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Dharmadharmatāvibhāga (T. chos dang chos nyid rnam 'byed ཆོས་དང་ཆོས་ཉིད་རྣམ་འབྱེད་), known in English as Distinguishing Dharma and Dharmata, is a Mahayana treatise that examines the distinction between dharma (phenomena) and dharmatā (the intrinsic nature of phenomena).

In the Tibetan tradition, this text is identified as one of the five treatises that were directly revealed to Asanga by the future Buddha Maitreya.

Contemporary translator Cortland Dahl writes:

As its title indicates, the main focus of Distinguishing Phenomena from Their Intrinsic Nature is to clearly delineate the phenomena that comprise our ordinary, unenlightened existence (i.e., saṃsāra) and the intrinsic nature, or dharmatā, of these very same phenomena (i.e., nirvāṇa). In terse, cryptic verses the treatise shows how the mind enters into a state of confusion and how this process can be reversed through a fundamental transformation of the mind. At the root of our confusion, Maitreya explains, is a deeply ingrained tendency to believe that the “external” objects that populate our experience exist independent of our consciousness. This reified split between perceiving subject and perceived object sets off a chain reaction of confusion and destructive emotions, a process that perpetuates the cycle of suffering. Inquiring into the nature of this apparently dualistic experience, however, allows us to see that this is, in fact, a false distinction. At the core of Maitreya’s message is the insight that this basic error of perception can be reversed by learning to see things as they are, rather than through the distorting lens of dualistic perception.[1]


The work exists in both a prose and a verse version and survives only in Tibetan translation. However, the Sanskrit original was reported to exist in Tibet during the 1930s by the Indian Buddhologist and explorer, Rahul Sankrityayan.

English translations

  • Ju Mipham, Maitreya's Distinguishing Phenomena and Pure Being: Commentary by Mipham, by Jim Scott with Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche (Snow Lion, 2004)
  • Jamgon Mipham and Maitreya, Distinguishing Phenomena from Their Intrinsic Nature—Maitreya's Dharmadharmatavibhanga with Commentaries by Khenpo Shenga and Ju Mipham, translated by Dharmachakra Translation Committee (Shambhala, 2013)


  1. Mipham, Ju. Distinguishing Phenomena from Their Intrinsic Nature. Shambhala. Kindle Edition. 2013 (Introduction by Cortland Dahl)
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