Softcover, 208 pages, Albany 2017, new
Examines various Tibetan interpretations of the Uttaratantra, the most authoritative Indic commentary on buddha-nature.
With its emphasis on the concept of buddha-nature, or the ultimate nature of mind, the Uttaratantra is a classical Buddhist treatise that lays out an early map of the Mahāyāna path to enlightenment. Tsering Wangchuk unravels the history of this important Indic text in Tibet by examining numerous Tibetan commentaries and other exegetical texts on the treatise that emerged between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries. These commentaries explored such questions as: Is the buddha-nature teaching found in the Uttaratantra literally true, or does it have to be interpreted differently to understand its ultimate meaning? Does it explicate ultimate truth that is inherently enlightened or ultimate truth that is empty only of independent existence? Does the treatise teach ultimate nature of mind according to the Cittamātra or the Madhyamaka School of Mahāyāna? By focusing on the diverse interpretations that different textual communities employed to make sense of the Uttaratantra, Wangchuk provides a necessary historical context for the development of the text in Tibet.
“…[the] book is a welcome contribution to the field and contains a valuable intellectual journey driven by a solid methodology for those interested in Buddhist philosophy, what Buddhist philosophers are doing when they interpret and innovate, and the factors that motivate them.” — Reading Religion
“Well conceived and superbly researched, this book is an invaluable ‘guidebook’ to the arguments and counterarguments of five centuries’ worth of Tibet’s greatest thinkers. This type of philosophical overview is far too rare in Tibetan Buddhist studies these days, and Wangchuk has performed a great service to the field by undertaking it.” — Roger R. Jackson, translator of Tantric Treasures: Three Collections of Mystical Verse from Buddhist India
Tsering Wangchuk is Assistant Professor and Richard C. Blum Chair in Himalayan Studies at the University of San Francisco.