For many, the distinction between ’empty-of-other’ (gzhan stong, pronounced shentong) and ’empty of self (rang stong, pronounced rang tong) is an intellectual debate only that they need not concern themselves with in terms of practice, or one which is simply too high level philosophically to engage with. However, this would be a misunderstanding of the view of ’empty-of-other’ and also why it is important for both Sutra and Tantra teachings and practices.
In fact, ‘the correct view’ as it is called, is an essential part of any meditation or tantric practise. Without the ‘correct view’ (shes rab) then all methods (thabs) are like a bird with only one wing, one cannot really get off the ground. So, here is my humble attempt at a short and accessible introductory essay and reader of what the view of Shentong is and isn’t, and why it is important even in terms of practice.
As Jonang Thubten Bamda Gelek says in his commentary on the Kalacakra practice, The Chariot that Transports One to the Kingdom of the Four Kayas (forthcoming TOMLIN 2018):
The primordial awareness realising emptiness, which is free of the mental elaborations of clinging to reality and things as inherently existing, is alone not the completion stage, as it is similar to the primordial awareness that arises from bringing the karmic winds into the central channel. In order to accomplish the actual completion stage one needs to realise the view for entering the completion stage. If one doesn’t realise it [the view], even if one practises the completion stage, the signs [of experience] will not arise in one’s mindstream.
Happy reading folks and don’t hesitate to share or ask questions if you have any. May it be of benefit!