Middle Beyond Extremes: Maitreya's Madhyantavibhanga with Commentaries by Khenpo Shenga and Ju Mipham
Shantideva says at the beginning of the final chapter of his Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life: "All branches of the Buddha's teachings are taught for the sake of wisdom. If you wish to bring an end to suffering, you must develop wisdom." Shantideva's ninth chapter is revered in Tibetan Buddhist circles as one of the most authoritative expositions of the Buddha's core insight, and all other Buddhist practices are means to support the generation of this wisdom within the practitioner. In Practicing Wisdom, the Dalai Lama reaffirms his reputation as a great scholar, communicator, and embodiment of the Buddha's Way by illuminating Shantideva's verses, drawing on contrasting commentaries from the Nyingma and Gelug lineages, and leading the reader through the stages of insight up to the highest view of emptiness. These teachings, delivered in southern France in 1993, have been masterfully translated, edited, and annotated by Geshe Thupten Jinpa, the Dalai Lama's primary translator and founder of the Institute of Tibetan Classics.
In the Root of the Middle Way, Nagarjuna presents a magical method of reasoning, inviting everyone who encounters these lucid and fearless contemplations to follow him on a journey to the heart of transcendent insight. Inspired by the Buddha's teachings on profound emptiness in the Prajnaparamita Sutras, Nagarjuna sets out to probe what appears to be the most fundamental facts of the world, challenging us to question even our most deeply ingrained ideas and what seem to be self-evident facts.
In a series of unassuming and penetrating investigations, he asks basic questions, such as: What does it mean for something to occur? What is meant by "going" or by "coming"? Does the eye see? Does fire burn fuel? What is an example of being right? What does it mean to be wrong? Nagarjuna extends an invitation to open-minded and unprejudiced inquiry, and from his reader he asks for nothing more and nothing less than sincere and honest answers. Yet where are our answers? Once we begin to follow Nagarjuna's clear and direct steps, the gateway to the inconceivable emerges. Perhaps unexpectedly.
The present work contains Nagarjuna's verses on the Middle Way, accompanied by Mabja Jangchub Tsondru's famed commentary, the Ornament of Reason. Active in the twelfth century, Mabja was among the first Tibetans to rely on the works of the Indian master Candrakirti, and his account of the Middle Way exercised a deep and lasting influence on the development of Madhyamaka philosophy in all four schools of Buddhism in Tibet. Sharp, concise, and yet comprehensive, the Ornament of Reason has been cherished by generations of scholar-practitioners. The late Khunu Lama Tenzin Gyaltsen Rinpoche, a renowned authority on the subject, often referred to this commentary as "the best there is."
A visual outline of the commentary has been added that clearly shows the structure of each chapter and makes the arguments easier to follow.
In down-to-earth style, this book sets forth a comprehensive explanation of the foundational teachings of the Mahayana tradition based on the works of two of Buddhism's most revered figures. Using Nagarjuna's Middle Way, the Dalai Lama explores Buddhist understandings of selflessness, dependent origination, and the causal processes that lock us in cycles of suffering. He grounds these heady philosophical discussions using Tsongkhapa's Three Principal Aspects of the Path, presenting a brief explanation of how to put ethical discipline, wisdom, and compassion into practice.
Through these beautifully complementary teachings, His Holiness urges us to strive, "with an objective mind, endowed with a curious skepticism, to engage in careful analysis and seek the reasons behind our beliefs."