Maitreya’s Ratnagotravibhāga, also known as the Uttaratantra, is the main Indian treatise on buddha nature, a concept that is heavily debated in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. In A Direct Path to the Buddha Within, Klaus-Dieter Mathes looks at a pivotal Tibetan commentary on this text by Gö Lotsāwa Zhönu Pal, best known as the author of the Blue Annals. Gö Lotsāwa, whose teachers spanned the spectrum of Tibetan schools, developed a highly nuanced understanding of buddha nature, tying it in with mainstream Mahāyāna thought while avoiding contested aspects of the so-called empty-of-other (zhentong) approach. In addition to translating key portions of Gö Lotsāwa's commentary, Mathes provides an in-depth historical context, evaluating Gö’s position against those of other Kagyü, Nyingma, and Jonang masters and examining how Gö Lotsāwa’s view affects his understanding of the buddha qualities, the concept of emptiness, and the practice of mahāmudrā.
A Direct Path to the Buddha Within
“Klaus-Dieter Mathes has rendered an extraordinary service to students of Tibetan intellectual and contemplative traditions by editing this singular work in full, and now here providing us with a clear and meticulous English translation of its key sections. His thorough introduction and annotations resolve the many difficult points found herein and place Gö Lotsāwa’s contribution in its proper context in the history of the tradition. In A Direct Path to the Buddha Within, Mathes sets a lasting standard for the presentation of Tibetan Buddhist doctrinal writings.”—Matthew T. Kapstein, author of Reason’s Traces: Identity and Interpretation in Indian and Tibetan Buddhist Thought