A new translation of one of Jetsun Tāranātha’s key texts, on the view of ‘Empty of Other’ (gzhan stong), Ornament of the Great Middle Way Empty-of Other (gzhan stong dbu ma’i rgyan) has recently been announced by Jonang lama, Khentrul Rinpoche, who is based in Australia. It has not been translated/published into English until now. The text is available for free download here. In this short post, I share some information about the text itself, the editions available and an excerpt of what it says about the ‘three turnings of the wheel’.
Nāgārjuna, as well as Asaṅga and his brother,
Establish that the three turnings have a single intention:
The first turning of the wheel teaches the relative.
It is taught in accordance with the way things appear.
There is no teaching that what appears has true existence,
Within the subject of analyzing for how things are;
therefore, the words of these relative teachings are not false.
The middle refutes all dharmas of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa,
All of the relative; but whether sugatagarbha,
Exists or not is never taught or examined at all.
Therefore, these two turnings do not contradict the last.
In any case, the first chiefly teaches the relative.
In the middle, there is only half the definitive meaning;
The lack of true existence of the relative,
But not the true existence of the absolute.
The last turning perfectly teaches the definitive absolute.
The examples of medicine for the sick and learning letters;
Have this intention, and others are contradictory.
If it the first turning were to teach, “All dharmas are stable [permanent],”
That would contradict the Sūtra of Katyayana.
If the middle negated the absolute, dharmadhātu and so forth,
That would contradict the Sutra Requested by Maitreya.
The sūtras and treatises then would have mutual contradictions.
—Excerpt from Ornament of Great Madhayamaka Other-Emptiness, (Dzogden Publications, 2020, tr. Ives Waldo).
Thanks again to Ives Waldo and Khentrul Rinpoche for making this translation available to all and for the effort taken to put it into English. May the view of Empty of Other flourish and may all realise the dharmadhatu, Buddha Nature within and without!
Tibetan source texts
Ornament of Empty-of-Other (gzhan stong dbu ma’i rgyan) in various editions of Collected Works of Tāranātha.
In gsung ‘bum/_tA ra nA tha/ (rtag brtan phun tshogs gling gi par ma/). TBRC W22277. 4: 811 – 838. leh: c. namgyal & tsewang taru, 1982-1987.
In gsung ‘bum/_tA ra na tha (bris ma). TBRC W1PD77570. 5: 195 – 222. pe cin: krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang , 2008.
In gsung ‘bum/_tA ra nA tha/ ‘dzam thang par ma/. TBRC W22276. 18: 111 – 131. dzam thang dgon: [s.n.], 199-.
In gsung ‘bum/_tA ra nA tha/ dpe bsdur ma/. TBRC W1PD45495. 36: 134 – 155. pe cin: krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang, 2008.
English Language Texts
Essence of Other-Emptiness by Tāranātha. Translated by Jeffrey Hopkins. Snow Lion Publications (2007).
Tāranātha’s Commentary on the Heart Sutra. Translated by Adele Tomlin. Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (2017).
“Introduction: The History of the Rang stong/Gzhan stong Distiction from Its Beginning through the Ris-med Movement”. Journal of Buddhist Philosophy 2 (2016), 4-8 by Klaus-Dieter Mathes.