Knowledge and Liberation: Tibetan Buddhist Epistemology in Support of Transformative Religious Experience
The Course in Buddhist Reasoning and Debate: An Asian Approach to Analytical Thinking Drawn from Indian and Tibetan Sources
Buddhism is a wisdom tradition. It asserts that we are liberated by the power of our own understanding. The three purposes of Buddhist debate are to defeat your own and others’ misconceptions, to establish your own correct view, and to clear away objections to your view. It is like the approach of a physician—to remove what does not belong and to strengthen what does. Thus, for Buddhists, reasoning and debate are not ends in themselves or idle intellectual speculation. Rather, they are used as one path to spiritual wellness, taking practitioners closer to the health of liberation through these efforts to remove mistaken views and to understand and strengthen correct ones.
Reading and memorization are not enough. Students must be able to verbalize their understanding and defend it under the pressure of cross-examination. This book teaches the basic analytical skills and procedures used in Buddhist debate. It is based on the author’s own practice and experiences gained in the debating courtyards of Tibetan monasteries in India and matured through years of leading popular university courses on the subject. Sample debate exchanges show readers how to get started with the Buddhist style of analytical thinking to challenge and defend assertions.
Learning is supported by guided reflections, practical advice, and verbal exercises to be completed in practice with a partner. By the end of the course, readers will be able to engage in unscripted, full-fledged debates with a qualified partner about Buddhist characterizations and classifications of phenomena using the format and procedures of Buddhist debate. Moreover, these skills, once mastered, can then be applied to investigating the truth and falsity of views in any other subject.
Reason and Experience in Tibetan Buddhism: Mabja Jangchub Tsöndrü and the Traditions of the Middle Way
Based on newly discovered texts, this book explores the barely known but tremendously influential thought of the Tibetan Buddhist teacher, Mabja Jangchub Tsöndrü (d. 1185).This Tibetan Buddhist master exercised significant influence on the interpretation of Madhyamaka thinking in Tibet during the formative phase of Tibetan Buddhism and plays a key role in the religious thought of his day and beyond.
The book studies the framework of Mabja’s philosophical project, holding it up against the works of both his own Madhyamaka teachers as well as those of central authors of the later "classical period". The emerging account of the evolution of Madhyamaka in Tibet reveals a striking pattern of transformative appropriations. This, in turn, affords us insights into the nature and function of tradition in Tibetan religious culture and Mahāyāna Buddhism at large. Innovation is demanded for both the advancement and consolidation of tradition.
This ground-breaking book is an invaluable contribution to the study of Tibetan philosophy. It is of great interest to Buddhist practitioners, specialists in Buddhist philosophy and Tibetan Buddhism.
In fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Tibet there was great ferment about what makes enlightenment possible, since systems of self-liberation must show what factors pre-exist in the mind that allow for transformation into a state of freedom from suffering. This controversy about the nature of mind, which persists to the present day, raises many questions. This book first presents the final exposition of special insight by Tsong-kha-pa, the founder of the Ge-luk-pa order of Tibetan Buddhism, in his medium-length Exposition of the Stages of the Path as well as the sections on the object of negation and on the two truths in his Illumination of the Thought: Extensive Explanation of Chandrakirti's Supplement to Nagarjuna's "Treatise on the Middle." It then details the views of his predecessor Dol-po-pa Shay-rap Gyel-tsen, the seminal author of philosophical treatises of the Jo-nang-pa order, as found in his Mountain Doctrine, followed by an analysis of Tsong-kha-pa's reactions. By contrasting the two systems—Dol-po-pa's doctrine of other-emptiness and Tsong-kha-pa's doctrine of self-emptiness—both views emerge more clearly, contributing to a fuller picture of reality as viewed in Tibetan Buddhism. Tsong-kha-pa's Final Exposition of Wisdom brilliantly explicates ignorance and wisdom, explains the relationship between dependent-arising and emptiness, shows how to meditate on emptiness, and explains what it means to view phenomena as like illusions.