BUD 630 Buddha Nature: Luminous Heart of the TathĀgata

Self-paced Online Course
Intermediate Curriculum

This course is an overview of the Tathagatagarbha, or Buddha Nature tradition, the view of the luminous essence of awakening, the heart of goodness shared by all beings. Our exploration will rely on the key section of Uttaratantra of Maitreya (ca. 4th century) which establishes Buddha nature through three reasonings, its ten facets, nine analogies and five reasons why it is necessary to teach it.

2 credits.

Course code: BUD 630

Prerequisite: Though any student may take any intermediate course at any time, it is recommended that students complete the Foundation Curriculum before beginning the Intermediate Curriculum, then take all four intermediate courses in the order of:

  • BUD 601 Chittamatra Philosophical Tradition: Appearances are Mere Mind
  • BUD 610 Madhyamaka Philosophical Tradition: Not Even a Middle
  • BUD 620 Paths and Bhumis: The Path to Enlightenment
  • BUD 630 Buddha Nature: Luminous Heart of the Tathagata


Instructor: Stephanie Johnston

Meeting Times

At your convenience!

Class Topics

  • The element: three reasons the element is present in all sentient beings
  • Ten aspects of the element
  • Nine examples explaining why the defilements are to be purified though the essence is unchanging
  • Five reasons why it is necessary to explain the element

Required Texts

  • Buddha Nature: The Mahayana Uttaratantra Shastra with Commentary, by Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thaye, tr. by Rosemarie Fuchs, Snow Lion Publications, 2000:
  • Commentary on the Fourth Vajra Point in the Mahayana Uttaratantra Shastra by Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen, Nitartha Institute Publications

You are responsible for purchasing your course texts from the Nalanda Store. Click here to go to the Nalanda Store. Once you are at the Nalanda Store website, enter the word Nitartha in the top right search box. All Nitartha Institute publications will be featured.

If there are further questions about texts, please write to publications@nitarthainstitute.org

Online Course

The class is part of our online campus and is available as streaming video, as well as downloadable audio.  There are also posted study questions, recommended readings, exam questions and the ability to contact a distance learning advisor with questions.


Online only




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Additional Information

For questions about this course, contact SPOC Coordinator Jenny Shu at jshu@nitarthainstitute.org.

Financial Assistance

If you need to apply for further financial assistance, please fill out the PPFA form after you register for the course.

Click here to fill out the PPFA form.


Online Classes