Tathagatagarbha-Buddha Nature-is a central concept of Mahayana Buddhism crucial to all the living practice traditions of Tibetan and Zen
Buddhism. Its relationship to the concept of emptiness has been a subject of controversy for seven hundred years. Dr. Hookham’s work
investigates the divergent interpretations of these concepts and the ways the Tibetan tradition is resolving them.
In particular she does this with reference to the only surviving Indian commentary on the Tathagatagarbha doctrine, the
Ratnagotravibhaga. This text addresses itself directly to the issue of how to relate the doctrine of emptiness (the illusory nature of the world) to
that of the truly existing, changeless Absolute (the Buddha Nature).
This is the first work by a Western writer to present an analysis of the Shentong tradition based on previously untranslated sources.
The Shentong view rests to meditative experience that is inaccessible to the conceptualizing mind. It is deeply rooted in the sutra tradition of
Indian Buddhism and is central to an understanding of the Mahamudra and Dzogchen traditions and Tantric practice among the Kagyupas and
The book is divided into twelve chapters. They are Ch. 1 General Introduction; Ch. 2 Introduction to the Rangton-Shentong Distinction
‘Ch. 3 Emptiness from the Shentong point of View; Ch. 4 The Shentong View of Absolute Reality; Ch. 5 Means of Apprehending Absolute
Reality; Ch. 6 the Nature of Beings; Ch. 7 The Third Dharmacakra : Neyartha or Nitartha; Ch. 8 The Shentong Tradition; Ch. 9 Traditions of
Interpretation of the RGV and RGVV; Ch. 10 A Shentong Interpretation of the RGV and RGVV - A Paraphrase with comments ; Ch. 11
Translation of the Introduction to Kongtrul’s RGV Commentary ; Ch. 12 Conclusion.
The Appendices are - Works by Western Scholars; Prakrtisunyata, Svabhavasunyata and Parabkavasunyata in Rangtong and Shengtong
Terms; Further details on the Three Svabhava and the Three kinds of Emptiness as found in the SNS; The Sandhinirmocan-sutra; Resume; Some
points of Comparison Between Rangtong Commentators on RGV; The five Dharmas of Maitreya., Glossary of Terms.
S.K. Hookham is at Oxford University.
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