The philosophical foundations of classical "rDzogs chen" in Tibet : investigating the distinction between dualistic mind (sems) and primordial knowing (ye shes)


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PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
The philosophical foundations of classical "rDzogs chen" in Tibet : investigating the distinction between dualistic mind (sems) and primordial knowing (ye shes)
Higgins D.
Tillemans T.
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Université de Lausanne, Faculté des lettres
Faculté des lettresUniversité de LausanneUNIL - DorignyAnthropole - bureau 2049CH-1015 LausanneAnthropole - bureau 2049
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While the syncretistic Tibetan tradition known as rDzogs chen ("Great Perfection") has attracted considerable attention over the past few decades, its philosophical foundations remain largely unknown to those unacquainted with its primary sources. This thesis looks at the essentials of rDzogs chen philosophy through the lens of two principal distinctions that the tradition has considered indispensable for understanding its distinctive views and practices: dualistic mind (sems) versus primordial knowing (ye shes) and dharmakâya versus the 'ground of all' (kun gzhi) conditioned experience. Arguing that the distinctions provided classical rDzogs chen scholars with a crucial framework for (a) articulating the necessary conditions of nondual primordial knowing, the conditio sine qua non of rNying ma soteriology, and (b) schematizing the relationship between the exoteric and esoteric vehicles of Indian Buddhism within a unifying conception of the Buddhist path as the progressive disclosure of primordial knowing, the thesis shows how the rDzogs chen philosophy of mind has been integral to the tradition's complex soteriology.
The thesis consists of two parts: (1) a detailed philosophical investigation of the distinctions and (2) an anthology of previously untranslated Tibetan materials on the distinctions accompanied by critical editions and introductions. The first part systematically invesigates the nature and scope of the distinctions and traces their evolution and complex relationships with Indian Buddhist Cittamâtra, Madhyamaka, Pramàriavàda, and Vajrayâna views. It concludes with an exploration of some soteriological implications of the mind/primordial knowing distinction that became central to rDzogs chen path hermeneutics in the classical period as authors of rDzogs chen path summaries used this distinction to reconcile progressivist sutric and non-progressivist tantric models of the Buddhist path. The translations and texts included in part two of the thesis consist of (a) a short treatise from Klong chen pa's Miscellaneous Writings entitled Sems dang ye shes kyi dris lan (Reply to Questions Concerning Mind and Primordial Knowing), (b) selected passages on the distinctions from this author's monumental summary of the rDzogs chen snying thig system, the Theg mchog mdzod (Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle), and (c) an excerpt on rDzogs chen distinctions taken from 'Jigs med gling pa's (1729-1798) 18th century Klong chen sNying thig path summary entitled Treasury of Qualities (Yon tan mdzod) along with a word-by- word commentary by Yon tan rgya mtsho (b. 19th c.).
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21/08/2012 11:45
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29/10/2020 11:36
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