“Nyingmapas view the first turning of the wheel of Dharma as provisional, which is in agreement with both the Rangtong and Shentong positions. However, the Nyingma school also believes that both the second and third turnings of the wheel of Dharma are equally definitive. Why does the Nyingma school believe this? For the Nyingmas, the second turning of the wheel of Dharma emphasizes emptiness, whereas the third turning emphasizes clarity. Since emptiness and clarity are equal and inseparable aspects of the same nature, they do not contradict each other, and so one cannot make big distinctions between the two. For this reason, the Nyingma school perceives both the second and third turnings of the wheel of Dharma to be definitive, and thus does not consider the Rangtong and Shentong views to be completely separate or mutually exclusive.
In this way, Rangtong and Shentong merge in the Nyingma school without contradiction. On the one hand, Nyingmapas recognize the truth of the Rangtong view, which explains the absolute nature as emptiness. Hence they perceive the second turning of the wheel of Dharma—the Prajnaparamita teachings that clarify the nature of emptiness—as definitive. On the other hand, Nyingmapas also see the third turning of the wheel of Dharma as definitive because it expounds tathagatagarbha and the five wisdoms, four kayas, ten powers, and four fearless states of enlightenment, otherwise known as the clarity aspect of the nature. So clarity and emptiness are both the nature of mind, of tathagatagarbha. This was pointed out and accepted by Mipham Rinpoche as well as the great master Longchenpa. In his Tegsum Dzo, or Treasure of the Different Doctrines, Longchenpa explains that the clarity and emptiness aspects of the nature are equally natural.”
Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Opening the Wisdom Door of the Rangtong & Shentong Views (pgs 25-26)
Photo of Buddha Shakyamuni teaching his first five disciples in Deer Park in Sarnath, India, photographed at the Mahabodhi Temple in 2008.
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