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What makes gZhon nu dpal's DhDhV-commentary so interesting is his mahāmudrā interpretation of a central topic in the DhDhV, i.e., the abandonment of all "mentally created characteristic signs" (nimittas). The latter practice plays a crucial role in the cultivation of non-conceptual wisdom, which is taken as the cause or the foundation of āśrayaparivŗtti in the DhDhV. Based on Sahajavajra's (11th century) Tattvadaśakaţīkā gZhon nu dpal explains that the nimittas are abandoned by directly realizing their natural luminosity which amounts to a direct or non-conceptual experience of their true nature. To be sure, while the usual Mahāyāna approach involves an initial analysis of the nimittas, namely, an analytic meditation which eventually turns into non-conceptual abiding in the same way as a fire kindled from rubbing pieces of wood bums the pieces of wood themselves (gZhon nu dpal explains this on the basis of Kamalaśīla's commentary on the Nirvikalpapraveśadhāraņī), mahāmudrā pith-instructions enable a meditation of direct perceptions right from the beginning. In view of the fact that such direct perceptions of emptiness (or dharmatā in this context here) usually start from the first Bodhisattva-level onwards, gZhon nu dpal also tries to show that the four yogas of mahāmudrā are in accordance with the four prayogas of the DhDhV. It should be noted that such a mahāmudrā interpretation must have already existed in India, as can be seen from Jñānakīrti's (10th/11th-century) Tattvāvatāra, in which a not-specifically-Tantric form of mahāmudrā practice is related with the traditional fourfold Mahāyāna meditation by equating "Mahāyāna" in Lańkāvatārasūtra X.257d with mahāmudrā. The pādas X.257cd "A yogin who is established in a state without appearances sees Mahāyāna" thus mean that one finally sees or realizes mahāmudrā.
To sum up, the DhDhV plays an important role for gZhon nu dpal in that it provides a canonical basis for his mahāmudrā tradition, and by showing that the dharmatā portion of the DhDhV is a commentary on the second chapter of the RGV, gZhon nu dpal skillfully links his mahāmudrā interpretation to the standard Indian work on Buddha-nature, and thus to a concept which considerably facilitated the bridging of the Sūtras with the Tantras. (Source Accessed April 1, 2020)
The contributions to this volume were presented at the gzhan stong panel organized by Klaus-Dieter Mathes (University of Vienna) at the Twelfth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies in Vancouver, Canada, in August 2010. Its full name was "The History of the Rang stong/Gzhan stong Distinction from its Beginning through the Ris-med Movement." The contributors were, besides the organizer, Karl Brunnhölzl (Tsadra Foundation), Anne Burchardi (The University of Copenhagen and The Royal Library of Denmark), Douglas Duckworth (Temple University), David Higgins (University of Vienna), Yaroslav Komarovski (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), and Tsering Wangchuk (University of San Francisco). It is regretted that Karl Brunnhölzl and Douglas Duckworth were unable to include their work in the present publication. (Mathes, introduction, 4–5)
Notes:1. See Brunnhölzl’s Prajñāpāramitā, Indian "gzhan stong pas," and the Beginning of Tibetan gzhan stong; and Mathes’s "Tāranātha's ‘Twenty-One Differences with Regard to the Profound Meaning’—Comparing the Views of the Two gŹan stoṅ Masters Dol po pa and Śākya mchog ldan," and "The gzhan stong Model of Reality. Some More Material on Its Origin, Transmission, and Interpretation."
Drawing on Maitripa’s autobiographical writings and literary work, this book is the first comprehensive portrait of the life and teachings of this influential Buddhist master. Klaus-Dieter Mathes also offers the first complete English translation of his teachings on nonconceptual realization, which is the foundation of Mahamudra meditation.
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Prof. Dr. Klaus-Dieter Mathes is a professor of Tibetan and Buddhist Studies at the University of Vienna. His research interests include the Indian origin of the Tibetan Mahāmudrā traditions, buddha nature and the Tibetan gzhan stong tradition. He spoke with students at RYI on April 3, 2018. (Source Accessed Aug 13, 2020)
Tāranātha begins his somewhat delicate task of comparing the two masters Dol po pa and Śākya mchog ldan in a conciliating manner, by explaining that both supposedly see what is profound reality and hence should not have different thoughts about it. It is only in order to accommodate the different needs of their disciples that they enunciate variant views. Even though the essential gźan stoṅ view and meditation practices of both masters are the same, there are a lot of minor differences regarding tenets (grub mtha') that arise when formulating the view on the level of apparent truth.'"`UNIQ--ref-00004E38-QINU`"'
The first four of the twenty-one points address differences in the exegesis of the Madhyamaka and Maitreya texts which are considered to be commentaries on the Buddha's intention underlying the second and third turnings of the "Wheel of the Dharma" (dharmacakra).'"`UNIQ--ref-00004E39-QINU`"' Points 5-8 embody Śākya mchog ldan's and Dol po pa's different understanding of non-dual wisdom. In points 9-16, their views on the trisvabhāva theory are distinguished. In a related topic, Tāranātha also elaborates the different understandings of self-awareness (point 11), entities and non-entities, and conditioned and unconditioned phenonema (all in point 13). Next, our attention is drawn to different ways of relating the four noble truths with the apparent and ultimate (point 17). The last four points deal with the two masters' views on the Buddha-nature. (Mathes, "Tāranātha's 'Twenty-One Differences with Regard to the Profound Meaning'," 294–95)
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About this person
- Recent Writing of Interest from Doctor Mathes:
- "The Other Emptiness: Rethinking the Zhentong Buddhist Discourse in Tibet. Edited with Michael Sheehy. Albany, New York: SUNY Press, 2019.
- "Introduction: The Philosophical Grounds and Literary History of Zhentong.’” The Other Emptiness: Rethinking the Zhentong Discourse in Tibet. Albany: SUNY Press, 1-27 , 2019.
- "Liberation through Realizing the Emptiness of Dependent Origination: A Modern Interpretation of the Buddhist “Beyond” in the Light of Quantum Physics." Experiencing the Beyond: Intercultural Approaches. Ed. by Gert Melville and Carlos Ruta (Challenges of Life: Essays on Philosophical and Cultural Anthropology 4). Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter GmbH, 198-211, 2018.
- "The Eighth Karmapa Mi bskyod rdo rje (1507-1554) on the Relation between Buddha Nature and its Adventitious Stains." Critical Review for Buddhist Studies 22 (2017. 12), 63-104.
- "Did ‘Gos Lo tsā ba gZhon nu dpal (1392-1481) Espouse a gZhan sTong View?" In: Fifteenth Century Tibet: Cultural Blossoming and Political Unrest. LIRI Seminar Proceedings Series 8. Lumbini 2017, 291-311.
- "Introduction: The History of the Rang stong/Gzhan stong Distinction from Its Beginning through the Ris-med Movement". Journal of Buddhist Philosophy 2 (2016), 4-8.
- "Presenting a Controversial Doctrine in a Conciliatory Way: Mkhan chen Gang shar dbang po's (1925-1958/59?) Inclusion of Gzhan Stong ("Emptiness of Other") within Prāsaṅgika". Journal of Buddhist Philosophy 2 (2016), 114-131.
Affiliations & relations
- Universität Wien · workplace affiliation
- Universität Hamburg · secondary affiliation
- Rangjung Yeshe Institute · secondary affiliation
- CIRDIS · secondary affiliation
- IABS · secondary affiliation
- IATS · secondary affiliation
- http://www.tantric-studies.uni-hamburg.de/people/klaus-dieter-mathes/ · websites