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Geshe Gyaltsen Tsering (Buddhist Philosophy Class)

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Geshe Gyaltsen Tsering (Buddhist Philosophy Class)
Date : March 15 – May 12
Topic : Paths and Grounds and Buddhist Tenets
The important points of difference between views of the major schools of Buddhist philosophy and paths and grounds of the Buddhist path are foundational subjects in the study of Mahayana Buddhism. An understanding of these will help one gain a better understanding of selflessness and the sequence of practices that must be developed in order to attain enlightenment. Geshe la will give an overview of the way the different Buddhist tenet schools and define selflessness and explain the how the selflessness asserted in the lower schools is only coarse selflessness when compared to the selflessness which is asserted by the highest school of thought and other such topics. In the study of the paths and grounds, you will be introduced to the four paths and ten grounds of bodhisattvas and the various qualities, practices, and realizations that the bodhisattvas must develop on each level. You will also learn how one enters a path and how the bodhisattvas eliminate the obscurations as they progress along the path to enlightenment.

Recommended Reading:Cutting Through Appearances: Practice and Theory of Tibetan Buddhism, translated by Geshe Lhundup Sopa and Jeffery Hopkins, Snow Lion.

Buddhist Philosophy, Daniel Cozort and Craig Preston, Snow Lion

Traversing the Spiritual Path: Kön-chog-jig-may-wong-bo’s Presentation of the Grounds and Paths with Dan-ma-lo-chö’s Oral Commentary, Elizabeth Napper, Uma Institute for Tibetan Studies.

Date: May 14—December 15
Text: Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment (lam rim chen mo)

Lama Tsongkhapa (1357-1419) was one of the greatest reformers of Tibetan Buddhism and founder of the Gelugpa tradition. He wrote the Lamrim Chenmo to give students a reliable guide to the stages of the path, from the very beginning all the way through to the attainment of enlightenment itself. This text is one of Lama Tsongkhapa’s greatest works. It is a commentary on Atisha’s Lamp of the Path to Enlightenment (Byang chub lam sgron).

Geshe la will continue guiding us through the following subjects from the section on Training in the Path of a Person of Great Capacity in Je Tsongkhapa’s masterpiece work:

    • How to train in the Mahayana precepts
    • How to train in the Six Perfections:
      • The perfection of giving
      • The perfection of ethics
      • The perfection of patience
      • The perfection of joyous effort
      • The perfection of concentration
      • The perfection of wisdom
    • How to help others to mature

Preparing for calm abiding (shamatha; zhi gnas)

  • Focusing your mind
  • Dealing with laxity and excitement
  • Attaining calm abiding
  • Calm abiding as part of the path
  • Why special insight (vipashyana; lhag mthong) is necessary
  • Identifying the object of negation
  • Dependent arising and emptiness
  • The concept of validity at the conventional level
  • The distinction between the Svatantrika and Prasangika schools
  • The selflessness of phenomena and persons and the reasons establishing it
  • How to train in the unification of calm abiding and special insight

Recommended Text: Tsongkhapa’s Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, Vol. I–III, translated by the Lamrim Chenmo Translation Committee, Snow Lion

Additional Reading: Atisha’s Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, Commentary by Geshe Sonam Rinchen, translated by Ruth Soman, Snow Lion Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, Pabonka Rinpoche, translated by Michael Richards, Wisdom Publications

Life and Teachings of Tsongkhapa, edited by Professor Robert Thurman, LTWA The Essence of Superfine Gold, His Holiness the Third Dalai Lama, translated by Dr Chok, LTWA The Three Principal Aspects of the Path, Je Tsongkapha with commentary by His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, translated by Geshe Lhakdor and Jeremy Russell, LTWA

Words of My Perfect Teacher, Patrul Rinpoche, translated by the Padmakara Translation Group, Shambhala

The Jewel Ornament of Liberation, Gampopa, translated by Khenpo Konchog Gyalsten, Snow Lion