisting on the ingestion of small pebbles. Lhai Gyaltsen, Biography of the Dharma Lord of Jonang, 6b, only mentions that Dölpopa received this fasting practice and teachings on the physical yogic exercises ('khrul 'khor) from Rinchen Yeshé.
- See Yumowa Mikyö Dorjé, Set of Four Bright Lamps. Published as a set under the title Gsal sgron skor bzhi, the four texts are Zung 'jug gsal sgron, 1–14, Phyag rgya chen po'i gsal sgron, 14–26, 'Od gsal gsal sgron, 27–50, and Stong nyid gsal ba'i sgron me, 51–105. The modern publisher has mistakenly attributed them to an Awadhūtipa Sönam (A wa dhū ti pa Bsod nams). Ngawang Lodrö Drakpa, History of the Jonang Tradition, 18, says Yumowa (Yu mo ba) was born in the first Tibetan calendrical cycle, which began in 1027. The most information on Yumowa is found in Choglé Namgyal, Introductory Treatise for Teaching the Commentary to the "Kālacakra Tantra," 41–43, and Jangsem Gyalwa Yeshé, Biographies of the Masters in the Lineage of the Jonangpa Tradition of Glorious Kālacakra, 32–35. Also see Tāranātha, History of the Kālacakra Teachings, 16, where the statement about Yumowa as the originator of the tantric shentong system is found: sngags kyi gzhan stong grub mtha'i srol ka phye/.
- Tuken also seems to attribute the independent use of the terms rtag (permanent), brtan (stable), and ther zug (eternal) to Yumowa, but they are not found in his available writings. See Tuken, Philosophical Tenets, 217, and Seyfort Ruegg (1963), 82–83.
- Shönu Pal, Offered to the Jang Ruler Namgyal Drakpa, 8b–9a: bde gshegs snying po'i chos skad 'di nges don gyi mthar thug/ bstan pa'i snying po dam pa yin pa'i go ba tsam skyes/ dbus gtsang du snga rabs kyi dge ba'i bshes gnyen phal mo che so so rang gis rig pa'i gtam la zhal phyir phyogs pa/ grub chen yu mos gsal sgron bzhi'i bstan bcos mdzad nas bstan pa'i dbu gtsugs/ dus [9a] phyis chos kyi rje kun mkhyen chen pos dar zhing rgyas par mdzad pa/.
- In a eulogy written at the time of Dölpopa's death, his disciple Mati Panchen Lodrö Gyaltsen (Ma ti Paṇ chen Blo gros rgyal mtshan) refers to him as one who taught the adept Yumowa's Four Bright Lamps (Gsal sgron rnam bzhi). See Mati Panchen Lodrö Gyaltsen, Eulogy to the Omniscient Dharma Lord, 1087.
- Kunpang Tukjé Tsöndrü, Guiding Instructions on Individual Withdrawal and Mental Stability, 8b: ngo sprod ni gsal sgron bzhi'o/.
- See Yumowa Mikyö Dorjé, Set of Four Bright Lamps, 12–14. The mention of the "Precious Omniscient One" (Kun mkhyen rin po che) as the recipient of the direct transmission from lord Śavaripa (Sha ba ra dbang phyug) refers to an event mentioned in Dölpopa's biography. See Kunpang Chödrak Palsang, Biography of the Omniscient Dharma Lord, 377–78.
- See Yumowa Mikyö Dorjé, Set of Four Bright Lamps, 57–59 and 100–101. The most common Tibetan term for the images of emptiness is stong gzugs, which is an abbreviation of stong pa nyid kyi gzugs brnyan (śūnyatābimba).
- See Kunpang Tukjé Tsöndrü, Guiding Instructions on Individual Withdrawal and Mental Stability, 12a: de nyid don dam pa chos nyid kyi yi dam lha'i zhal mthong ba yin/.
- See note 27 for the identification of these three commentaries. See Dölpopa, Analysis of Dharma for the Ruler of Jang, 487, for his comments to the ruler of Jang, which are translated and discussed in chapter 3, section 1.
- Lhai Gyaltsen, Biography of the Dharma Lord of Jonang, 20b: chos rje'i zhal nas/ nges don zab mo'i gnad thams cad dus kyi 'khor lo'i rgyud 'grel chen po nas rnyed pas khong shin tu bka' drin che/.
- Tanabe (1992), 1.
- See Kunpang Chödrak Palsang, Biography of the Omniscient Dharma Lord, 348, for a description of the Shambhala experience. For the claims of a unique knowledge of the nature of Shambhala and Kailash, see Dölpopa, Eulogy to Shambhala, 860: rgya bod mkhas pas sngon chad ma rnyed pa'i/ sham bha la dang dpal ldan ke la sha'i/ gnas tshul ci bzhin bdag gi skal bas rnyed/. Kunpang Chödrak Palsang, Biography of the Omniscient Dharma Lord, 333–37, records a eulogy to Shambhala that Dölpopa composed after directly perceiving (nye bar gzigs) that pure land.
- Dölpopa, Instruction to Depa Sengé, 634: lar drang por smras na gzhan mi dga'/ gzhan gang zer byas na slob ma bslu/  dus da lta'i slob dpon bya bar dka'/ de yin yang khyed la drang por smra/ byang sham bha la na rigs ldan bzhugs/ ka la pa chos kyi pho brang na/ nyams 'di 'dra mkhyen pa mang du bzhugs/ bod kha ba can gyi rgyal khams na/ nyams 'di 'dra shes pa kho bo tsam/.
- Dölpopa, Instruction to Sherab Lama, 628: tshul 'di deng sang mkhas par grags rnams dang/ bsgom bzang rtogs pa mtho bar 'dod rnams dang/ grub thob chen po rlom pa phal cher gyis/ ma tshor ba de rigs ldan drin gyis rnyed/. Also see Dölpopa, Instruction to Sangrin, 638: sham bha la chos kyi pho brang na/ nyams 'di 'dra mkhyen pa mang du bzhugs/ yul gangs can khrod na kho bo tsam/ de kha po ma lags drang gtam yin/ pha chos rje'i snying gtam sems la babs/. Another example is found in Kunpang Chödrak Palsang, Biography of the Omniscient Dharma Lord, 385: lta ngan med pa'i dpal ldan sham bha lar/ sems nyid mkhyen pa'i skye bo mang du bzhugs/ yul gangs can khrod na kho bo tsam/ bu khyod yang dag chos la 'jug par 'tshal/.
- The only surviving portion of a teaching by Tsen Khawoché (Btsan Kha bo che) is translated in chapter 3, section 2.
- No evidence has been found in the writings of Rangjung Dorjé (Rang byung rdo rje) or any other Tibetan source that would support the assertion in Hookham (1991), 173, that Rangjung Dorjé "was very much influenced by Dol po pa and his Shentong doctrine." At the time of their meeting, it seems clear that the young Dölpopa was encouraged by the Karmapa, and not the other way around. The biographies of Dölpopa and Rangjung Dorjé also do not provide any information to justify Hookham's certainty that the Karmapa visited Jonang. Her hypothesis that Rangjung Dorjé was actually the author of Dölpopa's commentary on the Highest Continuum (Uttaratantra) is totally without basis. The text is signed by the Possessor of the Four Reliances (Rton pa bzhi ldan), which is the most common pseudonym used by Dölpopa in his works.
- Mangtö Ludrup Gyatso, Chronology of the Doctrine, 179: des na rje 'di karma rang byung rdo rje dang mjal te rang stong pa'i grub mtha' bzung bas/ karma pas phyis gzhan stong par 'gyur bar lung bstan zer/ spyir gzhan stong pa'i lugs thog mar karma rang byung rdo rjes bzung bar sems/ jo nang du ni kun mkhyen chen po man chad gzhan stong par song ba yin no/.
- Tāranātha, History of the Kālacakra Teachings, 26: de nas lha sa dang 'tshur phu sogs su phebs/ chos rje rang byung pa dang chos kyi gsung gleng mang du mdzad/ rang byung pas rje 'di'i lung rig gi zhal ya ma thegs kyang/ mngon shes bzang po mnga' bas/ khyed la lta grub dang chos skad da lta'i 'di bas kyang ches bzang ba cig myur du 'ong/ ces lung bstan/.
- There is a mere mention of gifts sent (?) by Dharma lord Rangjung Dorjé (Chos rje Rang byung rdo rje) to Dölpopa at Jonang around 1335. Kunpang Chödrak Palsang, Biography of the Omniscient Dharma Lord, 347.
- Chökyi Jungné, History of the Karma Kamtsang Tradition, 208: kun mkhyen dol po pa chen pos kyang 'di skabs mjal bar 'dug cing khyed kyis da lta'i 'di ma yin pa'i lta ba khyad 'phags zhig rtogs par 'dug gsungs pa/ khong de skabs dbu ma rang stong gi grub mthar dgyes kyang/ mi ring bar gzhan stong dbu ma chen po'i gnad ji bzhin du mkhyen pa la dgongs par 'dug/.
- Tāranātha, History of the Kālacakra Teachings, 27.
- See Seyfort Ruegg (1995), 158–60, for a discussion of source/author-familiar and source/author-alien terminology.
- See especially Seyfort Ruegg (1989), 19 and 26–35.
- Jangsem Gyalwa Yeshé, Biography of Dharma Lord Kunpang, 2a, quotes the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra describing the buddha nature, or sugata essence, as "permanent, stable, and eternal" (rtag pa dang/ brtan pa ther zug). Dölpopa, Mirror Containing the Qualities of the Sugata Essence, 426, quotes the Ghanavyūha: "The Tathāgata is permanent, stable, eternal, and indestructible" (de bzhin gshegs pa ni rtag pa/ brtan pa ther zug mi 'jig pa). Dölpopa, Mirror Containing the Qualities of the Sugata Essence, 432, quotes the Sūtra on Utterly Quiescent and Certain Magical Meditative Concentration (Praśā ntaviniścayaprātihāryasamādhisūtra. Rab tu zhi ba rnam par nges pa'i cho 'phrul gyi mdo): "The Tathāgata is permanent. The Tathāgata is everlasting" (de bzhin gshegs pa ni rtag pa'o/ de bzhin gshegs pa ni g.yung drung ngo). On 433 of the same text Dölpopa quotes the Aṅgulimālīya Sūtra: "The Tathāgata should be praised as permanent and perfect" (de bzhin gshegs pa rtag pa dang yang dag pa nyid du bsngags par bya'o). For the occurrence of these terms in the Śrīmālādevī Sūtra, Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, and the Highest Continuum (Uttaratantra), see Takasaki (1966), especially 38–40 and 256–57. Also see Seyfort Ruegg (1969), 360–71. Many similar quotations are also found in Dölpopa's Autocommentary to the "Fourth Council," translated in part 2.
- For Butön's refutations, see Seyfort Ruegg (1973), especially 122–40. Karmapa Rangjung Dorjé (Karma pa Rang byung rdo rje) sometimes uses at least one of these terms, bdag (self), in a similar context. See Rangjung Dorjé, Profound Inner Reality, 1b.
- For example, see Dölpopa, General Commentary on the Doctrine, 686; Dölpopa, Exceptional Esoteric Instructions on Madhyamaka, 1172, 1174, 1177, and 1178; and Dölpopa, Fourth Council, especially 364, 375, and 394.
- Cf. Kapstein (1992a), 23–24.
- Dölpopa, Sun Clarifying the Two Truths, 814–15: rje po ri pas/ kun rdzob bden pa rang gis stong pa dang/ don dam bden pa gzhan gyi stong pa ste/ bden gnyis stong  tshul de ltar ma shes na/ rdzogs sangs rgyas la bskur pa btab nyen gda'o/.
- A few lines about Poriwa Könchok Gyaltsen (Po ri ba Dkon cog rgyal mtshan) are found in Tsewang Gyal, Lhorong History of the Kagyü Tradition, 751. He was a disciple of the Kagyü master Götsangpa Gönpo Dorjé (Rgod tshang pa Mgon po rdo rje, 1189–1258). In Roerich (1976), 687, his name is given as Puriwa (Phu ri ba).
- Ra Yeshé Sengé, Biography of Ra Lotsāwa, 178: [rig pa ye shes] 'di rang stong min te bdag 'dzin yul las 'das/ 'di gzhan stong min te shes 'dzin dri ma med/. I thank Hubert Decleer for a photocopy of his unpublished paper in which he investigates the evidence for a later revision of Ra Lotsāwa's biography.
- See Longchen Rabjampa, Great Chariot, 220–21, and Padmasambhava, Stainless Essence, 64: gzhan la ma ltos pas gzhan stong pa/. I am grateful to David Germano for providing me with this information and the other references from Longchenpa and Padmasambhava.
- Lhai Gyaltsen, Biography of the Dharma Lord of Jonang, 21a.
- See Longchen Rabjampa, Mirror of Key Points, 263–70, and Germano (1992), 231–61.
- See Sakya Paṇḍita, Distinguishing the Three Vows, 87: mig mangs rgya dang ma 'brel na/ rde'u mang yang shi ro yin/ de bzhin khungs dang ma 'brel ba'i/ chos lugs mang yang ro dang 'dra/. Cf. Dölpopa, Autocommentary to the "Fourth Council," 661: mig mang rgya dang ma brel na/ rde'u mang yang shi ro yin/ lha chos brgya dang ma 'brel na/ mi chos mang yang shi ro yin/. Dölpopa then continues with similar verses for the next two pages.
- For the special significance of the terms Tretāyuga and Kṛtayuga in the works of Dölpopa, see the beginning of chapter 3 and the translations of the Fourth Council and the Autocommentary in part 2.
- Dölpopa, Autocommentary to the "Fourth Council," 661–63. Some of these same verses are also found in Dölpopa, Annotations to the "Perfection of Wisdom in Eighteen Thousand Lines," vol. 3, pt. 1: 602; Dölpopa, Explanation of the "Perfection of Wisdom in Twenty-five Thousand Lines," vol. 3, pt. 2: 1005; and Dölpopa, Perfection of Wisdom in Eighteen Thousand Lines, vol. 4, pt. 1: 39.
- No name is given for this ruler, who is only referred to as the Jang ruler (Dpon Byang pa), but he may be tentatively identified as Tai Situ Lopön Dorjé Pal (Ta'i Situ Slob dpon Rdo rje dpal), the father of Tai En Namkha Tenpa (Ta'i dben Nam mkha' brtan pa, b. 1316), or perhaps even as Namkha Tenpa himself. See Palden Chökyi Sangpo, Genealogy of the Jang Rulers, 173–77, and Petech (1990), 84 and 121. It should be taken into account that the Jang ruler in question had written doctrinal tracts that Dölpopa disagreed with and was responding to in this text.
- These three are Mañjuśrī, Vajrapāṇi, and Avalokiteśvara.
- And so he apparently did, in the extensive Dpon byang pa'i phyag tu phul ba'i chos kyi shan 'byed, which deals with the same points as the briefer Gshag 'byed bsdus pa, but with exhaustive scriptural quotations and detailed explanations. See Dölpopa, Analysis of Dharma for the Ruler of Jang. Kunpang Chödrak Palsang, Biography of the Omniscient Dharma Lord, 343, also places the composition of this text between 1334 and 1336, although his chronology is often unreliable.
- Dölpopa, Brief Analysis, 468–71: 'di rnams don yin lugs  ci lta ba'i steng nas gnam thig drang por gtab pa lags kyi/ nye ring dang/ phyogs lhung dang/ skyo ma snga btsan la sogs pa'i dri mas bslad pa mi bdogs te/ thams cad mkhyen pa sangs rgyas bcom ldan 'das dang/ rigs gsum mgon po dang/ rdo rje snying po dang/ mgon po byams pa la sogs pa sa bcu'i dbang phyug dam pa rnams dang 'phags pa thogs med dang/ bram ze chen po sa ra ha pa dang/ na ro pan chen la sogs pa shing rta chen po rnams dang/ mkhas grub dam pa rnams kyi bzhed pa dbang du byas pa'i phyir dang/ de rnams kyi dgongs pa ci lta ba bzhin du legs par khad du chud nas sgro bskur spangs te bris pa'i phyir ro/ yang gal te de rnams kyi dgongs pa ci lta ba bzhin du rtogs par rlom yang don la ma rtogs pa'i dbang gis bod kyi slob dpon gzhan dag dang/ dgongs pa mi mthun par gyur pa yin nam snyam na de ltar yang ma yin te ma rtogs pa'i rgyu ni blo gros dman pa dang/ dam pa'i gdams ngag dang bral ba dang/ thos pa nyung ba dang/ bsgoms pa'i nyams rtogs med pa dang/ nga rgyal dang/ rlom pas khengs pa dang/ skyo ma snga btsan dang/ kha mang nyung gi bden rdzun du 'jog pa la sogs pa yin mod kyis/ bdag gis ni dang por gzhung lugs chen po rnams la mang du thos pa bgyis shing/ de nas rgya bod kyi gdams ngag zab par grags pa rnams la nyams len bgyis nas/ so so'i nyams rtogs kyang thad ka thad kar skyes la/ de nas rtsa rgyud chen po rnams kyi nges don/ dpal ldan ka la pa'i gdams ngag  rigs ldan sa bcu pa rnams kyi snying gtam zab mo thun mong ma yin pa dang/ mjal ba'i byin rlabs cung zad zhugs pa la brten nas/ bdag 'dzin can gyi paṇ ḍi ta rnams dang/ nyams rtogs can gyi sgom chen pa phal dang/ gsang sngags 'dzin pa chen por rlom pa phal gyis ma rnyed cing ma rtogs la/ khung ma chod pa'i gnad zab mo mang du rnyed cing/ rtogs pa bzang po nang nas rdol ba'i phyir/ nyams rtogs can gyi sgom chen pa phal dang/ gsangs sngags 'dzin pa chen por rlom pa rnams ma zad don 'di la sangs rgyas kyis kyang nges par bzlog par mi spyod cing/ the tshom dri rgyu med pa'i nges shes khyad par can mchis pa'i phyir ro/ ci ste yang nges shes de kun rab rib mun sgom mam log shes yin gyi shes byed kyi lung yang dag med do/ snyam na med pa ma yin te/ sa bcu gnyis pa rnams dang/ sa bcu pa rnams dang/ klu sgrub yab sras dang/ na ro pan chen la sogs pa mkhas grub dam pa rnams kyi lung gsal po rig pa dang bcas shing man ngag dang bcas pa shin tu mang bar yod pa'i phyir ro/ de lta na yang 'dir yi ge mang gi dogs nas ma bris mod kyi/ gal te bzhed cing don du gnyer na slad nas bris te 'bul bas/ don 'di rnams sngar bod du grags pa 'ga' zhig dang mi mthun pa'i khyad 'phags 'ga' re bdog mod kyang/ sngar gyi grub mtha' la yun ring du 'dris pas/ de'i bag chags brtan por gyur pa dang/ lugs de 'dod pa bod na mang ba'i phyir/ grub mtha' snga phyi 'di rnams la bag  chags brtan ma brtan gyi khyad par dang/ 'dod mkhan mang nyung gi khyad par bdog mod kyang/ khyad par de dag gi dbang du mi gtong bar sangs rgyas dang/ byang chub sems dpa' rnams kyi lung la dpang du mdzad nas don la gang gnas gzu bor gnas pa'i blo gros kyis dpyad par zhu/. According to the sometimes questionable chronology of Dölpopa's life in Kunpang Chödrak Palsang, Biography of the Omniscient Dharma Lord, 343, this text was composed between 1334 and 1336.
- A number of significant texts by Choglé Namgyal, Mati Panchen, Nya Ön, and other major disciples of Dölpopa have now been published in the excellent series entitled Jo nang dpe tshogs ( Jonang Publication Series), 2007 and 2008. See also Nya Ön's explanations of Dölpopa's teachings in the annotations to the translation of General Commentary on the Doctrine, found in part 2 of this book. Jackson (1989b), of which only an early unpublished version is available to me, catalogues a very important example of an early refutation of the Jonang theories, addressing chiefly some works by Nya Ön Kunga Pal, but also mentioning the author's refutation of Choglé Namgyal (Phyogs las rnam rgyal), which he sent to him. The author, Kashipa Rinchen Dorjé (Bka' bzhi pa Rin chen rdo rje), praises Tsongkapa (Tsong kha pa Blo bzang grags pa, 1357–1419) as one of the great teachers of that time. This text is kept in the collection of the Bihar Research Society and is thus not available. It is the earliest known extensive refutation of the Jonang doctrine. It was probably written before the end of the fourteenth century. A refutation of the Jonang teachings by this same author is mentioned in the translation by Seyfort Ruegg (1963), 88.
- For example, see Mangtö Ludrup Gyatso, Chronology of the Doctrine, 194.
- Kunpang Chödrak Palsang, Biography of the Omniscient Dharma Lord, 427: ...kha ba can gyi rgyal khams 'dir/ med par lta ba'i rigs can kha rgyal che/ bsam yas chos 'bar snying la zhugs pa yi/ dge slong gzugs can mda' yi ming can 'byung/ kye ma kyi hud bdud rigs nag po des/ gzhi yi mthar thug bder gshegs snying po bkag/ lam gyi mthar thug rdo rje rnal 'byor smod/ 'bras bu'i mthar thug dri bral med par sgrog/ rtsa rgyud 'di skad bdag thos med do skad/ bsdus pa'i rgyud la gshe ba sna tshogs byed/ rgyud 'grel dpe cha bsdus nas chu la bskur/ bstan pa'i snying po rin chen nyams chung byed/ bkra mi shes pa de ni shi nas zung . . . /.
- Rendawa, Jewel Garland, 119: 'on kyang 'phags pas mdzad dam min kyang bla/ legs par bshad pa'ang mang du mthong bas na/ thar 'dod rnams kyi 'jug ngogs ma yin zhes/ kho bo 'di la gcig tu skur mi 'debs/. For a clarification of Rendawa's position in regard to the Kālacakra, see Sangyé Tsemo, Biography of Glorious Rendawa, 54b–55a, where these verses are also cited.
- Rendawa, Reply to Questions, 120: deng sang gangs ri'i khrod kyi mkhas rlom rnams/ ldem po'i ngag gis zab mo'i tshul ston pa/ dus kyi 'khor lo 'grel pa dang bcas pa'i/ tshig la ji bzhin sgra ru mngon zhen nas/ rnam dag mdo rgyud tshogs dang 'gal ba yi/ log pa'i tha snyad mang du spel mthong nas/ 'khyog po'i shing la srong ba'i tshul bzhin du/ rgal zhing brtag pa'i sgo nas bdag gis bris/. These verses are also quoted in Sangyé Tsemo, Biography of Glorious Rendawa, 54b.
- These events are described in the greatest detail in Rendawa's biography written by his disciple Sangyé Tsemo (Sangs rgyas rtse mo). See Sangyé Tsemo, Biography of Glorious Rendawa, 53a–55b. Mangtö Ludrup Gyatso, Chronology of the Doctrine, 195, summarizes the account of Rendawa's threefold examination of the scriptures from this source.
- Sangyé Tsemo, Biography of Glorious Rendawa, 53a.
- Sangyé Tsemo, Biography of Glorious Rendawa, 54b. While still at Sakya, Rendawa also composed his Reply to Questions.
- Sangyé Tsemo, Biography of Glorious Rendawa, 53b–54b. The master Drung Zhitokpa (Drung Bzhi thog pa) is the Sakya master of the Zhitok (Bzhi thog) Palace, Ta En Kunga Rinchen (Ta dben Kun dga' rin chen), who was an important disciple of Dölpopa. Karma Könshön (Karma Dkon gzhon) was a disciple of the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorjé.
- Rendawa (Red mda' ba) himself mentions the angry reaction to his criticisms of the Kālacakra. See his comments in Sangyé Tsemo, Biography of Glorious Rendawa, 70b. For the series of refutations, see Jangchup Sengé, Garland of Pristine Scriptural References; Namgyal Drakpa Sangpo, Beautiful Ornament for the Glorious "Kālacakra Tantra"; Taktsang Lotsāwa Sherab Rinchen, Reply to Criticisms of the Glorious Kālacakra by the Great Expert Rendawa and Others; and Shönu Pal, Banquet of Water Lilies That Relieve Distress. See Pawo Tsuklak Trengwa, Feast for Experts, vol. 2: 1482–85, for a brief refutation of Rendawa's criticisms. Pawo also mentions Chomden Rikpai Raltri's (Bcom ldan Rig pa'i ral gri, 1227−1305) doubts about the Kālacakra.
- See Rendawa, Jewel Lamp. The sequence of events related in Sangyé Tsemo, Biography of Glorious Rendawa, 63b and 72b, clearly indicates that Rendawa spent much of the latter part of his life at Gangbulé (Gangs bu le), where he was in retreat for five years and taught for another seven. It thus seems certain that his third work on the Kālacakra was a product of this later time.
- Rendawa, Jewel Lamp, 340–41: rgyud 'di'i lugs kyis bden pa gnyis kyi rnam gzhag 'di ltar/ ma rig pa'i 'khrul rkyen las byung ba'i glo bur dri ma'i chos ji snyed pa rnams ni/ de kho na nyid mthong ba la sgrib pa dang kun nas nyon mongs kyi dmigs pa yin pa'i phyir/ kun rdzob kyi bden pa yin la/ de yang yang dag pa'i ye shes kyi yul du ma grub pa'i phyir/ rang stong dang/ chad stong dang/ bems po'i stong pa nyid do/ gnyug ma sems kyi rang bzhin 'od gsal gyi chos ji snyed pa rnams ni/ don dam pa'i bden pa ste/ de yang rigs pas dpyad bzod du grub pa'i sgo nas ma yin gyi... [a single quotation omitted] rnam par mi rtog pa'i spyod yul yin pa'i phyir/ don dam pa yin la glo bur dri mas dben pa'i phyir gzhan stong dang/ so so rang rig pa'i tshul gyis nyams su myong ba'i phyir chad stong dang bems stong ma yin no/... [a single quotation ommited] de la rang stong ni chad pa'i mthar ltung ba'i phyir/ de rtogs pa ni thar pa'i lam yang dag pa ma yin gyi/ gzhan stong sems kyi chos nyid 'od gsal bsgoms pa'i stobs kyis so so rang rig pa'i tshul gyis myong  ba'i nang rig 'gyur med kho na yang dag pa'i lam du gzhed de/.
- Rendawa, Jewel Lamp, 329: gang dag rdo rje'i sku brtan g.yo kun la khyab pa'i rtag brtan du 'dod pa ni/ mu stegs pa gang dag rig byed kyi gzhung las/ tshangs pa dang dbang po la sogs pa lha chen po gsum gyi chos sku rtag pa rang byung gi mkhyen pa brtan g.yo kun la khyab cing/ byed pa por 'dod pa dang khyad par ci yang med pa'i phyir/ ches shin tu 'khrul pa kho na yin no/. On 332 he further refutes the notion of a permanent reality always present as both the ground of purification (sbyang gzhi) and the result of purification (sbyang 'bras).
- See for example Pawo Tsuklak Trengwa, Feast for Experts, vol. 2: 1482–85.
- This sūtra quote is found in Kunpang Chödrak Palsang, Biography of the Omniscient Dharma Lord, 365.
- Tāranātha, History of the Kālacakra Teachings, 34.
- Tāranātha, History of the Kālacakra Teachings, 34.
- For information about the life and writings of Shākya Chokden (Shākya mchog ldan), see Komarovski (2000), (2006), and (2007), and Caumanns (2006).
- See Tāranātha, Twenty-one Differences Concerning the Profound Meaning, and Mathes (2004) and Tāranātha (2007), 117–36. In response to questions from Lhatong Lotsāwa Shenyen Namgyal (Lha mthongs Lo tsā ba Bshes gnyen rnam rgyal, b. 1512), who had just returned from Nepal, the Drukpa Kagyü ('Brug pa Bka' brgyud) hierarch Pema Karpo (Padma dkar po, 1527–92) also expressed his opinion about the differences between the views of Dölpopa and Shākya Chokden: paṇ chen shāk mchog pa dang/ jo nang pa'i gzhan stong la khyad yod med dri ba la/ paṇ chen gyi bzhed pa/ sems tsam rnam rdzun pa'i lugs gtsang ma yin tshul/ jo nang pa sngags dang bsres nas 'chad kyi 'dug pa'i khyad par zhib gsed cig byas pas.../. See Pema Karpo, Autobiography of Pema Karpo, 451. Lhatong Lotsāwa's own strong preference for the shentong view is evident in his versified travel journal of the trip to Nepal. See Lhatong Lotsāwa Shenyen Namgyal, Journal of My Trip to Nepal, 13b: mtha' bral dbu ma'i blta ba gzhan gyi stong/ brtag brtan g.yung drung zhi ba chen po'i lam/ mngon sum gangs can yul 'dir 'dom pa'i rje/ 'jam dbyangs grags pa mchog de slar byon nam/ de bas lta ngan mun pa yi/ tshangs skud 'dzin pa'i u lu ka/ smongs pa'i phug ring da dor las/ lhag bsam dad spro'i gar byos shig/. These are among his comments when visiting Jonang on the way to Nepal. I am grateful to Hubert Decleer for a photocopy of this text.
- For the Geluk critic's comments, see the translation in Seyfort Ruegg (1963), 89–90. Although Shākya Chokden's views did not survive in the Sakya tradition, Gorampa's (Go rams pa) treatises have become accepted as canonical. His Distinguishing the Views (Lta ba'i shan 'byed) in particular is to the present day a key reference for understanding the orthodox Sakya doctrinal position. In this work Gorampa refutes the views of Dölpopa as eternalistic (rtag mtha'), those of Tsongkapa as nihilistic (chad mtha'), and establishes the true Sakya view as the real Madhyamaka beyond all extremes (mtha' bral). Dölpopa's views are first summarized in Gorampa, Distinguishing the Views, 1.4–2.3. See Cabezón and Dargyay (2007) for a partial translation and study of Gorampa's work.
- For information on Rongtön (Rong ston), see Jackson (1989a). Dhongthog Rinpoché's (Gdong thog Rin po che) opinion is found in Dhongthog, Comments Prompted by the Publication of Shākya Chokden's Writings, 21: paṇ chen 'di pas kun mkhyen rong ston chen po'i rjes su 'brangs nas gzhan stong dbu ma'i legs bshad kyi sgra dbyangs gsang por bsgrags pa dang/ rje rin po che tsong kha pa'i gzhung lugs la rigs pas dgag pa mdzad pa sogs.../. These remarks also highlight one of the weaknesses of the methodology in Hookham (1991), where the views of Rongtön are lumped together with the views of Tsongkapa's disciple Gyaltsap Darma Rinchen (Rgyal tshab Dar ma rin chen) as representative of a rangtong (rang stong) tradition.
- See Rongtön, Miscellaneous Writings, 28a: kun mkhyen chen po dol po pa shes rab rgyal mtshan la bstod pa/ zab don rin chen phreng ba zhes bya ba/ bla ma dang lhag pa'i lha la phyag 'tshal lo/ blo gros zab mo rtogs pa'i brlabs phreng can/ kun rtog mi g.yo ting 'dzin brtan pa'i sku/ zab mo'i legs bshad snang ba rab rgyas te/ ma rig mun sel rtogs pa klong du gyur/ grub pa'i nye lam rgyud la sbyor mdzad pa/ gsung rab kun gyi snying po'i don bsdus nas/ 'chad rtsod rtsom pa'i bya bas gzhan dag la/ brtse bas rjes su 'dzin pa'i 'phrin las can/ snyan pas sa gsum khyab mdzad la bstod pa'i/ dge bas bshes gnyen dam pa mnyes gyur cig/ ces rong ston chen pos shrī nā lentra'i dgon par sbyar ba'o/. I thank Leonard van der Kuijp for a photocopy of this work.
- Karma Trinlepa, Reply to Chakmo's Questions, 91–92, explains how his teacher, Karmapa Chödrak Gyatso (Karma pa Chos grags rgya mtsho), interpreted the shentong view accepted by the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorjé.
- See Kunga Drölchok, Biography of the Great Paṇḍita Shākya Chokden, 203 and 206, for a description of the two meetings, and Pawo Tsuklak Trengwa, Feast for Experts, vol. 2: 1103, for the arrival of the Karmapa in Rinpung (Rin spungs). Kunga Drölchok, Biography of the Great Paṇḍita Shākya Chokden, 206, mentions the length of Shākya Chokden's stay at the court. Pawo Tsuklak Trengwa, Feast for Experts, 1104, says Shākya Chokden accepted the Karmapa as his main master at this point.
- For the Karmapa's declaration that their minds had blended together, see Belo Tsewang Kunkhyap, History of the Karma Kamtsang Tradition, vol. 1: 584. For the statement of both of their views being shentong, see the same text, 646.
- Dezhung Rinpoché, Kunga Tenpai Nyima (Sde gzhung sprul sku, Kun dga' bstan pa'i nyi ma), told me this in a private conversation in Seattle, Washington, in the late 1970s. Rinpoché was probably basing his opinion on the information found in Belo Tsewang Kunkhyap, History of the Karma Kamtsang Tradition, vol. 1: 582–84.
- See Kunga Drölchok, Biography of the Great Paṇḍita Shākya Chokden, 119–21, and Kunga Drölchok, Biography of the Dharma King Namgyal Drakpa Sangpo, 24b–25b.
- Khenchen Pema Sangpo (Mkhan chen Padma bzang po) was an important teacher of the Jonang abbot Jamyang Könchok Sangpo (1398–1475), and is known to have written a history of Dharma and a large commentary on the Kālacakra. See Jamgön Ameshap Ngawang Kunga Sönam, Chariot of Amazing Faith, 237, and Losang Trinlé, Clarification of Knowledge, 423.
- See Kunga Drölchok, Biography of the Dharma King Namgyal Drakpa Sangpo, 25a: nged la gzigs nas/ dbon chung shes rab 'dug pa 'di 'dra'i skor la gzhig pa chug cig ces ja'i gsol ras kyang gnang ba de dus man nas nges don la gzhig 'brel chug pa yin kyang grub mtha'i gzhung shin tu bsgril ba'i bstan bcos su zhib rgyas rang 'khod pa med/ than thun ngag nas smras pa tsam yin/ slar nas rigs ldan chen po ba'i bka'i bsgo ba thob phyir rtsal 'don du bskyangs pa yin no/.
- See Kunga Drölchok, Biography of the Dharma King Namgyal Drakpa Sangpo, 25a– b, and Jamgön Ameshap Ngawang Kunga Sönam, Chariot of Amazing Faith, 211. I have followed the spellings in Jamgön Ameshap's reproduction of Kunga Drölchok's work: paṇ chen rin po che nyid kyi mnga' ris su ma phebs gong gi thugs rtsom dang/ de'i man gi thugs rtsom rnams shes rab kyi mig gis bltas na so sor nges pa 'drongs pa yod la/.
- See Dhongthog, Comments Prompted by the Publication of Shākya Chokden's Writings, 22–23. The works of Jonang Tāranātha were also banned at this time.
- See Jackson (1994), 128–33, for a discussion of the strategies Shākya Chokden employed in trying to bring the views of the Sakya and the Kagyü traditions into harmony. Seyfort Ruegg (1989), 105–8, is excellent on this topic. For the views of Shākya Chokden and Dölpopa, see in particular Tāranātha, Twenty-one Differences Concerning the Profound Meaning, a text entirely devoted to the differences between the views of these two masters. On 792 Tāranātha points out that the single basis for their minor differences was that Shākya Chokden maintained that nondual primordial awareness (gnyis med ye shes) is momentary and impermanent, but Dölpopa asserted that it is permanent, partless, and omnipresent. See Mathes (2004) and Tāranātha (2007), 117–36, for translations of Tāranātha's work. Dreyfus (1997), 28–29, briefly discusses Shākya Chokden and the shentong view.
- See Shākya Chokden, Untitled. It is interesting to see that Shākya Chokden was not alone in this opinion. His younger contemporary Gungruwa Sherab Sangpo (Gung ru ba Shes rab bzang po, 1411–75), a Sakya master who opposed the shentong, also says both Dölpopa and Butön proclaimed the shentong as the supreme view and denied the older traditions of tantric exegesis, probably meaning that of the earlier Sakya masters. See Gungruwa Sherab Sangpo, History of the Path with the Result, 122.3. The Sakya master Jamyang Khyentsé Wangchuk ('Jam dbyangs mkhyen brtse'i dbang phyug, 1524–68) also felt that Dölpopa and Butön were essentially in agreement.
- For Belo's comments, see Belo Tsewang Kunkhyap, History of the Karma Kamtsang Tradition, vol. 1: 651, and for Karma Trinlepa's record of the Karmapa's teachings, see Karma Trinlepa, Reply to Chakmo's Questions, 88–92. The text by the Eighth Karmapa is Mikyö Dorjé, Lamp to Distinguish the Tradition of the Emptiness of Other. For Mikyö Dorjé's refutations of the shentong view, see Seyfort Ruegg (1988), 1267–69, and Williams (1983), especially 140, note 17, and 143, note 39.
- See Shongchen Tenpai Gyaltsen, Tenets of Great Madhyamaka.
- Jamyang Khyentsé Wangchuk, Biography of the Venerable Lord Gorumpa, 278, describes the teachings Gorumpa (Sgo rum pa) received in about 1495 from the Jonang master Namkha Chökyong (Nam mkha' chos skyong, 1436–1507), who occupied the monastic seat of Jonang at that time. Writing in 1561, the author also refers to the contemporary unadulterated Jonang tradition of the Kālacakra initiation and teachings. Jamyang Khyentsé Wangchuk, Biography of the Venerable Lord Gorumpa, 333 and 341, mentions the years of Gorumpa's tenure and, on 341–42, those of his successor.
- Kunga Drölchok, Autobiography of Kunga Drölchok, 235.
- Kunga Drölchok, Life of the Omniscient Sanghabhadra, 233, and Remembering Past Lives, 18.
- There is to the present day a strong link between the Shangpa (Shangs pa) lineages and those of Jonang. This emphasis began with Kunga Drölchok's great devotion to the Shangpa practices and increased after Jetsun Tāranātha's writings on the Six Dharmas of Niguma (Ni gu chos drug) and other fundamental practices of the Shangpa tradition became the definitive texts for those practices.
- These four masters were Nya Ön Kunga Pal, the great adept Kunga Lodrö (Grub chen Kun dga' blo gros, 1365–1443), Jamyang Könchok Sangpo, and Gorumpa Kunga Lekpa. All except Kunga Lodrö occupied the monastic seat of Jonang.
- As mentioned in note 244, Gorampa had already clearly defined the Sakya position as a middle path between the two extremes of the Jonang and Geluk. See Jackson (1989a) for an example of the strong influence of the Geluk tradition at a great Sakya monastery.
- For example, in Shākya Chokden, Reply to Müpa Rabjampa's Questions, 367, he first cites the opinions of some latter-day adherents of the Path with the Result teachings (lam 'bras pa phyi ma dag), and then, in regard to certain terminology he is criticizing, says, "This is the Dharma language of Tsongkapa, which does not exist in the Sakya tradition" ('di tsong kha pa'i chos skad yin gyi/ sa skya pa la med do/).
- Kunga Drölchok, In Defense of the Venerable Lord's Intention, 8b: khyed bstan las log tsong kha pa'i/ bsang chos yid la gnags pa 'gas/ sa skya'i bstan pa spel tshul gyis/ bu ru rdzus nas khyod rabs bcad/. In this text Kunga Drölchok is concerned only with establishing the authentic view of the original masters of the Sakya teachings of the Path with the Result, which he defends against two threats. The first threat is the views of the great Tsongkapa, and the description of the second seems to match what is known of the teachings of Latö Wangyal (La stod Dbang rgyal), a major disciple of Kunpang Tukjé Tsöndrü (Kun spangs Th ugs rje brtson 'grus), although it is uncertain that Latö's teachings of the Path with the Result survived into the sixteenth century. I am grateful to Leonard van der Kuijp for a photocopy of Kunga Drölchok's text. See Stearns (1996), 149, note 78, for details on Latö Wangyal's view, which had earlier been criticized by Ngorchen Kunga Sangpo.
- For example, as mentioned in the previous note, Kunga Drölchok defended the authentic view of the Path with the Result against that of what would seem to be a version of the shentong approach, although considerably different than that maintained by Dölpopa. See Kunga Drölchok, In Defense of the Venerable Lord's Intention, 9a–10a.
- Kunga Drölchok, Song Sung as an Introduction to the Six-branch Yoga, 26b–27a: rje bla ma rnams gsum 'dus pa'i sku/ ma khams gsum 'gro ba'i skyabs gcig pu/ dpal dus gsum kyi sangs rgyas dol bu pa/ mtshan shes rab rgyal mtshan ma lags sam/ rje khong gi chos kyi khrir 'khod nas/ rje khong gi ring lugs skyongs ba la/ rje do bu sangs rgyas slar logs pa/ nga rnal 'byor rang grol ma yin nam/. The "three regal masters" is a reference to Dölpopa's predecessors at Jonang: Kunpang Tukjé Tsöndrü (Kun spangs Th ugs rje brtson 'grus), Jangsem Gyalwa Yeshé (Byang sems Rgyal ba ye shes), and Khedrup Yönten Gyatso (Mkhas grub Yon tan rgya mtsho).
- See Kunga Drölchok, Song Sung as an Introduction to the Six-branch Yoga, 28a: rang bzhin gyi 'od gsal rgyal khams che/ chos dbyings kyi brag ri rtag cing brtan, and 44a: dus 'gyur med rtag pa'i ye shes sku.
- Ngawang Losang Gyatso, Biography of Tsarchen Losel Gyatso, 65a, quotes from Tsarchen's travel journal: sang snga dro sku 'bum mthong grol chen mo/ sbyor drug brgyud pa'i lha khang sogs mjal/ ri khrod la rgyang bltas byas pas blo 'gro zhing yid 'phrog pa/ sngon gyi dam pa rnams kyis 'di lta bu'i gnas su sgrub grwa'i rgyun btsugs/ skye bo mang po thar pa'i lam la 'god par mdzad pa ches cher ngo mtshar zhing rmad du byung ba'i rnam thar du 'dug/ kho bo cag kyang 'di lta bu'i dben gnas zhig tu byang chub sgrub pa zhig nam 'ong snyam pa snying gi dkyil du lhang lhang ba'i dag snang byung ngo.
- See Ngawang Losang Gyatso, Biography of Tsarchen Losel Gyatso, 84a–84b.
- Jamyang Khyentsé Wangchuk, Autobiography of Jamyang Khyentsé Wangchuk, 29b.
- See Jamyang Khyentsé Wangchuk, Autobiography of Jamyang Khyentsé Wangchuk, 66a–b. Khyentsé's concluding verses sum up the event and his view of Dölpopa nicely: rgyal bas lung bstan kun mkhyen jo nang pa/ 'gal 'du skyon med grub mtha' bzhed lags mod/ gtsang dag bde dang rtag pa'i mthar thug pa'i/ bde gshegs snying po dngos por bzhed re skan/.
The omniscient Jonangpa,
prophesied by the Conqueror,
did accept a philosophical tenet
of flawless paradox,
but it is impossible that he accepted
the ultimately pure, pristine, blissful,
and permanent sugata essence to be an entity.
- As previously mentioned, Shākya Chokden and Gungruwa Sherab Sangpo also maintained that Dölpopa and Butön both taught the shentong view.
- A number of Tāranātha's translations are found in the Tibetan canon. His translation of the Kapālāvatāra, a guide to Shambhala, was made in the year 1615 from a Newar Sanskrit manuscript found among ten volumes of Sanskrit texts that Tāranātha received from Chung Riwoché (Gcung Ri bo che), the monastery of the great adept Tangtong Gyalpo (Th ang stong rgyal po). Because of its title, the Kapālāvatāra had been misplaced among many Sanskrit grammatical texts. See Tāranātha, Autobiography of the Wanderer Tāranātha, 489, 499–500. The Kapālāvatāra has been translated and studied in Bernbaum (1985), 44–80. See Newman (1987), 193–206, for a critical discussion of Bernbaum's conclusions.
- Tāranātha, Autobiography of the Wanderer Tāranātha, 329b–330a, is very forthright about his eclectic nature. He is also extremely outspoken about not having the brainless and empty-headed naive view (klad med mgo stong pa'i dag snang) that sees faults as qualities. He rejoices at the good qualities of others, but does not hesitate to point out their faults. By being honest he admits to having made many enemies of those who cannot accept unbiased criticism.
- Lord Orgyan Dzongpa (Rje O rgyan rdzong pa), whose personal name was Chökyong Gyaltsen (Chos skyong rgyal mtshan), was one of the main teachers of Lochen Ratnabhadra (Lo chen Ratna bha dra, 1489−1563). Ratnabhadra was one of Kunga Drölchok's most important teachers. Orgyan Dzongpa was a Sakya master who occupied the Jonang monastic seat for a brief time at the end of his life.
- Tāranātha, Autobiography of the Wanderer Tāranātha, 74a–b.
- Tāranātha, Autobiography of the Wanderer Tāranātha, 140b–141a. Tāranātha received numerous visions during his life. For instance, he mentions that on many occasions during the years 1618–19 he had repeatedly experienced visions of the Kalāpa court of the Shambhala emperors, and also had visions of them and heard their teachings. These visions were a result of his belief that the intent of all sūtras and tantras was the Madhyamaka emptiness of other. See Tāranātha, Autobiography of the Wanderer Tāranātha, 280a.
- Tāranātha, Autobiography of the Wanderer Tāranātha, 141b. See Tāranātha, Ornament for the Madhyamaka Emptiness of Other and Scriptual Quotations for "Ornament for the Madhyamaka Emptiness of Other," The colophon of the former says he was thirty years old when he wrote it.
- Tāranātha, Secret Autobiography, 680–81: da lta kun mkhyen chen po dol po pa'i lta ba la mkhas shing dgongs pa skyong ba'i rgyu mtshan  yang de lags/.
- The meeting and discussions at Trompa Lhatsé (Grom pa Lha rtse) are described in Tāranātha, Autobiography of the Wanderer Tāranātha, 200a–201b. Tāranātha, Autobiography of the Wanderer Tāranātha, 154b, also mentions a discussion of rangtong versus shentong with an otherwise unidentified Lopön Drubtopa (Slob dpon Grub thob pa), who had studied many works that refuted the shentong view by authors such as lord Gorampa (Rje Go ram pa), Tsetang Sanglhun (Rtse thang Sangs lhun), and Ngödrup Palbar (Dngos grub dpal 'bar).
- See Tāranātha, Autobiography of the Wanderer Tāranātha, 298b.
- See Ngawang Lodrö Drakpa, History of the Jonang Tradition, 59–60, and Nirvāṇa of Lord Tāranātha, 139–40. Sangyé Gyatso (Sangs rgyas rgya mtsho, d. 1635), who was also known as Jamyang Tulku Sangyé Gyatso ('Jam dbyangs sprul sku Sangs rgyas rgya mtsho), should not be confused with Jamyang Tulku Yeshé Dorjé, who was also known as Losang Tenpai Gyaltsen ('Jam dbyangs sprul sku Ye shes rdo rje or Blo bzang bstan pa'i rgyal mtshan, 1635–1723), the Mongolian prince who would later be recognized as Tāranātha's rebirth.
- This was first noted by Vostrikov (1970), 228, based on a note in the Yellow Beryl (Bai ḍūrya ser po) of Desi Sangyé Gyatso (Sde srid Sangs rgyas rgya mtsho). See also Seyfort Ruegg (1963), 77–78 and 82, for information on the Geluk conversion of Jonang.
- See Smith (1970), 17.
- Ngawang Losang Gyatso, Autobiography of the Fifth Dalai Lama, vol. 1: 521. As noted by Smith (1968), 16–17, Situ Panchen Chökyi Jungné (Situ Paṇ chen Chos kyi 'byung gnas, 1700–1774) visited Takten (Rtag brtan) and Jonang in 1723. Situ's account places the blame for the Geluk conversion of Jonang on the Fifth Dalai Lama's teacher Möndro Panchen (Smon 'gro Paṇ chen), who had earlier received Jonang teachings but later spread slander about them to the Fifth Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama took his teacher's advice, ordered the change of the Jonang philosophical tenet (grub mtha' sgyur) to that of the Geluk, and had the silver reliquary containing Tāranātha's remains destroyed. See Chökyi Jungné, Autobiography and Diaries, 104–105.
- Ngawang Losang Gyatso, Autobiography of the Fifth Dalai Lama, vol. 1: 521. See also Jampa Tupten, History of Ganden Puntsok Ling, x, who dates both the conversion of the Jonang philosophical tenet and the change of the name of Tāranātha's monastery to the year 1650, not 1658. He is certainly correct about the initial conversion, but not about the name change, which did not take place for another eight years.
- Ngawang Lodrö Drakpa, History of the Jonang Tradition, 60–61.
- Ngawang Losang Gyatso, Autobiography of the Fifth Dalai Lama, vol. 1: 309.
- See Ngaki Wangpo, Biography of Jetsun Dampa Losang Tenpai Gyaltsen, 286. I am grateful to Hubert Decleer for directing my attention to this source. See also Smith (1969), 12, and Jampa Tupten, History of Ganden Puntsok Ling, 330–34. The Khalkha Jetsun Dampa (Rje btsun dam pa) incarnations have continued as the leaders of Buddhism in Mongolia up into modern times.
- Jamyang Tashi ('Jam dbyangs bkra shis), often known as Jamyang Chöjé ('Jam dbyangs chos rje), founded the monastery of Drepung ('Bras spungs) in 1417, and was an important disciple of lord Tsongkapa. See also Ngaki Wangpo, Biography of Jetsun Dampa Losang Tenpai Gyaltsen, 277–78.
- Ngaki Wangpo, Biography of Jetsun Dampa Losang Tenpai Gyaltsen, 278: nged kyi jo nang pa'i bstan pa spel ba de tsam gyis chog pa bgyis/ da ni dga' ldan pa'i bsrung ma rnams kyis gsol ba btab pa dang/ sngon gyi smon lam gyi mthus mtha' 'khob tu rje tsong kha pa'i bstan pa spel bar byed do/. The source of this account is identified only as skyabs mgon sku gong ma'i rnam thar, "the biography of the previous refuge lord."
- Cf. Ngawang Lodrö Drakpa, History of the Jonang Tradition, 59, and Nirvāṇa of Lord Tāranātha, 134–35.
- Tāranātha's nephew was Kunga Tenpa of the Ra clan (Rwa'i dbon [=Sku dbon Rwa ba] Kun dga' brtan pa), who had been appointed treasurer (phyag mdzod) of Takten Monastery by the Tsang ruler Kunga Rabten Wangi Gyalpo (Gtsang sde srid Kun dga' rab brtan dbang gi rgyal po). See Ngawang Lodrö Drakpa, History of the Jonang Tradition, 59, and Trinlé Wangmo, Brief Story of the Venerable Lady Ratna Badzriṇi, 20a.
- The "precious rebirth" (Sku skyes Rin po che) is Sangyé Gyatso (Sangs rgyas rgya mtsho, d. 1635), Tāranātha's chosen successor on the monastic seat of Takten.
- See Trinlé Wangmo, Brief Story of the Venerable Lady Ratna Badzriṇi, 21a: yang rtag brtan nas 'dir pheb pa gcig la/ khar sang 'bras spung kyi grwa pa de 'dra byung/ kho rang tsho'i chos skyongs yang rgyab na sleb 'dug/ dge ldan pa'i bstan pa la phan pa'i spyir yong dgos zer/ snying nas mos gus gdung shugs che bas/ lam tsam khas blang yod/ khyad par de'i sang gnang gcig/ rtag brtan gyi las tshan rnams kyi gros byas pa'i yi ge gcig dbon po la brgyud nas/ nged la sprad byung/ de'i don la/ da lta'i sku skyes rin po che rang 'dir yod ring ma gtogs/ de'i rteng la gdan sa'i bla ma ring ri'i [>rang re'i] dbon rgyud la 'dzag pa dgos zer nan chags 'dug/ rten 'brel snga phyi 'di gnyis ltar na/ dus [?] kyi chos srid skyong par [>sar?] skye ba mi len pa chos nyid kho [21b] na yin pas/ da ni nges par 'bras spungs pa'i bstan pa la phan pa'i sar skye ba len dgos par 'dug gsung/ de dus bdag gi [>gis] spyir sems can thams cad dang dgos [>sgos] su dgon pa 'di tsam gyi 'gangs che ba dang/ nges ston [>don] gyi bstan pa la dgongs pa'i sku tshe brtan pa dang/ slar sku skyes yang 'di rang gi bstan pa la phan pa gcig rang thugs rjes gzigs dgos zhus kyang bka' las/ gzhan phar gzhag phu mda' 'di kun rang na yang bsam blo mi gcig pa mang/ khyod rang gcig bu sems dag pas de ltar yin kyang/ thams cad gcig tu 'dril nas blo rtse gcig pa'i gsol ba 'debs pa gcig dgos te dga' kha tsam la ni nges pa med/ da ni rten 'brel gang 'grigs dang gdung shugs gang che'i dbang du 'gro/ rten 'brel bsgyur phyogs shes na da dung 'di'i bstan pa la phan pa'ang srid gsung. This episode contains some difficult passages that could be interpreted in other ways. I am grateful to Michael Sheehy for a copy of this rare manuscript, which I hope to fully translate in the near future. Although clearly using this text, it is interesting that Ngawang Lodrö Drakpa, History of the Jonang Tradition, 59, and Nirvāṇa of Lord Tāranātha, 134–35, repeats only a few select passages from the episode, leaving out all mention of Tāranātha's rebirth in the Geluk tradition.
- See Trinlé Wangmo, Brief Story of the Venerable Lady Ratna Badzriṇi, 30a.
- As mentioned in note 288, the Fifth Dalai Lama's teacher Möndro Panchen (Smon 'gro Paṇ chen) was also probably involved in the suppression of the Jonang School. Jampa Tupten, History of Ganden Puntsok Ling, 331, mentions the vows and teachings from the Panchen Lama.
- Losang Chökyi Gyaltsen, Autobiography of Panchen Losang Chökyi Gyaltsen, 249. At this time there were apparently about eight hundred monks at Takten (Rtag brtan).
- See Trinlé Wangmo, Brief Story of the Venerable Lady Ratna Badzriṇi, 31a.
- Ngawang Losang Gyatso, Autobiography of the Fifth Dalai Lama, 521.
- There is much evidence in Ngawang Lodrö Drakpa's History of the Jonang Tradition that shows the Jonang teachings continued to be taught to a surprising extent in the Tsang region after the suppression. For information on the state of the Jonang tradition today in Amdo, see Kapstein (1991), and especially Sheehy (2007).
- Jampa Khawoché's (Byams pa kha bo che) personal name was Lodrö Drakpa (Blo gros grags pa). See Ngawang Lodrö Drakpa, History of the Jonang Tradition, 39, 61, and 103–4.
- Ratnashrī (Ratna shrī) is the Sanskrit form of this master's Tibetan name, Rinchen Pal (Rin chen dpal). For a sketch of his life, see Ngawang Lodrö Drakpa, History of the Jonang Tradition, 104–12.
- See Ngawang Lodrö Drakpa, History of the Jonang Tradition, 67–69, 170–71.
- See Ngawang Lodrö Drakpa, History of the Jonang Tradition, 77–78. This master, who is often known as Drogé Kunga Palsang ('Brog ge Kun dga' dpal bzang), should not be mistaken for Jedrung Kunga Palsang (Rje drung Kun dga' dpal bzang, 1513–95), who was Kunga Drölchok's nephew and successor on the monastic seat of Jonang.
- Tsewang Norbu, Autobiographical Notes, 605.
- Chökyi Wangchuk, Biography of Tsewang Norbu, 139. On this occasion Tsewang Norbu remembered his earlier life as Jamyang Yeshé Gyatso ('Jam dbyangs ye shes rgya mtsho), the son of the king of Tingkyé (Gting skyes Rgyal po). This is said to explain why he was so attracted to the Jonang view and philosophical tenets and understood them without much effort.
- Tsewang Norbu, History of the Instructions on the Great Seal in the Dakpo Kagyü, 224, and Chökyi Wangchuk, Biography of Tsewang Norbu, 122, describe Tsewang Norbu's first attempts to receive teachings from Kunsang Wangpo (Kun bzang dbang po). For a short biographical note on Kunsang Wangpo, who is often known as Samantabhadrendra, the Sanskrit form of his name, see Ngawang Lodrö Drakpa, History of the Jonang Tradition, 534–35. For a study of Tsewang Norbu's restoration activities in Kathmandu, see Ehrhard (1989).
- Tsewang Norbu's final success in receiving teachings from Kunsang Wangpo are described in Chökyi Wangchuk, Biography of Tsewang Norbu, 138–39, and Tsewang Norbu, Autobiographical Notes, 604–5. His teaching at Jonang in 1734 is described in Chökyi Wangchuk, Biography of Tsewang Norbu, 164.
- Ngawang Lodrö Drakpa, History of the Jonang Tradition, 536.
- See also note 288 and Chökyi Jungné, Autobiography and Diaries, 104–5.
- Smith (1968), 8, mentions that this ban was not lift ed until 1874, when the Shalu master Losel Tenkyong (Blo gsal bstan skyong, b. 1804) fi nally gained permission to reopen the printery at Ganden Puntsok Ling (Dga’ ldan phun tshogs gling) and reprint some of the Jonang texts. Th e original sealing of the books probably occurred at the same time as the banning of Shākya Chokden’s works in the mid-seventeenth century.
- Chökyi Jungné, Autobiography and Diaries, 105.
- In Chökyi Jungné, Autobiography and Diaries, 267, it seems that the event occurred at Bodhnāth, but Ngawang Lodrö Drakpa, History of the Jonang Tradition, 536– 37, locates it at the self-arisen stūpa (rang byung mchod rten), which indicates Svayaṃbhunāth.
- Chökyi Jungné, Autobiography and Diaries, 267: nged la zab mo gzhan stong gi lta ba 'dzin dgos tshul dang/ de ltar na sku tshe mdzad phrin rgyas pa'i rten 'brel yod tshul dang/ lta ba'i skor gsung 'phros mang po byung/. I first heard about this event in a private conversation in the 1970s with my teacher Dezhung Rinpoché, who also believed that adherence to the shentong view brings longevity.
- Chökyi Jungné, Autobiography and Diaries, 267: bdag gis ni gzhan stong rang la'ang bzhed tshul cung zad mi 'dra ba 'ga' re yod pa'i nang nas/ dol po'i bzhed pa las thal rang gnyis po'ang rig tshogs kyi dgongs pa rma med du 'dod pa ni khyad par dang/ rje bdun pa dang zi lung pa'i bzhed pa dang ches nye ba zhig 'dod pa yin no/. The Seventh Lord is the Seventh Karmapa, Chödrak Gyatso (Chos grags rgya mtsho), and Silungpa (Zi lung pa) is Panchen Shākya Chokden.
- See Smith (1970), 34.
- The best treatment of the nonsectarian (ris med) movement is still Smith (1970). At least one brief work by Khyentsé Wangpo is dedicated to the shentong view. See Jamyang Khyentsé Wangpo, Brief Presentation of the View of the Emptiness of Other. Mipam Gyatso's Lion's Roar of Accepting the Emptiness of Other is translated in Pettit (1999), 415–27.
- For example, Dölpopa's commentary to the Highest Continuum was largely copied by Jamgön Kongtrul and used as the basis for his own commentary. Jamgön Kongtrul, Guiding Instructions on the View of the Emptiness of Other is a text devoted solely to the instructions of the shentong view, which Kongtrul wrote at the Jonang monastery of Dzamtang ('Dzam thang). For information about Kongtrul's life and works, see Smith (1970), and especially Richard Barron's translation of Kongtrul's autobiography in Kongtrul (2003). See also Kongtrul (2007a), 249–68, for a discussion of the Madhyamaka emptiness of other.
- Jamgön Kongtrul's section on the Six-branch Yoga instructions in his Treasury of Knowledge, vol. 3: 429–57, is drawn almost verbatim from Tāranātha, Meaningful to Behold. For an English translation of Kongtrul's work by Sarah Harding, see Kongtrul (2007b), 289–330. Kongtrul's historical survey of these instructions in Treasury of Knowledge, vol. 1: 549–51, is copied directly from Tāranātha, Blazing of a Hundred Lights, 476–78. Kongtrul viewed the Jonang tradition of Dölpopa and Tāranātha as the most exceptional of all the lineages of the Six-branch Yoga.
- On several occasions Dezhung Rinpoché told me that his teacher Jamyang Chökyi Lodrö ('Jam dbyangs chos kyi blo gros) liked (thugs mnyes) the shentong view. For the dream-vision of Tāranātha, see Jamyang Chökyi Lodrö, Secret Autobiographical Notes, 96–98. Chökyi Lodrö also wrote a guruyoga practice focusing on Dölpopa.
- See especially Dudjom (1991), 169–216, concerning the rangtong and shentong contrasts and the teachings of Great Madhyamaka. According to Kapstein (n.d.), this section of Dudjom Rinpoché's text is largely derived from the earlier work of the Katok (Kaḥ thog) master Getsé Paṇḍita Gyurmé Tsewang Chokdrup (Dge rtse Paṇḍi ta 'Gyur med tshe dbang mchog sgrub, b. 1764), who was regarded as an emanation of Dölpopa and actively taught the shentong.
- In the late 1970s I once asked Dezhung Rinpoché for his opinion about the shentong teachings upheld at that time in the different Tibetan traditions. Rinpoché replied that members of the Nyingma and Kagyü traditions had to accept (khas len dgos red) the shentong view because it was the view of Dudjom Rinpoché, Dilgo Khyentsé Rinpoché, and Kalu Rinpoché. When I asked about followers of the Sakya tradition, Dezhung Rinpoché laughed and said they had to keep an open mind about the topic (dag snang dgos red). When I asked about the Geluk position, Rinpoché exclaimed that they viewed the shentong teachings as the "enemy of the doctrine" (bstan pa'i dgra bo red).
- In a private conversation in Bodhanāth, Nepal, in 1989, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso (Mkhan po Tshul 'khrims rgya mtsho) told me he had not received even the reading transmission of any texts by Dölpopa. But the Kagyü master Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoché did receive the transmission of Dölpopa's Mountain Dharma and has taught from it in recent years.
- The difference between the teachings of Dölpopa and the many later adherents of the shentong view, such as Shākya Chokden, Karmapa Chödrak Gyatso, Tsewang Norbu, Situ Panchen, and, most recently, Jamgön Kongtrul and Mipam Gyatso, remains a subject for future research. One of the most obvious points of Dölpopa's doctrine that has been dropped by later Kagyü and Nyingma teachers is the radical separation of the thoughts or concepts (rnam rtog) from the dharmakāya. This will be discussed in chapter 3, section 2, and in note 556. For a brief mention of some other differences between Dölpopa and modern followers of the shentong, see Broido (1989), 89–90.