Rta nag rin chen ye shes

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PeopleRta nag rin chen ye shes


རྟ་ནག་རིན་ཆེན་ཡེ་ཤེས་
Tanak Rinchen Yeshe(13th Century - 1345/1346) 

"Rinchen Yeshe, an expert on the five works of Maitreya, flourished in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and was primarily a teacher of Tokme Zangpo (1295–1369). He also briefly taught Dölpopa and is mentioned in Butön’s biography as an esteemed colleague." (Adapted from When the Clouds Part, p. 308.)

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"Rinchen Yeshé's careful text-critical analysis is meant to demonstrate that the Uttaratantra explicates the ultimate definitive meaning of the Tathāgatagarbhasūtra, Śrīmālādevīsūtra, Laṅkāvatārasūtra, and others..." Wangchuk, Tsering. The Uttaratantra in the Land of Snows, p. 35.

  • "Rinchen Yeshé quotes from these last-wheel sutras to show that the tathāgata-essence endowed with the marks and signs of a buddha (sangs rgyas kyi mtshan dang dpe byad) naturally exists in all sentient beings."
  • "Therefore, for Rinchen Yeshé, buddha-nature is not simply a causal potential to achieve enlightenment; rather it is endowed with an inherent enlightened entity that is naturally free from all delusions, but temporarily covered by adventitious defilements."
    Wangchuk, Tsering. The Uttaratantra in the Land of Snows, pp. 35-36
  • "He obviously contrasts the last-wheel teachings that teach ultimate definite meaning from the middle-wheel sutras such as the Prajñāpāramitāsūtras that, according to him, do not primarily teach the ultimate definitive meaning. Rather, as Rinchen Yeshé argues: 'All phenomena that are taught as empty of true existence in the middle wheel teachings, like illusions and so forth, refer [only] to conditioned conventional phenomena. The sugata-essence (bde gshegs snying po) that is explained as true and unchanging in the last wheel teachings refers to the ultimate dharma-reality, an unconditioned phenomenon.' Therefore, the middle-wheel teachings explain how conventional phenomena, such as tables, chairs, and the like, are empty of inherent existence like an illusory image. These sutras do not explicate the unconditioned ultimate truth that is primarily taught in the definitive last-wheel

sutras." Wangchuk, Tsering. The Uttaratantra in the Land of Snows, p. 36.

Though this is perhaps up for debate, he certainly sides with the works of Maitreya and the last wheel sūtras over those of the Prajñāpāramitāsūtras and the associated Madhyamaka works, which he labels as a "nihilistic emptiness (chad pa'i stong pa nyid). See Wangchuk, Tsering. The Uttaratantra in the Land of Snows, p. 36.

Technically he was more of a precursor to this view, though as an important teacher to Dölpopa, especially for the Five Treatises of Maitreya it is no wonder that the latter's view is heavily indebted to Rinchen Yeshe. See

He doesn't state this explicitly but his presentation fall within this category. For instance:

  • "...he argues, 'Because freedom from adventitious defilements is the very nature of the tathāgata-element since the primordial time, there are no afflictive emotions that need to be eliminated [from the element]. Because the perfect dharma-reality that is indivisible from enlightened qualities is the very nature of the tathāgata-element, there are no virtuous qualities that need to be newly acquired.'" Wangchuk, Tsering. The Uttaratantra in the Land of Snows, p. 35.

Other names

  • རིན་ཆེན་ཡེ་ཤེས་ · other names (Tibetan)
  • རྟ་ནག་རིན་ཡེ་ · other names (Tibetan)
  • rin chen ye shes · other names (Wylie)
  • rta nag rin ye · other names (Wylie)
  • Notes on names: There seems to be some confusion with this person and Zhang rin chen ye shes. In terms of the authorship of this work rgyud bla ma'i 'grel pa, BDRC attributes it to Zhang rin chen ye shes, while Tsering Wangchuk in The Uttaratantra in the Land of Snows repeatedly associates this work with rta nag rin chen ye shes, though this assessment seems to be based, at least partially, on the research of Cyrus Stearns found in The Buddha from Dölpo.

Affiliations & relations

  • Kadam · religious affiliation
  • smon lam mgon · teacher
  • Thogs med bzang po · student
  • Dol po pa · student