Shentong

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Shentong (Tib. གཞན་སྟོང་, Wyl. gzhan stong) — the extrinsic emptiness or “other empty” tradition of Madhyamika, which is most closely associated with the Jonang school of Tibetan Buddhism, maintains that the absolute is not empty of itself (རང་སྟོང་, rang stong) but is empty of all other relative phenomena. See also rangtong.

In the Beacon of Certainty, during his polemics, Mipham Rinpoche makes a further two-fold distinction. He critiques the Gelugpa tradition for professing to be Prasangika Madyamaka, yet in practice, by refuting not the objects (such as vases) themselves but their true existence, they in fact become Shentongpas. He therefore calls them proponents of 'verbal other-emptiness' (Wyl. tshig gi gzhan stong). The Jonangpas, for whom reality is truly established and empty of conventional objects, he calls proponents of 'other-emptiness of conventional objects' (Wyl. don gyi gzhan stong).

Alternative Translations

  • Ontological extrinsic emptiness (for don gyi gzhan stong) (John W Pettit)

Further Reading

  • Taranatha, The Essence of Other Emptiness, Snow Lion, 2007