Four Great Logical Arguments of the Middle Way

Middle Way | Buddhist Philosophy | Tibetan MastersMipham Rinpoche | Tibetan MastersKhenpo Nüden

English | བོད་ཡིག

Mipham Rinpoche

Ju Mipham Namgyal Gyatso

Further Information:

Four Great Logical Arguments of the Middle Way

The four great logical arguments of the Middle Way are:

  1. The investigation of the cause: the Diamond Splinters
  2. The investigation of the result: refuting existent or non-existent results
  3. The investigation of the essential identity: ‘neither one nor many’
  4. The investigation of all: the Great Interdependence

1. The Investigation of the Cause: the Diamond Splinters

i. Refutation of Production from Four Extremes

Production from Self

On a mere conventional level, it is indeed true that an effect is produced from a cause, but, if investigated on the ultimate level, production cannot be observed. If production capable of withstanding logical analysis did exist, it must necessarily be a production by means of one of the following four extremes: self, other, both or neither (or causeless). But these are unreasonable.

As it is said in the Root Verses of the Middle Way:

Not from self, not from other,
Not from both and not from neither—
Not for any entity at all anywhere,
Is there ever any production.

Why? For a thing to be produced from itself is illogical, because once something exists with its own particular identity, it is pointless for it to arise once again. It is like a child that has already been born and is not born again. If a seed, for example, were produced over again, it would be produced again and again without end. There would be no opportunity for the development of the other stages, such as the sprout, the stalk and so on.

According to the Saṃkhyas who assert self-production, in the same way that different manifestations, such as vases, can be created from the single nature of clay, seeds and so on are of a single nature, and abandon their seed-like manifestation as they are transformed into the manifestation of a sprout. If it is claimed that the various stages such as those of the seed and sprout are one, in spite of the fact that they have distinctions in terms of existing or not existing presently, colour, shape and so on, then that is open to invalidation by consequential reasoning, since it would follow that fire and water, or virtue and evil, must also be one.

You might think that a seed and sprout are not equivalent to fire and water because they belong to the same continuum. Yet a “continuum” is merely an imputation based on the uninterrupted resemblance of momentary phenomena, and does not really exist.

As it says in the Introduction to the Middle Way:

If one supposes that what has already been produced is re-produced,
Then the actual arising of a sprout and so on will never be discovered.
The seed would go on reproducing itself until the end of the world.
For you, there can be no difference between the seed as the active cause
And the sprout in terms of shape, colour, flavour, capacity or ripening.

If this seed of yours is no different from the sprout,
Then whilst the seed exists, there is nothing one might call ‘sprout’,
Or else, since they are identical, whilst the sprout exists
How could that [i.e. the seed] be apprehended? It is untenable.

And:

Only once the cause has disappeared does one see the effect,
So the claim that they’re the same is rejected even by the world.

It is not only according to treatises, but also the direct experience of worldly beings that the effect follows the disappearance of the cause, and so since even they would not accept the cause to be the same as the effect, self-production does not exist on either of the two levels of truth.

Production from Other

You might agree that production from self is illogical, and think that just as a child is born from its mother and a sprout is produced from its seed, production can only occur from something ‘other.’ It is indeed true that cause and effect are labelled as ‘other’, but this is not a self-production that can be proven logically.

If the cause were proven to be inherently different from the effect, then the effect would not need to depend on the cause, and both would be equal in terms of their capacity. While something exists, it is unnecessary for it to be produced from something else, just as two people who have already been born are not dependent upon one another.

If one thing were to arise from another, it would follow that anything could arise from anything else, like darkness arising from a butter lamp and so on, given that there is no difference in terms of their being other.

It is said [in the Introduction to the Middle Way]:

If things could arise on the basis of something ‘other’,
Well then, thick darkness should come from flames.

And:

For the cause and effect to be entirely ‘other’,
Is never feasible.
If the cause and effect were entirely other,
Causes would be just the same as non-causes.

Then you might say, “In the case of anything truly different such as light and darkness and so on, cause and effect would be unpredictable. But seeds and sprouts and so on have an uncommon acting causal relationship of influencer and influenced, and so the preceding cause produces a subsequent effect. And so there is no question of anything arising from anything else, like darkness from flames and so on.”

Then, it is said [in the Introduction to the Middle Way]:

You do not accept that barley, stamens, Kimshuka and so on
Can produce a rice sprout, because they lack the capability,
They are not within the same continuum, and are not similar.
It is the same for the rice seed, we say, because of being ‘other’.

In the same way that barley and flowers, stones and so on cannot be included within the same continuum as the cause of a rice sprout or be said to be of ‘similar type’, so too, the barley seed and its sprout, if they are established as truly ‘other’ from the perspective of ultimate analysis, cannot ultimate belong to the same continuum.

Even though this does not affect the ultimate conclusion that it is wholly unacceptable for a thing’s own producers to belong to its same continuum, it is acceptable to classify a producer as belonging to the same continuum on the conventional level, based on the ultimately incontrovertible point that things are not inherently ‘other’, but arise in interdependence.

Moreover, since at any given time, either the seed or the sprout will be non-existent, having not yet arisen or already ceased, how could it be feasible for them to be ‘influencer’ and ‘influenced’. These are mere imputations.

“Although the seed and sprout do not exist at the same time, there is no fault because they arise and cease like the up and down movements of a pair of scales.” If this is your claim, then while the seed is ceasing, it is approaching destruction and although it exists in the present, it does not remain in the next instant. And the sprout, while it is in the process of arising, is approaching production so it does not exist at the same time as the seed. So there never could be any contact between the two, and the example of the scales is meaningless.

The Introduction to the Middle Way says:

If the eye consciousness already exists as other than its own simultaneous producers,
Such as the eye and the co-emergent perception and so on,
What need is there for it to be produced?
If it does not exist, then the faults of this were already explained.

If eye consciousness already existed as something other than its own producers such as the eye faculty and the visual object and so on, and also it’s concurrent mental states such as sensation and perception, then there would be no need for its production. If it did not exist already, then these could not be something ‘other’.

Therefore, the mind and mental states and the four elements that exist at the same time are merely labelled as causes and effects, whilst if the mind and mental states and so on were produced inherently as something truly ‘other’, that would entail the faults already described.

So, regarding production such as that of the sprout from the seed, the Ācārya Nāgārjuna said:

From a seed that is destroyed or intact,
The sprout is not produced,
So you taught that all production
Is just like magical creation.

As it is said, the appearances of dependent origination cannot withstand logical analysis, and when investigated using reasoning that inquires into the ultimate, not even the slightest so-called ‘production’ may be observed. Yet, when left unanalyzed, just like the appearances during a dream, a sprout appears to be produced from a seed. This is simply the way in which the conventional is presented.

Similarly, at a merely conventional level, the continuum of similarity is said to remain and cease, but ultimately, since no arising is observed in the beginning, there can be no true ceasing at the end nor any abiding in the interim. Thus things are devoid of arising, dwelling and ceasing.

Therefore, appearances—when viewed from the perspective of the non-paradoxical unity of the two truths—are just like the examples of an illusion, dream, city of gandharvas, reflection of the moon in water and so on.

When analyzing in this way, using ultimate reasoning, because of the crucial point that all phenomena lack inherent existence, seeds and sprouts and so on cannot be established as having any essential identity, whether as truly identical, ‘other’ or whatever.

Others (the proponents of real entities within the Buddhist tradition) may say: “Although the other three types of production—self-production and so on—may be refuted, if we do not accept production from other, won’t we be contradicting the normal conventions of the world, such as the fact that sprouts arise from seeds and butter from curd?” There is no contradiction. In reality, if we apply reasoning, then not only at an ultimate level, but also conventionally speaking, arising is never really observed. If production were observable and proven conventionally, then it would follow that conventionally true phenomena such as the aggregates and elements would become immune to ultimate analysis. It would also follow that ultimate or truly existent arising would not be refuted. And it would follow that the equipoise of noble beings would become a cause for destroying previously existent conventional phenomena, which would lead to the extreme of deprecating the existent by labelling it non-existent. In any case, what is claimed is not possible.

In short, from the perspective of ultimate analysis, no phenomena whatsoever may be observed that are established as genuinely existent, whilst from the perspective of reasoning inquiring into the conventional, things are observed. That these two points are consistent, and established as a single reality is the assertion of the followers of the Middle Way beyond extremes.

Yet those who speak of real entities disagree, for they consider emptiness and dependently originating appearance to be mutually opposed. They believe that whatever is refuted by ultimate analysis must be completely non-existent even on a conventional level, just like the horns of a rabbit. Or else, that whatever exists conventionally, such as pillars and vases, could never be refuted by ultimate reasoning. They conceive of some independent object of negation separate from the conventional phenomena that are the basis of negation and they consider emptiness—which for them is the refutation of a separate phenomenon called “true existence”—and appearances, the basis for that refutation, to be directly opposed to one another, like the total non-existence of the horns of rabbits and the real existence of the horns of cattle. Asserting this to be a unity, by mentally ‘binding’ these two to an entity such as a vase is tantamount to claiming that emptiness is an affirming negation, and in the end it does not even go beyond the views of the proponents of true entities. This point has already been well made by the great logicians of the past.

Production from Both

The Saṃkhyas who speak of primal substance and an almighty god assert production from both self and other, but this carries the faults mentioned in both the earlier positions. As it is said [in the Introduction to the Middle Way]:

Production from both is inherently unreasonable,
Because it would entail the problems already explained.

So, this position is unacceptable from the perspective of either of the two truths.

Production without Cause

As for the assertion that there is no arising from self, from other or from both, but that there could be production without any cause, it is said [in the Introduction to the Middle Way]:

If the world were devoid of any cause, then it might be apprehended
Like the fragrance and colour of a blue lotus in space,
Yet this world is apprehended in all its rich variety,
And so, just like one’s own mind, it should be known to arise from causes.

This has already been refuted in more detail above, in the context of the philosophical schools,[1] where it was shown how it entails either permanent existence or non-existence.

In this way, when analyzing properly using the logical arguments that refute production from the four extremes of self, other, both and neither, no phenomenon whatsoever may be seen to arise in the beginning, and therefore to possess the other features of remaining in the middle or ceasing in the end. And so the conceptual elaborations of the eight extremes[2] such as ultimate arising and so on are pacified with regard to these unceasing mere relative appearances, and this should be understood as the unity of appearance and emptiness. This is taught more elaborately in the Introduction to the Middle Way.

ii. The Refutation of Production from Four Alternatives

When analyzed, production can not be established as occurring in any of these four possible ways:

  1. Several causes producing a single result
  2. Several causes producing several results
  3. A single cause producing several results
  4. A single cause producing a single result

You might think that it is only possible for several distinct causes, such as the object of a visible form, the unimpaired sense faculty, the immediately preceding mental attention, an unobstructed appearance and accommodating space, to produce the result of a single visual consciousness.

In which case, since several distinct causes produce only a single result, the object, faculty and so on do produce the visual consciousness, but it must follow that there can be no other cause for its singularity. Similarly, as long as a single cause is incapable of producing a single effect, there is no cause for singularity or plurality, one-ness or many-ness. And since there is no knowable phenomenon that does not fall into either category (of one or many), whatever is singular or plural must either remain that way forever or never come into being at any time or place. This is because there is no cause for being singular or plural.

You might think that several causes produce several effects, the immediate intention of wishing to look producing the visual consciousness of a mental nature, the support of the eye faculty producing the apprehension of the object, and the apparent object such as a vase producing its own particular mental features. In that case, since it would be produced by these various causes, it would have the various features just described, such as having a mental nature and so on, and so that eye consciousness would become many, equal in number to its aspects described above. If that is accepted, then the resultant visual consciousness is not produced by these causes such as the intention and so on. The particular aspects such as the mental nature, the endowment with the features of the object and so on are produced individually, but the one who possesses these aspects, the visual consciousness itself, has no cause and is therefore not produced by anything.

You might respond by saying that the apprehension of the object and the other aspects are not separate, in the sense that they are nothing other than consciousness. But then it would be meaningless to call this “several causes producing several effects”. It becomes “several causes producing a single effect”, and the problems involved in such an assertion, i.e. because one and many are uncaused, things must be either permanently existent or non-existent, have been explained above.

You may think that there is still no fault because the aspects and the possessor of these aspects are of the same essential identity, and only labelled as separate based on conceptual distinctions. In that case, the causes such as attention, would perform their function for the conceptual distinctions, the imputed phenomena such as the mental nature and so on, but the substantially existent consciousness itself would not be produced by any cause, and so consciousness would be causeless.

If you claim that the essential identity of the effect is one, but its aspects are multiple, then this leads to the fault of the qualities being separate from that which possesses them.

You might consider that the single cause of a blue flower produces several effects, such as that flower’s own subsequent ‘similar type’ and the visual consciousness of sentient beings, for example. The question is: does that cause, i.e., the flower, perform this production by itself exclusively, without relying on any other factors, or is it done together with other assisting factors, such as the faculties? In the first case of production by itself alone, since it would not be able to produce a plurality, this implies causeless production. Similarly, since one cause also can not perform the function of producing one effect, then it follows that the single and the multiple must both lack causes, and once again there is the fault of production occurring without any cause, as explained above.

If the object, like the blue [flower], produces the visual consciousness in dependence on other causes, such as the appearance, sense faculty, attention and so on, and you say that it has been produced by other causes as well, the result will cease to be singular, because it will possess several features or qualities that have been produced by the various causes, such as the object, faculty and attention.

Then, it might be said that a single cause only produces its own single result. If that were the case, then since a cause such as the eye faculty could only produce the result of its own subsequent ‘resemblance’, and could never perform the function of producing anything else, such as a visual consciousness directly apprehending an object, there would be no cause for beings’ visual or audial consciousnesses and so on, and so these effects would be impossible, with the absurd consequence that everyone would be deaf and blind.

As it says in the Two Truths of the Middle Way [by Jñānagarbha]:

Several things do not produce just one thing,
And many things do not create a multiplicity.
One thing is not produced by many things.
And from a single thing, a single thing is not produced.[3]

This was stated in accordance with such reasoning.

Moreover, other arguments might be given in response to one who asserts that several causes, such as the appearance, faculty and attention, give rise to a single result, such as visual cognition. [For example,] even if it is granted that the resultant eye consciousness does not have several qualities and is singular, it is impossible for any knowable phenomenon to be truly singular, as in the case of a visual consciousness devoid of its accompanying mental states, such as the ever-present states and so on.

You might think that many causes produce many effects, but then since it would be impossible for several causes to produce only a single effect, it would be quite meaningless to speak of a gathering of several causes. When singular phenomena cannot be established, the ‘many’ that they go together to produce will not be established either, and will not exist.

The assertion that one cause produces several effects is also unsound, since it presupposes a single cause that cannot be divided into parts, and this is impossible. It can be seen that a single cause such as a seed would be incapable of producing its effect, the sprout, without relying upon other conditions, such as earth, water, warmth, time and so on.

It is also not the case that a single cause gives rise to a single effect, since this is contrary to direct experience, namely the successive production of a variety of effects like the sprout, the flower, the fruit and so on, from a variety of causes and conditions such as the seed, water, fertilizer, heat, moisture and so on.

Therefore, when thoroughly examining, a truly singular phenomenon that lacks a plurality of features or qualities cannot be established at all, whether as a causal or resultant entity. And without any such singular phenomenon, then the plural too, which must necessarily be composed of the singular, must also be non-existent.

Nevertheless, in the case of a thing such as a sprout, even though it consists of several parts such as its colour and shape and so on, they are still labelled as one thing, i.e. a sprout, based on their similarity of type and so forth. And also in the case of a single phenomenon such as a particle, when dividing it according to its features, such as substance and direction, it is labelled as multiple. Yet it is simply through the power of dependent origination or ‘dependent definition’, that these are conventionally designated as causes and effects. When analyzing with ultimate reasoning, they cannot be established according to any of these four alternatives of single, multiple, etc., and therefore since these conventional entities do not withstand investigation, they should be understood to be just like the appearances during a dream.

Although this reasoning is sometimes called “the investigation of both the cause and the effect: refuting production according to the four alternatives” thus giving a total of five great logical arguments—and ultimately there is no real contradiction in explaining it that way—it seems reasonable to include it within the category of investigation of the cause, so that there are a total of four great logical arguments.

There are also other arguments which investigate the cause, effect and identity, such as, for example, the division into the three times of past, present and future, i.e., the result that was produced in the past has already arisen and has now ceased, so it is not produced. The result of the future has not yet arisen in the present, and so it is not produced. And finally, the present result has already been established as its own identity and so it would be meaningless for it to be produced again.

2. The Investigation of the Result: Refutation of Existent or Non-Existent Production

This is divided into an actual explanation and elimination of doubts.

i. Actual Explanation

Regarding the effect that is produced, if one examines whether it is an existent effect that arises or a non-existent one, or one that is both or neither, the Introduction to the Middle Way says:

If it is something existent, what need is there for its production? But if it does not exist, what could be done to it?
If it is both [existent and non-existent], what can be done? And if neither, what can be done?

If you consider that the result to be produced is something existent which develops, this is unreasonable. Why? If it is existent, then it must exist having already established to its own identity as a sprout and so on, and being existent, it would be unnecessary for it to be produced anew. It is just like a grain of barley, which, having ripened once, does not need to ripen all over again. If something already existent still needed to be produced then that would lead to the fault of production continuing ad infinitum.

“Well then,” you might think, “It is something non-existent that is produced.” But in that case, it would be impossible to produce. For example, even if someone were to go to great lengths to assemble hundreds of causes and conditions, they would still never be able to produce the non-existent horns on the head of a rabbit.

You might think that the effect, such as the sprout, was formerly non-existent, but is made anew into something existent by the causes such as the seed. It is not so. Since existent and non-existent are mutually contradictory, they could never combine on the basis of a single entity. In terms of actual entities, there are no phenomena whatsoever that were formerly non-existent, and later changed into something existent. Causes and conditions could not transform unconditioned space, for example, into the identity of a conditioned, existent phenomenon.

Thus, simply on a conventional level, effects appear based on causes. Formerly, prior to the gathering of their causes and conditions, they did not appear, and now, when the causes and conditions are assembled, they do. The mind relates these two stages to one another, and then there is the merely conceptual statement, “This did not exist before, but now it is arising!”

Similarly, one mentally relates earlier and later occasions and, in relation to a given phenomenon, thinks, “This existed previously, and then it did not exist.”

Thus, the phenomena that are conventional entities simply appear by the force of dependent origination, and in reality there are no existent phenomena whatsoever that transform into non-existent ones, and there are no non-existent phenomena that transform into existent ones.

It is similar in the case of conditioned formations arising anew and finally ceasing, or the continua of ‘similar type’ remaining and not remaining, the perception of an existent self of the individual or phenomena and the perception of no-self. The explanation is similar to that given in the case of existent and non-existent phenomena. They are all merely appearances on the conventional, relative level, and ultimately, they are empty of their own essential identity. At the level of the genuine nature of things, there is no observation of any features such as the transformation of something existent into something non-existent or non-existent into existent, of any going or coming, arising or ceasing, increasing or decreasing.

ii. Eliminating Doubts

You might wonder how it is that production of results should be asserted, given that neither existent nor non-existent effects are produced, and that, aside from these two, no third mode of production is possible. It is asserted that the arising of effects is nothing other than the undeceiving appearance of dependent origination, and when analyzed as to whether it is existent or non-existent, it is not established in any way whatsoever, but is just like the example of a magical illusion and so on.

It is impossible for a knowable phenomenon to be both existent and non-existent since these two are directly opposed to one another. And it is also impossible for a phenomenon to be neither existent nor non-existent, because it is impossible for there to be some third option in between these two directly opposed positions.

“Well then,” you might think, “just as it is impossible here to have the option of neither, there can not be this option of ‘neither’ in the context of freedom from conceptual elaboration of the four extremes, such as existing, not existing and so on.” And, you might think, “Just as in the assertion made without specifying ‘not existent and not non-existent’, it is impossible for there to be a third option between direct opposites, so the natural state can be understood through the two negations, and there is nothing meaningful in defining what ‘nothing whatsoever’ means. Thus, apart from the rather deceitful position of asserting nothing at all, our own tradition does not make any kind of definite statement about how things are.” This might be how spiritually immature beginners think it is, but it is not like that at all.

As long as one still maintains a basis for conceptual reference, there can not possibly be an apprehension that does away with the four extremes altogether. Therefore, whatever assertions are made by applying particular distinctions—like saying, “There is no snake in this house, but there is a vase”—they are conceptual references involving particular conceptual ideas, and so they are not beyond the realms of ordinary conceptual thought. In the actual state of simplicity, in which all conceptual focus has subsided, there are no assertions or conceptual references whatsoever with regard to the four extremes. Even so, it is quite unlike the dull confusion of not having realized ultimate reality, or a state of unconsciousness. It is a state difficult to express by words or through examples, that is—as it says in Rāhula’s _Praise to the Great Mother Prajñāpāramitā_—beyond words, beyond thought and beyond description. It is simplicity that is discerned by means of one’s own individual awareness, in which all doubts have been cut through: a non-conceptual primordial awareness free from dualistic perceptions, but naturally luminous like the shining sun.

3. Investigation of the Essential Identity: ‘Neither One Nor Many’

To begin with, there is an analysis of the essential identity of all conditioned and unconditioned phenomena to determine whether or not there is true singularity. In the case of those conditioned phenomena of the five aggregates possessing physical form, there is a division into above, below, the cardinal and intermediate directions and the centre. Through this, it can be seen that, for something such as a vase, singularity is simply a conceptual notion applied to the various features that are the basis for such an imputation. True singularity is not established, and the same applies in the case of its component parts. The body and the limbs are also divided into parts in the same way.

In short, all that possesses physical form and is composed of material particles may be broken down to its basis, which is the infinitely small particle. And, according to the logic explained before, for that most subtle particle to be surrounded by particles in the various directions, it must have sides, which means it must have parts, and so on, in an infinite regression. If not, then however many subtle particles are gathered together, they could never grow any larger. Thus, all phenomena with material form lack true singularity.

In addition, the eight or the six collections of consciousness can not be established as truly singular since they consist of various cognitive acts and mental states, take various features as their focus, and arise in different forms from the gathering of the four conditions, and then cease.

By analyzing everything that has the nature of arising and ceasing deriving from its own causes, even the subtlemost indivisible moment can not be established, and so all phenomena included within mind and matter lack any true singularity. As for non-concurrent formations, they are simply imputations made upon the ‘occasion’ of mind and matter, and so they lack any essential identity. Unconditioned phenomena are imputations made with regard to the eliminated aspects of objects of negation, and are also lacking in any essential identity.

In short, all conditioned and unconditioned phenomena can not be shown to have any true singularity, and since this is not established, plurality that is made up of what is singular must also remain unestablished. And so, since there is no mode of true existence aside from being truly singular or plural, it must follow that individuals and phenomena are proven to be without inherent identity, just as it is explained more elaborately in The Ornament of the Middle Way.

4. Analysis of All: The Logical Argument of Great Interdependence

All phenomena do not come into being through their own inherent identity, but as a result of the coming together of causes and conditions, and when there are no conditions they do not arise. Even at the time when they appear, they appear whilst lacking any inherent existence, since they are like reflections, brought about by causes and conditions. Free from any conceptual elaborations such as being permanent or non-existent, going or coming, arising or ceasing or being one or many, they appear whilst lacking true reality.

When evaluating in this way, using reasoning investigating the ultimate in accordance with the actual nature of things, they are found to be mere unfailing dependent arising. Otherwise, if they were truly established in any way, such as arising according to the four extremes or four alternatives, or being existent or non-existent, or permanent or impermanent etc., then that would be inappropriate as an explanation for the conventional, and would result in a deprecation of all conventions.

According to the Middle Way tradition, for whom the unreal illusory appearances of dependent origination and emptiness arise in the same reality, all the conventions of mere appearance are extremely reasonable. This being so, the conventions of the world, as well as the supermundane conventions of the Four Truths, Three Jewels and so on, are all perfectly established.

This king of reasonings, the Great Interdependence, includes all the other types of ultimate logic, such as the Diamond Splinter and so on, because they are all concerned with the seemingly real, unexamined appearances of dependent origination. When analyzed, no causes, effects or essential identities whatsoever can be established. The extensive variations of this logic that investigates the meaning of dependent origination are to be found in The Root Verses of the Middle Way and elsewhere.

Conclusion

Therefore, at the relative level, cause, effect and inherent identity appear in that way, and are labelled with such conventions. Ultimately, causes, effects and inherent identities lack any true nature, being emptiness with the identity of the three doors of liberation. The emptiness in which the two truths are inseparably united like this is the dharmadhātu, the object to be realized through the path of the Middle Way. It is the supreme of all that might be realized, the ‘mother’ of the victorious buddhas and their heirs.

This point concerning equalness in which the truths of appearance and emptiness are indivisible is just like the sphere of space, and is beyond the realm of conceptual thought, unimaginable and inexpressible, yet with non-conceptual wisdom, it can be meditated in the manner of pure self-knowing awareness. During the post-meditation phase, one has the confident certainty that all things appear yet lack true reality, just like the examples of a magical illusion, dream, reflection, magical creations and so on. And, with the wisdom that thoroughly discerns the two truths, one is brought to an undeluded realization concerning all the categories of the ground, path and fruition.

Through comprehending the meaning of emptiness in this way, all the enlightened qualities of the path and fruition of the Great Vehicle will arise.

Taken from Mipham Rinpoche’s Gateway to Learning (mKhas 'jug), with supplementary material from Khenpo Nüden’s commentary.

| Translated and edited by Adam Pearcey, 2005.


  1. i.e., earlier in the text of the mKhas 'jug. See Gateway to Knowledge, Vol I, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1997, pp. 64-5.  ↩

  2. The eight extremes are: arising, ceasing, permanence, non-existence, coming, going, plurality and singularity.  ↩

  3. This is verse 14 of the text. Khenpo Nüden gives the quote with the lines in a slightly different order, but I have followed the original.  ↩

• Download this text: EPUB MOBI PDF