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Bodhigarbha: Introducing an Early Tibetan Family of Buddha Nature Ideas


The Oriental Institute invites you to a lecture entitled “Bodhigarbha: Introducing an Early Tibetan Family of Buddha Nature Ideas” by Dr. David Higgins. The lecture will take place on 31. March 2014 at Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Arts, nám. J. Palacha 2, room No. 225V, at 15:50.


Description: It has recently been alleged by scholars of the Tibetan rNying ma tradition that although buddha nature theory was well-known in Tibet from as early as the eighth century, it played quite an insignificant role in pre-classical rDzogs chen exegesis. This lecture challenges this claim by demonstrating that buddha nature concepts played a highly significant part in early rDzogs chen thought, albeit mostly in the form of indigenous bodhigarbha (Tib. byang chub snying po) concepts rather than the well-known Indic counterpart tathāgatagarbha. The lecture clarifies how this "bodhi nature" was understood by early rDzogs chen authors, why it was distinguished from Mahāyāna-based buddha nature ideas, and how it eventually became overshadowed by these latter during the period of Monastic Hegemony as Indian buddha nature theories and controversies took centre stage.
David Higgins is a Research Fellow in the Institut für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde at the University of Vienna where he is exploring the synthesis of Mahāmudrā and​ gZhan stong traditions in bKa' brgyud​ scholasticism during the classical-systematic period (14th to 16th centuries). His research interests include Indo-Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and epistemology with a particular focus on bKa' brgyud Mahāmudrā and​ rNying ma rDzogs chen doctrinal systems. His recent book Philosophical Foundations of Classical rDzogs chen in Tibet (Wien, 2013) provides a philosophical analysis of rNying ma views on the nature of mind that traces their evolution and complex relationships with Indian Cittamātra, Madhyamaka, Pramāṇavāda, and Vajrayāna views.