Sa skya paN+Di ta
On the topic of this person
Philosophical positions of this person
There is some discrepancy between Sapen's use of the term tathāgata-essence and buddha-nature and other thinkers that use these terms synonymously. In Sapen's view, sentient beings do not possess the former, but do possess a more general form of the latter. So while the answer is a qualified "no" in terms of the more general debate on this issue and the way others have addressed it and asserted Sapen's position, strictly speaking from Sapen's view the answer could more accurately be a qualified "yes" as he does state all beings have a basic "inherent" buddha-nature, though this does not correspond to an essence that is endowed with enlightened qualities. The tricky issue being the equivalency of these terms tathāgata-essence and buddha-nature and the perception of the Sakya position by later authors.
- "In verses 59-63 of Sapen's Distinguishing the Three Vows, he argues against the presentation of the existence of a tathāgata-essence or sugata-essence endowed with enlightened qualities in sentient beings. Sapen demonstrates that such a position would be tantamount to holding the view of the Sāṃkhya School, that the "result is present in its cause." Wangchuk, Tsering, The Uttaratantra in the Land of Snows, p. 27.
- "It is evident from Distinguishing the Three Vows that the tathāgata-essence endowed with enlightened qualities does not exist in sentient beings. But does that mean that Sapen completely rejects the existence of tathāgata-essence in sentient beings?" Wangchuk, Tsering, The Uttaratantra in the Land of Snows, pp. 27-28.
- "In Distinguishing the Three Vows, Sapen argues that tathāgata-essence, sugata-essence, buddha-essence, and buddha-element are synonyms, but, interestingly, he never mentions the associated term "buddha-nature" in this context. However, in his Illuminating the Thoughts of the Buddha (thub pa'i dgongs pa rab tu gsal ba), Sapen explains buddha-nature in this way: "The inherent [buddha-]nature exists in all sentient beings. The developmental [buddha-]nature exists [from the time that] one has developed bodhicitta. [The latter] does not exist in those who have not developed [bodhicitta]....So Sapen obviously has a problem accepting tathāgata-essence teachings as definitive, whereas he has no issue asserting that buddha-nature exists in all beings." Wangchuk, Tsering, The Uttaratantra in the Land of Snows, p. 28.
He predates the distinction but is clearly in line with the rangtong perspective.
"An opinion shared by rNgog and Sapan is that Buddha-nature should be understood in the sense of emptiness. The difference is that rNgog directly equates Buddha-nature with emptiness, whereas Sapan regards the intentional ground (dgongs gzhi) of Buddha-nature to be emptiness." Kano, K., Buddha-Nature and Emptiness, pp. 309-310.
- ཀུན་དགའ་རྒྱལ་མཚན་ · other names (Tibetan)
- ས་སྐྱ་པཎྜི་ཏ་ཀུན་དགའ་རྒྱལ་མཚན་ · other names (Tibetan)
- kun dga' rgyal mtshan · other names (Wylie)
- sa skya paN+Di ta kun dga' rgyal mtshan · other names (Wylie)
- Sapaṇ · other names
- Sapen · other names
- Sapan · other names
Affiliations & relations
- Grandson of Sa chen kun dga' snying po and nephew of rje btsun grags pa rgyal mtshan and bsod nams rtse mo, and uncle of chos rgyal 'phags pa. · familial relation
- Sakya · religious affiliation
- Śākyaśrībhadra · teacher
- rje btsun grags pa rgyal mtshan · teacher
- gu ru chos kyi dbang phyug · student
- chos rgyal 'phags pa · student
- yang dgon pa rgyal mtshan dpal · student
- lho pa kun mkhyen rin chen dpal · student