The Ornament of the Middle Way: A Study of the Madhyamaka Thought of Santaraksita

The Ornament of the Middle Way: A Study of the Madhyamaka Thought of Santaraksita

by James Blumenthal


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The Ornament of the Middle Way: A Study of the Madhyamaka Thought of Santaraksita by James Blumenthal

Shantarakshita's The Ornament of the Middle Way is among the most important Mahayana Buddhist philosophical treatises to emerge on the Indian subcontinent. In many respects, it represents the culmination of more than 1300 years of philosophical dialogue and inquiry since the time of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni. Shantarakshita set forth the foundation of a syncretic approach to contemporary ideas by synthesizing the three major trends in Indian Buddhist thought at the time (the Madhyamaka thought of Nagarjuna, the Yogachara thought of Asanga, and the logical and epistemological thought of Dharmakirti) into one consistent and coherent system. Shantarakshitas's text is considered to be the quintessential exposition or root text of the school of Buddhist philosophical thought known in Tibet as Yogachara-Svatantrika-Madhyamaka.

In addition to examining his ideas in their Indian context, this study examines the way Shantarakshita's ideas have been understood by and have been an influence on Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Specifically, Blumenthal examines the way scholars from the Geluk School of Tibetan Buddhism have interpreted, represented, and incorporated Santaraksita's ideas into their own philosophical project.

This is the first book-length study of the Madyamaka thought of Shantarakshita in any Western language. It includes a new translation of Shantarakshita's treatise, extensive extracts from his autocommentary, and the first complete translation of the primary Geluk commentary on Shantarakshita's treatise.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781559394307
Publisher: Shambhala
Publication date: 11/05/2013
Pages: 406
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

James Blumenthal received his PhD in Asian Religions from the Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia at the University of Wisconsin.  He is currently Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at Oregon State University.

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations15
Technical Note17
Santaraksita's Writings28
A Survey of the Literature30
The Scope of the Study32
Santaraksita's Yogacara-Madhyamaka Synthesis41
Shifting Provisionalities in Madhyamakalamkara47
Part IAnalysis of Texts and Arguments55
The Text Title, Homage, and Introduction57
The Neither-One-Nor-Many Argument: Demonstrating That Entities Have No Ultimate Inherent Nature60
The Application of the Neither-One-Nor-Many Argument62
Analysis of Objects62
The Refutation of Unitary Objects Asserted by Non-Buddhists62
The Refutation of Unitary Objects Asserted by Buddhist Schools66
The Refutation of Unitary Persons71
The Refutation of Unitary Pervasive Entities72
The Refutation of Gross, Unitary Entities74
The Refutation of Unitary, Partless Particles76
Analysis of Subjects81
Analysis of Mind, Its Objects, and Its Means of Perception As Asserted in Other Buddhist Systems81
Self-Cognizing Cognition (svasamvedana, rang rig), External Objects, and Images82
Critique of an Epistemology Asserting Valid Cognition of True Images (satyakara) External to Consciousness91
Analysis of Mind, Its Objects, and Its Means of Perception As Asserted in Non-Buddhist Systems109
Critiques of Views Maintaining Unitary Consciousness109
Analysis of Mind, Its Objects, and Its Means of Perception As Asserted in Other Buddhist Systems (Cont.)115
Further Critiques of Views Maintaining a Unitary Consciousness115
Critiquing the Yogacara Views117
Yogacara Proponents of True Images117
Yogacara Proponents of False Images127
Wrapping Up the Neither-One-Nor-Many Argument: Demonstrating That Phenomena Lack a Manifold Nature134
Establishing the Pervasion: Entities Have No Nature At All137
Examination of Conventional Truths139
Refutation of Dissenting Arguments144
Yogacara-Madhyamaka Synthesis167
Part IIAn Analysis of the Geluk Interpretation, Representation, and Criticism of the Yogacara-Svatantrika-Madhyamaka and the Madhayamaka Thought of Santaraksita179
Geluk Hermeneutics and Santaraksita182
Path System Discrepancies: The Status of Hinayana Arhats187
Geluk Presentation and Critique of Santaraksita's Positions188
Critical Analysis of the Geluk Presentation: What Santaraksita Has to Say193
Autonomous Inferences (Svantantranumana)199
The Geluk Critique199
Santaraksita's Arguments on the Use of Autonomous Inferences203
The Two Truths209
Geluk Presentation of the Two Truths According to the Yogacara-Svatantrika-Madhyamaka System211
Santaraksita's View214
Self-Cognizing Cognition220
Concluding Remarks227
Part IIITranslations233
The Ornament of the Middle Way235
Remembering "The Ornament of the Middle Way"249
Appendix 1Outline of Topics in Madhyamakalamkara Based on Divisions Cited in Gyel-tsab's Commentary291
Appendix 2dbU ma rgyan (Tibetan Text)297
Appendix 3dbU ma rgyan gyi brjed byang (Tibetan Text)323

What People are Saying About This

Geshe Lhundup Sopa invaluable contribution to the West's understanding of the history of Madhyamaka both in India and Tibet. (Geshe Lhundup Sopa, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin, and co-author of Cutting Through Appearances)

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