Buddhist Philosophy Series
Image courtesy of Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche
The following texts are available as part of our Buddhist Philosophy series:
Categories of Teaching
Based on the writings of Patrul Rinpoche, this brief survey summarises each of the nine successive vehicles leading to enlightenment in terms of their entry point, view, meditation, conduct and results.
- A Brief Overview of the Three Turnings and the Mantra Piṭaka of the Vidyādharas by Khenpo Pema Vajra
In this short text, called Pratītyasamutpādahṛdaya in Sanskrit, Nāgārjuna explains the heart or 'essence' (hṛdaya) of dependent origination (pratītyasamutpāda) in just seven stanzas. He shows how the twelve links of dependent origination can be further condensed into the three categories of afflictions (kleśa), karma and suffering, and how all phenomena, being interdependent, are empty of true existence.
Logic and Epistemology
One of Mipham's best known works, this treatise in 104 verses was written in just a single day in 1885. It is structured around the four principles of reasoning (rigs pa bzhi)—of causal efficiency, dependence, nature and establishing a proof—and the four reliances (rton pa bzhi), i.e., Rely not on the individual but the Dharma; Rely not on the words but the meaning; Rely not on the provisional but the definitive meaning; Rely not on ordinary consciousness but wisdom.
Notes on the general preliminary points to be made before commenting upon any of the major Indian treatises, such as what is meant by “In the language of India...” and the four rubrics of subject matter, immediate purpose, connection and ultimate purpose.
- Preliminary Points to be Explained When Teaching the Buddha's Word or the Treatises by Patrul Rinpoche
This brief work on pedagogical theory outlines the qualities and approaches of three different types of teacher (a fully enlightened buddha, arhat and learned paṇḍita), before discussing the science of listening and explaining the purpose of titles.
This short verse-text sets out to clarify the term "self-awareness" (rang rig; svasaṃvedana), especially as it is used in Dzogchen, and challenges those who reject the notion. Mipham points out that self-awareness is something to be experienced firsthand, not debated or speculated about.
In this short text, Mipham Rinpoche succinctly explains what is meant by the self of the individual (pudgalātman; gang zag gi bdag) and the 'self' (or identity) of phenomena (dharmātman; chos kyi bdag), and he describes how to become certain as to the non-existence of them both. The author also highlights the importance of distinguishing between a more superficial, conceptual understanding and a genuine, non-conceptual realization of ultimate reality.
Extracted from Gateway to Learning (mKhas 'jug), this section on the selflessness of the individual (gang zag gi bdag med) explains the absence of any permanent, unitary, independent and all-pervading self, either identical to or distinct from the five aggregates (pañcaskandhā; phung po lnga).
Stages and Paths
This survey of the five paths (lam lnga) and ten stages or bhūmis (sa bcu) explains the practices and qualities associated with each and every phase of the Mahāyāna path, from its initial point of entry through to its eventual culmination with the attainment of enlightenment.
In this brief text, the celebrated Dzogchen scholar and adept Khenpo Ngawang Palzang summarizes the four main Indian Buddhist tenet systems traditions (according to Tibetan doxographers): 1) Vaibhāṣika, 2) Sautrāntika, 3) Cittamātra (Mind Only) and 4) Mādhyamika (Middle Way), which is further divided into Svātantrika and Prāsaṅgika.
- The Concentrated Seed: How to Distinguish the Tenets of Non-Buddhist and Buddhist Schools by Patrul Rinpoche
In this short guide to Buddhist and non-Buddhist philosophical tenets, Patrul Rinpoche begins by outlining the tīrthika views of eternalism and nihilism. He then summarizes the views of the śrāvaka schools of Vaibhāṣika and Sautrāntika, as well as the two kinds of pratyekabuddha, the various branches of Cittamātra, and the Svātantrika and Prāsaṅgika strands of Mādhyamika. To conclude, he offers a brief overview of the various levels of secret mantra.
Three Gateways to Liberation
- Elucidating the Essence of the Instructions for Entering the Three Gateways to Liberation by Rongtön Sheja Künrig
In this short work, Rongtön clarifies the teachings on the samādhi (ting nge 'dzin) meditations related to the three gateways to liberation (rnam thar sgo gsum): emptiness, the absence of characteristics and the wishless.
- The Excellent Path of the Great Vehicle: How to Meditate on the Three Gateways to Liberation According to the Mahāyāna by Rongtön Sheja Künrig
A brief explanation of the "three gateways to liberation" (rnam thar sgo gsum) according to the Mahāyāna, i.e., emptiness (śūnyatā; stong pa nyid), absence of characteristics (mtshan ma med pa), and wishlessness (smon pa med pa).
One of Patrul Rinpoche's better known works, this pithy presentation of the two levels of truth is more than just a guide to what "relative" and "absolute" signify; it is also a practical instruction on how to apply such understanding in meditation.