The Great Middle Way: Clarifying the Jonang View of Other-Emptiness Khentrul Rinpoche’s book on Zhentong emptiness from the Jonang view has been translated into English by Ives Waldo and Edited by Ven. Tenpai Gyaltsen.
There are four reasons why I felt that this book needed to be written.
Firstly, the tradition of Zhentong Madhyamaka is widely recognized and experienced by the lineage masters of all of the Tibetan traditions as being the view and doctrine which most clearly illuminates the very essence of the Buddha’s teachings. In accordance with this tradition, sutra and tantra are found to be completely non-contradictory and when dealing with the two truths, it is a most effective method for achieving liberation from conceptual fixation to the views of eternalism and nihilism. It also appears to have an extraordinary capacity to arouse the mind of enlightenment, bodhicitta—the mind that strives to bring ultimate benefit to sentient beings while also achieving one’s own ultimate liberation.
Therefore I thought, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if more people knew about this tradition and were able to realize it?” Inspired in this way and recognizing that these teachings are more valuable than the most precious of jewels, I, therefore, decided to write this text even though it is possible that I may offend those with fixated or biased views.
Secondly, throughout Tibet and also in many other parts of the world, the legendary kingdom of Shambhala is held to be a particularly precious pure land. For many, there is nothing more important than to take rebirth there. They know that through such a birth, they will definitely experience the genuine peace and harmony that comes from knowing the natural state of all phenomena.
However, achieving this result can only occur in reliance upon the Kalki Kings of Shambhala turning the wheel of dharma for the Age of Perfection. While some people are aware of this in general, they do not understand the specific reasons why this age is necessary, nor how it should be established. Since this is the principal focus of the teachings of the victorious Jonang tradition, I think it is very important that it is clearly understood.
Thirdly, throughout the world and especially in Tibet, thousands upon thousands of people have received the great empowerment of Kalachakra.
It is widely known to be a most incomparably exalted, profound and complete Dharma. However, most people aren’t fully aware or do not understand that only the Jonang are the principal holders of the complete textual and practice tradition of this system. This is largely due to the fact that they have historically avoided getting involved in politics and instead chose to stay in remote places where they could focus on practicing the Profound Path of Vajra Yoga in reliance on the view of Zhentong Madhyamaka.
However, due to these teachings being preserved only within the Jonang Tradition, many people in and outside of Tibet are not aware of them, nor do they understand them. If this trend continues, then these teachings are in danger of disappearing. Such a loss would be incredibly unfortunate not only for Tibet but also for the entire world. Therefore, it is my hope that by writing about how to embrace the view of Zhentong Madhyamaka, I will help to establish the limitless wealth of this incredibly precious treasure of the glorious and victorious Jonang tradition.
Finally, for the reasons stated above, so few people are even aware of the existence of the Jonang, let alone their profound view of Zhentong. Of the few that are aware, due to centuries of suppression that has continued up to recent times, there are many who think that the Jonang are a degenerate school of little import. Some even believe that the Jonang are completely non-existent. The fact that these views permeate modern Tibetan culture is extremely tragic.
I consider this extraordinary tradition of learning and practice to be established by some of the greatest minds that Tibet has ever produced. It is truly a great and profound treasure for this world. If we do not master it, then there can be no greater loss. For this reason, feeling a sense of great urgency to preserve this tradition in Tibet and also share it with the world, I have written this text.
Understanding these reasons, one may ask, “How did it happen that something so valuable could be neglected for so long?” Then I would answer that due to oppressive political views perpetuated over many centuries, these teachings were forgotten by the general public. Since the details of this history have been explained by many very intelligent people, I do not feel the need to discuss them further here.
However, even now, there have been a number of recent setbacks. Due to being short-sighted and dominated by attachment, aversion, and ignorance, there are those who continue to be swept away by the cycle of existence. Lost in the pursuit of their own ambition and desire, they allow their conceptual thoughts to consume them and therefore disregard the rights of others.
The natural decency which is common to all people in this world is now thickly wrapped in a sheath of shameless indecency and self-obsession. If we continue to act in this way, future generations will look back at this time with remorse and embarrassment at the way society has been driven by such greed and self-indulgent behavior.
With these teachings, we have the opportunity to immediately wake up from this deep slumber of ignorant behavior. Therefore, for the sake of our future generations, we must never again allow our minds to be infected by such noxious maladies. To this end, I have written this so that we may become masters of the hidden jewel of Tibet. By virtue of this effort,
I pray for an auspicious time in which this treasure of the Zhentong Madhyamaka is enjoyed as the shared legacy of all people in this world.
Khentrul Rinpoche, Shanghai, China 2018
The Great Middle Way: Clarifying the Jonang View of Other-Emptiness
By Khentrul Rinpoché
Translated by Ives Waldo
Edited by Ven. Tenpai Gyaltsen
In this book, Khentrul Rinpoché shines the vivid light of wisdom on the very subtle distinctions which establish the profound view of the Great Middle Way as propagated within the Jonang tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Rooted in the flawless textual tradition of the Buddha’s own teachings and those of the Bodhisattva Kings, this widely misunderstood philosophical system emphasizes the clear distinction between the emptiness of conventional reality and the infinite manifestation of ultimate reality, known as buddha-nature. With this direct and fearless analysis, Rinpoché challenges us to transcend narrow modes of thinking and to discover the limitless potential we each carry within.