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GESHE GYALTSEN TSERING (BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY CLASS)

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FIRST BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY CLASS

Time: 9:00 am to 10:15 am
Teacher: Geshe Gyaltsen Tsering
March 5 – December 12
Text: Ornament for Clear Realization (abhisamayālaṅkāra, mngon rtogs rgyan)

Geshe-la will commence the year by giving an overview of the basic concepts of Mahayana Buddhism—a useful introduction to Buddhism for new students and review for continuing students.

After this, he will devote the remainder of the year to teaching the Maitreya’s Ornament of Clear Realization. This text counted as one of the five treatises revealed to Asanga by Maitreya, is a commentary on the long, middling, and brief Prajñāpāramitā (Perfection of Wisdom) sūtras and its contents summarize their contents into eight categories and seventy topics. The Ornament for Clear Realization is composed entirely of verses and is divided into eight chapters. Each chapter presents one clear realization, which is characterized by specific topics. The topics help to enhance the understanding of each clear realization by describing different features such as cause, entity, and result. A total of eight clear realizations are presented.

The first three—an exalted knower of all aspects, a knower of paths, and a knower of bases—are the objects to be cultivated; the next four—an application incomplete aspects, peak application, serial application, and instantaneous application—are the means for attaining them; and the final clear realization—the exalted wisdom truth body—is the final result or ultimate object to be attained.

Herein the entire bodhisattva path to enlightenment or Buddhahood is clarified. However, the overall presentation is not a simple step-by-step description of the path from the initial point of entry until the attainment of the final result. Instead, the entire path to enlightenment is revealed within the presentation of each clear realization. Study of this text facilitates an understanding of what qualities and practices the bodhisattva is required to develop to proceed on the path.

The Eight Categories and Seventy Topics:
1. Exalted Knower of All Aspects (10 topics)
      →     Altruistic mind of enlightenment or bodhichitta
      →     Mahayana instruction
      →     Mahayana path of preparation
      →     Naturally abiding lineage
      →     Mahayana objects of observation
      →     Mahayana objects of intent
      →     Achieving armor
      →     Achieving of engagement
      →     Achieving of accumulation
      →     Achieving of definite emergence

2. Knower of Paths (11 topics)
      →     Branches of a knower of paths
      →     Knower of paths knowing hearers’ paths
      →     Knower of paths knowing solitary realizers’ paths
      →     Mahayana path of seeing
      →     Function of a Mahayana path of meditation
      →     Mahayana path of meditation of belief
      →     Benefits of the Mahayana path of meditation
      →     Path of meditation of dedication
      →     Path of meditation of rejoicing
      →     Path of meditation of achieving
      →     Path of meditation of purity

3. Knower of Bases (9 topics)
      →     Knower of paths not abiding in cyclic existence through knowing
      →     Knower of paths not abiding in solitary peace through compassion
      →     Knower of bases that is distant from the resultant Mother
      →     Knower of bases that is near to the resultant Mother
      →     Knower of bases of the discordant class
      →     Knower of bases of the antidotal class
      →     Applications of a bodhisattva indicated in the context of the knower of bases
      →     Equality of the applications of a bodhisattva indicated in the context of the knower of bases
      →     Path of seeing explicitly indicated in this context

4. Application in Complete Aspects (11 topics)
      →     Knower-aspects of the antidotal class explicitly indicated in this context
      →     Principal applications explicitly indicated in this context
      →     Excellent qualities of Mahayana applications
      →     Faults of the applications
      →     Yoga of the path of perfection of wisdom (also known as “characteristics of the applications”)
      →     Mahayana partial concordance with liberation explicitly indicated in this context
      →     Mahayana partial concordance with definite discrimination explicitly indicated in this context
      →     Bodhisattva sangha who has attained a sign of irreversibility
      →     Application of equality of cyclic existence and solitary peace
      →     Application of pure land
      →     Application of skillful means

5. Peak Application (8 topics)
      →     Peak application of heat
      →     Peak application of peak
      →     Peak application of forbearance
      →     Peak application of supreme mundane quality
      →     Peak application of seeing
      →     Peak application of the path of meditation
      →     Uninterrupted peak application
      →     Perverse achieving that is to be eliminated

6. Serial Application (13 topics)
      →     The serial applications of the six perfections (1–6)
      →     The serial applications of the six recollections (7–12)
      →     The serial application of the entitiness of non-things (13)

7. Instantaneous Application (4 topics)
      →     Non-ripened instantaneous application
      →     Ripened instantaneous application
      →     Characterless instantaneous application
      →     Non-dual instantaneous application

8. Resultant Truth Body (4 topics)
      →     Nature body (Skt. svabhavikakaya)
      →     Complete enjoyment body (Skt. sambhogakaya)
      →     Emanation body (Skt. nirmanakaya)
      →     Exalted wisdom truth body (Skt. jñanakaya)

Recommended Text:
Maitreya’s Ornament for the Clear Realizations, translated by Jeffery Hopkins and Jongbok Yi, Uma Institute for Tibetan Studies.

Additional Reading:

  • Seventy Topics, by Jestsun Choekyi Gyalsten, translated by Jampa Ignyen.
  • Ornament for Clear Realization, by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Sri Satguru Publications.
  • Bodhicitta, by Ven. Lobsang Gyatso, Snow Lion Publications.
  • The Awakening Mind, by Geshe Tashi Tsering, Wisdom Publications.
  • 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.
  • Appearance and Reality, by Guy Newland, Snow Lion Publications.
  • Maps of the profound by Jeffrey Hopkins, Snow Lion Publications.
  • The Two Truths by Guy Newland, Snow Lion Publications.
  • Relative Truth, Ultimate Truth, by Geshe Tashi Tsering, Wisdom Publications.
  • Knowledge and Liberation, by Ann Carolyn Klein, Snow Lion Publications.
  • Meditative States in Tibetan Buddhism, by Lati Rinpoche and Denma Lochoe Rinpoche, translated by Leah Zahler and Jeffrey Hopkins.
  • Traversing the Spiritual Path: Presentation of the Grounds and Paths, with Denma Lochoe Rinpoche’s oral commentary, by Elizabeth Napper, Uma Institute for Tibetan Studies.