Lama Jampa Thaye’s visit to Pasadena Bodhi Path

Lama Jampa Thaye

Lama Jampa Thaye

Pasadena Bodhi Path was delighted and profoundly grateful for the wonderful opportunity and blessings to have been able to host Lama Jampa Thaye for a weekend of teachings. Lama Jampa gave teachings and explanations based on, “A Concise Lojong Manual” by the 5th Shamarpa. Along with the commentary from the text by the 5th Shamarpa, Lama Jampa include instructions and additional commentary given to him by our own, Kunzig Shamarpa Rinpoche shortly before he passed last year. This was indeed a blessing and displayed the transcendence of a great Master’s wisdom, that continues, beyond the illusion of form. Thank you Lama Jampa Thaye!

Lama Jampa Thaye visits with a little bodhisattva

Lama Jampa Thaye visits with a little bodhisattva

Blessings  Shamarpa & Lama Jampa Thaye

Blessings
Shamarpa & Lama Jampa Thaye

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Freedom from Extremes

question

Student: “Is enlightenment attainable?”
Teacher: “Yes and no…”
Student: “Well, which one is it?”
Teacher: “Both”
Student: “Both?”
Teacher: “And neither”
Student: “Huh”?
Teacher: “Hung!”

A few years ago a few of us had the opportunity to study Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarika, or Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way, with Professor Lara Braitstein.  Nagarjuna’s MMK, a we affectionately call it, is a key text of the Madhyamaka, Middle Way, school.

From Wikipedia:
According to Madhyamaka all phenomena are empty of “substance” or “essence” because they are dependently co-arisen. Likewise it is because they are dependently co-arisen that they have no intrinsic, independent reality of their own.

Lawrence and I recently attended teachings on the Heart Sutra with Khenpo Migmar Tseten, a Sakya lama. Khenpo Migmar recommended a text written by Gorampa Sonam Senge, a Sakya scholar. The book is entitled, “Freedom from Extremes: Gorampa’s “Distinguishing the Views” and the Polemics of Emptiness – by Jose Ignacio Cabezon and Geshe Lobsang Dargyay.

Here is review of the book by Lawrence:

As the translator explained in the introduction, this is a polemic work against Tsongkhapa’s view of (Prasangika) Madhyamaka. So, Gorampa spent a lot of time explaining the differences (e.g. using 1 corner of Catuskoti vs all 4 corners, a direct negation on “emptiness” would not work). I would say this book provides a much clearer explanation of (Prasangika) Madhyamaka than any other book that I’ve ever read since most of the other books/articles keep on providing their own view without “distinguishing” them with other (Buddhist) views.

I guess this is what Nagarjuna (and to a certain extent, the Buddhist debating tradition) was trying to do in Mulamadhyamakakarika (MMK). However, I don’t know which school a certain stanza in MMK was trying to rebuff. Maybe those schools are disappeared. So, we lost of “the context” in which Nagarjuna’s arguments in MMK was based-on (Well, some reference was saying that Nagarjuna was against Sarvastivada school. However, I would say we under-appreciate Nagarjuna’s scope in MMK if he was only against Sarvastivada school). In this book, “Freedom from Extremes”, we are really clear that the target is “The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment” by Tsongkhapa. So, we can easily access the arguments from both side and make our judgement.

From Wikipedia: Catuskoti
A typical piece of Buddhist dialectical apparatus is the …(catuskoti). It consists of four members in a relation of exclusive disjunction (“one of, but not more than one of, ‘a,’ ‘b,’ ‘c,’ ‘d,’ is true”). Buddhist dialecticians, from Gautama onward, have negated each of the alternatives, and thus have negated the entire proposition. As these alternatives were supposedly exhaustive, their exhaustive negation has been termed “pure negation” and has been taken as evidence for the claim that Madhyamika is negativism

Whatever is dependent arising
We declared that to be emptiness.
That is dependent designation,
And is itself the middle way.”

– Nagarjuna, Mulamadhyamakakarika

Freedom from Extremes

Freedom from Extremes