Gzhan stong dbu ma chen po'i lta khrid rdo rje zla ba dri ma med pa'i 'od zer

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LibraryCommentariesGzhan stong dbu ma chen po'i lta khrid rdo rje zla ba dri ma med pa'i 'od zer


གཞན་སྟོང་དབུ་མ་ཆེན་པོའི་ལྟ་ཁྲིད་རྡོ་རྗེ་ཟླ་བ་དྲི་མ་མེད་པའི་འོད་ཟེར།
gzhan stong dbu ma chen po'i lta khrid rdo rje zla ba dri ma med pa'i 'od zer
Immaculate Light Rays of the Vajra Moon: Instructions on the View of Other-Emptiness of Great Madhyamaka
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Written at Dzamtang, a monastic city in southern Amdo that is the primary institutional base of the Jonang school, this work by the famed Kagyu scholar Jamgön Kongtrul is characterized by Brunnhölzl as "an eclectic blend of what could be called "Kagyü Shentong" (primarily based on Maitrīpa, the Third and Seventh Karmapas, and the Eighth and Ninth Situpas) and "Jonang Shentong" (based on Dölpopa and especially Tāranātha), as well as some elements of Śākya Chogden’s Shentong."
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Description from When the Clouds Part

Jamgön Kongtrul’s GISM begins by identifying the general sources of Shentong as the sūtras of the third turning as well as the works of Maitreya, Nāgārjuna, Asaṅga, their successors, Su Gawé Dorje, Dsen Kawoché, the Third Karmapa, Dölpopa, Longchenpa, the Seventh Karmapa, Śākya Chogden, Tāranātha, the Eight Situpa, the Thirteenth Karmapa, and the Ninth Situpa. Among the two sources of guiding instructions on the view, the specific source of the instructions in GISM is said to be Maitrīpa’s tradition with its emphasis on the intended meaning of the Uttaratantra, which was further transmitted through Ratnavajra, Sajjana, and so on. This approach corresponds to what Jamgön Kongtrul calls "sūtra Mahāmudrā" in his TOK (see above). However, in accordance with Dölpopa and his followers, GISM also speaks about the vajrayāna aspect of the Shentong system by presenting the completion stage practice of the Kālacakratantra as mainly transmitted in the Jonang tradition. The second source of guiding instructions on the view is identified by GISM as the well-known Kagyü approach of Marpa—the uncommon Mahāmudrā of the union of sūtra and tantra.

      The structure of the actual guiding instructions in GISM thus consists of (1) the sūtra approach and (2) the tantra approach. (1) The sūtra approach is discussed in two parts: (a) what is to be understood (the two approaches of the Niḥsvabhāvavādins and the Yogācāras) and (b) the actual practice. The practice consists of the preliminaries (contemplating the four seals in accordance with the first turning of the wheel of dharma) and the main practice. The latter has three parts: refuge and bodhicitta, resting in freedom from reference points in accordance with the second turning, and pointing out and distinguishing existence, nonexistence, and so on, in accordance with the third turning and the vajrayāna based on calm abiding and superior insight. (2) The vajrayāna approach consists of two parts: (a) what is to be understood and (b) the main practice (the six-branch yoga of the Kālacakratantra). The text concludes with presenting the benefit of these instructions and practices as well as a brief account of the Shentong lineage through the Jonang tradition and its transmission to the Nyingma and Kagyü lineages.

      In this vein, it is noteworthy that Jamgön Kongtrul wrote his GISM at the main seat of the Jonang lineage in Dzamtang after having received teachings from the Jonang lineage holder Ngawang Chöpel Gyatso (c. 1788–1865), the teacher of the famous Bamda Tubten Gelé Gyatso (1844– 1904). Generally speaking, Jamgön Kongtrul’s works, as represented by the contents and the Shentong lineage in GISM as well as the discussions of Shentong in TOK, present a Shentong system that is an eclectic blend of what could be called "Kagyü Shentong" (primarily based on Maitrīpa, the Third and Seventh Karmapas, and the Eighth and Ninth Situpas) and "Jonang Shentong" (based on Dölpopa and especially Tāranātha), as well as some elements of Śākya Chogden’s Shentong.

      Similar to several of Mönlam Tsültrim’s texts, both the contents and terminology of GISM’s sūtra approach accord not only with Shentong but also very much with Mahāmudrā instructions. Synonyms for mind’s nature include the emptiness endowed with all supreme aspects, natural luminosity, Mahāmudrā, and the tathāgata heart. This tathāgata heart is the basis of all appearances of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa and, at present, is the self-aware wisdom that is lucid and unceasing. GISM speaks about "mental nonengagement" and meditating in the manner of not meditating. It refers to the triad of mind’s stillness, movement, and awareness and that it is essential to recognize naked awareness in anything that the mind may appear as. All appearances and experiences are said to be self-arising and self-liberated, without ever tainting the essence of this awareness. Thus, there is nothing to meditate on apart from solely recognizing this basic nature. The text also speaks about "searching for the mind"—the common Mahāmudrā approach of cultivating superior insight through searching for any essence or characteristics of the still mind and whether it is different from the moving mind. GISM even mentions two among the four deviations from emptiness that are taught in Mahāmudrā ("deviating from emptiness by mistaking it as the path" and "deviating from emptiness as the fundamental ground of all knowable objects"). In addition, the text also contains many Yogācāra elements, such as the eight consciousnesses and the imaginary nature of the adventitious stains.

      As for establishing the scriptural connections between sūtra Shentong, Mahāmudrā, and the Uttaratantra, GISM quotes the Sthirādhyāśayaparivartasūtra on the ultimate three jewels and then uses crucial verses from the Uttaratantra to cover the remaining four vajra points (the sequence of all seven is presented through Uttaratantra I.3). The fourth vajra point is covered by Uttaratantra I.28 (all sentient beings possess buddha nature), I.37–38 (the four pāramitās), I.51cd (its changeless nature), I.96–97 (the nine examples), and I.154–55 (the natural absence of obscurations and the intrinsic qualities of the tathāgata heart). The fifth vajra point is discussed through II.3 and II.38 (the characteristics of awakening), II.5 (awakening as possessing all buddha qualities). The sixth vajra point is covered by III.1 (the sixty-four qualities), and the seventh is covered by IV.1 (the characteristics of enlightened activity). The benefit is explained by referring to V.3–6, and the dedication consists of V.25. In this way, GISM highlights the essential points in all of the chapters of the Uttaratantra. The text also quotes Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra VI.8 and Laṅkāvatārasūtra X.256–57 on the four yogic practices. In addition, it repeatedly recommends studying Dölpopa’s Mountain Dharma: The Ocean of the Definitive Meaning. (pp. 324-327)

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Text exists in ~ Tibetan
Literary Genre ~ Guidance Texts - khrid yig