Different Kinds of Shentong

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Bakmoon
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Different Kinds of Shentong

Post by Bakmoon » Thu Nov 06, 2014 7:21 pm

Besides the Jonang school, the Kagyu school also has Shentong teachings, and also some Nyingmapas follow some form of Shentong (I've heard in some places that Ju Mipham was a Shentongpa for example, but I don't know how true that is). Could someone give a summary of how Shentong is presented and what the major differences between them of Shentong are in these different traditions?

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Re: Different Kinds of Shentong

Post by Silent Bob » Thu Nov 06, 2014 7:47 pm

You're asking for quite a bit. Perhaps you'd find the answers to your questions here:http://www.amazon.com/The-Other-Emptine ... 9937572673
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Re: Different Kinds of Shentong

Post by Malcolm » Thu Nov 06, 2014 7:48 pm

Bakmoon wrote:Besides the Jonang school, the Kagyu school also has Shentong teachings, and also some Nyingmapas follow some form of Shentong (I've heard in some places that Ju Mipham was a Shentongpa for example, but I don't know how true that is). Could someone give a summary of how Shentong is presented and what the major differences between them of Shentong are in these different traditions?
The origins of gzhan stong lie in the master Tsan Kawoche. He received teachings on the six limb yoga of Kalacakra from Somanatha (though apparently the translator was not good, and he did not understand Sanskrit). The lineage of instructions of this view eventually came down to Dolbupa, who gave the first formal voice to gzhan stong teachings. They were very popular for roughy 150 years and stimulated a lot of controversy because of Dolbupa's very literal reading of many passages in sutra and tantra and unique approach to Buddhist history.

His views were hotly contested by many scholars in Sakya especially, and also in Gelug.

This is phase one.

Phase two begins with Shakya Chogden, a Sakya scholar (15th century) who took a revolutionary (for Tibet) approach to Madhyamaka and tried to reconcile the views of the Yogacara and Madhyamaka, in some of his writings declaring them both definitive.

This is phase two.

Phase three consists of Jonang Taranatha's reply to various formulations of gzhan stong view, as well as rejecting arguments against Dolbupa in particular.

This is phase three.

Phase four comes about when RIgzin Tsewang Norbu a Nyingma abbot, terton and scholar who lived in the 18th century sought to revive Kalacakra and received Kalacakra from the Jonangpas surviving in central Tibet. He passed them onto Situ Panchen, who established both the gzhan stong view as well as the Dro system of Kalacakra at Palpung.

The basis difference among these different species of gzhan stong has to do with how whether one follows in the footsteps of Jonang, or Shakya Chogden.

M
Last edited by Malcolm on Thu Nov 06, 2014 8:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Different Kinds of Shentong

Post by mutsuk » Thu Nov 06, 2014 8:28 pm

Malcolm wrote: Phase four comes about when RIgzin Tsewang Dorje, a Nyingma abbot, terton and scholar
You mean Kah thog Rig 'dzin Tshe dbang nor bu (1698-1755), right ?

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Re: Different Kinds of Shentong

Post by Malcolm » Thu Nov 06, 2014 8:32 pm

mutsuk wrote:
Malcolm wrote: Phase four comes about when RIgzin Tsewang Dorje, a Nyingma abbot, terton and scholar
You mean Kah thog Rig 'dzin Tshe dbang nor bu (1698-1755), right ?
Yes, that was a typo...
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Re: Different Kinds of Shentong

Post by smcj » Fri Nov 07, 2014 3:44 am

The Guy Newland YouTube videos goes into this a bit. In one video he talks about an ever a little over 100 years ago in eastern Tibet. Some guy, that nobody has heard from before or since, wrote a monastery with a question. The letter was well written and sincere, so the monastery had some monk write him back. The letter from the monastery lists 7 different kinds of Shentong that were popular at the time in easter Tibet. Newland doesn't go into too much detail, but that should give you an idea of how many forms there can be.

Within the Kagyu Newland says that the 3rd Karmapa was very Shentong, whereas subsequent Karmapas have dialed it back. So even within a very organized sect like the Karma Kagyus things change over time. (I've heard different versions of that story though, and how Shentong the 3rd Karmapa was.) Some say that later Karmapas rejected the whole thing. I believe that the current Karmapa(s) are Shentongpas.

So there are lots of different types. HHDL says that there is good Shentong and bad Shentong. I'd love to hear him elaborate someday. I don't know the details but evidently the Jonang version isn't to his liking.

But the Newland videos aren't about Shentong. They're mostly about Madhyamaka, how the different sects see it, and how their views have evolved over time. If you want to hear about that they are highly recommended. Newland is a Gelugpa, so he whole Shenong thing is skewed a bit.
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Re: Different Kinds of Shentong

Post by Grigoris » Fri Nov 07, 2014 10:40 am

smcj wrote:The Guy Newland YouTube videos goes into this a bit. In one video he talks about an ever a little over 100 years ago in eastern Tibet. Some guy, that nobody has heard from before or since, wrote a monastery with a question. The letter was well written and sincere, so the monastery had some monk write him back. The letter from the monastery lists 7 different kinds of Shentong that were popular at the time in easter Tibet. Newland doesn't go into too much detail, but that should give you an idea of how many forms there can be.

Within the Kagyu Newland says that the 3rd Karmapa was very Shentong, whereas subsequent Karmapas have dialed it back. So even within a very organized sect like the Karma Kagyus things change over time. (I've heard different versions of that story though, and how Shentong the 3rd Karmapa was.) Some say that later Karmapas rejected the whole thing. I believe that the current Karmapa(s) are Shentongpas.

So there are lots of different types. HHDL says that there is good Shentong and bad Shentong. I'd love to hear him elaborate someday. I don't know the details but evidently the Jonang version isn't to his liking.

But the Newland videos aren't about Shentong. They're mostly about Madhyamaka, how the different sects see it, and how their views have evolved over time. If you want to hear about that they are highly recommended. Newland is a Gelugpa, so he whole Shenong thing is skewed a bit.
Care to share a link to the videos?
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Re: Different Kinds of Shentong

Post by Bakmoon » Fri Nov 07, 2014 1:16 pm

smcj wrote:The Guy Newland YouTube videos goes into this a bit. In one video he talks about an ever a little over 100 years ago in eastern Tibet. Some guy, that nobody has heard from before or since, wrote a monastery with a question. The letter was well written and sincere, so the monastery had some monk write him back. The letter from the monastery lists 7 different kinds of Shentong that were popular at the time in easter Tibet. Newland doesn't go into too much detail, but that should give you an idea of how many forms there can be.

Within the Kagyu Newland says that the 3rd Karmapa was very Shentong, whereas subsequent Karmapas have dialed it back. So even within a very organized sect like the Karma Kagyus things change over time. (I've heard different versions of that story though, and how Shentong the 3rd Karmapa was.) Some say that later Karmapas rejected the whole thing. I believe that the current Karmapa(s) are Shentongpas.

So there are lots of different types. HHDL says that there is good Shentong and bad Shentong. I'd love to hear him elaborate someday. I don't know the details but evidently the Jonang version isn't to his liking.

But the Newland videos aren't about Shentong. They're mostly about Madhyamaka, how the different sects see it, and how their views have evolved over time. If you want to hear about that they are highly recommended. Newland is a Gelugpa, so he whole Shenong thing is skewed a bit.
I love this series, in fact it's one of the main inspirations for me to want to learn more about the different kinds of Shentong. Would you happen to know where Guy Newland got the translation of the monastary's response about the seven kinds of Shentong? I'd like to read it.
Sherab Dorje wrote:Care to share a link to the videos?
Here it is. You will find the section on the different positions at the 51 minute mark: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20gFRRf ... -Is2CmOoyC" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Different Kinds of Shentong

Post by conebeckham » Fri Nov 07, 2014 2:38 pm

Malcolm wrote: Phase four comes about when RIgzin Tsewang Norbu a Nyingma abbot, terton and scholar who lived in the 18th century sought to revive Kalacakra and received Kalacakra from the Jonangpas surviving in central Tibet. He passed them onto Situ Panchen, who established both the gzhan stong view as well as the Dro system of Kalacakra at Palpung.

The basis difference among these different species of gzhan stong has to do with how whether one follows in the footsteps of Jonang, or Shakya Chogden.

M
Well, The current interest in Shentong is almost entirely due to the writings of Kongtrul, so I'd say that is Phase Five--in some sense, the phase we are currently in. Of course, he was disciple of Situ Panchen at Palpung. When it's taught these days, Kongtrul's texts and commentaries are the ones that are most often used in the Kagyu lineage, at least. But I believe, also, Khyentse Wangpo was a Shentongpa, was he not?

Also, Kongtrul is considered to be the Tulku of Jetsun Taranatha (amongst others, of course).

It would be interesting to explore further any relationship between the presentation of Shentong and the Tantric view espoused in Kalacakra, too.
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"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
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Re: Different Kinds of Shentong

Post by Malcolm » Fri Nov 07, 2014 4:01 pm

conebeckham wrote:
Malcolm wrote: Phase four comes about when RIgzin Tsewang Norbu a Nyingma abbot, terton and scholar who lived in the 18th century sought to revive Kalacakra and received Kalacakra from the Jonangpas surviving in central Tibet. He passed them onto Situ Panchen, who established both the gzhan stong view as well as the Dro system of Kalacakra at Palpung.

The basis difference among these different species of gzhan stong has to do with how whether one follows in the footsteps of Jonang, or Shakya Chogden.

M
Well, The current interest in Shentong is almost entirely due to the writings of Kongtrul, so I'd say that is Phase Five--in some sense, the phase we are currently in. Of course, he was disciple of Situ Panchen at Palpung. When it's taught these days, Kongtrul's texts and commentaries are the ones that are most often used in the Kagyu lineage, at least. But I believe, also, Khyentse Wangpo was a Shentongpa, was he not?

Also, Kongtrul is considered to be the Tulku of Jetsun Taranatha (amongst others, of course).

It would be interesting to explore further any relationship between the presentation of Shentong and the Tantric view espoused in Kalacakra, too.
Yes, but Kongtrul largely follows Shakya Chogden, and not Dolbupa and Taranatha, even though he gives lip service to both of the former, what he actually presents is more consistent with Chogden.

Some people might say that Khyentse was a gzhan stong pa, but I wouldn't. His take on the treatises of Maitreya is that they concerned luminosity and the treatises of Nāgārjuna concerned emptiness. Since these two are actually synonymous from a Sakya point of view, I don't think you can call Khyentse a gzhan stong pa. He instead presents the Sakya position in a text called The Madhyamaka Instructional Manual that Harmonizes the Two Traditions,"meaning Nāgārjuna and Maitreya.

When considering the point of view of Maitreya, he states that in this system, the wisdom at the time of the basis, the luminous original nature of the mind, is the basis of samsara and nirvana. He says:

"The non-recognition of that, which manifests the appearances of dualistic delusions along with their latent traces, is this connate ignorance that is the root of the samsara. Therefore, it is very important to cut the root of this and and dissolve it into the dharmadhātu."

He identifies this wisdom or pure consciousness, the luminous nature of the mind, as the dharmadhātu. In reference to the much discussed moon metaphor, he states:

"The luminous original nature of the mind free from free from dualism is clear like a moon disc, is non-conceptual and exists in one's heart."

He never discusses this in terms of the three natures and so on, which is characteristic of gzhan stong in general, and the basis for most criticism of gzhan stong, incidentally.

When he does talk about gzhan stong, he discusses it in a series of texts I call "Three Madhyamaka views." he says:
The is the position of the great omniscient Jonang pa is discussed briefly, ultimate truth is without arising or perishing, unconditioned and beyond dependent origination. Relative truth has the character of arising and perishing, depends on cause and conditions and is conditioned.
When he presents the Sakya view, it is identical to his presentation in The Madhyamaka Instructional Manual that Harmonizes the Two Traditions.

So while Khyentse was broadminded, and so on, his own views are in line with the Sakya Gongma.
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Re: Different Kinds of Shentong

Post by bryandavis » Fri Nov 07, 2014 4:03 pm

Greetings,

Great helpful info so far in this thread, thanks to all.

Just thought I would add two notes that are interesting. I just attended the teaching in NYC by HH the Dalai Lama. It was on Tsonkhapas Essence of True Eloquence (which I'm sure was eloquent, but I just cant stay awake during these hashed out middle way presentations. Dozed off so many times.) in which HH said, not a verbatim quote: "When we are discussing emptiness of phenomenon, trying to explain our position we use prasangika model, but the yogi, or practitioner who is experiencing from subjective standpoint, then sort of zhentong or other empty is closer to how it is."

Also in the book by HH 'mind in comfort and ease' in which he is going over the Longchenpa text, He uses Dodrupchen Jikme Tenpe Nyimas commentary as his basis for explanation he says on page 181: "...when discussed for the purpose of teaching, it is mainly spoken of in terms of a non-implivative negation. But when it comes to meditation on emptiness it is best considered as an affirming negation."

My own two cents. Mountain Doctrine ( Translated by Jeffery Hopkins, since I cant read tibetan ) was very helpful for me in understanding the connection of sutra and vajrayana. And the explanation of Ground Path and Fruition was very detailed and comprehensive. The only other text I have read in full on Madhyamaka is Shantarakasita's Madhyamakalankara, which I also really liked.

I have tried to read Tsongkhapas Ocean of Reasoning commentary on Mulamadhyamakakarika. Never finished it. Maybe one day.

All the best,

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Re: Different Kinds of Shentong

Post by smcj » Sat Nov 08, 2014 4:57 am

Would you happen to know where Guy Newland got the translation of the monastary's response about the seven kinds of Shentong? I'd like to read it.
I assume he read it in Tibetan. But I don't think he's such a celebrity that he'd dismiss a sincere and intelligent inquiry. After all it would be completely apropos of the original exchange 100 years ago. If so please post his response here. I'd like to know too!
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Re: Different Kinds of Shentong

Post by conebeckham » Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:39 pm

I'd recommend Brunnholzl's latest published translation, When the Clouds Part, if anyone's interested in the various subtle differences in presentation regarding "Shentong." I've not finished it, but so far it's clarified a great deal.
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")

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Re: Different Kinds of Shentong

Post by Bakmoon » Wed Apr 15, 2015 9:22 pm

conebeckham wrote:I'd recommend Brunnholzl's latest published translation, When the Clouds Part, if anyone's interested in the various subtle differences in presentation regarding "Shentong." I've not finished it, but so far it's clarified a great deal.
:anjali: Thank you very much. I'll put that book on my reading list for sure.

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Re: Different Kinds of Shentong

Post by Lingpupa » Thu Apr 16, 2015 1:55 pm

I'll second Cone. Karl is practically a tulku of Manjushri. That being said, there are some wonderful translators working from the same or a similar stable.
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Re: Different Kinds of Shentong

Post by conebeckham » Thu May 21, 2015 4:05 am

དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")

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Re: Different Kinds of Shentong

Post by Malcolm » Thu May 21, 2015 2:21 pm

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Re: Different Kinds of Shentong

Post by Norwegian » Thu May 21, 2015 2:30 pm

Malcolm wrote:Image
:twothumbsup:

(I don't claim any expertise in Madhyamaka, far from it, but what I find for myself, is that there's a greater deal of clarity and directness in the Indian texts than there is in certain Tibetan texts, where the feeling you get is that it has become the text scholarly equivalent of a rather long and drawn out Yngwie Malmsteen guitar-solo: Possibly impressive, but over the top, and absolutely not necessary at all...)

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Re: Different Kinds of Shentong

Post by smcj » Thu May 21, 2015 2:45 pm

Norwegian wrote: (I don't claim any expertise in Madhyamaka, far from it, but what I find for myself, is that there's a greater deal of clarity and directness in the Indian texts than there is in certain Tibetan texts, where the feeling you get is that it has become the text scholarly equivalent of a rather long and drawn out Yngwie Malmsteen guitar-solo: Possibly impressive, but over the top, and absolutely not necessary at all...)
He doesn't restrict himself to just Indian texts, but I like Guy Newland's videos on "Varieties of Tibetan Madhyamaka". He's Gelug, but he does his best to factor out his own bias. He's not 100% successful, but he is aware of it and tries hard to do it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIkrW7a ... -Is2CmOoyC

Each sect gets its own video that's about 90 minutes long. It's a great resource for dilettantes like me, like a college level "Madhyamaka 101" series of lectures. And yes, he does get into the whole Shentong thing too. But being Gelug it's obviously not his bag.
Last edited by smcj on Thu May 21, 2015 2:53 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Different Kinds of Shentong

Post by Karma Dondrup Tashi » Thu May 21, 2015 2:48 pm

Malcolm wrote:
conebeckham wrote:
Malcolm wrote: ... even though he gives lip service to both of the former, what he actually presents is more consistent with Chogden.
Hm, I was thinking rime was perhaps "phase five" but maybe not ...

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