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Buddhadharma : Summer 2007
buddhadharma| 77 |summer 2007 can ever finally defeat the other. Such philosophical inconclusiveness notwith- standing, it is crucial to understand that both the negative discourse favored by Rangtongpas and the positive discourse adopted by Shentongpas can be traced back to the beginnings of Buddhism, and that each is a voice in an ongoing dialogue – between negation and affirma- tion, absence and presence, critique and celebration – that runs through the entire history of the tradition. Early Buddhist sutras (as in the Pali Canon) contain frequent denials that there is a self to be found anywhere, but they also proclaim the natural lumi- nosity of the mind and the absolute difference between impermanent, unsat- isfactory, samsaric things and an unborn, unchanging nirvana. Mahayana literature may seem at times only to entail nega- tion after dizzying negation, but it also is replete with assertions of a glorious, real, enlightened reality, variously called mind, buddhanature (or the buddha- matrix), or dharmakaya. The authors of Buddhist tantric texts weave emptiness into their metaphysics, cosmology, and prescriptions for practice, but they also describe buddhahood in positive terms; for example, as an unchanging gnosis where great bliss and realization of emp- tiness are inseparable. Both negative and positive styles of Buddhist discourse made their way to Tibet, and they are insepa- rably interwoven there in the fabric of religious life: in scholastic debate, ritual practice, meditation procedure, and the popular imagination. Thus, whether or not one side can be vindicated, from the standpoint of cultural analysis, both seem indispensable. The conflict between Rangtongpas and Shentongpas may not have a solu- tion, and the arguments in Mountain Dharma and The Essence of Other-Emp- tiness may not change anyone’s mind about the philosophical issues dividing the two camps. Nevertheless, all those interested in Buddhist philosophy and its implications are indebted to Jeffrey Hopkins for making available these two classic Jonangpa texts, for they help bring balance to our understanding of a vital debate that still resonates through our puzzled attempts to comprehend, and live, what the Buddha really meant when he so famously declared everything everywhere empty. Transpersonal Therapy Skills Training Program (October-June) Various experiential workshops 3-4 year intensive, part-time, hands-on, experiential, psychotherapy skills training program, grounded in the perspectives of western psychology and the spiritual wisdom traditions of East and West. (October - June) Various experiential workshops www.transpersonalcanada.com or 416 481 6777 firstname.lastname@example.org www.worldspirit.org.uk ++ 44 161 928 5768 Zen Gardens Kyoto, Japan April & November Ten day tours