Martina Draszczyk at the 2019 Tathāgatagarbha Symposium

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Martina Draszczyk at the 2019 Tathāgatagarbha Symposium
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Martina Draszczyk discusses the early Kagyu masters and explores how their meditation-oriented approach is based in both affirming buddha-nature as the ground and goal of Buddhist soteriology and avoiding its reification into an entity with real properties.

Abstract from the Author

Buddha Nature as Seen by Early Bka’ brgyud Masters
Sgam po pa (1079-1153), whose way of teaching had such an impact on his disciples that the traditions evolving from them were all summed up under the umbrella Dwags po Bka’ brgyud, is well known for his Precious Ornament of Liberation (Thar pa rin po che’i rgyan). He begins this Mahāyāna manual by emphasizing that the very basis for the spiritual process culminating in awakening is *sugatagarbha and proceeds to identify buddha-nature with emptiness. On a first glance this seems to resemble presentations of buddha-nature from a negating perspective. However, in a number of his other teachings recorded by his disciples and collected in his gSung ‘bum, he is very specific in his understanding of mind’s emptiness. In his Excellent Qualities, Teachings to the Assembly (Tshogs chos yon tan phun tshogs), he points out that mind is not mere essencelessness, but rather coemergent wisdom which he in turn equates with natural awareness (tha mal gyi shes pa), both key terms of Bka’ brgyud Mahāmudrā. While Sgam po pa rather uses this terminology and hardly ever the term buddha-nature, La yag pa (12 c.), one of his immediate disciples, explicitly equates nonarising, coemergent wisdom and natural awareness with buddha-nature imbued with inconceivable buddha qualities. A century later, during the time of the Third Karma pa (1284–1339), it had become standard that Bka’ brgyud masters equated natural awareness with buddha-nature endowed with qualities while simultaneously refraining from attributing any substantial quality to it. This paper’s intention is to take a closer look at the early masters and explore how their meditation-oriented approach is based in both affirming buddha-nature as the ground and goal of Buddhist soteriology and avoiding its reification into an entity with real properties.

Sources Mentioned

Secondary Publications Mentioned

People Mentioned

Gampopa
1079 ~ 1153
Herbert V. Guenther
1917 ~ 2006
Chayulpa Zhonnu Ö
1075 ~ 1138
Chakriwa
11th century
Milarepa
1052 ~ 1135
Atiśa
982 ~ 1054
Marpa Chökyi Lodrö
1012 ~ 1097
Nāropa
1012/1016 ~ 1100
Maitrīpa
986 ~ 1063
Ngok Lotsāwa Loden Sherab
1059 ~ 1109
Tsen Khawoche
1021
Sajjana
11th century
Bhāvaviveka
500 ~ 578
Kamalaśīla
713/740 ~ 763/795
Jñānaśrīmitra
975/980 ~ 1025/1030
Jayānanda
11th century ~ 12th century
Śākya Chokden
1428 ~ 1507
Gö Lotsāwa Zhönu Pal
1392 ~ 1481
Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Taye
1813 ~ 1899
Maitreya
Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje
1284 ~ 1339
Layakpa Jangchub Ngödrup
early 12th century ~ late 12th century
Pakmodrupa Dorje Gyalpo
1110 ~ 1170
Featuring Martina Draszczyk
Creator University of Vienna, Tsadra Foundation
Event Tathāgatagarbha Across Asia (17 July 2019, University of Vienna, Austria)
Related Website Buddha-Nature Project
Video Web Location Tathāgatagarbha Across Asia
Creation Date 17 July 2019
Citation Draszczyk, Martina. "Buddha Nature as Seen by Early Bka’ brgyud Masters." Paper presented at the University of Vienna Symposium, Tathāgatagarbha Across Asia, Vienna, Austria, July 2019. Video, 37:27. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoMUdg40Qv8.