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Shentong (T. gzhan stong གཞན་སྟོང་) is a philosophical sub-school found in 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 contrasting rangtong view of the followers of Prasaṅgika Mādhyamaka is that all phenomena are unequivocally empty of self-nature, without positing anything beyond that. According to Shentongpa (proponents of shentong), 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 bring the two together by establishing a common ground, see Rangtong and Shentong - Rime Approach

Further reading


Shentong literally means "other-emptiness".


  1. Lama Shenpen, Emptiness Teachings. Buddhism Connect

Further reading

  • Karl Brunnhölzl, The Center of the Sunlit Sky: Madhyamaka in the Kagyu Tradition, ISBN 1-55939-218-5
  • Ven. Khenpo 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)
  • Cyrus Stearns. 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). ISBN 0-7914-4191-1 (hc); ISBN 0-7914-4192-X (pbk)
  • Taranatha (auth.), Jeffrey Hopkins, (trans.) The Essence of Other-Emptiness. Wisdom Books (2007). ISBN 1-55939-273-8
  • Brunnholzl, Karl. Luminous Heart: The Third Karmapa on Consciousness, Wisdom, and Buddha Nature Snow Lion Publications 2009.
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