Sina Joos at the 2019 Tathāgatagarbha Symposium

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Sina Joos discusses the ways in which Tāranātha utilizes the famous nine examples from the Ratnagotravibhāga in his Dbu ma theg mchog to assert his understanding of buddha-nature as zhentong (other-emptiness). She also compares Tāranātha’s position on Buddha-nature to Dolpopa's own view.

Abstract from the Author

The Role of the Ratnagotravibhāga in Tā ra nā tha’s dBu ma theg mchog

Tā ra nā tha (1575-1635) is considered second in importance to Dol po pa Shes rab rgyal mtshan (1292-1361) regarding the proclamation of gzhan stong and the number of his authored works. He clarified and expanded Dol po pa’s exegesis of gzhan stong unlike anyone before him. Tā ra nā tha’s dBu ma theg mchog covers a variety of topics relevant to the gzhan stong view, including essential Mahāyāna concepts that range from Yogācāra to Madhyamaka and from the Laṅkāvatārasūtra to the Tathāgatagarbhasūtra.

In the third chapter of the dBu ma theg mchog, Tā ra nā tha gives a detailed presentation of buddha-nature, which he equates to the dharmadhātu and suchness. The Ratnagotravibhāga is quoted extensively and exclusively in this chapter, while the Mahāyānasūtrālaṁkāra is quoted throughout the dBu ma theg mchog. This chapter is divided into nine main points, and the fourth point alone, referred to as “endowed with all aspects,” is illustrated by six verses from the Ratnagotravibhāga. However, also most of the other points (permanence, pervasion, wakefulness, unmixed/untainted and union) are attested by direct quotes from the Ratnagotravibhāga.

This study will examine the ways in which Tā ra nā tha utilizes the Ratnagotravibhāga in his dBu ma theg mchog to assert his understanding of buddha-nature as gzhan stong. It will be based on the root text as well as the commentary written by Tā ra nā tha’s disciple Ye shes rgya mtsho according to direct yearly instructions from Tā ra nā tha himself. As Tā ra nā tha is known to have expanded and systemized Dol po pa’s view, Tā ra nā tha’s position will also be compared to that of Dol po pa.

Sources Mentioned

Secondary Publications Mentioned

People Mentioned

1575 ~ 1634
Dölpopa Sherab Gyaltsen
1292 ~ 1361
Kunga Yeshe Gyatso
16th/17th century
Śākya Chokden
1428 ~ 1507
Ngok Lotsāwa Loden Sherab
1059 ~ 1109
Sakya Paṇḍita
1182 ~ 1251
Butön Rinchen Drup
1290 ~ 1364
Featuring Sina Joos
Creator Universität Wien, Tsadra Foundation
Event Tathāgatagarbha Across Asia (18 July 2019, University of Vienna, Austria)
Related Website Buddha-Nature Project
Video Web Location Tathāgatagarbha Across Asia
Creation Date 18 July 2019
Citation Joos, Sina. "The Role of the Ratnagotravibhāga in Tā ra nā tha’s dBu ma theg mchog." Paper presented at the University of Vienna Symposium, Tathāgatagarbha Across Asia, Vienna, Austria, July 2019. Video, 40:46.