Hermeneutics in Dol po pa Shes rab rgyal mtshan’s (1292-1361). Interpretation of Selected Sutra, Sastra and Tantra Quotations.


Nika Jovic

  • Betreuung: Klaus-Dieter Mathes

The scope of scriptures contained in the Buddhist canon is very diverse and appears at times self-contradictory. Due to this great diversity, a constant endeavour to synthesise its text and doctrines into consistent models ensued over time in Buddhist philosophy. Discussions arose about which of the historical Buddha's teachings are to be taken literally, i.e. to have definitive meaning and which ones are provisional. A classification system of the "three turnings of the wheel of dharma" became prominent among Tibetan scholars to structure Buddha's teachings and to ascribe to each a particular set of teachings.

In the fourteenth century, deepening interest in topics associated with the so-called "third turning of the wheel of dharma" arose in Tibet. The figure most often associated with controversial presentations and interpretations of key terms, such as buddhanature, and luminosity of mind, is Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen (Dol po pa Shes rab rgyal mtshan, 1292-1361). His teachings assert that the absolute is empty of the relative adventitious stains, which themselves are empty of an own being. To define this difference, he used the terms rang stong (empty of self) and gzhan stong (empty of other) and popularized the gzhan stong doctrine.

In order to receive a clear picture of Dol po pa's system of interpretation, it is important to study in detail the entire literary output in which he elucidates his philosophical view. This dissertation aims to present the way principles of Buddhist hermeneutical theory are used to interpret doctrines and texts, and the ways Dol po pa applies those theories. This systematic analysis of Dol po pa's system of interpretation will be approached by examining his quotations from sūtras, śāstras and tantras, which he uses in several of his philosophical texts found in his Collected Works (gsung 'bum) to support his philosophical exegesis of the gzhan stong view.