Nagarjuna is famous in the West for his works not only on Madhyamaka but his poetic collection of praises, headed by In Praise of Dharmadhatu. This book explores the scope, contents, and significance of Nagarjuna’s scriptural legacy in India and Tibet, focusing primarily on the title work. The translation of Nagarjuna’s hymn to Buddha nature—here called dharmadhatu—shows how buddha nature is temporarily obscured by adventitious stains in ordinary sentient beings gradually uncovered through the path of bodhisattvas and finally revealed in full bloom as buddhahood. These themes are explored at a deeper level through a Buddhist history of mind’s luminous nature and a translation of the text’s earliest and most extensive commentary by the Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje (1284–1339), supplemented by relevant excerpts from all other available commentaries. The book also provides an overview of the Third Karmapa’s basic outlook, based on seven of his major texts. He is widely renowned as one of the major proponents of the shentong (other-empty) view. However, as this book demonstrates, this often problematic and misunderstood label needs to be replaced by a more nuanced approach which acknowledges the Karmapa’s very finely tuned synthesis of the two great traditions of Indian mahayana Buddhism, Madhyamaka and Yogacara. These two, his distinct positions on Buddha nature, and the transformation of consciousness into enlightened wisdom also serve as the fundamental view for the entire vajrayana as it is understood and practiced in the Kagyu tradition to the present day.
“Karl Brunnhölzl has done an excellent job of researching and translating this text and providing further material for reflection on the text’s key topics. This book will serve as a great resource for those who wish to explore the teachings on buddha nature.”—Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, author of Mind Beyond Death and Wild Awakening
“In Praise of Dharmadhatu is a wonderful book that bridges the apparent divide between the key Mahayana teachings of emptiness and buddha nature using the words of Nagarjuna and the profound explanations of Rangjung Dorje, the Third Karmapa. Nagarjuna’s text and Rangjung Dorje’s commentary are beautifully translated and annotated by Karl Brunnhölzl, who also provides extensive background material on Nagarjuna and his writings, the Third Karmapa and his writings, and the main topics covered in the texts. Brunnhölzl’s presentation is both scholarly and experiential, with flashes of humor that leaven the mix.”—Andy Karr, author Contemplating Reality
“Dr. Brunnhölzl’s In Praise of the Dharmadhatu is an important work. His translations of Nagarjuna’s text and Karmapa Rangjung Dorje’s commentary are both clear and elegant, and his introduction is masterful. Joining the understandings of buddha nature and emptiness, it is a fitting complement to his Center of the Sunlit Sky. Scholars will encounter Nagarjuna’s broader range of exposition. Students of vajrayana Buddhism will gain a greater appreciation of the view in which they practice. Highly recommended.”—Scott Wellenbach, codirector of the Nitartha Institute