The Nyingma tradition is the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. "Nyingma" means "ancient," and is referred to as Ngangyur because it is founded on the first translations of Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Old Tibetan in the eighth century. The Tibetan alphabet and grammar was created for this endeavour; the Nyingma believes in hidden terma treasures and place an emphasis on Dzogchen. They incorporate local religious practices and local deities and elements of shamanism, some of which it shares with Bon; the Nyingma tradition comprises several distinct lineages that all trace their origins to the Indian master Padmasambhava. Traditionally, Nyingmapa practice was advanced orally among a loose network of lay practitioners. Monasteries with celibate monks and nuns, along with the practice of reincarnated spiritual leaders, are adaptations. In modern times, the Nyingma lineage has been centered in Kham and has been associated with the Rime movement. Traditional Nyingma texts see themselves as a lineage, established by Samantabhadra, the “primordial buddha” and, the embodiment of the Dharmakāya, the "truth body" of all buddhas.
Nyingma sees Vajradhara and other buddhas as teachers of their many doctrines. Samantabhadra's wisdom and compassion spontaneously radiates myriad teachings, all appropriate to the capacities of different beings and entrusts them to "knowledge holders", the chief of, Dorjé Chörap, who gives them to Vajrasattva and the dakini Légi Wangmoché, who in turn disseminate them among human siddhas; the first human teacher of the tradition was said to be Garab Dorje. Padmasambhava is the most famous and revered figure of the early human teachers and there are many legends about him, making it difficult to separate history from myth. Other early teachers include Vimalamitra, Jambel Shé Nyen, Sri Simha, Jñanasutra. Most of these figures are associated with the Indian region of Oddiyana. Buddhism existed in Tibet at least from the time of king Thothori Nyantsen in the eastern regions; the reign of Songtsen Gampo saw an expansion of Tibetan power, the adoption of a writing system and promotion of Buddhism.
Around 760, Trisong Detsen invited Padmasambhava and the Nalanda abbot Śāntarakṣita to Tibet to introduce Buddhism to the "Land of Snows." Trisong Detsen ordered the translation of all Buddhist texts into Tibetan. Padmasambhava, Śāntarakṣita, 108 translators, 25 of Padmasambhava's nearest disciples worked for many years in a gigantic translation-project; the translations from this period formed the base for the large scriptural transmission of Dharma teachings into Tibet and are known as the "Old Translations". Padmasambhava supervised the translation of tantras. Padmasambhava and Śāntarakṣita founded the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet: Samye. However, this situation would not last: The explosive developments were interrupted in the mid-ninth century as the Empire began to disintegrate, leading to a century-long interim of civil war and decentralization about which we know little; the early Vajrayana, transmitted from India to Tibet may be differentiated by the specific term "Mantrayana". "Mantrayana" is the Sanskrit of what became rendered in Tibetan as "Secret Mantra": this is the self-identifying term employed in the earliest literature.
From this basis, Vajrayana was established in its entirety in Tibet. From the eighth until the eleventh century, this textual tradition was the only form of Buddhism in Tibet. With the reign of King Langdarma, the brother of King Ralpachen, a time of political instability ensued which continued over the next 300 years, during which time Buddhism was persecuted and forced underground because the King saw it as a threat to the indigenous Bön tradition. Langdarma persecuted monks and nuns, attempted to wipe out Buddhism, his efforts, were not successful. A few monks escaped to Amdo in the northeast of Tibet, where they preserved the lineage of monastic ordination; the period of the 9-10th centuries saw increasing popularity of a new class of texts which would be classified as the Dzogchen "Mind series". Some of these texts present themselves as translations of Indian works, though according to David Germano, most are original Tibetan compositions; these texts promote the view that true nature of the mind is empty and luminous and seem to reject traditional forms of practice.
An emphasis on the Dzogchen textual tradition is a central feature of the Nyingma school. From the eleventh century onward, there was an attempt to reintroduce Vajrayana Buddhism to Tibet; this saw new translation efforts which led to the foundation of new Vajrayana schools which are collectively known as the Sarma "New translation" schools because they reject the old translations of the Nyingma canon. It was at that time that Nyingmapas began to see themselves as a distinct group and the term "Nyingma" came into usage to refer to those who continued to use the "Old" or "Ancient" translations. Nyingma writers such as Rongzom and Nyangrel were instrumental in defending the old texts from the critiques of the Sarma translators and in establishing a foundation for the mythology and philosophy of the Nyingma tradition. Rongzom Chokyi Zangpo was the most influential of the 11th century Nyingma authors, wr
Tibetan Buddhism is the form of Buddhist doctrine and institutions named after the lands of Tibet, but found in the regions surrounding the Himalayas and much of Central Asia. It derives from the latest stages of Indian Buddhism and preserves "the Tantric status quo of eighth-century India." It has been spread outside of Tibet due to the Mongol power of the Yuan dynasty, founded by Kublai Khan, that ruled China. Tibetan Buddhism applies Tantric practices deity yoga, aspires to Buddhahood or the rainbow body. Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet has four major schools, namely Nyingma, Kagyu and Gelug; the Jonang is a smaller school, the Rimé movement is an eclectic movement involving the Sakya and Nyingma schools. Among the prominent proponents of Tibetan Buddhism are the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama, the leaders of Gelug school in Tibet. Westerners unfamiliar with Tibetan Buddhism turned to China for an understanding. There the term used; the term was taken up by western scholars including Hegel, as early as 1822.
Insofar as it implies a discontinuity between Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, the term has been discredited. Another term, "Vajrayāna" is used mistakenly for Tibetan Buddhism. More it signifies a certain subset of practices included in, not only Tibetan Buddhism, but other forms of Buddhism as well; the native Tibetan term for all Buddhism is "doctrine of the internalists". In the west, the term "Indo-Tibetan Buddhism" has become current, in acknowledgement of its derivation from the latest stages of Buddhist development in northern India. Buddhism was formally introduced into Tibet during the Tibetan Empire. Sanskrit Buddhist scriptures from India were first translated into Tibetan under the reign of the Tibetan king Songtsän Gampo, In the 8th century King Trisong Detsen established it as the official religion of the state. Trisong Detsen invited Indian Buddhist scholars to his court, including Padmasambhāva and Śāntarakṣita ), who founded the Nyingma, The Ancient Ones, the oldest school of Tibetan Buddhism.
There was influence from the Sarvāstivādins from Kashmir to the southwest and Khotan to the northwest. Trisong Detsen invited the Chan master Moheyan to transmit the Dharma at Samye Monastery. According to Tibetan sources, Moheyan lost the socalled council of Lhasa, a debate sponsored by Trisong Detsen on the nature of emptiness with the Indian master Kamalaśīla, the king declared Kamalaśīlas philosophy should form the basis for Tibetan Buddhism. A reversal in Buddhist influence began under King Langdarma, his death was followed by the socalled Era of Fragmentation, a period of Tibetan history in the 9th and 10th centuries. During this era, the political centralization of the earlier Tibetan Empire collapsed; the late 10th and 11th century saw a revival of Buddhism in Tibet. Coinciding with the early discoveries of "hidden treasures", the 11th century saw a revival of Buddhist influence originating in the far east and far west of Tibet. In the west, Rinchen Zangpo founded temples and monasteries.
Prominent scholars and teachers were again invited from India. In 1042 Atiśa arrived in Tibet at the invitation of a west Tibetan king; this renowned exponent of the Pāla form of Buddhism from the Indian university of Vikramashila moved to central Tibet. There his chief disciple, Dromtonpa founded the Kadampa school of Tibetan Buddhism, under whose influence the New Translation schools of today evolved; the Sakya, the Grey Earth school, was founded by Khön Könchok Gyelpo, a disciple of the great Lotsawa, Drogmi Shākya. It is headed by the Sakya Trizin, traces its lineage to the mahasiddha Virūpa, represents the scholarly tradition. A renowned exponent, Sakya Pandita, was the great-grandson of Khön Könchok Gyelpo. Other seminal Indian teachers were his student Naropa; the Kagyu, the Lineage of the Word, is an oral tradition, much concerned with the experiential dimension of meditation. Its most famous exponent was an 11th-century mystic, it contains one major and one minor subsect. The first, the Dagpo Kagyu, encompasses those Kagyu schools that trace back to the Indian master Naropa via Marpa Lotsawa and Gampopa Tibetan Buddhism exerted a strong influence from the 11th century CE among the peoples of Inner Asia the Mongols.
The Mongols invaded Tibet in 1240 and 1244. The Mongols had annexed Kham to the east. Sakya Paṇḍita was appointed Viceroy of Central Tibet by the Mongol court in 1249. Tibet was incorporated into the Mongol Empire, retaining nominal power over religious and regional political affairs, while the Mongols managed a structural and administrative rule over the region, reinforced by the rare military intervention. Tibetan Buddhism was adopted as the de facto state religion by the Mongol Yuan dynasty, founded by Kublai Khan, whose capital is Xanadu. With the decline of the Yuan dynansty and the loose administration of the following Ming dynasty, Central Tibet was ruled by successive local families from the 14th to the 17th century, Tibet would gain de facto a high autonomy after the 14th century. Jangchub Gyaltsän became the strongest political family in the mid 14th century. During this period the reformist scholar Je Tso
Vajrayāna, Mantrayāna, Tantrayāna, Tantric Buddhism and Esoteric Buddhism are terms referring to the various Buddhist traditions of Tantra and "Secret Mantra", which developed in medieval India and spread to Tibet and East Asia. In Tibet, Buddhist Tantra is termed Vajrayāna, while in China it is known as Tángmì Hanmi 漢密 or Mìzōng, in Pali it is known as Pyitsayãna, in Japan it is known as Mikkyō. Vajrayāna is translated as Diamond Vehicle or Thunderbolt Vehicle, referring to the Vajra, a mythical weapon, used as a ritual implement. Founded by medieval Indian Mahāsiddhas, Vajrayāna subscribes to the literature known as the Buddhist Tantras, it includes practices that make use of mantras, mudras and the visualization of deities and Buddhas. According to Vajrayāna scriptures, the term Vajrayāna refers to one of three vehicles or routes to enlightenment, the other two being the Śrāvakayāna and Mahāyāna. Tantric Buddhism can be traced back to groups of wandering yogis called Mahasiddhas. According to Reynolds, the mahasiddhas date to the medieval period in the Northern Indian Subcontinent, used methods that were radically different than those used in Buddhist monasteries including living in forests and caves and practiced meditation in charnel grounds similar to those practiced by Shaiva Kapalika ascetics.
These yogic circles came together in tantric feasts in sacred sites and places which included dancing, sex rites and the ingestion of taboo substances like alcohol, meat, etc. At least two of the Mahasiddhas given in the Buddhist literature are names for Shaiva Nath saints who practiced Hatha Yoga. According to Schumann, a movement called, it was dominated by long-haired, wandering Mahasiddhas who challenged and ridiculed the Buddhist establishment. The Mahasiddhas pursued siddhis, magical powers such as flight and extrasensory perception as well as liberation. Ronald M. Davidson states that, "Buddhist siddhas demonstrated the appropriation of an older sociological form—the independent sage/magician, who lived in a liminal zone on the borders between fields and forests, their rites involved the conjunction of sexual practices and Buddhist mandala visualization with ritual accouterments made from parts of the human body, so that control may be exercised over the forces hindering the natural abilities of the siddha to manipulate the cosmos at will.
At their most extreme, siddhas represented a defensive position within the Buddhist tradition and sustained for the purpose of aggressive engagement with the medieval culture of public violence. They reinforced their reputations for personal sanctity with rumors of the magical manipulation of various flavors of demonic females, cemetery ghouls, other things that go bump in the night. Operating on the margins of both monasteries and polite society, some adopted the behaviors associated with ghosts, not only as a religious praxis but as an extension of their implied threats." Many of the elements found in Buddhist tantric literature are not wholly new. Earlier Mahayana sutras contained some elements which are emphasized in the Tantras, such as mantras and dharani; the use of protective verses or phrases dates back to the Vedic period and can be seen in the early Buddhist texts, where they are termed paritta. Mahayana texts like the Kāraṇḍavyūhasūtra expound the use of mantras such as Om mani padme hum, associated with vastly powerful beings like Avalokiteshvara.
The practice of visualization of Buddhas such as Amitābha is seen in pre-tantric texts like the Longer Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra. There are other Mahayana sutras which contain "proto-tantric" material such as the Gandavyuha sutra and the Dasabhumika which might have served as a central source of visual imagery for Tantric texts. Vajrayana developed a large corpus of texts called the Buddhist Tantras, some of which can be traced to at least the 7th century CE but might be older; the dating of the tantras is "a difficult, indeed an impossible task" according to David Snellgrove. Some of the earliest of these texts, Kriya tantras such as the Mañjuśrī-mūla-kalpa, teach the use of mantras and dharanis for worldly ends including curing illness, controlling the weather and generating wealth; the Tattvasaṃgraha Tantra, classed as a "Yoga tantra", is one of the first Buddhist tantras which focuses on liberation as opposed to worldly goals. In another early tantra, the Vajrasekhara Tantra, the influential schema of the five Buddha families is developed.
Other early tantras include the Guhyasamāja Tantra. The Guhyasamāja is a Mahayoga class of Tantra, which features new forms of ritual practice considered "left-hand" such as the use of taboo substances like alcohol, sexual yoga, charnel ground practices which evoke wrathful deities. Indeed, Ryujun Tajima divides the tantras into those which were "a development of Mahayanist thought" and those "formed in a rather popular mould toward the end of the eighth century and declining into the esoterism of the left", this "left esoterism" refers to the Yogini tantras and works associated with wandering antinomian yogis. Monastic Vajrayana Buddhists reinterpreted and internalized these radically transgressive and taboo practices as metaphors and visualization exercises; these tantras such as the Hevajra Tantra and the Chakrasamvara are classed as "Yogini tantras" and represent the final form of development of
Schools of Buddhism
The schools of Buddhism are the various institutional and doctrinal divisions of Buddhism that have existed from ancient times up to the present. The classification and nature of various doctrinal, philosophical or cultural facets of the schools of Buddhism is vague and has been interpreted in many different ways due to the sheer number of different sects, movements, etc. that have made up or make up the whole of Buddhist traditions. The sectarian and conceptual divisions of Buddhist thought are part of the modern framework of Buddhist studies, as well as comparative religion in Asia. From a English-language standpoint, to some extent in most of Western academia, Buddhism is separated into two groups at its foundation: Theravāda "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching," and Mahāyāna the "Great Vehicle." The most common classification among scholars is threefold, with Mahāyāna itself split between the traditional Mahāyāna teachings, the Vajrayāna teachings which emphasize esotericism.
The Macmillan Encyclopedia of Religion distinguishes three types of classification of Buddhism, separated into "movements", "Nikāyas" and "doctrinal schools": Schools: Theravada in South Asia and Southeast Asia. Mahāyāna in East Asia. Vajrayāna in Tibet, Bhutan and the Russian republic of Kalmykia. Secular Buddhism in the Western Buddhism Nikāyas, or monastic fraternities, three of which survive at the present day: Theravāda, in Southeast Asia and South Asia Dharmaguptaka, in China and Vietnam Mūlasarvāstivāda, in the Tibetan tradition Doctrinal schools Svatantrika & Prasaṅgika The terminology for the major divisions of Buddhism can be confusing, as Buddhism is variously divided by scholars and practitioners according to geographic and philosophical criteria, with different terms being used in different contexts; the following terms may be encountered in descriptions of the major Buddhist divisions: "Conservative Buddhism" an alternative name for the early Buddhist schools. "Early Buddhist schools" the schools divided in its first few centuries.
"Ekayāna Mahayana texts such as the Lotus Sutra and the Avatamsaka Sutra sought to unite all the different teachings into a single great way. These texts serve as the inspiration for using the term Ekayāna in the sense of "one vehicle"; this "one vehicle" became a key aspect of the doctrines and practices of Tiantai and Tendai Buddhist sects, which subsequently influenced Chán and Zen doctrines and practices. In Japan, the one-vehicle teaching of the Lotus Sutra inspired the formation of the Nichiren sect. "Esoteric Buddhism" considered synonymous with "Vajrayāna". Some scholars have applied the term to certain practices found within the Theravāda in Cambodia. "Hīnayāna" meaning "lesser vehicle." It is considered a controversial term when applied by the Mahāyāna to mistakenly refer to the Theravāda school, as such is viewed as condescending and pejorative. Moreover, Hīnayāna refers to the now non extant schools with limited set of views and results, prior to the development of the Mahāyāna traditions.
The term is most used as a way of describing a stage on the path in Tibetan Buddhism, but is mistakenly confused with the contemporary Theravāda tradition, far more complex and profound, than the literal and limiting definition attributed to Hīnayāna. Its use in scholarly publications is now considered controversial."Lamaism" an old term, still sometimes used, synonymous with Tibetan Buddhism. "Mahāyāna" a movement that emerged from early Buddhist schools, together with its descendants, East Asian and Tibetan Buddhism. Vajrayāna traditions are sometimes listed separately; the main use of the term in East Asian and Tibetan traditions is in reference to spiritual levels, regardless of school. "Mainstream Buddhism" a term used by some scholars for the early Buddhist schools. "Mantrayāna" considered synonymous with "Vajrayāna". The Tendai school in Japan has been described. "Newar Buddhism" caste based Buddhism with patrilineal descent and Sanskrit texts. "Nikāya Buddhism" or "schools" an alternative term for the early Buddhist schools.
"Non-Mahāyāna" an alternative term for the early Buddhist schools. "Northern Buddhism" an alternative term used by some scholars for Tibetan Buddhism. An older term still sometimes used to encompass both East Asian and Tibetan traditions, it has been used to refer to East Asian Buddhism alone, without Tibetan Buddhism. "Secret Mantra" an alternative rendering of Mantrayāna, a more literal translation of the term used by schools in Tibetan Buddhism when referring to themselves. "Sectarian Buddhism" an alternative name for the early Buddhist schools. "Southeast Asian Buddhism" an alternative name used by some scholars for Theravāda. "Southern Buddhism" an alternative name used by some scholars for Theravāda. "Śravakayāna" an alternative term sometimes used for the early Buddhist schools. "Tantrayāna" or "Tantric Buddhism" considered synonymous with "Vajrayāna". However, one scholar describes the tantra divisions of some editions of the Tibetan scriptures as including Śravakayāna, Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna texts.
Kamalaśīla was an Indian Buddhist of Nalanda Mahavihara who accompanied Śāntarakṣita to Tibet at the request of Trisong Detsen. Dargyay, et al. convey a lineage of transmission and translation of Śīla, Sutrayana Buddhavacana and the Six Pāramitā, from India to Tibet: The Indian pandits, represented by Śāntarakṣita, Kamalaśīla, his disciple Ye-śes-dbang-po, form a known group. These scholars were all defenders of the Madhyamaka school, based upon Nāgārjuna's teachings. First of all, they taught the ten rules of behaviour of the Buddhist ethics and a summary of the teachings according to the canonic Sūtras of the Mahāyāna, as well as the virtuous works of the six pāramitās; these exercises are supposed to lead, in a long endless way, to the gradual ascent to the acquisition of higher intellectual abilities culminating in Buddhahood. This trend was intensified after the debate of bSam-yas had taken place in the years 792 to 794. In 793 Trisong Detsen resolved. Following intense protests from Moheyan's supporters, Trisong Detsen proposed to settle the matter by sponsoring a debate, the "Council of Lhasa", although it may have taken place at Samye, a considerable distance from Lhasa.
Kamalaśila was invited to represent Vajrayana while Moheyan represented the East Mountain Teaching of Chan Buddhism. Most Tibetan sources state that the debate was decided in Kamasila's favour and Moheyan was required to leave the country and that all sudden-enlightenment texts were gathered and destroyed by royal decree; this was a pivotal event in the history of Tibetan Buddhism, which would afterward continue to follow the late Indian model with only minor influence from China. Moheyan's teachings were a mixture of the East Mountain Teachings associated with Yuquan Shenxiu and with the teachings of Baotang Wuzhu. There is a Cham dance that retells the story of the Council of Lhasa related to the teachings of Chöd. Moheyan is depicted as of ample girth, goaded by children. Chöd is a product of both the Chinese transmissions of Buddhism into the Himalayas. For a discussion of the Dunhuang fulcrum of the entwined relationship of Chinese and Indian Buddhism see van Schaik and Dalton. For simplicity, the Vajrayana transmission may be characterised as "gradual" and the Chan as "direct".
It needs to be emphasised that this neat dichotomy in characterisation of these two approaches is only valid for the historical context of the great debate between Kamalaśīla and Moheyan and then it is still open to dialectic. According to the lore of the orthodox, prevailing Tibetan cultural tradition, Kamalaśīla, a scholar educated at Nalanda, advocated the "gradual" process to enlightenment; the historicity of this debate has been drawn into question by Tucci & Heissig and Ruegg though this does not lessen its importance in defining the religious and cultural traditions of Tibet. Kamalaśīla was handsome and a great orator and "won" the debate: though there are conflicting primary sources and secondary accounts. One hagiography asserts that directly after this debate with Moheyan, as Kamalaśīla was making his way down from the Himalaya to the Indian lowlands, he was incited to enact phowa through compassionate duress, transferring his mindstream to animate a corpse polluted with a dangerous infection and thereby safely moving the hazard it presented to a nearby community.
As the mindstream of Kamalaśīla was otherwise engaged, a mahasiddha by the name of Dampa Sangye came across the vacant body of Kamalaśīla. Padampa Sangye was not karmically blessed with an aesthetic corporeal form, upon finding the handsome and healthy empty body of Kamalaśīla, which he perceived as a newly-dead fresh corpse, transferred his mindstream into Kamalaśīla's body. Padampa Sangye's mindstream in Kamalaśīla's body continued the ascent to the Himalaya and thereby transmitted the Chöd; the mindstream of Kamalaśīla, upon endeavouring to return to his body, was unable to do so and resorted by necessity to the vacant body of Padampa Sangye. The mindstream of Padampa Sangye continued in this body, it is in this handsome body that the transmission of Chöd was made to Machig Labdrön, his consort. Kamalaśīla is renowned for writing three texts, all called Bhāvanākrama, which summarize and build upon aspects of the Yogacara tradition of Asanga as pertaining to aspects of meditation practice and mental cultivation.
The first volume was translated into Classic Chinese. Commentary on Difficult Points by Kamalaśīla Nagarjuna Bhāvanākrama Kamalaśīla; the Tibetan Text of the Second Bhāvanākrama. Goshima Kiyotaka. Kamalaśīla. Bhāvanākramaḥ: Tibetan version, Sanskrit restoration and Hindi translation. Central Inst. of Higher Tibetan studies. Kamalaśīla. Bhāvanākrama of Kamalaśila: Transl. Into English by Parmananda Sharma. Aditya Prakashan. ISBN 978-81-86471-15-9. Kamalaśīla; the Stages of Meditation: Bhāvanākrama II. Middle volume. Translated b
Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen
Dölpopa Shérap Gyeltsen, known as Dölpopa, a Tibetan Buddhist master known as "The Buddha from Dölpo," a region in modern Nepal, the principal exponent of the shentong teachings, an influential member of the Jonang tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Dölpopa was born in Dölpo. In 1309, when he was seventeen, he ran away from home to seek the Buddhist teachings, first in Mustang and in Tibet. In 1314, when he was twenty-two years old, Dölpopa received full monastic ordination from the famous abbot of Choelung Monastery, Sönam Trakpa, made a vow at the time to never eat slaughtered meat again. In 1321, Dölpopa visited Jonang Monastery at Jomonang for the first time, he visited Tsurphu Monastery for the first time and had extensive discussions with Rangjung Dorje, 3rd Karmapa Lama, about doctrinal issues. It appears that the Karmapa Lama certainly influenced the development of some of Dölpopa's theories including shentong. Other than this, Dölpopa had studied completely under the Sakya tradition until he was thirty years old in 1322 and he had taught for most of the previous decade at the great Sakya Monastery.
In 1327, after the death of his guru Yönden Gyantso, Dölpopa decided to fulfill a prayer he had made at the great stupa at Trophu to repay his master's kindness. "He felt that the stūpa would become an object of worship for people who were not fortunate enough to engage in study and meditation, therefore provide them with the opportunity to accumulate virtue."In time, Dölpopa became one of the most influential and original yet controversial of Tibetan Buddhist teachers, systemizing Buddha-nature and Yogacara-Madhyamaka teachings in a teaching known as shentong. Dölpopa retired from the leadership of Jonang Monastery in 1338 and appointed the translator lotsawa Lödro Bal to succeed him. Lödro Bal remained in this role for seventeen years. According to Stearns, It is important to keep in mind that Dölpopa was a consummate practitioner of the Six-branch Yoga, the perfection-stage practices of the Kālacakra tantra, although he based his doctrinal discussions upon scripture, in particular the Kālacakra-related cycles, his own experience in meditation was crucial to the formulation of his theories.
In line with the Buddha-nature teachings and the prevalent Yogacara-Madhyamaka synthesis, Dölpopa interpreted śūnyatā as twofold, distinguishing the conventional "emptiness of self-nature", the ultimate "emptiness of other", the clear nature of mind. Dölpopa taught that emptiness of self-nature applied only to relative truth, while emptiness of other is characteristic of ultimate truth, i.e. ultimate Reality is not empty of its own uncreated and deathless Truth, but only of what is impermanent and illusory. Dölpopa employed the term'Self' or'Soul' to refer to the ultimate truth, according to him, lay at the heart of all being. In his Mountain Doctrine work, he refers to this essence as the "Great Self", "True Self", "Diamond Self", "Supreme Self", "Solid Self" and "Supreme Self of all Creatures", basing himself on specific utterances and doctrines of the Buddha in the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, the Aṅgulimālīya Sūtra and the Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra, amongst others While most of his peers baulk at such a term, there are still exponents of the Nyingma and Kagyu schools who are happy to see the heart of all beings as one unified, egoless Buddha-self.
Shenpen Hookham, for example, writes affirmatively of the True Self in the teachings of Dölpopa and other great Buddhist masters, saying: Absolute, Eternal True Self: Many venerable saints and scholars have argued for the Self in the past and do so in the present. Great teachers of the Tibetan Nyingma and Sakya schools have and do argue that such a view is fundamental to the practice of the Buddhist path and the attainment of Enlightenment. Hookham further points out that Dölpopa envisioned the Buddha within each being as an actual, living truth and presence, not conditioned or generated by any temporal process of causation: The essential feature of a Shentong interpretation of tathāgatagarbha doctrine is that the Buddha is figuratively within all beings as their unchanging, non-conditioned nature.... Buddha is by all accounts considered to be non-conditioned, unchanging, compassion, power, so on. For Shentongpas the fact that Buddha is non-conditioned means the essence of Buddha is complete with all the Buddha Qualities in a timeless sense'.
Dölpopa uses many scriptural citations to support his view, drawing upon sutras and tantras to substantiate his understanding of Mahayana and tantric teachings on definitive truth. As Cyrus Stearns writes in his monograph on Dölpopa, this scholar-monk made: he assertion that ultimate truth, referred to by terms such as tathāgatagarbha, dharmadhātu, dharmakāya, is a permanent or eternal state. Of course, statements to this effect are not unusual in certain Mahayana sutras and treatises.... For Dolpopa, all such statements in the scriptures and commentaries were of definitive meaning, were to be understood literally. Dölpopa frequently makes use of such positive terms which he finds in the selfsame scriptures and tantras as'permanent','everlasting,'eternal' and'Self'. This, Dölpopa claims, all pertains to the realm of Nirvana, is one with the Buddha-nature, it is not an intel