Casey Kemp: Buddha-Nature as a Path of Means: The Influence of Buddha-Nature Theory on Eleventh-Century Tibetan Tantric Instructions
Abstract from the Author
This paper will explore how Tibetan tantric theory and systems of practice incorporated buddha-nature (tathāgatagarbha; de bzhin gshegs pa’i snying po) doctrine in the formative period of major tantric lineage traditions during the beginning of the second diffusion of Buddhist tantra in Tibet (circa eleventh century). This early period involved large-scale translation projects of seminal late Indian tantras and their related commentaries, including Guhyasamāja, Hevajra, Cakrasaṃvara, and Kālacakra tantric traditions. During the early phase of transmission of these teachings in Tibet, authors began to incorporate into their particular instructions and commentaries views that parallel or directly refer to buddha-nature theory as articulated by the Ratnagotravibhāga, which is considered by Tibetans to be the authoritative work on buddha-nature. This text was translated in the same century from Sanskrit into Tibetan through several lines of transmission, and although this text is considered a non-tantric work, quotations, metaphors, and key terminology can be found within tantric commentaries from the eleventh century onward.Buddha-nature theory increasingly influenced Tibetan tantric instruction particularly in reference to the mind’s inherent nature and the practitioner’s potential for realizing buddhahood in a single lifetime. Conversely, Tibetan non-tantric teachings on buddha-nature and the luminously pure nature of mind often reference directly tantric sources, terminology, and views. This blending of tantric views and non-tantric teachings on buddha nature is perhaps most evident in Mahāmudrā texts related to the concept of luminosity (prabhāsvara; ’od gsal ba). To better understand how buddha-nature theory and related views became integral to various Tibetan tantric lineage instructions, this paper will focus on the tantric commentaries of several prevalent eleventh-century authors including Atiśa Dīpaṃkara’s Lta sgom chen mo, Yu mo ba Mis bskyod rdo rje’s Gsal sgron skor bzhi, and Mar pa chos kyi blo gros’s Bsre ba skor gsum collection.
About the video
|Event||Old Topic, New Insights: Buddha-Nature at the Crossroads between Doctrine and Practice (July 2022, Prague)|
|Creation Date||July 2022|
|Citation||Kemp, Casey. "Buddha-Nature as a Path of Means: The Influence of Buddha-Nature Theory on Eleventh-Century Tibetan Tantric Instructions." Old Topic, New Insights: Buddha-Nature at the Crossroads between Doctrine and Practice. The 16th IATS Conference, Prague, July 3–9, 2022. Produced by the Tsadra Foundation Research Department. Video, 18:48. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zr8U2HiLpEE.|
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