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A Bird with Two Wings: Flying with the Correct View of Emptiness

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Understanding emptiness is crucial to study and training for any dedicated Buddhist practitioner. In this talk, Adele Tomlin gives an overview of two views of emptiness, “empty-of-other” (Tib. zhentong) and “empty of self” (rangtong), with the former considered the “higher” ultimate view of reality, or the buddhanature. Tomlin outlines the key differences between the two views, developed by Tibetan Buddhist scholars and masters, and how they connect with the definitive and provisional meaning of Buddha’s teachings. She then explains the importance of understanding these two views of emptiness for meditative practice. Tomlin explains that the method (thab) of practice without the correct view is being like a bird with only one wing. One cannot really get off the ground, let alone fly.

Adele Tomlin is an independent scholar-translator, writer, and practitioner within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. She has postgraduate degrees in Tibetan Buddhism and Western Philosophy. Since 2006, she has been studying the Tibetan language and Buddhist philosophy in Europe, India, and Nepal. Her publications include a study and translation of Tāranātha’s Commentary on the Heart Sūtra and The Chariot that Transports to the Four Kāyas by Bamda Gelek Gyatso. She is also the founder and director of the first female-founded dharma research and translations website, Dakini Translations and Publications.