David Higgins at the 2019 Tathāgatagarbha Symposium

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David Higgins at the 2019 Tathāgatagarbha Symposium - 9 of 23
David Higgins explores the Eighth Karmapa Mikyö Dorje’s (1507–1554) prolific writings on tathāgatagarbha, which contain several extended discussions on the topic of how buddha-nature relates to different conceptions of selfhood.

Abstract from the Author

Buddha-Nature and Selfhood
The eighth Karma pa Mi bskyod rdo rje’s (1507–1554) prolific writings on tathāgatagarbha contain several extended disquisitions on the topic of how buddha-nature relates to different conceptions of selfhood. On the one hand, he broadly rejects, along the lines of standard Madhyamaka critiques of the belief in self (ātmagrāha), any equation between buddha-nature and a self. While his critiques take in the controversial current of early Indian buddha-nature theory that had equated buddha-nature with a true self, their primary target is 'Gos Lo tsā ba gZhon nu dpal’s (1392-1481) identification of buddha-nature with a subtle self, which was allegedly made under the tutelage of Tsong kha pa Blo bzang grags pa’s (1357–1419) conception of a subtle self. On the other hand, the Karma pa does accept a conception of authentic selfhood or transcendent perfection of self (ātmapāramitā) advanced in certain Tathāgatagarbha and Buddhist tantric texts that is said to be realized precisely through understanding selflessness. A touchstone of his attempt to reconcile these two seemingly antithetical views on the relationship between buddha-nature and selfhood is to regard them as complementary rather than contradictory. On this view, the negation of self is regarded as an indispensable moment in the discovery of authentic selfhood, which is in this case synonymous with dharmakāya and resultant buddha-nature. This presentation will explore the broad range of Indian and Tibetan views on buddha-nature and selfhood considered by Mi bskyod rdo rje and show how he presented and defended his own tradition’s position in relation or reaction to these.

Sources Mentioned

Secondary Publications Mentioned

People Mentioned

Eighth Karmapa Mikyö Dorje
1507 ~ 1554
Gö Lotsāwa Zhönu Pal
1392 ~ 1481
1357 ~ 1419
The Second Pawo Tsuklak Trengwa
1504 ~ 1566
Śākya Chokden
1428 ~ 1507
Gyaltsap Je Dharma Rinchen
1364 ~ 1432
Rendawa Zhönu Lodrö
1349 ~ 1412
Sönam Gyaltsen
1312 ~ 1375
Featuring David Higgins
Creator University of Vienna, Tsadra Foundation
Event Tathāgatagarbha Across Asia (, University of Vienna, Austria)
Related Website Buddha-Nature Project
Video Web Location Tathāgatagarbha Across Asia
Creation Date 17 July 2019
Citation Higgins, David. "Buddha-Nature and Selfhood." Paper presented at the University of Vienna Symposium, Tathāgatagarbha Across Asia, Vienna, Austria, July 2019. Video, 41:28. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHzI1PxptpI.