Presenting a Controversial Doctrine in a Conciliatory Way: Mkhan chen Gang shar dbang po's (1925–1958-59?) Inclusion of Gzhan stong ("Emptiness of Other") within Prāsaṅgika

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Presenting a Controversial Doctrine in a Conciliatory Way: Mkhan chen Gang shar dbang po's (1925–1958-59?) Inclusion of Gzhan stong ("Emptiness of Other") within Prāsaṅgika
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Citation: Mathes, Klaus-Dieter. "Presenting a Controversial Doctrine in a Conciliatory Way: Mkhan chen Gang shar dbang po's (1925–1958/59?) Inclusion of Gzhan stong ("Emptiness of Other") within Prāsaṅgika." Journal of Buddhist Philosophy 2, no. 1 (2016): 114–31.

Article Summary

In . . . "Presenting a Controversial Doctrine in a Conciliatory Way: Mkhan-chen Gang-shar dbang-po’s (1925-1958/59?) Inclusion of Gzhan-stong ('Emptiness of Other') within Prāsaṅgika," I investigate the gzhan stong position of an influential rNying-ma-pa thinker, a learned master from Zhe-chen Monastery, who was among other things, a highly esteemed teacher of Thrangu Rinpoche, and thus influential in the latter's own understanding of gzhan stong. Unlike Dol-po-pa or Shākya-mchog-ldan, mKhan-po Gang-shar does not present his gzhan stong against the backdrop of the three natures theory, but rather elucidates the distinction he makes between rang stong and gzhan stong within a Prāsaṅgika Madhyamaka framework. In a way similar to Klong-chen-pa, Gang-shar insists that everything from material form up to omniscience is rang stong only. This is when the two truths are presented as appearance and emptiness in terms of valid cognition that analyzes for the ultimate abiding nature. In the context of a conventional valid cognition, however, which analyzes for the mode of appearances (i.e., perception), the two truths are defined in terms of the way things appear versus the way they truly are. When the abiding nature is perceived as it truly is, there is still awareness, albeit in a form beyond the duality of ordinary perception. For Gang shar it is only in this phenomenological sense that the rang stong of samsara and gzhan stong of nirvāṇa need to be distinguished. (Mathes, "Introduction: The History of the Rang stong/Gzhan stong Distinction," 7)