Unique Tenets of the Middle Way Consequence School

Madhyamaka Buddhist Philosophy
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enter site Prasangika is the Tibetan appellation for the tradition based primarily on Candrakirti's seventh-century exegesis of the works of Nagarjuna. The unique tenets are a kind of miscellany of topics, ranging from a qualified realism in this case, a defense of the idea that there is an externa] world to propositions about perception, nirvana, the extremes of annihilation and permanence, etc. Some topics concern central issues in Buddhism; others merely clarify the way in which certain terms e.

All of them are difficult and controversial, even those that do not seem particularly crucial. The unique tenets hinge upon a principle that Gelukbas regard as a kind of key that opens all philosophical doors. This key is called ultimate analysis and is discussed generally in the first chapter and specifically in every subsequent chapter.

It is what Gelukbas say non-Prasangikas do, prompting those schools to invent things that don't exist and to deny the existence of things that do exist. The ultimate analysis key is a unique contribution of Gelukbas to Prasangika thought, although of course Gelukbas claim that it is a direct derivation of Nagarjuna's own criticisms of the metaphysical entities propounded by others. As a corollary to rejecting ultimate analysis, Gelukbas in this case with much explicit support in Indian texts maintain that the unique tenets are founded upon a respect for the way in which ordinary people see the world.

Indeed, ultimate analysis and worldly conceptions are virtual antonyms. Thus, in the unique tenets, Gelukbas claim that the Prasangikas perform a graceful philosophical pirouette that returns them to common sense, the place where all philosophy begins. The attribution of particular tenets to schools is not well grounded in historical realities.

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Implicitly, this teaches tlje student hoiv to be a Prasangika, since the Prasangika method is precisely one of beginning with the assertions of others and revealing the absurd or at least awkward consequences prasahga that they entail. Volume 1, 2, 3. The prohibition against ultimate analysis does not prohibit analysis in general, and Prasangrkas demonstrate this by some of their discriminations with respect to conventional phenomena. Refutation of a Mind-Basis-of-All. Roughly, but perhaps more evocatively, then, "mind-only" means that an object arises only along with a particular consciousness, not prior to it, and that objects therefore are inseparably related with the minds that observe them. Jeffrey Hopkins suggested the topic and met with me privately to review my translations and annotations. Thus, [Candrakirti thought that] it would be very good to fill in the gaps in the paths explained in the Treatise on the Middle Way--supplying the other Mahiyina paths of vastness by way of the quintessential instructions of the Superior NBgSrjuna [as found in other of his works]

There were no schools of Indian Buddhism as such; Indian Buddhism was never so organized! Monk-scholars did not identify themselves as belonging to this or that school and certainly not to the many subschools identified in Gelukba literature , and it is hazardous and, I think, unhelpful to guess now at their affiliations. It is a mistake, we know, even to presume that the commentator of a text agrees with its positions.

Then, as now, traditional Buddhist scholars have played roles in order to understand better the perspectives of their opponents. Moreover, the way in which these purported schools are fit into a hierarchy see the table in chapter 1 is nothing that was self-evident in the Indian context, but is something done in a purely speculative way by Gelukbas who are looking at Indian Buddhist treatises through the lens of their own constructed version of Prasangika-Madhyamika.

It may not even be appropriate, for instance, to place the Sautrantikas in the Hinayana camp; they may have been Mahayanists who did noffelearly identify themselves as such. In the unique tenets, Gelukbas claim that the Prasangikas perform a graceful philosophical pirouette that returns them to common sense, the place where all philosophy begins.

Buddhism and science

Nevertheless, the Gelukba view on the merits of tenets study, as pithily expressed by Losang Gonchok, is that understanding the views of the lower systems is also a platform or method of coming to understand the views of the higher systems. The fiction of four schools is a heuristic device that allows a student to come gradually to the Prasangika view by way of absorbing, analyzing, and finally rejecting other points of view. This rejection, it should be noted, is only of selected aspects; the schools do not disagree on most issues.

Implicitly, this teaches tlje student hoiv to be a Prasangika, since the Prasangika method is precisely one of beginning with the assertions of others and revealing the absurd or at least awkward consequences prasahga that they entail. The study of tenets is thought to sharpen the intellect and to give the student an exposure to coherent points of view that challenge his or her presuppositions.

The particular sections of the tenets books translated here are one means for Gelukba monks, particularly those of Drebung Monastery's Gomarig College, to understand the implications of the works of Indian Madhyamikas. It might be objected that they, and for that matter, we, ought not to try to understand the views of Nagarjuna and Candrakirti through the lens of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century works and twentieth-century interpreters.

In the case of this book, such an objection would be misplaced, since I make no claim to have understood Nagarjuna, et al. Rather, what is presented here is a particular interpretation of the thought of these figures. It might be seen as a piece of the puzzle of Tibetan Buddhism rather than a piece of the Indian puzzle. They do not entertain the notion of self-awareness understood phenomenologically either, as some sort of nonthetic, intransitive cognition, as this concept is seen as simply another reification. Moreover, such a notion offers no explanatory power in the realms of either the conventional or ultimate truth.

The foundational consciousness is another Buddhist concept that often serves as a substrate for the self, one that reifies personal identity. The notion of the foundational consciousness is an attempt for Buddhists to account for personal causality without affirming a real self.

Robert Thurman – What is the Middle Way?

Tsongkhapa dispenses with this notion of a substrate consciousness and sees it as simply another reification, another conceptually constructed essence that masquerades as the primary reality of the self. The impetus for the theory of the entity of disintegration, or so it seems, is to provide an account for causality in the absence of foundations. That is, disintegration is said to function like other entities in the absence of real entities. That is, both an entity and its disintegration are nothing more than nominal designations. While injecting disintegration with causal power is an attempt to preserve a nominalist theory of causality, this theory invites other problems, such as the reification of absence i.

Along with positing the entity of disintegration, among the unique features of the Consequence School are that the foundational consciousness and self-awareness are not only denied ultimate existence, but are held to not exist even conventionally. Conventional truths are always subject to rational analysis; when their conventional status is analyzed, no such self-awareness or foundational consciousness is analytically found, and when analyzed in terms of their ultimate status, they are found to be groundless like every other phenomenon. Tsongkhapa claims that the denial of true existence even conventionally is a unique feature of the Consequence School Cozort , This is because he holds that the claim to uncover a deeper foundation of conventional existence beyond transactional truth is a back door to essentialist ultimate presuppositions.

Thus, not only ultimate foundations, but even conventional foundational theories are repudiated in his Consequence School. Despite the important role of absence in the Geluk tradition, emptiness—the absence of essence—does not refer to total negation, but refers in particular to the negation of the ultimate status of a phenomenon. That is, conventional phenomena are denied existence ultimately, not conventionally.

The mere self trimmed away of metaphysical baggage or conceptual reification is unapologetically affirmed by the Geluk tradition.

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That is, the characteristically Buddhist denial of self is interpreted to refer only to mistaken conceptions of self — such as that of a permanent, singular, or truly existing entity — not the self simpliciter. The mere self, like the mere table or chair i.

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Conventional existence, what undeniably functions within the transactional world, is not negated. Rather, it is reification or true existence that is denied. Yet the Geluk tradition holds that it is precisely the denial of essences, which are superimposed on the conventional world or elsewhere, that leads to true transformation and liberation. It is important to recognize how Geluk philosophy is embedded within a distinctively Buddhist soteriology. That is, the truth of no-self is liberating because understanding this is held to free one from the mistaken idea of a self that binds one to suffering.

For the Geluk tradition, there is no higher view than just the emptiness in the Consequence School, and this view is also maintained to be a prerequisite for the esoteric practices of tantra. Tantra is an important part of the path to liberation in the Geluk tradition.

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It is a path to liberation that is held to involve distinct, esoteric methods, but without diverging from the philosophical view of emptiness, which is indispensible. For this reason, Geluk philosophy is located squarely within the exoteric domain of discourse: the intersubjective spaces of dialogue and debate.

Therefore, rather than overcoming mistaken concepts by circumventing them in a mystical flash of insight or an ecstatic experience of union, the Geluk tradition offers a more sober way to overcome misconceptions, one based on clear, rational analysis. That is, this tradition holds reasoned analysis to be necessary to understand the nature of phenomena or rather, their lack of nature. This is because an ascertainment of the lack of true existence is held to be necessary to counteract the directly opposed notion — the apprehension of true existence—which is the misinterpretation of reality as more than simply conventionally existing that binds one to suffering.

Thus, in Geluk philosophy, we can say that meaning is limited to intelligibility. That is, insight into reality is not held to be beyond thought, or attributed to some third category beyond the world that is neither existent nor nonexistent, but is simply insight into a world that is neither ultimately existent nor conventionally nonexistent. Even though Geluk scholars consent to the fact that emptiness can be perceived nonconceptually—in the rarified case of a highly developed meditation — they maintain that the emptiness that is known nonconceptually is no different from the emptiness that is conceptually known.

Moreover, their emphasis on the practice of insight is not based on an appeal to a direct, unmediated access to what is beyond concepts, but to reason.

Unique Tenets of the Middle Way Consequence School

Reason is also given priority over scriptural authority, which is subjected to the scrutiny of analysis and is adjudicated by reason Tsongkhapa in Hopkins , Following Tsongkhapa, the Geluk tradition came to establish large monastic institutions that set the standard for scholastic education in Tibet. Buddhist metaphysics instills the contours of a Buddhist view, including causality, impermanence, and an event-metaphysics that ties these two together.

The path structure also plays a central role in traditional Buddhist philosophy: it provides the philosophy with a telos , a narrative arch toward liberation and complete enlightenment. Ethics, too, is integral to this path and to Buddhist philosophy in general, but the most distinctive and interesting features of Geluk philosophy are found in its epistemology, and in particular, negative dialectics.

Geluk monks who train in philosophy study epistemology early in their careers, and debate is a primary means by which this tradition is internalized and enacted. Straddling the delicate line between a realist view that affirms the reality of universals and an antirealist one that denies the reality of concepts, a Geluk account of epistemology holds that universals are real, but that they do not exists separately from their particular instances.

This relationship — of neither complete identity nor utter difference—is an important part of the way the Geluk account for the relationship between the two truths, as we saw above in their description of the negative dialectics of the Middle Way. In the epistemological context, articulating this relationship is an attempt to account for the efficacy of concepts without giving universals an autonomous existence apart from their instances.

Cozort Unique Tenets

It is the nominalism of what Geluk authors consider their own tradition—the view of the Consequence School of the Middle Way—that is the hallmark of their philosophy. Ultimate Truth and the Middle Way 2. Conventional Truth and the Consequence School 3.

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According to Tibetan traditions, the Indian Buddhist Prasangika-Madhyamika school is the one that represents the final true thought of the Buddha. Unique. Unique Tenets of the Middle Way Consequence School presents and analyzes the issues that separate that school from the other principal schools of.

Unique Assertions of the Consequence School 4. Buddhist Context of Geluk Philosophy 5. Ultimate Truth and the Middle Way The Geluk interpretation of the Middle Way offers a unique presentation of the Buddhist doctrine of two truths: the ultimate truth and conventional or relative truth. Buddhist Context of Geluk Philosophy It is important to recognize how Geluk philosophy is embedded within a distinctively Buddhist soteriology.

Geluk Education Following Tsongkhapa, the Geluk tradition came to establish large monastic institutions that set the standard for scholastic education in Tibet. Cozort, Dan, Dreyfus, Georges, Garfield, Jay, Garfield, Jay L. Hopkins, Jeffrey, Jinpa, Thupten, Cutler ed. MacKenzie, Matthew, Ruegg, David Seyfort, Thurman, Robert, Tsongkhapa tsong kha pa blo bzang grags pa , — , Academic Tools How to cite this entry.