Maitreya's Ratnagotravibhaga, also known as the Uttaratantra, is the main Indian treatise on buddha nature, a concept that is heavily debated in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. In A Direct Path to the Buddha Within, Klaus-Dieter Mathes looks at a pivotal Tibetan commentary on this text by Go Lotsawa Zhonu Pal, best known as the author of the Blue Annals. Go Lotsawa, whose teachers spanned the spectrum of Tibetan schools, developed a highly nuanced understanding of buddha nature, tying it in with mainstream Mahayana thought while avoiding contested aspects of the so-called empty-of-other (zhentong) approach. In addition to translating key portions of Go Lotsawa's commentary, Mathes provides an in-depth historical context, evaluating Go's position against those of other Kagyu, Nyingma, and Jonang masters and examining how Go Lotsawa's view affects his understanding of the buddha qualities, the concept of emptiness, and the practice of mahamudra.
Klaus-Dieter Mathes earned his doctorate at Marburg University, and is a Professor of Tibetology and Buddhist Studies at the University of Vienna, Austria. He previously worked as a research fellow and lecturer at the Asia Africa Institute at the University of Hamburg, Germany. His research in progress deals with the Indian origins of Tibetan Mahamudra traditions. He is also a regular contributor to the Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies.