“Like that which is precious, the sky and pure water,
Mind’s nature is always free of disturbing emotion.”

— Geshe Sonam Rinchen, “Sublime Continuum,” in Buddha Nature: Oral Teachings, p. 19

Buddha Nature
sangs rgyas kyi rigs (Berzin)
sangs rgyas kyi rang gi ngo bo (Hackett)

Literally: Buddha caste-trait, Buddha family-trait. A factor imputable on the stained mind of a limited being (sentient being) that transforms into or allows for the attainment of enlightenment. (Berzin Definitions)

Subject Guide Sections

  • Indo-Tibetan Sources 
  • Modern Literature
  • Media and Other Resources

Indo-Tibetan Sources

Tathāgathagarbha Sutra (Uttarātantra Root Text)
‘phags pa de bzhin gshegs pa’i snying po zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo

  • Grosnick, William H. 1995. “The Tathagatagarbha Sutra.” In Donald S. Lopez, ed., Buddhism In Practice. Princeton University Press. (huntingtonarchive.org)
  • Zimmermann, Michael. 2002. A Buddha Within: The Tathāgatagarbhasūtra: The Earliest Exposition of the Buddha-Nature Teaching in India. International Research Institute for Advanced Buddhology, Soka University. (lirs.ru)

Ratnagotravibhāga/Uttarātantra (Sublime Continuum)
Tibetan: ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོ་རྒྱུད་བླ་མའི་བསྟན་བཅོས།
Wylie: ​​theg pa chen po rgyud bla ma’i bstan bcos (rgyud bla ma)
Sanskrit | Tibetan

  • Takasaki Jikidō. 2014. A Study on the Ratnagotravibhāga (Uttaratantra) : Being a Treatise on the Tathāgatagarbha Theory of Mahāyāna Buddhism : Including a Critical Introduction a Synopsis of the Text a Translation from the Original Sanskrit Text in Comparision [I.e. Comparison] with Its Tibetan & Chinese Versions Critical Notes Appendixes and Indexes. Motilal Banarsidass. (WorldCat)

Tib: ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོ་རྒྱུད་བླ་མའི་བསྟན་བཅོས་རྣམ་པར་བཤད་པ། 
Wylie: ​​theg pa chen po rgyud bla ma’i bstan bcos rnam par bshad pa
Asaṅga and Gyaltsab Je’s Commentary on Sublime Continuum

  • Asaṅga, Dar-ma-rin-chen, Rgyal-tshab-rje (Gyaltsab Je), and Bo Jiang, trans. 2017. The Sublime Continuum and its Explanatory Commentary (Mahāyānottaratantraśāstravyākhyā ; Theg pa chen po rgyud bla ma’i bstan bcos dang de’i rnam par bshad pa). AIBS.  JABL

Contemporary Scholarship

Brunnhölzl Karl. 2015. When the Clouds Part: The Uttaratantra and Its Meditative Tradition as a Bridge between Sutra and Tantra. Snow Lion. JABL

Bstan-ʼdzin-rgya-mtsho, Dalai Lama XIV, and Thubten Chodron. 2018. Saṃsāra, Nirvāṇa, and Buddha Nature. Wisdom Publications. JABL.

Duckworth, Douglas S. 2008. Mipam on Buddha-Nature : The Ground of the Nyingma Tradition. State University of New York Press. JABL

Duckworth, Douglas S. 2019. Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy of Mind and Nature. Oxford University Press. JABL

Makransky, John J. 1997. Buddhahood Embodied: Sources of Controversy in India and Tibet. State University of New York Press. JABL

Rinpoche Thrangu and Ken and Katia Holmes, trans. 1994. The Uttara Tantra, a Treatise on Buddha Nature.  Sri Satguru Publications. JABL  

Sonam Rinchen. 2003. Buddha Nature: Oral Teachings. Library of Tibetan Works and Archives. JABL.

Tsering Wangchuk. 2017. The Uttaratantra in the Land of Snows: Tibetan Thinkers Debate the Centrality of the Buddha-Nature Treatise. State University of New York Press. (WorldCat)

Wangchuk, Tsering. 2009. The Uttaratantra in the Age of Argumentation: Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen and His Fourteenth-Century Interlocutors on Buddha-Lineage. Dissertation University of Virginia.

Media and Other Resources

  • Berzin, Alexander. (n.d.) Commentary on “Uttaratantra” – Dr. Berzin. Study Buddhism by Berzin Archives. studybuddhism.com (audio and transcripts)
  • Bstan-ʼdzin-rgya-mtsho, Dalai Lama XIV. 2019. The Furthest Everlasting Continuum and Three Principal Aspects of the Path by the 14th Dalai Lama. buddhanature.tsadra.org (video)
  • Bstan-ʼdzin-rgya-mtsho, Dalai Lama XIV. (n.d.) Commentary on “Uttaratantra” – The Dalai Lama. Study Buddhism by Berzin Archives. studybuddhism.com (audio and transcripts)
  • Buddha Nature: A Tsadra Foundation Inititive buddhanature.tsadra.org
  • Jinpa, Thupten. 2022. “Tsongkhapa on Emptiness and the Experience of Emptiness.” Conversations on Buddha-Nature with Lopen Dr. Karma Phuntsho. Produced by the Tsadra Foundation Research Department. buddhanature.tsadra.org (video)
  • “Uttaratantra.” Buddha Nature: A Tsadra Foundation Initiative. buddhanature.tsadra.org