The Gzhan stong Chen mo

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The Gzhan stong Chen mo


Among the magnificently diverse syntheses of Indian Buddhist thought elaborated in Tibet, the understanding of gzhan stong (zhentong) or “extrinsic emptiness” as articulated through authors of the Jo nang tradition has come to inhabit a distinctive place within Tibetan Buddhist philosophical discourse. Exploring the history and literary heritage of gzhan stong philosophical thinking within the Jo nang tradition, we trace the sequential lineage (rings lugs) of the Jo nang pa, examining the distinctive gzhan stong view through a study and translation of the gzhi (ground) section of 'Dzam thang Mkhan po Ngag dbang Blo gros grags pa's (1920-75) seminal text titled, the “Gzhan stong Chen mo” or the “Great Exposition on Extrinsic Emptiness.”
      Part I presents the genesis of Jo nang gzhan stong thought. Situating the Jo nang within the history of Buddhism in India and Tibet, this section explores the lives of selected forefathers of the Jo nang pa and central figures in Tibet, as well as the life and works of Mkhan po Blo grags. Emphasis is placed on both the sūtra and tantra lineages of gzhan stong thought and attention is given to the specific lineage of the Kālacakra within the Jo nang.
      Part II is on the exegesis of the Tibetan Buddhist genre of Jo nang gzhan stong literature. Here, we discuss Mahāyāna Buddhist hermeneutical schemas employed by the tradition to interpret what is of definitive (nges don) and provisional (drang don) meaning, as well as the core textual basis for sūtra gzhan stong.
       Part III is an annotated translation of chapter I.A of the gzhi (ground) section of the Gzhan stong Chen mo. This part provides readers with the first English translation of a text explicitly on the gzhan stong view from a modern Jo nang author, and one of the few translations of a text from the Jo nang tradition. Here, Mkhan po Blo grags explains the abiding reality (gnas lugs) of the ground for reality, the principles that the ground relies upon, and how reality's basic ground is effulgently full of enlightened qualities while devoid of superficial phenomena.

Citation Sheehy, Michael. "The Gzhan stong Chen mo: A Study of Emptiness according to the Modern Tibetan Buddhist Jo nang Scholar 'Dzam thang Mkhan po Ngag dbang Blo gros Grags pa (1920-75)." PhD diss., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2007.