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Shentong (T. gzhan stong གཞན་སྟོང་) is a philosophical view within Tibetan Buddhism. Its adherents generally hold that the nature of mind, the substratum of the mindstream, is "empty" (T. stong) of "other" (T. gzhan), i.e., empty of all qualities other than an inherent, ineffable nature, but not "empty" of its own existence.

The shentong view is distinguished from the rangtong view of the Prasaṅgika school. The rangtong view is that all phenomena are unequivocally empty of self-nature, without positing anything beyond that. By contrast, according to the shentong view, the emptiness of ultimate reality should not be characterized in the same way as the emptiness of apparent phenomena because it is prabhāsvara-saṃtāna, or "luminous mindstream" endowed with limitless Buddha qualities.[1] It is empty of all that is false, not empty of the limitless Buddha qualities that are its innate nature.

Jamgong Kongtrul worked to synthesis the two views (rangtong and shentong); see


The Tibetan term "shentong" (T. gzhan stong) consists of two words:

  • shen (T. gzhan གཞན་) - meaning "other"
  • tong (T. stong སྟོང་) - meaning "empty" (Skt. shunyata)

Thus, the term is rendered in English as "empty of other," "other-emptiness," etc.

Further reading

  • 32px-Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg.png Rangtong-Shentong, Wikipedia
  • Brunnhölzl, Karl The Center of the Sunlit Sky: Madhyamaka in the Kagyu Tradition, ISBN 1-55939-218-5
  • Brunnholzl, Karl. Luminous Heart: The Third Karmapa on Consciousness, Wisdom, and Buddha Nature Snow Lion Publications 2009.
  • Tsultrim Gyamtso Rimpoche. Progressive Stages Of Meditation On Emptiness, ISBN 0-9511477-0-6
  • S. K. Hookham The Buddha Within, SUNY Press, ISBN 0-7914-0358-0
  • Jeffrey Hopkins (translator); Kevin Vose (editor) : Mountain Doctrine:Tibet’s Fundamental Treatise on Other-Emptiness and the Buddha Matrix. Snow Lion, Ithaca (2006). - a translation of Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen's Ri chos nges don rgya mtsho.
  • Pettit, John Whitney (1999). Mipham's Beacon of Certainty: Illuminating the View of Dzogchen, the Great Perfection. Boston: Wisdom Publications (1999). ISBN 0-86171-157-2. NB: contains a complete translation of Mipham's 'Lion's Roar Proclaiming Extrinsic Emptiness' (Wylie: gZhan stong khas len seng ge'i nga ro)
  • Stearns, Cyrus. The Buddha from Dolpo: A Study of the Life and Thought of the Tibetan Master Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen. State University of New York Press (1999).
  • Taranatha (auth.), Jeffrey Hopkins, (trans.) The Essence of Other-Emptiness. Wisdom Books (2007). ISBN 1-55939-273-8


  1. Lama Shenpen, Emptiness Teachings. Buddhism Connect
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