Rgyud bla ma'i rnam bshad sngon med nyi ma sogs chos tshan bzhi
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Four works including an exegesis on the Uttaratantra by an important Sakya scholar known for taking, at times, controversial stances that challenged the philosophical positions of even his own school. These works, thus, represent a unique view of buddha-nature that is unconfined by the sectarian affiliations that otherwise dominated the Tibetan philosophical landscape.
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- 1. Asserting that all sentient beings possess buddha nature
- a) Asserting buddha nature from the point of view of a nonimplicative negation, which means that it thus is not specified by buddha qualities such as the powers (Ngog and his followers)
- b) Asserting buddha nature from the point of view of an implicative negation, which means that it thus is specified by the buddha qualities (Dölpopa and his followers)
- c) Asserting buddha nature as being sheer natural purity (Gelugpas)
- d) Asserting buddha nature as the compound of natural purity and buddha qualities’ being inseparable
- (1) Asserting those qualities to be the qualities of the fruitional dharmakāya of realization (many Kagyüpas such as Pamo Trupa)
- (2) Asserting those qualities to be the qualities of the natural dharmakāya (Bodong Choglé Namgyal, 1376–1451)
- 2. Asserting that sentient beings do not possess buddha nature (Sakya Paṇḍita, Butön, and others)
As in a lot of other areas, the details of the position of Śākya Chogden(1428–1507) on the tathāgata heart differ from Gorampa’s view, as well as from virtually all other Tibetan presentations of buddha nature. According to Śākya Chogden, the pāramitāyāna teaches two types of tathāgata heart, as described in the second and third dharma wheels, respectively. The first type is the nonimplicative negation of all extremes of reference points. This tathāgata heart pervades all beings up through buddhas. However, this type of tathāgata heart is not the actual one but only the nominal tathāgata heart. Śākya Chogden says that neither the temporary position on the tathāgata heart (its being a nonimplicative negation) nor the final position (its being inexpressible) of the Niḥsvabhāvavādins provide a correct identification of the tathāgata heart. The third dharma wheel teaches the actual tathāgata heart, which is said to be of two kinds. Some of its sūtras explain that the tathāgata heart endowed with all buddha qualities is present in all sentient beings. Other sūtras take this statement as bearing an intention. Following these latter sūtras, Śākya Chogden argues that the basis of the intention of the third dharma wheel’s teachings on the tathāgata heart is mind’s natural luminosity free from all extremes of reference points, which is the sphere of personally experienced wisdom and an implicative negation. According to him, this is also what the Uttaratantra says—that the statement of the tathāgata heart’s pervading all sentient beings bears an intention and is to be interpreted correctly. He further argues that the Uttaratantra’s explanation of the basis of intention in teaching the tathāgata heart was misunderstood by Tibetan thinkers as an explanation of the actual tathāgata heart. (p. 79)
- 269. Tib. Śākya mchog ldan.
- 270. The following summary is largely based on Komarovski 2006 and 2010.
- 271. For example, Śākya Chogden says that the Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra ’s presentation of tathāgatagarbha is not of definitive meaning but of expedient meaning. That the Uttaratantra explains the teaching of the tathāgata heart’s pervading all sentient beings as being interpretive and as having a veiled intent (mind’s natural luminosity) is regarded by him as an authoritative view of Alīkākāravāda ("False Aspectarian"). At least in his later works after 1477, Śākya Chogden classifies Alīkākāra Yogācāra as a subcategory of Madhyamaka, while he treats Satyākāra ("Real Aspectarian") Yogācāra as Mere Mentalism. Therefore, it seems safe to argue that whenever a sūtra states that tathāgatagarbha pervades all beings, that sūtra (or at least that passage in it) should be taken as interpretive or expedient according to Śākya Chogden’s interpretation of Alīkākāravāda. Note though that his writings do not provide any lists of sūtras of definitive meaning and expedient meaning in general or within the third dharma wheel (personal communication from Yaroslav Komarovski, October 20, 2013).
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