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Author: Gabriele Coura


Kong sprul Blo gros mtha' yas grew up in a family of Bon practitioners. Later, after he had turned to Buddhism, he wrote in an autobiographical poem that he had “abandoned the Bon pos.” Various statements from his Mdzod lnga (“Five Treasuries”) shed a light on his attitude towards Bon. He rejects the teachings of the Bon of Cause and maintains a hierarchical-inclusivist attitude towards reformed Bon and Bon treasures, which he depicts as a skillful means for the benefit of those who are unable to understand the Buddha’s teaching. The use of terminology common to Bon and Buddhism substantiates Kong sprul’s claim that the two systems have a common origin. This position met with opposition from Bon authors, for instance Shar rdza Bkra shis rgyal mtshan. In some cases, positive statements seem to be motivated by pragmatism: Kong sprul praises Bon in order to demonstrate the nonsectarian attitude he ascribes to himself, or to show respect for his deceased Bon teacher. However, he never goes as far as seeing Bon and Buddhism as equal, and there is no evidence that he ever did Bon practices.

In: Nonsectarianism (ris med) in 19th- and 20th-Century Eastern Tibet
Religious Diffusion and Cross-fertilization beyond the Reach of the Central Tibetan Government
The volume brings together nine contributions presenting cutting-edge research on ris med. The relatively high degree of political autonomy in the A mdo and Khams regions paved the way for the Rnying ma, Sa skya, Bka’ brgyud, Jo nang, and Bon traditions to closely collaborate with each other in a spirit of mutual respect and non-partiality ( ris med), while enjoying protection and support from local rulers. The contributors examine degrees of tolerance ranging from hierarchical inclusivism to genuine pluralism, inter-tradition relations and collaborations, religio-political entanglements, and the positions, writings and actions of the key figures of ris med. Thus, they bring to light that ris med cannot be reduced to its historical, political, religious or sociological facet, but is always a conglomerate of all of them.

Groundbreaking research by leading international Tibetan studies scholars Filippo Brambilla, Gabriele Coura, Douglas Duckworth, Adam C. Krug, Klaus-Dieter Mathes, Giacomella Orofino, Rachel H. Pang, Adam S. Pearcey, and Frédéric Richard.