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Two Truths Debate: Tsongkhapa and Gorampa on the Middle Way

Overview

All lineages of Tibetan Buddhism today claim allegiance to the philosophy of the Middle Way, the exposition of emptiness propounded by the second-century Indian master Nagarjuna. But not everyone interprets it the same way. A major faultline runs through Tibetan Buddhism around the interpretation of what are called the two truths?the deceptive truth of conventional appearances and the ultimate truth of emptiness. An understanding of this faultline illuminates the beliefs that separate the Gelug descendents of ...

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Overview

All lineages of Tibetan Buddhism today claim allegiance to the philosophy of the Middle Way, the exposition of emptiness propounded by the second-century Indian master Nagarjuna. But not everyone interprets it the same way. A major faultline runs through Tibetan Buddhism around the interpretation of what are called the two truths—the deceptive truth of conventional appearances and the ultimate truth of emptiness. An understanding of this faultline illuminates the beliefs that separate the Gelug descendents of Tsongkhapa from contemporary Dzogchen and Mahamudra adherents. The Two Truths Debate digs into the debate of how the two truths are defined and how they are related by looking at two figures, one on either side of the faultline, and shows how their philosophical positions have dramatic implications for how one approaches Buddhist practice and how one understands enlightenment itself.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780861715015
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications MA
  • Publication date: 10/28/2007
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Sonam Thakchoe is a former Tibetan monk trained in Tibetan Buddhist tradition for fifteen years. He obtained his PhD (2002) from the University of Tasmania, Shastri (BA, 1995) and Acharya (MA, 1997) with double majors on the history of Indo-Tibetan philosophy and religious studies from Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, India. He has taught Buddhist philosophy at the University of Tasmania for the past eight years and is now a full-time lecturer in Asian and comparative philosophy.

Jay Garfield is Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Logic Program and of the Five College Tibetan Studies in India Program at Smith College, Professor in the graduate faculty of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Professor of Philosophy at Melbourne University and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies. He teaches and pursues research in the philosophy of mind, foundations of cognitive science, logic, philosophy of language, Buddhist philosophy, cross-cultural hermeneutics, theoretical and applied ethics and epistemology. Garfield's most recent books are his translation, with the Ven. Prof Geshe Ngawang Samten of the Fourteenth-Fifteenth Century Tibetan Philosopher Tsong Khapa's commentary on Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika (Ocean of Reasoning) and Empty Words: Buddhist Philosophy and Cross-Cultural Interpretation (Oxford University Press 2002 and 2006, respectively. Garfield is also working on projects on the development of the theory of mind in children with particular attention to the role of pretence in that process; the acquisition of evidentials and its relation to the development of theory of mind (with Jill deVilliers, Thomas Roeper and Peggy Speas), the history of 20th Century Indian philosophy (with Nalini Bhushan) and the nature of conventional truth in Madhyamaka (with Graham Priest and Tom Tillemans). He recently co-directed, with Peter Gregory, Jill Ker Conway Professor of Religion and Buddhist Studies, a year-long research institute, Trans-Buddhism: Transmission, Translation and Transformation investigating the interaction of Buddhist societies with the West. Other books in progress include the Oxford Handbook of World Philosophy (editor), Readings in Buddhist Philosophy (co-editor with William Edelglass for Oxford University Press), Trans-Buddhism: Transmission, Translation and Transformation (co-editor with Nalini Bhushan and Abraham Zablocki, for the University of Massachusetts Press), and Sweet Reason: A Field Guide to Modern Logic (co-authored with Jim Henle and the late Thomas Tymoczko).

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Table of Contents


Foreword   Jay L. Garfield     ix
Acknowledgments     xi
Technical Notes     xv
Introduction     1
The Objectives and Scope of this Book     1
Why Compare Tsongkhapa and Gorampa?     3
The Relationship Between the Two Truths     7
Introduction     7
What Is Divided into the Two Truths?     9
The Objects of Knowledge as the Basis of the Division     9
Mere Mind as the Basis of the Division     12
How Are the Two Truths Related?     17
The Two Truths Are Ontologically Identical but Conceptually Distinct     17
The Two Truths Are Distinct and Incompatible     21
Two Truths or One Truth?     28
How Is Conventional Truth "Truth" at All?     29
Why Is Conventional Truth False and Deceptive?     34
Applying the Worldly Convention     36
The One and Only Truth     40
Conclusion     43
Meanings and Definitions of the Two Truths     45
Introduction     45
The Meanings of Samvrti     46
Samvrti as Ignorant Consciousness     48
Samvrti as Mutually Interdependent     53
Samvrti as WorldlyConventions     55
Concealers: The Soteriological Objects of Negation     58
The Meanings of Paramarthasatya     62
Definitions of the Two Truths     65
Candrakirti's Definition of the Two Truths     65
Nagarjuna's Definition of the Two Truths     72
Conclusion     77
Language, Concepts, and Ultimate Truth     79
Introduction     79
The Limits of Language and the Conceptual Mind: The Cataract Analogy and Its Applications     79
Ineffability and Inconceivability of Ultimate Truth     87
The Validity of the Conceptual Right View     91
Final Implications     98
Conclusion     100
Realizing Ultimate Truth     101
Introduction     101
Seeing Ultimate Truth by Way of Not Seeing It     102
Transcendence     107
Proliferation of Conceptual Elaboration     107
Transcending Conceptual Elaboration     110
Nondual Epistemology     115
Seeing Phenomena as Nothing     119
Seeing Phenomena as Empty     123
Conclusion     129
Enlightenment     133
Introduction     133
The Universality of Ultimate Truth     134
How an Arya Knows the Two Truths     139
A Buddha's Exceptional Mode of Knowing the Two Truths     144
Knowing the Two Truths from the Two Conflicting Perspectives     144
Knowing the Two Truths Simultaneously     150
Conclusion     156
Conclusion     159
Soteriology and Psychology     159
Ontology     160
Epistemology     161
Ethical Implications     162
Abbreviations     165
Notes     171
Glossary     227
Bibliography     233
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