The Rangtong Tradition of the Madhyamaka School
The way the Buddha taught emptiness in the sutras was by presenting sixteen different kinds of emptiness. The word “Rangtong” comes from rang which means “self,” and tong means “empty,” i.e., phenomena are empty or devoid of their own nature. Relative phenomena have no true reality; they have no established nature of their own. That is the teaching of emptiness taught by the Rangtong School.
In Rangtong one can examine the nature of phenomena and gain knowledge of the emptiness of phenomena using intellectual arguments. When it comes to meditation, one needs the Shentong view because the view of emptiness alone can lead to the obstacle of conceptual meditation. One can think, “Am I supposed to see everything as non-existent?” Then the meditation can become stilted. Meditation practice with the Shentong view is the union of the sutra and tantra and is therefore very important.