Views of Shentong and Dolpopa

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Views of Shentong and Dolpopa

Postby Vidyaraja » Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:25 am

Outside of the Jonang school, what are the views of the other schools in regards to the Shentong position and the works/thought of Dolpopa, particularly the Nyingma and Kagyu? Is it possible to be part of these schools while maintaining a personal Shentong view or is there a dogmatism that members must follow? Can one practice Dzogchen while maintaining Dolpopa's viewpoint on the Absolute and are there any prominent figures who have done so?

Thanks!
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Re: Views of Shentong and Dolpopa

Postby smcj » Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:45 am

The Nyingmas call Shentong "Great Mad1yamaka". I would say that a majority of Nyingma lamas hold that position. For the Karma Kagyus the Shentong position is widely held also. Each school has subtle variations on the idea that I do not understand. I do not know how Dolpopa is viewed as an authority in those schools.

My impression is that Dzogchen is compatible with Great Madhyamaka. However ChNN does not subscribe to that view and he is popular here so you will get disagreement on that point.
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Re: Views of Shentong and Dolpopa

Postby Malcolm » Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:30 pm

Vidyaraja wrote:Outside of the Jonang school, what are the views of the other schools in regards to the Shentong position and the works/thought of Dolpopa, particularly the Nyingma and Kagyu? Is it possible to be part of these schools while maintaining a personal Shentong view or is there a dogmatism that members must follow? Can one practice Dzogchen while maintaining Dolpopa's viewpoint on the Absolute and are there any prominent figures who have done so?

Thanks!



Strains of gzhan stong exist in Sakya, Kagyu and Nyingma.

gZhan stong is fundamentally a new mantra (sngags gsar ma) school position, having arrived to Tibet with the 11th century translator, Yumo Mikyo Dorje, as a oral instruction related to Kalacakra. So from that point of view, gzhan stong and Dzogchen are historically unrelated.

gZhan stong, along with the Jonang tradition of Kalacakra, was imported into the Kagyu via a 17th century Nyingma Lama named Rigzin Tsewang, who was the root guru of the Karma Kagyu Lama, Situ Panchen. Situ Panchen was originally disinterested in gzhan stong, so the story goes, but because his view was a bit nihilistic, Rigzin Tsewang advised Situ Panchen to adopt the gzhan stong view in order to extend his life. After that, gzhan stong view spread widely among Karma Kagyu in Eastern Tibet. However, the lineage did not widely spread amongst the Nyingma school itself until the time of Khyentse and Kongtrul. Because Kongtrul was such a strong exponent of gzhan stong, many Kagyus and Nyingmapas adopted gzhan stong as their own view. However, as far as Nyingma goes, just as many did not. Presently, Nyingmapas are evenly divided more or less between those who follow the "freedom from extremes" Madhyamaka position set forth by Kawa Paltseg in the early 9th century and neo-gzhan sting stong as presented by Kongtrul.

In general, since the madhyamaka system of the two truths is incompatible with Dzogchen, what need to mention the Yogacara system of three natures? However, just as a person can maintain a sutrayāna view of Gelug prasangika (for example, Jigme Lingpa) and still be a Dzogchen practitioner, one can also maintain the view of gzhan stong and be a Dzogchen practitioner -- since your intellectual views are pretty irrelevant if you are a Dzogchen practitioner, or even a Vajrayana practitioner. The standard early Nyingma view (i.e. Rongzom, Rogben, etc.) is that the view of tantra in general and Dzogchen in particular is higher than that of madhyamaka in general.
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Re: Views of Shentong and Dolpopa

Postby Malcolm » Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:31 pm

smcj wrote:The Nyingmas call Shentong "Great Mad1yamaka".



The first person to use this term in Tibet was Kawa Paltseg. He uses the term dbu ma chen po to refer to spros bral, freedom from extremes. His presentation of Madhyamaka bears no observable commonalities with gzhan stong.

The Sakyapas follow Kawa Paltseg's point of view, and refer to their Madhyamaka as great Madhyamaka also. The Gelugpas also refer to Lama Tsongkhapa's point of view as Great Madhyamaka.

So basically, everyone in Tibet refers to their preferred system of Madhyamaka as "great".
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Re: Views of Shentong and Dolpopa

Postby smcj » Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:38 pm

...since your intellectual views are pretty irrelevant if you are a Dzogchen practitioner, or even a Vajrayana practitioner.

This is an important point that often gets lost. :namaste:
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Re: Views of Shentong and Dolpopa

Postby conebeckham » Wed Aug 21, 2013 4:49 pm

smcj wrote:
...since your intellectual views are pretty irrelevant if you are a Dzogchen practitioner, or even a Vajrayana practitioner.

This is an important point that often gets lost. :namaste:


Agree, with the proviso that I'm not sure mainstream Gelukpas would.....

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Re: Views of Shentong and Dolpopa

Postby smcj » Wed Aug 21, 2013 5:09 pm

conebeckham wrote:
smcj wrote:
...since your intellectual views are pretty irrelevant if you are a Dzogchen practitioner, or even a Vajrayana practitioner.

This is an important point that often gets lost. :namaste:


Agree, with the proviso that I'm not sure mainstream Gelukpas would.....

My understanding is that the Gelug emphasis on the Prasingika view is preparation for the Sutrayana Mahamudra in particular and the Vajrayana in general. It is famously "the non-affirming negation", which is an absence of intellectual view. The entire purpose of the geshe program is to bring the intellect fully to Dharma so it sees, on its own terms, that the intellect cannot conceive of emptiness. This is like force-feeding the intellect a koan.

I've heard that in deity yoga the deity displaces our normal sense of self through a type of osmotic pressure. Once we identify with the deity (called divine pride) and then do the completion stage practice, the deity dissolves into emptiness and takes our sense of self with it. The deity has absolute certainty about what constitutes uncontrived emptiness, & we are just taken along for the ride. No intellectual ideas need be employed.

But I've not even attempted that level of practice, so that is just what I've understood from what I've read.
Last edited by smcj on Wed Aug 21, 2013 5:32 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Views of Shentong and Dolpopa

Postby Malcolm » Wed Aug 21, 2013 5:19 pm

conebeckham wrote:
smcj wrote:
...since your intellectual views are pretty irrelevant if you are a Dzogchen practitioner, or even a Vajrayana practitioner.

This is an important point that often gets lost. :namaste:


Agree, with the proviso that I'm not sure mainstream Gelukpas would.....

:stirthepot:



Mainstream Gelugs would absolutely not agree, since they subordinate Vajrayāna view to sutrayāna view -- which is the over all trend among Tibetan intellectuals since the time of Sakya Pandita.
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Re: Views of Shentong and Dolpopa

Postby Malcolm » Wed Aug 21, 2013 5:20 pm

smcj wrote: It is famously "the non-affirming negation", which is an absence of intellectual view.


The Gelug treatment of a the non-affirming negation is absolutely an intellectual view -- that is what Gorampa, Mipham and others give them so much shit about.

The entire purpose of the geshe program is to bring the intellect fully to Dharma so it it sees, on its own terms, that the intellect cannot conceive of emptiness.


This is a total misread of the Gelug project.
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Re: Views of Shentong and Dolpopa

Postby smcj » Wed Aug 21, 2013 5:36 pm

Malcolm wrote:
smcj wrote: It is famously "the non-affirming negation", which is an absence of intellectual view.


The Gelug treatment of a the non-affirming negation is absolutely an intellectual view -- that is what Gorampa, Mipham and others give them so much shit about.

Of course there is not a unanimous consensus on the Gelug position. But that is how the Gelugpas see it.

The entire purpose of the geshe program is to bring the intellect fully to Dharma so it it sees, on its own terms, that the intellect cannot conceive of emptiness.


This is a total misread of the Gelug project.

Mainstream Gelugs would absolutely not agree, since they subordinate Vajrayāna view to sutrayāna view -- which is the over all trend among Tibetan intellectuals since the time of Sakya Pandita.

That is what I was told in a private interview with my Gelug mentor.
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Re: Views of Shentong and Dolpopa

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Aug 21, 2013 5:41 pm

Off topic.

Does anybody have access to an (preferably free, given my economic condition) electronic copy of Dolpapas Mountain Doctrine?

Thanks!
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Re: Views of Shentong and Dolpopa

Postby Malcolm » Wed Aug 21, 2013 6:24 pm

smcj wrote:That is what I was told in a private interview with my Gelug mentor.


Well, there are various strains of Gelug thinking. But in general Gelugpas strenously defend the idea that the intellectual exercise of identifying the object of negation, non-affirming negation, the emptiness of true existence in things, the negation of inherent existence resembles the actual realization of emptiness, is it is appropriate to be maintained conceptually. Granted, the Gelugpas also wish to go beyond mind, but they spend a lot of time defending and insisting that one needs to have a perfect Madhyamaka view before moving on the Vajrayāna, and insist that one needs to continue to cultivate that view.
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Re: Views of Shentong and Dolpopa

Postby Greg » Wed Aug 21, 2013 6:33 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Off topic.

Does anybody have access to an (preferably free, given my economic condition) electronic copy of Dolpapas Mountain Doctrine?

Thanks!


It is available through Library Genesis. PM if you need more details.
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Re: Views of Shentong and Dolpopa

Postby gad rgyangs » Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:00 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Off topic.

Does anybody have access to an (preferably free, given my economic condition) electronic copy of Dolpapas Mountain Doctrine?

Thanks!


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Re: Views of Shentong and Dolpopa

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:11 pm

Thanks for all the replies people. :twothumbsup:
:focus:
And sorry for the off-topic!
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Re: Views of Shentong and Dolpopa

Postby smcj » Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:19 pm

Well, there are various strains of Gelug thinking. But in general Gelugpas strenously defend the idea that the intellectual exercise of identifying the object of negation, non-affirming negation, the emptiness of true existence in things, the negation of inherent existence resembles the actual realization of emptiness, is it is appropriate to be maintained conceptually.

Resembles, yes. It gets you barking up the right tree, so to speak.

I'm extending myself a little here beyond what I've been specifically told, but in terms of maintaining the position, it seems to dovetail nicely with the Sutrayana Mahamudra. Anything that they can focus their attention on is taken apart in search of its essence, etc. But as you say;
Granted, the Gelugpas also wish to go beyond mind


...but they spend a lot of time defending and insisting that one needs to have a perfect Madhyamaka view before moving on the Vajrayāna

No argument there!
...and insist that one needs to continue to cultivate that view.

Well they certainly do not embrace any other views.

I have been taught that the "84,000 teachings" are organized in the same way that a dog trainer trains a dog to sniff out drugs or explosives. How do they do that? They take a ball and play fetch. The dog is already hardwired to do that, no training needed. Then they take the next step, where they hide the ball. "Go find it". The dog plays the game, sniffs around, and finds the ball. Then they fill the ball with drugs. The dog sniffs around, then finds the ball which also smells of drugs. The next step is the trainer stops hiding the ball, and just hides drugs. The dog is now habituated to sniffing out the drugs. It is still playing the same game.

In terms of how the Dharma trains us like we train dogs, it takes what is already going on with us and then directs it to Dharma. If we have a negative mind that is intolerant, then we are given the Pratimoksha Vows. If we're going to be uptight and say "no" to things, let us say no to the bad things. It is like a double negative. So the negative rule-bound mind is brought to Dharma and is ultimately resolved in it. That is why the monk's vows are for one life only (as opposed to the bodhisattva vows which are for all future lives).

In terms of the Sutrayana geshe/khenpo programs, the same is true. If you are already intellectualizing Dharma, then bring that tendency fully to Dharma. The Gelug approach is to logically prove that the way things abide cannot be put into a logical proposition. That is resolving the intellect into Dharma.

Seeing things that way gives the Gelug approach an elegance that I think is missing in the wider discussion of Dharma. The intellect is the wrong tool to approach emptiness. (Just ask a Zen person.) But since that is the tool that we have in our hand, then bring it to Dharma fully, so we can see how to put that tool down. It's not nihilism. It might be if they didn't go on to Vajrayana, but they do, albeit behind a cloak of secrecy.

And I'm saying that as a Shentongpa/Kagyu. It's not my path, but I do appreciate how they go about it, and what they are trying to do.
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Re: Views of Shentong and Dolpopa

Postby Tom » Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:42 pm

smcj wrote: The intellect is the wrong tool to approach emptiness. (Just ask a Zen person.) But since that is the tool that we have in our hand, then bring it to Dharma fully, so we can see how to put that tool down. It's not nihilism. It might be if they didn't go on to Vajrayana, but they do, albeit behind a cloak of secrecy.


Your description of the Gelug approach to emptiness is very unfamiliar to me. Maybe I'm misunderstanding you and it be great if you could clarify a little. I'm also wondering where you are getting this from?

I was thinking exactly along the lines of Cone's post when he said that for Gelugpas the intellectual view (read developing a correct conceptual understanding of emptiness) is certainly not irrelevant for the Vajrayana practitioner. So I was surprised when you objected, mainly because it is through intellectual analysis that Gelugs arrive at the non-affirming negation. They are certainly concerned with the validity of logic with regard to the ultimate, and it is for this reason that they adjust statements made about the four extremes. Also, in terms of the view of emptiness, for Gelugpas the Sutrayana and Vajrayana paths are the same and it is considered a fault not to take this view into tantric practice -and (despite some academics' assertions) certainly people are not expected to have a non-conceptual realization of emptiness before starting their Vajrayana practice.

I'm not sure what you mean when you say they might be nihilist if they didn't go onto Vajrayana, but I'll leave getting into that because I am not so comfortable discussing Vajrayana on boards.

Also your statement that the "Gelug emphasis on the Prasingika view is preparation for the Sutrayana Mahamudra" is equally confusing. The Gelugpa's version of sutra mahamudra is the Prasangika view - the distinction of sutra mahamudra for Gelugpas is that the conventional nature of the mind is taken as the object for those students of higher capacity.
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Re: Views of Shentong and Dolpopa

Postby Tom » Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:24 pm

In case my confusion was confusing :-)

In Ch9:2 of the Bodhicaryāvatāra Śāntideva is very clear that the ultimate is beyond the intellect. He says:
संवृतिः परमार्थश्च सत्यद्वयमिदं मतम्।
बुद्धेरगोचरस्तत्त्वं बुद्धिः संवृतिरुच्यते॥२॥

The two truths are considered to be the conventional and the ultimate. Reality is beyond the scope of the intellect बुद्धिः. The intellect बुद्धिः is said to be conventional.

།ཀུན་རྫོབ་དང་ནི་དོན་དམ་སྟེ། །འདི་ནི་བདེན་པ་གཉིས་སུ་འདོད།
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However, I think it is instructive that Gyeltsab Je feels the need to clarify Śāntideva's statement by saying that ultimate reality is actually a knowable object and that Śāntideva is just giving us a division of objects, and that in fact the ultimate is not beyond the mind since if it were then the realisation of it could not function to eliminate afflictive obscurations.
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Re: Views of Shentong and Dolpopa

Postby smcj » Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:54 pm

Tom wrote:
smcj wrote: The intellect is the wrong tool to approach emptiness. (Just ask a Zen person.) But since that is the tool that we have in our hand, then bring it to Dharma fully, so we can see how to put that tool down. It's not nihilism. It might be if they didn't go on to Vajrayana, but they do, albeit behind a cloak of secrecy.


Your description of the Gelug approach to emptiness is very unfamiliar to me. Maybe I'm misunderstanding you and it be great if you could clarify a little. I'm also wondering where you are getting this from?

My Gelug teacher.

I was thinking exactly along the lines of Cone's post when he said that for Gelugpas the intellectual view (read developing a correct conceptual understanding of emptiness) is certainly not irrelevant for the Vajrayana practitioner.

Developing the correct intellectual view of emptiness is Sutrayana practice. Specifically the Gelugpas go to great lengths to intellectually disprove the four possible logical scenarios for how something can abide. Since there are no logical postulates other than those four, they have disproven all logical possibilities. Since this is logically disproven, the logical mind is shown in the most incontrovertible way that logic cannot describe how things abide. There is no wiggle room for the mind other than to see that the intellect is inadequate to the task. The intellect has checkmated itself! That's the whole point. That's what prepares the mind for Vajrayana; not dragging conceptuality into it.

Also, in terms of the view of emptiness, for Gelugpas the Sutrayana and Vajrayana paths are the same and it is considered a fault not to take this view into tantric practice

The Gelugpas I've come across do not consider Sutrayana and Vajrayana at all the same. In terms of emptiness, it is not as if they take a different position when they do Vajrayana practice, but that since there is no intellectual answer, they proceed non-intellectually.

(despite some academics' assertions) certainly people are not expected to have a non-conceptual realization of emptiness before starting their Vajrayana practice.

Of course not.

Tsongkhapa's reforms were initiated as a reaction to the excesses of the Nyingmas of his time. He thought that advanced tantric practices were being misinterpreted and misapplied because people didn't have a clue about emptiness. He thought they were barking up the wrong tree. Hence his emphasis on training to get people into the ballpark. (Sorry for the mixed metaphors.)

I'm not sure what you mean when you say they might be nihilist if they didn't go onto Vajrayana, but I'll leave getting into that because I am not so comfortable discussing Vajrayana on boards.

I was being flippant. Sorry, shouldn't have said it.

Also your statement that the "Gelug emphasis on the Prasingika view is preparation for the Sutrayana Mahamudra" is equally confusing. The Gelugpa's version of sutra mahamudra is the Prasangika view - the distinction of sutra mahamudra for Gelugpas is that the conventional nature of the mind is taken as the object for those students of higher capacity.

The Sutra Mahamudra is the "look at your mind" type of thing. If ,when you are looking at your mind you find anything, that's the wrong answer. The Prasanghika view makes it clear that anything you find should be examined for an essence. That is why I say that Sutrayana Prasanghika view is compatible with and supportive of Sutrayana Mahamudra.

However, I think it is instructive that Gyeltsab Je feels the need to clarify Śāntideva's statement by saying that ultimate reality is actually a knowable object...

I do not think that is correct. If it is, then what is it? The Gelugpas negate any possible logical postulate.

...and that Śāntideva is just giving us a division of objects, and that in fact the ultimate is not beyond the mind since if it were then the realisation of it could not function to eliminate afflictive obscurations.

The ultimate is beyond the rational mind. There are other functioning parts of your mind besides intellect. You cannot not ride a bike, play an instrument, or juggle bowling pins using your intellect, yet people do it all the time.

Vajrayana practices are activities, actions. Vajrayana completion stage practices (dissolving things into emptiness) do not require intellectual support. But they do require actions.
Last edited by smcj on Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:34 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Views of Shentong and Dolpopa

Postby dzogchungpa » Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:04 pm

Malcolm wrote:In general, since the madhyamaka system of the two truths is incompatible with Dzogchen ...

This is interesting to me. Is there a good explanation of this point somehwere?
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