gzhan stong

From Buddha-Nature

< Key Terms

Glossarygzhan stong

Tibetan Adjective

gzhan stong

other-emptiness
གཞན་སྟོང་

Basic Meaning

The state of being devoid of that which is wholly different rather than being void of its own nature. The term is generally used to refer to the ultimate, or buddha-nature, being empty of other phenomena such as adventitious defiling emotions but not empty of its true nature.

Read It in the Scriptures

Since adventitious, relative entities do not exist at all in reality, they are empty of their own essences; they are self-empty. The innate ultimate, which is the ultimate emptiness of these relative things, is never nonexistent; therefore, it is other-empty.  
~ Dölpopa Sherab Gyaltsen, Collected Works ('Dzamthang ed., 1998), Vol. 6: 416. Translated by Douglas Duckworth in "Onto-theology and Emptiness: The Nature of Buddha-Nature." (2014), page 1075.
On this topic
Term Variations
Key Term gzhan stong
Topic Variation Zhentong
Tibetan གཞན་སྟོང་  ( zhentong)
Wylie Tibetan Transliteration gzhan stong  ( zhentong)
Buddha-nature Site Standard English other-emptiness
Karl Brunnhölzl's English Term other-empty
Richard Barron's English Term qualified emptiness
Jeffrey Hopkin's English Term emptiness-of-other
Gyurme Dorje's English Term extraneous emptiness
Ives Waldo's English Term emptiness of something else
Alternate Spellings shentong
Term Information
Usage Example
དེ་ལ་ཀུན་རྫོབ་གློ་བུར་བའི་དངོས་པོ་རྣམས་ནི་གནས་ལུགས་ལ་གཏན་ནས་མེད་པའི་ཕྱིར་རང་གི་ངོ་བོས་སྟོང་སྟེ་དེ་ནི་རང་སྟོང་ངོ་། ཀུན་རྫོབ་དེ་རྣམས་ཀྱིས་སྟོང་པའི་དོན་དམ་སྟོང་པའི་དོན་དམ་གཉུག་མ་ནི་ནམ་ལང་མེད་པ་མ་ཡིན་པའི་ཕྱིར་གཞན་སྟོང་ངོ་།
དོལ་པོ་པ་ཤེས་རབ་རྒྱལ་མཚན་ གསུང་འབུམ་ལས་པོད་དྲུག་པ་༤༡༦ (འཛམ་ཐང་: ཕྱིའི་ལོ་༡༩༩༨)
Source Language Tibetan
Basic Meaning The state of being devoid of that which is wholly different rather than being void of its own nature. The term is generally used to refer to the ultimate, or buddha-nature, being empty of other phenomena such as adventitious defiling emotions but not empty of its true nature.
Related Terms rang stong
Term Type Adjective
Definitions
Karl Brunnhölzl There is no monolithic Shentong School but a great variety of ways in which different Tibetan masters understand this term and how they formulate the associated view. A text by the twentieth-century Kagyü scholar Surmang Padma Namgyal (Zur mang pad ma rnam rgyal n.d., 60.3–61.6) lists seven different kinds of views held by various Jonang, Sakya, Kagyü, and Nyingma masters on the distinction between rangtong and shentong (I am indebted to Anne Burchardi for drawing my attention to this text and providing me with a copy of it). According to this text, (1) Dölpopa and his followers hold consciousness to be rangtong and wisdom to be shentong. (2) Śākya Chogden considers phenomena—appearances—as rangtong and the nature of phenomena—luminosity—as shentong. (3) Sabsang Mati Paṇchen maintains subject and object to be rangtong and expanse (dbyings) and wisdom to be shentong. (4) The Thirteenth Karmapa considers saṃsāra to be rangtong and nirvāṇa to be shentong. (5) The Eighth Karmapa and his followers take the pure kāyas and wisdom to be rangtong in terms of their actual mode of being and to be shentong in terms of the way they appear. (6) The Eighth Situpa considers the side of negation as rangtong and the side of affirmation as shentong. (7) The Nyingma master Gédsé Paṇchen from Gaḥto Monastery (Tib. Kaḥ thog dge rtse paṇ chen, 1761–1829) regards the phase of conclusive resolve during meditative equipoise to be rangtong and the phase of clearly distinguishing during subsequent attainment to be shentong. Among these seven views, Padma Namgyal explicitly considers views (4), (6), and (7) to be good positions. Summarizing the seven into three, Padma Namgyal says that Dölpopa asserts wisdom to be shentong, Śākya Chogden holds the expanse to be shentong, and all others take both wisdom and the expanse to be shentong. When summarized into two, the first five are said to present rangtong and shentong mainly by way of what is to be determined, while the latter two do so primarily by way of the means to determine that. Note though (and this complicates matters further) that these seven distinctions are obviously based on three very different categories of comparison in terms of what rangtong and shentong mean. The first—and most common—category takes rangtong and shentong to refer to phenomena as belonging to two different levels of reality (seeming and ultimate), which underlies views (1)–(5). The second category refers to rangtong and shentong as two approaches to conceptually determine the subject in question (6). The third category considers rangtong and shentong as distinct (nonconceptual) experiences or phases in the process of attaining realization (7). - Karl Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part, p. 1018, nt. 532.
Tshig mdzod Chen mo jo nang pas 'dod pa'i lta ba ste/ yul gzung ba dang yul can 'dzin pa gnyis su med pa rtogs pa'i gzung 'dzin gnyis med kyi ye shes de yongs grub yin la/ de gzhan dbang dang kun btags sogs kun rdzob pa'i chos gzhan gyis stongs pas na gzhan stong zhes zer/


Books about this term
Articles about this term
Source Texts about this term
Multimedia about this term