New Dharma Talk: “A Bird With Two Wings: Flying with the Correct View of Emptiness” by Adele Tomlin (Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, May 2023)

As promised, my first Dharma Talk with Tricycle Buddhist Review, on the two views of emptiness, Empty-of-Self (Rang-tong) and Empty-of-Other (Zhen-tong) was published today and can be watched here. 

The talk is split into six sections and a transcript can be downloaded on the Tricycle website too:

00:00 Introduction

03:36 Great Wisdom Mother symbolism (Yum Sherab Chenmo)

04:51 Differences Between the Two Views of Emptiness: Zhentong and Rangtong

10:18 Avoiding the Extremes

12:59 Different Teachings for Different People

14:51 Relevance for Everyday Life and Practice

19:29 Short Meditation on the Two Views

As I say in the Introduction to the Talk:

“On the one hand, I was delighted to be asked to present a Dharma talk for Tricycle, on one of my favourite subjects, emptiness. On the other hand, I know that teaching about emptiness is neither easy, or even recommended. Generally speaking, in the Buddhist tradition, only people who have realised emptiness, not just conceptually but also experientially, are supposed to teach it. In that respect, I do not feel fully qualified. However, I am able to teach what I learnt during my research and translation of Tāranātha’s Commentary on the Heart Sūtra, which is my first published book on this topic, as well as discuss the more practical implications of it, through my own practice and experience of these teachings.

Some might wonder why is it important to know about the view of emptiness? Well, the correct view of emptiness, is a crucial part of study and training for any dedicated Buddhist practitioner. In fact, ‘the correct view’ is an essential part of practice. Realising emptiness means that our thoughts and actions are no longer conditioned by dualistic, self-centred thinking of self and other, and loosens our solid and serious perceptions of realities and opinions about people and phenomenon. In that respect, like love and compassion, it is not possible to be fully awakened and act in genuinely beneficial ways without wisdom. Without wisdom, our actions are stained with ‘ignorance’, or what some call ‘unwise compassion’, which means that even well-intentioned speech or acts, still cause harm due to the lack of wisdom. Without the ‘correct view’ of wisdom (sherab in Tibetan), then having only the method (thab in Tibetan) is taught to be like  a bird with only one wing, one cannot really get off the ground, let alone fly, soar and land safely.” 

I end the talk with a short 5 minute meditation on the two views, and a slide with this quote by Jetsun Tāranātha:

As this short talk is intended for a more general (non-academic) audience. If people want more detail, then I recommend they get the second edition of my book, Tāranātha’s Commentary on the Heart Sūtra, (with the stunning new artwork of the Great Wisdom Mother in calligraphy see image below) as sold by the publisher direct on Amazon outlets only, (please do not purchase from unofficial, online booksellers). 

However, I hope that the talk at least gives some people an idea of what the two views are and why they are important not just for a philosophy scholar, or historian, but for everyday life and practice.

The artwork image of Yum Sherab Chenmo used in the Dharma Talk presentation was created by the Tibetan master calligrapher, Jamyang Dorjee entirely out of the Heart Sutra mantra, and is also on the cover of the 2nd edition of Tāranātha’s Commentary on the Heart Sūtra, as I wrote about here.

Music? For the Empty-of-Self view, It’s Just An Illusion by Imagination; for the Empty-of-Other view, mother all of wisdom, bliss-emptiness view Nothing Even Matters by Lauryn Hill and You Are So Beautiful by Joe Cocker; and for the flying bird soaring in the space of Dharmakāya,  Up Where We Belong by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes.

May it be of benefit and may we all realise the profound view of emptiness and soar high in the space of infinite love, compassion, joy and wisdom!

Further Reading/Resources

For other articles and research I have published on the Empty-of-Other (Zhen-tong) view, see:

THE GREAT WISDOM MOTHER (YUM CHENMO) NEW ART, BOOK EDITION AND WEBSITE: TĀRANĀTHA’S COMMENTARY ON THE HEART SŪTRA. Second edition of book with original Tibetan calligraphy artwork and new project/website dedicated to Tāranātha’s Life and Works

NEW TRANSLATION: ‘Condensed Essence of Empty-of-Other’  by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo

The Life and Works of Tsen Khawoche: Founder of ‘the Meditative Tradition’ and Tibetan ‘Empty-of-Other

Jonang and the ‘Empty-of Other’ Great Madhyamaka

A Woman’s Voice : the Autobiography of Kunga Trinley Wangmo, (Zhentong lineage holder and secret consort of Tāranātha)

On the meaning and translation of ‘Shentong’ a modern debate or dismissal of a woman’s voice?

The 8th Tai Situpa, Tāranātha, Shentong and the Golden Stupa at Sherab Ling



3 thoughts on “New Dharma Talk: “A Bird With Two Wings: Flying with the Correct View of Emptiness” by Adele Tomlin (Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, May 2023)

  1. Thanks so much for your interest, exploration and delivery of things most precious…🌈🔥🌈
    Best to you, and may we all find the knowledge and understanding to reduce earthly suffering…

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