Grounds of Buddha-Nature in Tibet
Buddha-nature comes to shape a Madhyamaka interpretation of emptiness in a positive light in a way that parallels its place in a Yogācāra interpretation (as a positive foundation of mind and reality). Buddha-nature supplements a Yogācāra theory of mind and reality by offering a positive alternative to a theory of consciousness that otherwise functions simply as the distorted cognitive structure of suffering. It thus is not only the potential for an awakened mind, but the cognitive content of awakening, too.In Tibet we see the interpretation of buddha-nature converge with Mahāyāna doctrines in structurally parallel ways. Paired with buddha-nature, the doctrine of emptiness in Madhyamaka pivots from a “self-empty” lack of intrinsic nature to an “other-empty,” pure ground that remains. In narratives of disclosure characteristic of the doctrine of buddha-nature, we also see parallel shifts in the foundations of Yogācāra, as grounds of distortion like the basic consciousness, the dependent nature, and self-awareness are reinscribed into a causal story that takes place within a pure, gnostic ground.