Showing posts with label Shentong. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shentong. Show all posts

 William Lim

What do the Buddhadharma make of 'awareness'? What is this sense of aliveness and existence from a Buddhist point of view?



André A. Pais

William Lim the Buddhadharma doesn't deny awareness. It just qualifies it as empty. But if it's empty (in the sutra way), then it's merely a name, a label, a convention, and it's as good as any other. It's a mere linguistic device -- and in that sense I personally prefer the formula "appearance and emptiness," which seems to trigger less our innate subjectivistic tendencies.

If awareness is empty in the tantric way, I'm not sure if it's merely a label, or if it points to something deeper that's not exactly conventional (like enlightened qualities that are somehow intrinsic to reality), and its "emptiness" just means lack of substance, etc.

Aliveness and a sense of existence would be mere luminous appearances, if you'd ask me.



William Lim

André A. Pais care to explain the difference in understanding emptiness from a sutric and tantric point of view?



André A. Pais

William Lim it's just my impression from what I've read, but in sutra emptiness is either lack of nature (nisvabhava) or freedom from reference points (nisprapanca). In this sense, awareness would be just a label, unfindable as anything else. Emptiness alone is the ultimate, nothing can be said about reality.

In tantra (except for Gelug, I guess), emptiness is inseparable from cognizance as the nature of mind, so awareness isn't merely a label, but the actual nature of reality, which is emptiness and awareness inseparable, with all enlightened qualities intrinsic to them. In this sense, I'm not sure how different it actually is from Advaita, since both posit awareness as being ultimate (even if in Buddhism it is somehow empty).

I apologize for this uncoordinated rambling.



Soh Wei Yu

William asked for my opinion so I shared with him earlier:

in Nyingma, Mipham taught that this self-illuminating nondual consciousness is also nominal


Why, then, do the Mādhyamika masters refute the Cittamātra tenet system? Because self-styled proponents of the Cittamātra tenets, when speaking of mind-only, say that there are no external objects but that the mind exists substantially—like a rope that is devoid of snakeness, but not devoid of ropeness. Having failed to understand that such statements are asserted from the conventional point of view, they believe the nondual consciousness to be truly existent on the ultimate level. It is this tenet that the Mādhyamikas repudiate. But, they say, we do not refute the thinking of Ārya Asaṅga, who correctly realized the mind-only path taught by the Buddha.

Because of the mind, the phenomena of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa arise; if there were no mind, there would be no saṃsāra and no nirvāṇa. How? It is by the power of the mind that defilements create karma, subsequently producing the process of defilement that is saṃsāra. And it is with the mind that one gives rise to the wisdom of the realization of no-self and to compassion, practices the Mahāyāna path, and thereby achieves buddhahood, whose nature is the five kinds of gnosis, the transformation of the eight consciousnesses, and the ground of all. It is with the mind, too, that the listeners and solitary realizers realize the no-self of the individual and attain nirvāṇa, beyond the suffering of grasping at existence. So the roots of defilement and purity depend on the mind. Anyone who is a Buddhist has to accept this.

So, if this so-called “self-illuminating nondual consciousness” asserted by the Cittamātrins is understood to be a consciousness that is the ultimate of all dualistic consciousnesses, and it is merely that its subject and object are inexpressible, and if such a consciousness is understood to be truly existent and not intrinsically empty, then it is something that has to be refuted. If, on the other hand, that consciousness is understood to be unborn from the very beginning (i.e. empty), to be directly experienced by reflexive awareness, and to be self-illuminating gnosis without subject or object, it is something to be established. Both the Madhyamaka and Mantrayāna have to accept this. If there were no reflexively aware gnosis, or mind of clear light, it would be impossible for there to be a mind that realizes the truth of the ultimate reality on the path of learning; and at the time of the path of no more learning, the nirvāṇa without residue, the Buddha would have no omniscient gnosis. And in that case there would be no difference between the Buddha’s nirvāṇa and the nirvāṇa of the lower vehicles, which is like the extinction of a lamp, so how could one talk about the Buddha’s bodies (kāyas), different kinds of gnosis, and inexhaustible activities?

" -

those who assert they are not nominal but truly existent has fallen into extreme views

as for the shentong views of intrinsic qualities, it can lend itself to substantialist views easily

instead one should see this way:

9/3/2012 11:38 PM: John: Namdrol pointed out diff between shentong and dzogchen... The potentiality and full form...cut and paste that as that is important.

9/3/2012 11:39 PM: Soh Wei Yu: Ok

9/3/2012 11:40 PM: Soh Wei Yu: Saved it in my email. Malcolm Smith

The problem with shentong, which CHNN has addressed many times, is that in Dzogchen the result exists as a potentiality of the basis; but in Shenton it is fully formed at all times. For this reason, in several retreats ChNN has declared that shentong is incompatible with Dzogchen.


9/4/2012 1:54 AM: John: His current practice of seeing awareness as a background

9/4/2012 1:54 AM: Soh Wei Yu: I see

9/4/2012 1:54 AM: Soh Wei Yu: I guess he won't see it as background anymore then

9/4/2012 1:54 AM: Soh Wei Yu: Doesn't seem compatible

9/4/2012 1:55 AM: John: So no awareness, whatever arises is

9/4/2012 1:55 AM: Soh Wei Yu: Ic..

9/4/2012 1:56 AM: John: U understand what namdrol mean?

9/4/2012 1:56 AM: Soh Wei Yu: Shentong? One is buddha nature is empty of any inherent attributes, manifesting according to conditions

9/4/2012 1:57 AM: Soh Wei Yu: The other is buddha nature is already replete with all the qualities of buddhahood and just needs to discove

9/4/2012 1:57 AM: John: No good...u r filling words not knowing the meaning

9/4/2012 1:58 AM: John: And what u said is completely out

9/4/2012 1:59 AM: Soh Wei Yu: I think its like what I wrote before

9/4/2012 1:59 AM: Soh Wei Yu: In the past I had the idea that there is an inherently existing Self waiting to be discovered

9/4/2012 2:00 AM: Soh Wei Yu: Now I see that everything is being "created" or actualized by conditions, nothing inherent

9/4/2012 2:00 AM: Soh Wei Yu: Including buddha-nature

9/4/2012 2:00 AM: John: How this relates to what namdrol said

9/4/2012 2:01 AM: John: Tell me line by line what he meant...u like to gross around

9/4/2012 2:09 AM: John: tell Christ, just offence.

9/4/2012 2:09 AM: John: Lol

9/4/2012 2:10 AM: Soh Wei Yu: Haha ok

9/4/2012 2:14 AM: Soh Wei Yu: Malcolm Smith

The problem with shentong, which CHNN has addressed many times, is that in Dzogchen the result exists as a potentiality of the basis; but in Shenton it is fully formed at all times. For this reason, in several retreats ChNN has declared that shentong is incompatible with Dzogchen.

59 minutes ago Like

9/4/2012 2:19 AM: Soh Wei Yu: in Dzogchen the result exists as a potentiality of the basis: means the result (buddha's qualities) arises as one of the possible appearance of luminous emptiness. But it is nothing inherently existing anywhere, merely manifest when conditions are there. It is in the form of actualizing buddha nature through conditions. "in Shenton it is fully formed at all times." The buddha qualities are inherently existing in ourselves, so there is no need for any conditions and it is only a matter of discovering something inherent. This teaching does not factor conditionality in terms of result and may have a danger of inherent view

9/4/2012 2:19 AM: Soh Wei Yu: Not sure if I'm right

9/4/2012 2:20 AM: John: Sort of

9/4/2012 2:20 AM: Soh Wei Yu: Arising as potentiality also means without conditions nothing manifest, nothing inherent

9/4/2012 2:20 AM: John: Yes

Madhyamaka, Cittamātra, and the true intent of Maitreya and Asaṅga self.Buddhism


Madhyamaka, Cittamātra, and the true intent of Maitreya and Asaṅga self.Buddhism

Madhyamaka, Cittamātra, and the true intent of Maitreya and Asaṅga self.Buddhism


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Soh Wei Yu

There is no self-standing awareness.

Excerpt from -

“Geovani Geo to me, to be without dual is not to subsume into one and although awareness is negated, it is not to say there is nothing.

Negating the Awareness/Presence (Absolute) is not to let Awareness remain at the abstract level. When such transpersonal Awareness that exists only in wonderland is negated, the vivid radiance of presence are fully tasted in the transient appearances; zero gap and zero distance between presence and moment to moment of ordinary experiences and we realize separation has always only been conventional.

Then mundane activities -- hearing, sitting, standing, seeing and sensing, become pristine and vibrant, natural and free.” – John Tan, 2020

"awareness [seen as] other than what appears is alaya." - John Tan (alaya as still a subtle state of ignorance)


John TanWednesday, September 3, 2014 at 6:02pm UTC+08

Why is he talking abt 靈妙覺體 [spiritual and marvellous body of awareness]

Soh Wei YuWednesday, September 3, 2014 at 6:03pm UTC+08

its just the luminosity?

Soh Wei YuWednesday, September 3, 2014 at 6:03pm UTC+08

what do you mean

John TanWednesday, September 3, 2014 at 6:04pm UTC+08

there is no deny of clarity or luminosity, it is the singling out of luminosity that is the problem.

John TanWednesday, September 3, 2014 at 6:04pm UTC+08

Y is luminosity luminous?

John TanWednesday, September 3, 2014 at 6:05pm UTC+08

Is an irrelevant question

John TanWednesday, September 3, 2014 at 6:09pm UTC+08

There is no such [inherently existing] clarity

John TanWednesday, September 3, 2014 at 6:11pm UTC+08

Because of inherent thought, we understand 靈妙覺體 [spiritual and marvellous body of awareness] as standalone, singled out from DO (Dependent Origination) or otherwise we r understanding it as "interaction".

John TanWednesday, September 3, 2014 at 6:12pm UTC+08

Or if conceptuality is a problem then non-conceptuality must b the solution.

John TanWednesday, September 3, 2014 at 6:13pm UTC+08

Or subsuming object into subject or subject into object...

John TanWednesday, September 3, 2014 at 6:13pm UTC+08

It is addressing this way of thinking, of understanding is a misperception.

John TanWednesday, September 3, 2014 at 6:15pm UTC+08

It is not to imply that there is no clarity...but what is clarity when it is not understood using this flawed mode of perception.

John TanWednesday, September 3, 2014 at 6:21pm UTC+08

In Buddhism, it is not how. It's always under what conditions such phenomena arises. So when this cause & condition persists, the phenomena will arise.

John TanWednesday, September 3, 2014 at 7:35pm UTC+08

First is to bring out the point to ask why appearances "arises" in Awareness is the same as asking why is awareness aware in awareness teaching. Why so? For the convention we call awareness is only ever appearances.

John TanWednesday, September 3, 2014 at 7:36pm UTC+08

Then address what is flaw mode of perception...

John TanWednesday, September 3, 2014 at 7:36pm UTC+08

As I hv given above.

John TanWednesday, September 3, 2014 at 7:37pm UTC+08

So why does appearances appear to arise in Awareness? Because of ignorance

John TanFriday, September 19, 2014 at 10:12pm UTC+08

If Buddha ask ananda, where is mind...if mind is not outside, not inside, not in the middle, not within the body...then is he ananda going to think that Buddha doesn't dare to affirm where is the mind?

John TanFriday, September 19, 2014 at 10:12pm UTC+08

Then ananda will nvr know the meaning of DO.

John TanFriday, September 19, 2014 at 10:14pm UTC+08

And the problem of how inherent thought blinds one from seeing and having direct experiential insight of what is meant by freedom from extreme.

John TanSaturday, September 20, 2014 at 10:10am UTC+08

When u present to 不思, u must not deny 觉 (awareness). But emphasized how 覺 (awareness) is effortlessly and marvelously manifests without the slightest sense of referencing and point of centricity and duality and subsuming it here, now, in, out...this can only come from realization of anatta, DO and emptiness so that the spontaneity of 相 (appearance) is realized to one's radiance clarity.


No Awareness Does Not Mean Non-Existence of Awareness


No Awareness Does Not Mean Non-Existence of Awareness

No Awareness Does Not Mean Non-Existence of Awareness


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Soh Wei Yu

Also, here's an excerpt from

Ratnashree: Again, could you give a short explanation of Shentong from the Nyingma point of view?

Khenpo: According to Shentong, they say this view comes from the third turning of the wheel. They say that third turning of the wheel is the perfect teaching whereas the first and second turning of the wheel are not perfect or complete teaching. They say when the Buddha taught the first turning of the wheel, the disciples were new level beginners, so he taught accordingly. And when he taught the second turning of the wheel, the students were a little more advanced and finally when he taught the third turning of the wheel, the disciples were the best and of the highest level. This is what the Shentongpas believe.

They believe that the Sugata Garbha (Buddha nature) is free from all negative things like negative karma, klesha (emotional defilements) and thoughts. But there is the essence ( swabhava) and it exists (has satta in Sanskrit). Shen or Para means “others” which means all negative karma, thoughts and emotional defilements ( kleshas). According to Shentong, they believe that all sentient beings have this Buddha nature, which exists. But there are two major kinds of Shentongpa. One type of Shentongpa believe that all sentient beings have Buddha nature and it has all the qualities of the Buddha from the beginning, just as a sun is there behind the clouds with all its qualities, so too all the qualities of the Buddha like the three Kayas are already present in all sentient beings.

Another type of Shentong does not agree with that. They say that all sentient beings have the Buddha nature but it doesn’t exist by itself (swabhavasiddha). It is empty but there is Buddha nature. Sentient beings have Buddha qualities. So there are two kinds of Shentongpas. Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and Dolpopa etc., believe that all sentient beings have Buddha nature from the beginning and it exists by itself that is it is not empty.

(NB: Even though it appears that the Khenpo is saying that the Dolpopa Shentong and the Karma Kagyu Shentong of Jamgon Kongtrul are the same, Jonang Taranath (1575–1634) has given 21 differences between the Dolpopa Shentong , which does not seem different from the Hindu Vedantic view, and the Karma Kagyu Shentong view which is similar to that of Shakya Chogden. For after all, the seventh Karmapa, Chödrak Gyatso (1454–1506) was a disciple of the Sakya Master Shakya Chogden (1428–1507). Some Nyingma like Minling Terchen (1646-1714), call themselves Shentongpas but when we go through this philosophy, they are not really Shentongpas like Kongtrul Rinpoches (1813-1899) and Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen (1292–1361) .

Dolpopa was born in the Dolpo region of Nepal and was affiliated to the Sakya School until he developed his Shentong view based on his Kalchakra experiences and proclaimed that no one before him got the correct view and joined and pushed the Jonang School started by the twelfth century master Yumo Mikyo Dorje. Dolpopa was among the first propagator of the Shentong view along with Yumo Mikyo Dorje who was a disciple of Somanath of Kashmir and the third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje (1284–1339), all of them were Kalachakra practitioners. However, the Kalachakra had always been interpreted with the Rangtong or Sung Zug view till then. It is educating to know that even hard core Karma Kagyu Shentongpas admit that Marpa and Milarepa were not Shentongpas).

Ratnashree: So they are the second types of Shentongpas?

Khenpo: Yeah, second type of Shentongpas.

Ratnashree: How is the view of Minling Terchen different from the view of Shakya Chogden (1428–1507), who is also like the Shentongpa? Some Sakyapas call Shakya Chogden, a Shentongpa, while some say he is not really a Shentongpa?

Khenpo: Shakya Chogden’s view is very close to the Kagyupa view and Gorampa has refuted him. According to Shakya Chogden also all beings have Buddha nature and it has all the qualities of the Buddha from the beginning. But Minling Terchen says that there are qualities but they do not really exist, they are also empty.

Byoma Kusuma Buddhadharma Sangha


Byoma Kusuma Buddhadharma Sangha

Byoma Kusuma Buddhadharma Sangha


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 [8/5/23, 12:36:45 AM] Awakening to Reality Blog : ‎Messages and calls are end-to-end encrypted. No one outside of this chat, not even WhatsApp, can read or listen to them.

[8/5/23, 12:36:45 AM] Awakening to Reality Blog : ‎You created group “Awakening to Reality Blog ”

[8/5/23, 12:36:48 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Hi

[8/5/23, 12:38:13 AM] Yin Ling: Got it! Hi both haha

[8/5/23, 12:38:17 AM] Yin Ling: Thanks

[8/5/23, 12:38:36 AM] Yin Ling: First thing I’m going to do is to delete all the all posts of mine u saved 😂

[8/5/23, 12:38:44 AM] Soh Wei Yu: 🤣🤣🤣

[8/5/23, 12:38:48 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Pls dont hahahah

[8/5/23, 12:39:05 AM] Yin Ling: Long time I want to do that already

[8/5/23, 12:39:07 AM] Yin Ling: Lol

[8/5/23, 12:39:12 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Lol

[8/5/23, 8:33:57 AM] John Tan: I was telling soh to shift those conversations including fb comments into other places.  The current ATR blog is like a dumping ground.🤦

[8/5/23, 12:40:44 PM] Yin Ling: It’s a huge blog haha. But the link of the right should help direct others I guess . 

But my older posts are confusing.😅those need to go lol

[8/5/23, 12:41:13 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Replace with your newer posts then 😂

[8/5/23, 12:42:28 PM] Yin Ling: Lol noooo

[8/5/23, 12:42:41 PM] Yin Ling: Most of what ppl needs to read for guidance have been written

[8/5/23, 12:42:48 PM] Yin Ling: I think they just didn’t go and read it lol

‎[8/5/23, 7:07:07 PM] Soh Wei Yu: ‎<attached: 00000018-PHOTO-2023-05-08-19-07-07.jpg>

[8/5/23, 7:15:51 PM] Yin Ling: Hahaha yeah I sign in using another acc. Is that ok?

[8/5/23, 7:16:13 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Yeah no problem just wanted to check

[8/5/23, 7:16:17 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Later kena hacked lol

[8/5/23, 7:16:31 PM] Yin Ling: Haha 👌

[8/5/23, 8:25:30 PM] John Tan: Jessie?

[8/5/23, 8:25:39 PM] John Tan: Ahha🤦‍♂️

[8/5/23, 8:37:02 PM] Yin Ling: 🤣 my email was created when I was 12 😂 after watching a cowboy show 🤦🏻‍♀️

‎[8/5/23, 8:39:27 PM] Yin Ling: ‎

[8/5/23, 8:40:28 PM] Yin Ling: It’s from a monk I don’t personally know but got added on in fb and then I got emailed 😂amituofo

[8/5/23, 9:46:38 PM] Soh Wei Yu: For these kind of people i just paste them my standard template:


Thought this might interest you, on nondual awareness and its nature and the subtleties of insight:

[8/5/23, 9:46:41 PM] Soh Wei Yu: 🤣

‎[8/5/23, 9:47:23 PM] Soh Wei Yu: ‎<attached: 00000030-PHOTO-2023-05-08-21-47-23.jpg>

[8/5/23, 10:45:50 PM] Yin Ling: I tried reply once already, but cannot pass through. I think I will stop. Haha. Abit hard for me to talk to monks as Though I know better , just a weird situation

[8/5/23, 10:46:20 PM] Yin Ling: My god so many 😶‍🌫️

[8/5/23, 11:08:15 PM] John Tan: Yin Ling, the shengtong vs rangtong u pasted is from which book?

‎[8/5/23, 11:32:46 PM] Yin Ling: ‎

‎[8/5/23, 11:33:05 PM] Yin Ling: 

[8/5/23, 11:33:25 PM] Yin Ling: I don’t get it 😅

[8/5/23, 11:49:28 PM] John Tan: Lol no wonder

[8/5/23, 11:52:00 PM] John Tan: Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche is Nyingma and champions the shengtong view.  I think Malcolm ever confronted him and said that habouring that sort of view is no different from advaita view.

[8/5/23, 11:52:56 PM] John Tan: Wei yu may have the text since he compiles Malcolm answers and comments

[8/5/23, 11:54:50 PM] Yin Ling: Oooo I see

[8/5/23, 11:56:14 PM] Yin Ling: But describing shentong as “aware and empty” . I find that makes sense no?

[8/5/23, 11:56:32 PM] Yin Ling: But rangtong makes sense too . All makes sense 😅😅😅

[8/5/23, 11:57:39 PM] John Tan: However it is not exactly wrong to emphasize clarity/awareness when one somehow missed the "clarity" aspect when negating inherent ness of refried mental constructs.  In order words, negation involves 2 authentications of critical insights: one is in clear seeing of how refried constructs is mistaken as real,

And 2, the direct recognition that appearances are one's empty clarity.

[8/5/23, 11:58:58 PM] Yin Ling: Yes Rangtong emphasise the former. And sheng tong emphasise the latter. 

But what I don’t understand is how do their experiential insight differs?

[8/5/23, 11:59:22 PM] Yin Ling: Can you have one without the other ? 😅 I can’t imagine

[8/5/23, 11:59:39 PM] John Tan: It is not their experiential insights differ, it is how it unfolds.

[9/5/23, 12:01:33 AM] John Tan: The two can be treated as separate which resulted in 外道 view.  Means direct taste of clarity yet without realizing it's empty nature.  This resulted in self-view.

[9/5/23, 12:03:37 AM] Yin Ling: I see.

[9/5/23, 12:04:11 AM] John Tan: For example, one can have very powerful experiences and authentication of clarity as "I-I" in phase one as in my case or sim's case but still not realized that sound, sensations, thoughts...etc (appearances) as one's radiance claritym

[9/5/23, 12:04:52 AM] John Tan: Then when we authenticate that later in anatta insight it becomes very clear.

[9/5/23, 12:05:46 AM] John Tan: For these practitioners, clarity/presence/awareness is nothing special at all and more often than not, it is missed understood.

[9/5/23, 12:09:13 AM] John Tan: Appearances are treated as external.  Even in the case of non-dual where it is clearly experienced, it is still treated that Self is special and something beyond.  Which is a mis-conception due to our inherent pattern of analysing things.

[9/5/23, 12:09:13 AM] Yin Ling: I see

[9/5/23, 12:11:31 AM] Yin Ling: So is this what Rangtong is trying to put forth?

[9/5/23, 12:13:46 AM] John Tan: These practitioners (shengtong) do not understand "self-aware" as "sounds hear itself" as u wrote or as how u understand satipathanna sutta.  They see "self-aware" as a special Awareness apart from luminous appearances.  Many can't get around that.

[9/5/23, 12:15:52 AM] John Tan: Rangtong is pointing out what u r saying.  Rangtong is not against appearances or union of appearances and emptiness.  Shengtong can be skewed towards pointing some super awareness which is advaita.

[9/5/23, 12:16:19 AM] Yin Ling: Oohh I see. Thanks. Understand now

[9/5/23, 12:16:41 AM] Soh Wei Yu: I skim through mountain doctrine on dolpopa texts before

[9/5/23, 12:16:50 AM] Soh Wei Yu: To me no different from advaita at all lol

[9/5/23, 12:16:53 AM] Soh Wei Yu:

‎[9/5/23, 12:16:59 AM] Soh Wei Yu: ‎

‎[9/5/23, 12:17:00 AM] Soh Wei Yu: ‎

‎[9/5/23, 12:17:01 AM] Soh Wei Yu: ‎

[9/5/23, 12:17:10 AM] Soh Wei Yu: But that is the founder of shentong

[9/5/23, 12:17:23 AM] Soh Wei Yu: The modern proponents of shentong, often are clear about anatta and empty clarity

[9/5/23, 12:17:58 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Even thrangu rinpoche taught the view of shentong but instead of the original “empty of everything else but not itself” he taught shentong as even ultimate is empty

[9/5/23, 12:18:12 AM] John Tan: However there r some rangtong practitioners that somehow does not get the clarity part but those are not the teaching of rangtong.

[9/5/23, 12:18:16 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Which imo seems to be different from the original dolpopa teaching but more aligned with anatta

[9/5/23, 12:18:43 AM] John Tan: Yes

[9/5/23, 12:19:38 AM] John Tan: It is simply tradition and sect biasedness to present rangtong as denying clarity.

[9/5/23, 12:19:44 AM] John Tan: 🤣🤦

[9/5/23, 12:20:32 AM] John Tan: Mipham also rejected shengtong.

[9/5/23, 12:21:13 AM] John Tan: Tibetan Buddhism has this problem of stereotyping and present one-sided view.🤣

[9/5/23, 12:21:37 AM] Yin Ling: Yeah to me this book seems to say Shengtong emphasise clarity whilst rangtong emphaisse emptiness of inherent existence (freedom from elaboration) but they know the other insight . 

So I was wondering why do their experiential insight differs and why do they keep arguing lol

[9/5/23, 12:21:47 AM] Yin Ling: Ya

[9/5/23, 12:22:06 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Yeah.. i read even longchenpa anticipated and rejected shentong even if he lived before his times. He rejected the buddha nature is empty of everything else but its own existence kind of view

[9/5/23, 12:22:08 AM] Yin Ling: I see

[9/5/23, 12:24:32 AM] John Tan: In Buddha's time, there is no need to emphasize Presence and clarity.  It is the Orthodox view and taught in the vedas, upanishads, bagavatgita  throughout india.  This do not require the birth of Buddha to point out.

[9/5/23, 12:24:36 AM] Yin Ling: But it feels like an insult to shentong intelligence to say they don’t know Buddha nature is empty?

[9/5/23, 12:25:04 AM] Yin Ling: Yup

[9/5/23, 12:25:13 AM] Yin Ling: Hence he teaches no self

[9/5/23, 12:26:32 AM] Yin Ling: But now I see the point of all these arguments and debates in Tibetan Buddhism 😝

[9/5/23, 12:26:35 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Depends on who the shentong writer is.. some teachers like thrangu and many others are v clear.. still i find most buddhist teachers are also not clear today. Mostly awareness teachings

[9/5/23, 12:26:40 AM] John Tan: There maybe an overemphasis of emptiness without clarity that gave birth to yogacara teaching to bring out this clarity aspect.

[9/5/23, 12:27:49 AM] Yin Ling: Ya there is an opinion that yogscara needs to be combined with madhyamaka to produce insight in this book 🤣

‎[9/5/23, 12:27:55 AM] Soh Wei Yu: ‎

[9/5/23, 12:28:02 AM] Yin Ling: I forgot who said. Jamgon kongtrul I think

[9/5/23, 12:28:03 AM] Soh Wei Yu:

[9/5/23, 12:28:37 AM] Soh Wei Yu: This part.. which is the general understanding of shentong from the start shld be criticised.  But ppl like thrangu rinpoche doesnt see that way when explaining shentong

[9/5/23, 12:28:46 AM] John Tan: Shengtong and Rangtong are invention of tibetans inherited from the roots of madhyamaka and yogacara in India.

[9/5/23, 12:28:47 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Also it will fall under same criticism as this:

[9/5/23, 12:29:24 AM] Yin Ling: Ooohhhhh now I see

[9/5/23, 12:29:59 AM] Soh Wei Yu: “

Also, Mipham Rinpoche, one of the most influential masters of the Nyingma school wrote :

...Why, then, do the Mādhyamika masters refute the Cittamātra tenet system? Because self-styled proponents of the Cittamātra tenets, when speaking of mind-only, say that there are no external objects but that the mind exists substantially—like a rope that is devoid of snakeness, but not devoid of ropeness. Having failed to understand that such statements are asserted from the conventional point of view, they believe the nondual consciousness to be truly existent on the ultimate level. It is this tenet that the Mādhyamikas repudiate. But, they say, we do not refute the thinking of Ārya Asaṅga, who correctly realized the mind-only path taught by the Buddha...

...So, if this so-called “self-illuminating nondual consciousness” asserted by the Cittamātrins is understood to be a consciousness that is the ultimate of all dualistic consciousnesses, and it is merely that its subject and object are inexpressible, and if such a consciousness is understood to be truly existent and not intrinsically empty, then it is something that has to be refuted. If, on the other hand, that consciousness is understood to be unborn from the very beginning (i.e. empty), to be directly experienced by reflexive awareness, and to be self-illuminating gnosis without subject or object, it is something to be established. Both the Madhyamaka and Mantrayāna have to accept this...”

[9/5/23, 12:30:16 AM] John Tan: It is not easy to sort out all these and take some time to get use to it.

[9/5/23, 12:30:18 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Malcolm says rangtong is totally a strawman by shentong lol

[9/5/23, 12:30:26 AM] Soh Wei Yu: It doesnt actually exist

[9/5/23, 12:30:32 AM] John Tan: Ahahaha

[9/5/23, 12:31:22 AM] John Tan: This is good (Soh: pointing to the Mipham excerpt above)

[9/5/23, 12:31:46 AM] Soh Wei Yu: “Yes, realization of emptiness automatically entails having right view. 

Your next statement presumes that those debating gzhan stong and rang stong have realized emptiness.

Since rang stong is just a strawman set up by gzhan stong pas, there is really no debate between gzhan stong and rang stong since there is no rang stong Madhyamaka except in the imagination of those who call themselves "gzhan stong" Madhyamakas. 


Pure because purity has always been a nonexistence.

Sound Tantra, 3:12.5”

“I mean that there is no rang stong at all from a Madhyamaka perspective: Nāgārjuna states:

If there were something subtle not empty, there would be something subtle to be empty, 

as there is nothing not empty, where is there something to be empty?

I mean that there is no rang stong at all, apart from what the gzhan stong pas have fabricated. 

The gzhan stong controversy arose out of a need by Tibetans to reconcile the five treatises of Maitreya with Nāgārjuna's Collection of Reasoning based upon the erroneous historical idea that the five treatises were authored by the bodhisattva Maitreya rather than a human being (who incidentally was probably Asanga's teacher). 

In my opinion, the five treatises were a collection of texts meant to explicate the three main thrusts of Indian Mahāyāna sutras, Prajñāpāramita, Tathāgatagarbha, and Yogacāra. Four of the five are devoted to these three topics independently, with the Abhisamaya-alaṃkara devoted to Prajñāpāramita; Uttaratantra devoted to Tathāgatagarbha; and the two Vibhangas devoted to Yogacāra . The last, the Sutra-alaṃkara is an attempt to unify the thought of these three main trends in Mahāyāna into a single whole, from a Yogacara perspective. 

When these treatises arrived in Tibetan, at the same time, a text attributed tothe original Bhavaviveka, but probably by a later Bhavaviveka, translated under Atisha's encouragement, called Tarkajvala, presented the broad outline of what we know call today " the four tenet systems". 

In this text, the three own natures and so on were presented in a very specific way from a Madhyamaka perspective and labelled "cittamatra".

So, the gzhan stong controversy (with additional input from Vajrayāna exegesis based on a certain way of understand the three bodhisattva commentaries) is about reconciling Madhyamaka with Yogacara. 

Personally, I see no need to attempt to reconcile Madhyamaka and Yogacara. Madhyamaka is the pinnacle of sutra explication. But Tibetans did and still seem to need to do so, and they have passed on this need to their students. 

But from my perspective, one cannot go beyond freedom from extremes. 


[9/5/23, 12:35:28 AM] Yin Ling: Ooooo

[9/5/23, 12:35:31 AM] Yin Ling: Thanks

 John Tan wrote:

André A. Pais  Similar to no-self of ATR, if the pointing does not result in the direct recognition of suchness (pure appearances) free from apprehender and apprehended or recognition of appearances as one's radiance clarity, then it is not anatta proper.  Which is what imo Shentong Madhyamika is trying to emphasize with affirming-negation.

However to me, for a path that is based on reasoning and analysis, negation should be non-implicative because practitioners along the path are always dealing with a dualistic and inherent mind.  If there is no dualistic and inherent mind, then there is no need for any path as there is nothing to sever.  Hence, affirming-negation imo is less skillful as that would promote rather than sever the habitual tendency which is not the import of the analytical path.  

If one wants to talk about the self-arising wisdom, it should not be by way of reasoning and analysis, the padaegogy will have to be radically different.  It will probably have to be like dzogchen that takes the result as path.  Then emphasis should not be just non-referential ease and space-like emptiness but includes all the magic of clarity's radiance.

Also see: How should we understand Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra?

Andre shared in atr group:

John Tan:
I believe this is from khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche?  But it is neither the view of Longchenpa nor Mipham nor the founder of Nyingma Nubchen Sangye Yeshe.  I supposed u have read enough of Malcolm conversations in dharmawheel abt Shentong and Rangtong and difference between Shentong and Dzogchen 😜.

yeah longchenpa doesn't agree with shentong but he accepts tathagatagarbha as definitive
Malcolm:  It also explains why, for example, Longchenpa is not a gzhan stong pa. He considers tathāgatagarbha definitive, but places the teaching of the three natures within Yogacara and never uses them to explicate the meaning of the tathāgatagarba, since they are not necessary. There is no discussion of these in the Uttaratantra, per se. The Yogacara masters were not that interested in tathagatagarbha, quite frankly.

John Lane wrote in AtR group:

In this book (The Philosophical Foundations ……................) all mention of the words “anātma” and “no self” in the text, are in the section titled “Klong chen pa's Hermeneutics of The 3 Turnings” (pages 266-268)
In that section of the book, Longchenpa (Klong chen pa) regards “no self' (anātma) and 'emptiness' (sūnyatā)” as “merely correctives to [the beliefs in a] self and non-emptiness” and “are not of definitive meaning.” and after they have been used to undermine the reification of selves and things, they (themselves being reifications) must subside for “spontaneously present unfabricated buddha nature (understood as self-occurring primordial knowing replete with inborn qualities) to come to the fore”
Given Klong chen pa's emphasis on the primacy of primordial knowing and his construal of the path as the clearing of what obscures it, it is not surprising that in his interpretation of the so-called three turnings of the wheel of the dharma (dharmacakra), the meditative practices, of de-identification formulated in second turning teachings, on emptiness and no self are considered to be of merely provisional meaning (drang don) or in need of further interpretation. On the other hand, those third turning teachings that emphasize one's natural condition (yin lugs), primordial knowing, buddha nature are taken as definitive (nges don). In his Sems nyid ngal gso 'grel, Klong chen pa outlines his position on the three turnings:
Those who put on false airs and who are blind-folded by the golden veil of wrong views tum their back on the intended meanings of sūtras and tantras that are of definitive meaning. They declare that what is of quintessential meaning is of provisional meaning and that the main import [of the teachings] is that the 'effect' [goal-realization] occurs only if one trains in its 'causes'. Hey handsome one, wearing your lotus garland, you truly do not understand the intentions that were conveyed in the three turnings of the buddha-word. You are certainly attached to the extreme of emptiness! In this regard, the first turning of the buddha-word was intended for those who were neophytes and who were of lower capacity. Thus in order to have them tum away from samsāra by taking the four truths in terms of things to be be abandoned [suffering and its cause] and their antidotes [the cessation of suffering and the path], [the first turning] was a skilful means for them to gain complete liberation from what is to be abandoned.
The middle [turning] was intended for those who had thoroughly cleared away [these impediments] and who were of medium capacity. Thus it taught sky-like emptiness together with the eight examples (used to illustrate the emptiness of all phenomena: dream, magical illusion, reflected image, mirage, moon's reflection on water, echo, Gandharva city and apparition. Note 653) as skilful means to free them from the fetter of becoming attached to these antidotes . The final [turning] for the sake of those who had reached fulfilment and who were of sharpest capacity taught the nature of all that is knowable, as it really is. As such, it bears no similarity to the self (ātman) of the Hindu heretics because (a) these people in their ignorance speak of a "self' that does not actually exist, being a mere imputation superimposed on reality; (b) they take it as something measurable; and (c) they do not accept it is a quality of spiritual embodiment and primordial knowing (sku dang ye shes). But even this preoccupation with 'no self' (anātma) and 'emptiness' (sūnyatā) [concerns what are] merely correctives to [the beliefs in a] self and non-emptiness but which are not of definitive meaning. –Sems nyid ngal gso 'grel vol.I 329 f.
Indian and Tibetan theories of the three dharmacakras reflect varying attempts to hierarchically distinguish stages of the Buddha's teachings in line with corresponding levels of intellectual-spiritual acumen and maturation in his audience. Klong chen pa's interpretation of the three turnings regards the first two turnings as remedial steps intended to clear the way for an undistorted understanding of one's natural condition. On this account, the Buddhist emptiness and no self doctrines were initially formulated within a religio-philosophical climate rife with speculations concerning the existence of a creator God, permanent true self or selves and an unknowable absolute reality. Against this background, the Buddha's discourses concerning anātma (no self) and sūnyatā (emptiness) were offered as corrective measures with the express aim of invalidating and eliminating wrong views and extreme conclusions, particularly those based on the proclivity to take things as enduring and independently existing.
The doctrine of 'no self' was expounded both as 1) a sectarian critique of various Hindu and Jain beliefs in a self - i.e. beliefs that there is a permanent, singular, self-sufficient individuating principle that underlies and anchors the swirling flux of experience and survives death, and 2) as a psychological account of how the coarser elements of our 'sense of self' - those rooted in the sense we have of being a psychic unity that transcends actual experience - constitute fabrications or superimpositions added to our most basic experience of things and beings around us. The doctrinal belief in self can be seen to depend on the psychological sense of self; and both are undermined by realizing that things and persons lack any inherent independent nature.
Now the target of Klong chen pa's critique of reificationism is not only the first order reification of 'selves' (viz. identities of things and persons) but also the second order reifications of those very means (e.g. teachings on emptiness, no self) used to undermine first order reifications. The point being that spontaneously present unfabricated buddha nature – understood as self-occurring primordial knowing replete with inborn qualities - comes to the fore only to the extent that all such reifications have subsided. So, far from being comparable to the ontologized self of Hindu and Jain speculations, buddha nature is precisely what remains when dualistic superimpositions, especially the habitual sense of a self anchoring our everyday experiences, subsides. Buddha nature is the indivisibility of awareness and its expanse (dbyings dang ye shes 'du bral med pa) and of clarity and emptiness (snang stong dbyer med).
In sum, the Sems ye dris lan 's clear and concise formulation of what would become an increasingly central focus of the author's later works - the distinction between conditioned and unconditioned modes of being and awareness (sems versus ye shes) - and his attempt to show its affiliation with major currents of Buddhist thought make this text an indispensable source for understanding the development of this distinction and its place in classical rNying ma thought.
—Klong chen pa's Hermeneutics of The 3 Turnings (Pages 266-268)

John Tan:
Tathagatagarbha has always been accepted as definitive, just the interpretation.

Soh: [pasting more]
Soh Wei YuAuthor
Longchenpa’s definition of buddha nature as the union of emptiness and clarity and rejection of non buddhist views is consistent with what I have said above about the provisional vs definitive meaning of buddha nature.
Also, Malcolm wrote before:
“In general, it (Soh: Mahaparinirvana Sutra) should be considered provisional even by Longchenpa since it contains the doctrine of the icchantika. It is also considered provisional because it uses intentional language to discuss a self, permanence, and so on.
What Longchenpa holds to be definitive is the doctrine of tathāgatagarbha, but there are some problems if we take the whole of those ten sūtras to be "definitive."
Then of course, there is the issue of whether the tathāgatagarbha doctrine is actually definitive. Arguably, the Uttaratantra itself holds the tathāgatagarbha doctrine to be provisional.”

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Soh Wei YuAuthor
Malcolm also wrote:
“They are for Gorampa as well, providing tathāgatagarbha is properly understood. But if for example the nine examples are not correctly understood, he states the TTG sūtras are provisional.
Also, the reason Longchenpa claims the TTG sūtras are definitive has to do with how he understands them in relation to Dzogchen. He also defines Prasanga Madhyamaka as the definitive view.
In general, however, the Buddha himself declares the tathāgatagarbha doctrine provisional, that is interpretable, in the Lanka Sūtra.”

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Soh Wei YuAuthor
“Longchenpa had no problem reconciling Prasanga Madhyamaka, which he maintains is the definitive view, with tathāgatagarbha sūtras, which he maintains are the definitive sūtras. Likewise Gorampa asserts that properly understood the tathāgatagarbha doctrine is definitive and does not contradict Madhyamaka, but wrongly understood leads to a wrong view. Thus, these are not examples of squeezing tathāgatagarbha into Madhyamaka, if anyone is doing any squeezing, it is the gzhan stong pas who try to squeeze Madhyamaka, Yogacāra and tathātagatagarbha all into the same box, without much success, frankly.”

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Acarya Malcolm Smith:
"The term bdag nyid, atman, just means, in this case, "nature", i.e. referring to the nature of reality free from extremes as being permanent, blissful, pure and self. The luminosity of the mind is understood to be this.
There are various ways to interpret the Uttaratantra and tathāgatagarbha doctrine, one way is definitive in meaning, the other is provisional, according to Gorampa Sonam Senge, thus the tathāgatagarbha sutras become definitive or provisional depending on how they are understood. He states:
In the context of showing the faults of a literal [interpretation] – it's equivalence with the Non-Buddhist Self is that the assertion of unique eternal all pervading cognizing awareness of the Saṃkhya, the unique eternal pristine clarity of the Pashupattis, the unique all pervading intellect of the Vaiśnavas, the impermanent condition, the measure of one’s body, in the permanent self-nature of the Jains, and the white, brilliant, shining pellet the size of an atom, existing in each individual’s heart of the Vedantins are the same.
The definitive interpretation he renders as follows:
Therefor, the Sugatagarbha is defined as the union of clarity and emptiness but not simply emptiness without clarity, because that [kind of emptiness] is not suitable to be a basis for bondage and liberation. Also it is not simple clarity without emptiness, that is the conditioned part, because the Sugatagarbha is taught as unconditioned.
Khyentse Wangpo, often cited as a gzhan stong pa, basically says that the treatises of Maitreya elucidate the luminosity of the mind, i.e. its purity, whereas Nāgarjuna's treatises illustrate the empty nature of the mind, and that these two together, luminosity and emptiness free from extremes are to be understood as noncontradictory, which we can understand from the famous Prajñāpāramita citation "There is no mind in the mind, the nature of the mind is luminosity"."
i think Tsongkhapa treats it as provisional
but most understand it to be either provisional or definitive depending on how it is understood
shentong also seems to have many interpreters.. when thrangu rinpoche explained shentong, he emphasized empty nature of luminosity although there are qualities. so i dont find his explanation any way veering into extremes. but when i look at the originator Dolpopa, i cant differentiate his teachings from advaita 😂
i havent read very indepth into tsultrim gyamptso writings but i dont think he holds substantialist view either

John Tan:
Tsongkhapa has different definition with regards to perception and therefore context is different.  He doesn't accept pure perception of dharmakirti and dignaga and therefore all phenomena dependent originate.  U see many like to say Tsongkhapa doesn't know freedom from all elaborations and started talking about this and that, do u think this is possible?  Tsongkhapa is an accomplished yogi and scholar.  His thoughts r very deep and profound so don't make comments that u don't understand and when u din read enough about him.

oic.. yeah i think even malcolm has a more respectful tone about tsongkhapa these days

You seem to really get off on relating stories about teachers and their unconventional conduct.

I prefer stories about truly great beings like Sapan, Longchenpa, Ngorchen, Tsongkhapa, etc. "

Tsongkhapa is a wonderful teacher, but you should not imagine that his presentation is by any means the definitive one. It is not even the definitive one in Geluk, since there are many different trends in Geluk, and not even all famous Geluk scholars agree with everything Tsongkhapa wrote.

" Tsongkhapa was a nonsectarian master. And there are many others in the history of the Geluk schools. Indeed, in Geluk, rivalry amongst different colleges was far more intense than extra-sectarian impulses."
"  Consciousness is a dependently arising dharma. So not, it does not ultimately exist.


Whatever is dependently originated, that is empty, that is dependently designated, and that is the middle way.

That which arises dependently is free from the extremes of permanence and annihilation. You might try reading Tsongkhapa's Praise to Dependent Origination. Many people consider it Tsongkhapa's final statement on his realization of emptiness. "

" Tsongkhapa’s approach to Madhyamaka is ok, it just has some holes, and one of those is the monopole negation. No Gelugpa has ever successfully rebutted Gorampa’s critique of Tsongkhapa’s novelties, but we’ve had this discussion before. And Tsongkhapa has even been challenged within his own school.

Mipham largely bases his arguments on Gorampa.

John Tan:
In Ocean of Reasoning, Tsongkhapa clearly talk about freedom of extremes and freedom from all elaborations.

Gorampa is very fierce in his criticisms about Tsongkhapa as if he was in the same period but they never met.  Gorampa was borned like 20 years after Tsongkhapa's death.

For freedom from all elaborations, yes Mipham largely based his arguments on Gorampa.  But Gorampa din mention abt appearances as far as I know that Mipham emphasized a lot, Mipham thought is very much influenced by Rongzom, in fact he self claimed as Rongzom disciple.🤣

ic... yeah Rongzom sounds very resonating for those who go through anatta

John Tan:
Indeed. 👍

    André A. Pais
    Yes, shentong comes in different flavors. Tsultrim Rinpoche seems to follow the doxography of views held by Jamgön Kongtrul, which was seemingly a shentongpa in the strong sense of the word. Rinpoche does not seem to have reifying views, and even Dolpopa might have had something in mind when he said what he said. He was presenting the description of the meditative state, not stating a philosophical view.
    Generally (or at least sometimes) Longchenpa is considered a shentongpa, and even Mipham has written a text proclaiming the lion's roar of extrinsic emptiness (apparently because one of his teachers [Kongtrul?] has asked him).
    More than tenet systems, we should discuss tenets.

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  • Soh Wei Yu
    I wonder on what basis is Longchenpa deemed as Shentongpa?
    I am aware of this, and I find no solid backing for Kongtrul's views regarding Longchenpa in particular.
    As for Rangjung Dorje, he had an interesting approach to the three natures, but I don't really see how his writings show the same approach to the three natures as Dolbupa's and Tshan Khawoche. He also never uses the term 'gzhan stong" himself. The fact that in a 16th century commentary on the zab mo nang don one can read a defense of the Karmapa III as being a gzhan stong pa merely shows that this appellation is subject to doubt since it is not clear in his own writings.
    No, it is not an affirming negation, since Longchenpa states:
    ...intrinsic awareness and everything that arises within it are free from all extremes
    There cannot be something free from extremes.
    Dolbupa's great middle way avoids extremes precisely in reverse of the way Tsongkhapa has it. For him freedom from extremes is arrived at in the following way. He tries to avoid eternalism by asserting that relative phenomena are never held to exist more than conventionally, being intrinsically empty; and he tries to avoid nihilism by asserting that ultimate phenomena are held to have always existed, being extrinsically empty.
    Here, what Longchenpa is referring to is the standard four fold negation of the extremes found every in sūtra on up to to the Dzogchen tantras, like the Realms and Dimensions of Sound Tantra [sgra thal 'gyur]:
    The amazing, miraculous pristine consciousness
    did not exist before, does not exist later, has not existed from the start;
    is at present beyond all conceptual objects,
    having the nature of the emptiness that is free from extremes.
    Yes, this is indeed Kongtrul's opinion, no one disputed that this was his opinion. What is under dispute is whether his opinion about Longchenpa is correct. I don't think that it is, and I think there is ample internal evidence in Longchenpa's writings that he was not a gzhan stong pa. As we have already seen, he identifies Candrakirtī has the one who holds the definitive view of Madhyamaka on page 798 of the grub mtha' mdzod. He declares on pg. 821, in the section devoted to explicating Candrakīrti's perspective:
    This principle is the pinnacle of all views of the vehicle of causal characteristics.
    It is simply inconsistent to maintain that someone who clearly articulates that the pinnacle of cause vehicles views is Prasangika belongs to the gzhan stong persuasion. Longchenpa does state on page 900 that:
    In response to including the needs of those of lower intelligence, this garbha is empty because it is empty of faults, conditioning and so on, but it is not an emptiness that discards the phenomena of its qualities, as already mentioned:
    The characteristic of distinction is
    is that the element is empty of the temporary [afflictions],
    the characteristic of the absence of distinction
    is not being empty of unsurpassed phenomena.
    The pure element that has the nature of the limit of reality is unconditioned like space. The happiness and suffering of samsara (supported on karma and affliction) appear like clouds. Moreover, the suffering because of improper afflicted mental activity is like a cloud. Since karma appears without any nature, it is like the aspect of a dream. The aggregates generated by karma and affliction are explained to be like illusions and clouds to remedy the grasping to one extreme of clinging to self. After that, since there arise five faults of clinging to the reifications of grasping to extremes in emptiness, in order to remove that, the tathagātagarba is explained...."
    But frankly, the above statement by Longchenpa is simply not sufficient to place him in the gzhan stong camp, especially with reference to his declaration of the definitive Mahāyana view above, and in light of the fact that he clearly indicates the purpose of the tathagatagarbha view is to make the Mahāyāna path acceptable to those of lesser intelligence.

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  • Soh Wei Yu
    treehuggingoctopus wrote:
    Have you read Stearns' book on Dolpopa, Malcolm? If Stearns is correct (i.e., if his translations of Dolpopa are accurate), then Dolpopa's version of gzhan-stong is indeed quite incompatible with Dzogchen -- but for entirely different reasons that the supposed inherent existence of intrinsic Buddha qualities:
    Stearns' Dolpopa, in Buddha from Dolpo, 103 wrote:
    Buddhahood is stated to be the buddha-body of gnosis, and the incidental impurities are stated to be the groups of consciousness. In that way gnosis and consciousness are stated to be extremely different, like light and dark, or nectar and poison. Nevertheless, the differentiation of those two is very rare. These days the majority maintains that this very mind-as-such is the buddha-body of reality, self-arisen gnosis, and the Great Seal, and many maintain that concepts are the buddha-body of reality, the afflicting emotions are gnosis, samsara and nirvana are indivisible, these appearances and sounds are the three buddha-bodies or the four buddha-bodies, and so forth.
    Stearns' commentary is as follows:
    Stearns, Buddha from Dolpo, 104 wrote:
    For Dolpopa appearances cannot be the manifestation or self-presencing of gnosis (ye shes rang snang), or the buddha-body of reality, because ordinary appearances are completely fictitious, imaginary (parikalpita) and dependent (paratantra) phenomena, which are both actually nonexistent. The fully established true nature (parinispanna), nondual gnosis, the buddha-body of reality, and so forth, are real and existent.
    That would indeed make gzhan-stong starkly different from Dzogchen. But the rest of the passage expresses the same understanding that Hookham champions:
    Malcolm replied:
    The point is this:
    "The fully established true nature (parinispanna), nondual gnosis, the buddha-body of reality, and so forth, are real and existent."
    Which means that the ten powers and so on are fully developed within sentient beings at present.
    According to Dolbupa. And it is for this reason that ChNN has explained many times that gzhan stong view is not actually compatible with Dzogchen.
    Yogacara + Tathagatagharba = Shentong - Page 9 - Dharma Wheel
    Yogacara + Tathagatagharba = Shentong - Page 9 - Dharma Wheel
    Yogacara + Tathagatagharba = Shentong - Page 9 - Dharma Wheel

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  • Soh Wei Yu
    Also, having scanned through the mountain doctrine there are indeed many quotes like those quoted in
    Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen - Wikipedia
    Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen - Wikipedia
    Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen - Wikipedia

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  • Nafis Rahman
    I thought Andre’s view was Prasangika rather than Shentong? I read the book above a while back, he [KTGR] says Prasangika is nihilistic and that Shentong is the ultimate view, although his presentation had a subtle reification in my opinion. As Malcolm once shared: I once forced Khenpo Tsultrim Gyatso to admit (I have a witness, incidentally) that there was no substantial difference between Advaita Vedanta and Gzhan stong in terms of how they presented their view. His only response was a sectarian polemic "But there is no buddhahood in Vedanta!"
    Even among Kagyu’s, Shentong isn’t a universal position. From a review of The Center of the Sunlit Sky: Madhyamaka in the Kagyu Tradition by Karl Brunnholzl (have to thank Andre for the recommendation, very comprehensive book on Kagya Madhyamaka plus Karl Brunnholzl is also a student of KTGR although he is intellectually honest and believes Shentong is more similar to Yogacara rather than Madhyamaka):
    Several Kagyu figures disagree with the view that shentong is a form of madhyamaka. According to Brunnholzl, Mikyö Dorje, 8th Karmapa Lama (1507–1554) and Second Pawo Rinpoche Tsugla Trengwa see the term "shentong madhyamaka" as a misnomer, for them the yogacara of Asanga and Vasubandhu and the system of Nagarjuna are "two clearly distinguished systems". They also refute the idea that there is "a permanent, intrinsically existing Buddha nature".
    Mikyö Dorje also argues that the language of other emptiness does not appear in any of the sutras or the treatises of the Indian masters. He attacks the view of Dolpopa as being against the sutras of ultimate meaning which state that all phenomena are emptiness as well as being against the treatises of the Indian masters. Mikyö Dorje rejects both perspectives of rangtong and shentong as true descriptions of ultimate reality, which he sees as being "the utter peace of all discursiveness regarding being empty and not being empty" (me: basically freedom from extremes).

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  • Nafis Rahman
    From the book itself:
    Is There Such a Thing as Shentong-Madhyamaka?
    MOST PEOPLE THINK that, in terms of its Madhyamaka alignment, the Kagyu school is a monolithic bloc of staunch supporters of Shentong-Madhyamaka ("other-empty Madhyamaka"). However, as should be clear by now, there are quite a number of masters in this school who do not follow what is known as Shentong. Even Milarepa sometimes adopts a typical Rangtong ("self-empty") approach in his enlightened songs. Still, the reader may be wondering why a book on Madhyamaka in the Kagyu lineage has thus far barely mentioned the term "Shentong," much less presented the system it refers to. The answer is simple and may be shocking to some: There is no Shentong-Madhyamaka nor any need to make one up. The subdivision of Madhyamaka into "self-empty" and "other-empty" is obsolete.
    Before I am excommunicated from the Kagyu lineage for making this statement, let me say that I am just going by what the Eighth Karmapa and Pawo Rinpoche say in The Chariot of the Tagbo Siddhas and The Commentary on The Entrance to the Bodhisattvas Way of Life. I also want to make it clear from the outset that the reason for such a statement is not at all to deprecate the contents or the value of the teachings that came to bear the name Shentong in Tibet. Rather, the reason is quite the contrary, since what is called Shentong is nothing other than the Yogacara (Yoga Practice) system of Maitreya, Asanga, and Vasubandhu, also called "the lineage of vast activity." Just like Centrism, in its rich entirety, this system is a distinct, well-established, and-at least in India unequivocally renowned system of presenting the teachings of the Buddha. It can stand very well on its own and has no need to be included under Centrism or even to be promoted as the better brand of Centrism. It is all the more inappropriate to wrongly subsume it-as many Tibetan doxographies do-under the questionable category of "Mere Mentalism" and thus regard it as inferior to Centrism. It would definitely contribute to the appreciation of this Yogacara system for what it is if it were called neither Mere Mentalism nor Shentong but simply "the Yogacara System of Maitreya/Asanga" or "the lineage of vast activity." The following presentation will provide sufficient evidence for this by high lighting some essential points of Yogacara in the original texts, consulting the main Kagya sources on both Centrism and Yogacara, and comparing the relationship between these two systems.'"
    As for the question of whether there is a Shentong-Madhyamaka, both the Eighth Karmapa and Pawo Rinpoche give a very clear answer: "No!" They not only refute any realistic interpretation of what the word shentong might refer to, such as the notion of a permanent, intrinsically existing Buddha nature;"- they simply consider this term a misnomer altogether. At the same time, the two systems of Nagarjuna-the lineage of profound view-and Asanga-the lineage of vast activity (to which the term "Shentong" usually refers) are clearly distinguished. When questioned, The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche confirmed that it is indeed better to make a distinction in terms of the lineages of profound view and vast conduct than between some lineages of "Rangtong" and "Shentong," since the former two are the clear lineages of transmission that can be traced back to India. Pawo Rinpoche explicitly explains that the final intention of these two systems is identical, while the Eighth Karmapa in his Chariot ofthe Tagbo Siddhas does so implicitly." Moreover, Pawo Rinpoche emphasizes that what Tibetans call "Mind Only" or "Mere Mentalism" is not the lineage of vast activity.
    In his Chariot commentary, the Eighth Karmapa says that, in general, there is no difference between Buddha Sakyamuni and Maitreya in that they are both Buddhas. However, the sole teacher of this realm of Buddha activity who appears as the Supreme Emanation Body of a perfect Buddha is Buddha Sakyamuni, and there is no dispute that he prophesied Nagarjuna and Asanga as the founders of Centrism and Yogacara. Thus, whoever is a Centrist in the setting of the teachings of this realm must definitely be in accord with the Centrism of Nagarjuna and his spiritual heirs. Imputations of different kinds of Centrism (such as one specific to Maitreya) that do not correspond to Nagarjuna's system are rejected by the Eighth Karmapa. He says that if there were a Centrism of Maitreya, then it would be equally fine to present innumerable forms of Centrism, such as the eight kinds of Centrism that were asserted by the eight close bodhisattva sons of the Buddha and the thousand different kinds of Centrism that are asserted by the thousand Buddhas of this fortunate eon. Some people might object that if this newly named Centrism of Maitreya does not fulfill the function of actual Centrism, then the Centrism of Nagarjuna also would not fulfill this function, because both system founders are equal in being noble bodhisattvas. However, by using the same kind of argument, it would then also follow that the vehicles of the hearers and solitary realizers that were taught by the Buddha are the great vehicle, because they are equal in being vehicles and being spoken by the Buddha.
    The Karmapa corrects another misunderstanding regarding what is called "selfemptiness" and "other-emptiness." He says that some Tibetans assert the absence of a nature of their own in phenomena as being the meaning of "self-emptiness" and the absence of other phenomena as being the meaning of "other-emptiness." This is not justified, because such an explanation or terminology does not exist in the topics of the sutras on emptiness. Nor is it found anywhere in the treatises of the two system founders Nagarjuna and Asanga, whose authority in this matter rests at least in part on the fact that they were prophesied by the Buddha as the ones to comment on the intentions of the topics of these very sutras in terms of Centrism and Yogacara respectively.
    In particular, the Eighth Karmapa takes issue with the position of Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen, which he reports as follows: "On the level of seeming reality, phenomena are empty of a nature of their own. Therefore, they are self-empty. In ultimate reality, the supreme other consciousness that is not empty of its own nature-the permanent entity of the Heart of the Blissfully Gone Ones-is empty of all other seeming phenomena. This is explained as `other-empty.' The Centrists who propound other-emptiness are the Great Centrists, and the Centrists who propound self-emptiness turn the Centrist view into something like poison.

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  • Nafis Rahman
    The Karmapa regards such an explanation as a deprecation of the meaning of Prajnaparamita for several reasons. To start with, if one claims an ultimate phenomenon that is really established and not empty of its own nature, this contradicts the Buddha's determination of the definitive meaning, which is that all phenomena are emptiness. In particular, this explanation is also contradictory to all commentaries on the intention of this definitive meaning that were given by Centrists, including Aryavimuktisena and Haribhadra, the two main Indian commentators on the hidden meaning of the Prajnaparamita sutras. With regard to the emptiness of other-entity ,""'." the sutras clearly negate this "other-emptiness" by saying, "Since it lacks any solid abiding and ceasing, it is empty of itself." Following this, Aryavimuktisena, Ratnakarasanti, and others say, "Since it is an emptiness that is not produced by others, it is the emptiness of other-entity" and "Since it is the entity that is not produced by others, it is the other-entity." Thus, they take solely the emptiness that is natural emptiness (and not any nonempry entity) as the basis of being empty of something other. On the other hand, in the scriptures, there never appear any reifying explanations in the sense that, by taking the supreme and permanent other-entity-the Heart of the Blissfully Gone Ones-as the basis for emptiness, this Heart is empty of all other seeming phenomena and that this is the meaning of other-emptiness.
    Before Dolpopa, the Karmapa says, nobody in India or Tibet had ever stated that there are these two systems of "self-emptiness" and "other-emptiness" within the philosophical system of Centrism. If one follows Centrism, it is impossible to assert an ultimate phenomenon that is really established and to say at the same time that the seeming is without reality in that it is empty in the sense of selfemptiness. If one were to propound something like this, one would just be a realist. It is obvious that one cannot be a realist and at the same time speak about the center free from all reference points.
    In his commentary on The Ornament of Clear Realization, the Eighth Karmapa identifies the correct referent of using the term "other-empty" in an expedient, functional way (if one wants to use this term, that is). However, he emphasizes that the nature of phenomena is neither self-empty nor other-empty anyway, let alone really existent:
    The name "other-empty" is applied to emptiness [in the sense] that the other features within this basis [emptiness] are empty of their own respective natures. Therefore, the other-empty's own nature does not become nonempty. The reason for this is that the name "other-empty" is [only] applied to the compound meaning that this basis [ emptiness] is empty of such and such [and not to this basis being otherempty in itself].'"' However, it is not asserted that this basis-the nature of phenomena-is empty of its own nature. [Likewise, as was just said,] this [basis itself] is not other-empty either. Therefore, if it is not other-empty, forget about it being self-empty [since these two are just mutually dependent]...
    This basis-the nature of phenomena-is neither other-empty nor self-empty, because [let alone being other-empty or self-empty,] it is not even suitable as a mere emptiness that is not specified as being empty or not empty of itself or something other. The reason for this is that it has the essential character of being the utter peace of all discursiveness regarding being empty and not being empty. Thus, from the perspective of the [actual] freedom from discursiveness, no characteristics whatsoever of being empty of itself or something other transpire within the basis that is the nature of phenomena.

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  • André A. Pais
    For what is worth, here's this quote...

    "Mind itself and the true nature of
    objects have no reality whatsoever
    and are beyond intellect and
    inexpressible. This one point could
    well be the synopsis of all teachings."

    - Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye
    May be an image of text that says '"Mind tsef and the true nature of objects have no reality whatsoever and are beyond intellect and inexpressible. This one point could well be the synopsis of all teachings." -Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye 14:59'

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  • André A. Pais
    Soh Wei Yu Malcolm seems to distinguish between "weak" yogacarins (like Shantarakshita) and "strong" yogacarins, and it seems the difference lies in the use of the 3-nature scheme or lack thereof. Can you comment on that?
    I can't see what's the problem with the 3-nature template. Garfield says it's just a way of explicating how things are empty, not a way of reifying anything. For example, the flowing quote feels rather unproblematic to me:
    The Buddha states in the Samdhinirmochana Sutra:
    [The imputational character of phenomena] is that which is imputed as a name or symbol in terms of the own-being or attributes of phenomena in order to subsequently designate any convention whatsoever.
    [The other-dependent character of phenomena] is simply the dependent origination of phenomena. It is like this: Because this exists, that arises; because this is produced, that is produced. It ranges from: 'Due to the condition of ignorance, compositional factors [arise],' up to: 'In this way, the whole great assemblage of suffering arises.'
    [The thoroughly established character of phenomena] is the suchness of phenomena. Through diligence and through proper mental application, bodhisattvas establish realization and cultivate realization of [the thoroughly established character]. Thus it is what establishes [all the stages] up to unsurpassed, complete, perfect enlightenment.
    Andy Karr writes:
    One way to summarize [the three natures] would be to say that what is imagined by names, thoughts, and so on is the imaginary nature. What is not imagined by names and thoughts but appears due to causes and conditions is the dependent nature. The dependent nature’s emptiness of the imaginary nature is the perfectly existent nature. This is a basic Chittamatra presentation.
    In a nutshell:
    Whatever is dependently arisen (dependent nature) that is said to be emptiness (the perfected nature) - which does not necessarily save it from being deludedly conceptualized by sentient beings (imagined nature).

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    • 4h
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  • Soh Wei Yu
    Adam Holt I have commented on Shentong above.

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    • 29m

  • Soh Wei Yu
    I have no problem with three natures if the dependent and the ultimate are not treated as real.
    " In brief, MAV merely state that the absence of the imagined in the dependent is the perfected.
    gZhan stong pas by contrast try to map the three natures onto the two truths, thereby distorting both doctrines, claiming that perfected nature [ultimate] is empty of both the imagined and the dependent [relative]. "
    "If you accept the perfected nature, your view is not Madhyamaka. This is why Candrakirti in detail refutes the three natures scheme."
    What I actully said that was "relative truth is the object of a mistaken cognition", "ultimate truth is the object of an unmistaken cognition". These are Candrakirti's definitions and not mine.
    Further, Candra devotes a number of verses to refuting the dependent nature -- read them.
    Yes, and this is why gzhan stong does not really go beyond the false aspectarian yogacara of Ratnakaraśanti. The main difference between the two is that the former avoids the error of the latter, who assert that the non-existence of the imagined nature in the dependent nature is the perfected nature, thus setting up an internal contradiction that the dependent nature becomes unconditioned. Charitably, we can say that gzhan stong is an intermediate view between Yogacara and Madhyamaka.
    The main error of the gzhan stong pas however, as I have written elsewhere, is the attempt to map the two truths onto the three natures, where they consider the perfected nature the ultimate and the imagined and the dependent natures relative. In doing, so, they basically do violence to the Yogacara school's own formulation of these three natures. The reason they do this is that there has been a compelling exegetical need of Tibetan scholars to rectify the treatises of Maitreya as a whole with the six texts of reasoning by Nāgārjuna. In the end, both systems lose since neither is accurately represented. Basically, gzhan stong represents an attempt to reconcile all the main lines of Indian Mahāyāna thought as I have noted elsewhere.
    Further, by mixing the tathātagarbha doctrine into the mix, they also ruin that. The odd thing is is that Asanga was not fond of the tathāgatagarbha school.
    Sherlock wrote:
    OK, I see, thanks.
    So how are the 2 truths presented in gzhan stong? Is it similar to Nyingma 9-yana system?
    The three own natures are mapped onto the two truths in the following way:
    Ultimate truth = the perfected nature (parinispanna)
    Correct relative truth = the dependent nature (paratantra)
    False relative truth = the imagined nature (parikalpita)
    Ultimate truth, parinispanna, is held to be empty of the dependent and the relative. According to this system in general, whatever is held to be ultimate is unconditioned, permanent and so on, and is empty of the conditioned, impermanent and so on.
    So, it is a very dualistic perspective in many regards, positing all kinds of dualisms such as empty/not-empty; impermanent/permanent; conditioned/unconditioned; and so on.
    In reality, according to the Maitreya, Asanga and Vasubandhu's treatises, the perfected nature is merely the absence of the imagined in the dependent nature. So, the two truths theory does not really work well if you try to map it to the three own natures as they are explained by the three great Yogacara masters.
    If you understand the dependent nature as the union of the two truths — in this case the imagined is the relative truth; the perfected, the ultimate truth; which corresponds to Candrakirti's observation that all things bear two natures, one relative, one ultimate. However, there is no classical presentation like this anywhere, AFAIK, and definitely not within gzhan stong.
    Mariusz wrote:
    I also thank you. So it supports my investigation based only on english translation here in my previous posts. Good to see it finally as not the Mind only (Cittamatara), but as Yogacara compatible with Madhyamaka as I wrote earlier :smile:
    That is not what Tom is saying. Tom is saying that imagination of the unreal exists. That is precisely the cittamatra POV. If one reads the MV objectively, there is no way to read it as Madhyamaka text. If you read it according to tortured late Tibetan exegesis [Mipham or Shakya Chogden], then you can try, but in doing so you have to basically assert that the perfected nature is never the dependent nature. But in fact in the MV it is made extremely clear that the perfected nature simple is the non-existence of the imagined nature in the dependent nature, and that non-existence exists. In summary, there really is no way to reconcile Maitreyanath's Madhyāntavibhanga and Dharmadharmatāvibhanga with Madhyamaka. They are all Yogacara (cittamatra) treatises meant to explicate the Yogacara tradition sutras such the Samdhinirmocana, the Lanka and so on. This applies also to the the Sutra-alaṃkara. This also applies to the Uttaratantra. Why? Because the Cittamatras also present a presentation of freedom from reference points i.e. the wisdom exists but it is free from reference points. The Abhisamaya-alaṃkara is also not free from fault in this respect because it really only discusses the structure of the path. The reason why the Yogacara commentaries of the AA are not widely studied in Tibet is because they are not compatible Madhyamaka view. Primarily Aryavimuktisena and Haribhadra are studied, both Madhyamaka scholars critical of the Yogacara point of view.
    "The whole point of the term "gzhan stong" is to prove, via the (incorrect) use of the three natures that the ultimate truth is empty of the relative truth, but not empty of itself through the assertion that the perfected nature [yongs grub] is empty of the dependent [gzhan dbang] and the imagined natures [kun brtags].
    "It is quite trivial to say that tathāgatagarbha is not empty of qualities but is empty of faults, because tathāgatagarbha is nothing other than natural luminosity of one's mind, which is to say that one's mind has always been innately pure from the start. This however does not mean that those famous qualities are real, established, ultimately exist and so on. Even Buddhas are not ultimately real, so how can their qualities be ultimately real?"
    " Umm, no, that is not what gzhan stong is. This is how it is defined:
    Dharmatā, the thoroughly established, the ultimate truth, is not empty of its own nature, but because it is empty of imputed and other-dependent entities, relative entities, conditioned phenomena, it is empty of other entities. That is the true unperverted emptiness, ultimate truth, dharmakāya, [3/b] the limit of the real, suchness, and emptiness endowed with the supreme of all aspects. The powers, major and minor marks and so on are the unconditioned qualities that abide in that from the beginning. "
    " Your quote does not support Dolbupa's entire theory, which has much more to do with his treatment of three own natures, his interpretation of the idea of the three turnings, and so on that it does tathāgatagarbha.
    We all accept tathāgatagarbha theory, we just don't accept Dolbupas interpretation of it, because it is eternalist."

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      André A. Pais
      The nature of mind is utter openness and complete relaxation. Thus, any fixation on existence or non-existence works as a point of closedness and tension. Keeping that in mind, we should exercise some plasticity when it comes to means of expression and linguistic conventions; they will always be dualistic and context-dependent. Rangtong can be seen as a methodology; shentong as a celebratory description. If handled carelessly, both are prone to strayings into non-existence and existence, respectively. Skillfully utilized, I think both can tread on the tightrope that is the Middle Way free from extremes.

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    • André A. Pais
      The aspiration to realize the wisdom mind of the unity that defies the intellect
      Inconceivable and free of all superimposition, one-sided fixation
      On things being either existent or non-existent completely dissolves.
      The full import of this turns back even the tongue of the victors.
      Without beginning, middle, or end, it is a great expanse of deep clarity.
      May all realize this Great Perfection, the true nature of the ground!
      To the conceptual mind, with its characteristic mind and mental states, the precise nature of this ground is inconceivable. The object, the sphere of reality, is free of all conceptual projections. Although the conventions "primordial purity" and "spontaneous presence" are used in order to communicate, if one latches onto the existence or non-existence of the sphere of reality, the mind will fall prey to superimposition and its basic nature will not be seen.
      The same holds for the subject as well, meaning wisdom, since this causes all one-sided fixation on things being either existent or non-existent to completely dissolve into the expanse of reality. This realization, in which subject and object are of one taste, can be put into conventional terms, yet its full import defies such expressions; it turns back even the tongue of the victors, who reign supreme when it comes to using positive affirmations to describe the true nature of things.
      This inherent pure awareness is without birth in the beginning, abiding in the middle, or cessation in the end; it is a great and spontaneously present expanse of deep, radiant clarity. May all realize the unified Great Perfection, the true nature of the ground—an inconceivable reality that defies the intellect!

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    • 31m
    p.s. found a post by Kyle Dixon from 5 years ago:
    User avatar
    level 1

    Gzhan stong (Shentong) simply says that buddha qualities are innate and fully formed from the very beginning. For instance they hold the three kāyas to be fully formed at all times, something that no other system believes.

    Their view consists of mapping the three nature scheme of Yogācāra over the two truths of Madhyamaka, some argue that this view doesn't really work.

    The adept who started gzhan stong, named Dolbupa, belonged to the Jonang school of Tibetan Buddhism and is widely considered to have a very extreme view (in terms of being quite eternalistic). Nowadays there are more moderate forms of gzhan stong such as that of Shakya Chögden and Jamgon Köngtrul, who are both considered to be much more agreeable.

    Gzhan stong is found in most every school of Tibetan Buddhism, but only moderately. It is not found in the Gelug school at all.

    The three major Tibetan views are (i) gzhan stong, (ii) spros bral, (iii) gelug. The Kagyu, Nyingma and Sakya schools contain a mixture of spros bral and gzhan stong. The Jonang is mainly Dolbupa's gzhan stong, and the Gelug practice Tsongkhapa's Prasanga Madhyamaka.