SECOND BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY CLASS
Time: 10:30 am to 11:45 am
Teacher: Geshe Lobsang Tsondu
March 5 – July 12
Text: Aryadeva’s Four Hundred Stanzas on the Middle Way (catuḥśatakaśātrakarika, dbu ma bzhi brgya pa)
Geshe la will start off the year with teachings on the Four Hundred Stanzas on the Middle Way, a classic which was written by the great Indian master, Aryadeva, the disciple of the founder of the Madhyamaka tradition, Nagarjuna. It contains sixteen chapters, each with twenty-five verses. The first eight chapters discuss how to build up merit, karmic fruitfulness, so that one may gain an understanding of emptiness by indicating how to correct distorted ways of regarding conventional truth and how to overcome afflicted states of mind. The second eight chapters indicate how to gain a correct understanding of deepest truth according to the Madhyamaka view.
The first four chapters of the text address methods in which to rid oneself of the four wrong views: considering something impermanent by nature to be permanent, something in the nature of suffering to be in the nature of happiness, something unclean by nature to be clean, and something lacking an impossible soul or self to have a soul or self. They present these in terms of the human body. After this, chapter five teaches the conduct of bodhisattvas and then chapter six teaches methods for ridding oneself of the mental afflictions. Then in chapter seven methods for ridding oneself of attachment to pleasurable sensory objects is taught followed by teaching ways in which to train disciples in chapter eight. The final eight chapters are devoted to pointing out methods to address extreme views and cultivate an understanding of emptiness, the lack of true existence of phenomena, and in chapter sixteen the text culminates with instruction on how to cause teachers and disciples to gain certainty about emptiness.
August 1 – December 12
Texts: Third Dalai Lama’s Essence of Superfine Gold (lamrim gser zhu ma)
Je Tsongkhapa’s Three Principal Aspects of the Path (lam gtso rtam gsum)
From August he will devote the remainder of the year giving teachings on two concise lamrim (stages of the path) texts. First he will elucidate the Third Dalai Lama’s (1543-1588) work Essence of Superfine Gold, a brief yet comprehensive commentary on Je Tsongkhapa’s (1357-1419) A Song of Experience which is the seminal guide on the stages of the path to enlightenment of the beings of three spiritual capacities which succinctly summarizes the three principal paths of the teachings of the Shakyamuni Buddha. Then he will close the year with teachings on Je Tsongkhapa’s Three Principal Aspects of the Path, which is in the form of an instructional letter addressed to one of his disciples in which he condenses the entire path into three essential elements of practice, namely: turning away from the cycle of existence, developing the altruistic mind of enlightenment, and insight into the empty nature of things.
- Aryadevas’s Four Hundred Stanzas on the Middle Way, with commentary by Gyeltsap, translated by Ruth Sonam, Snow Lion.
- Essence of Superfine Gold: A Guide on the Stages on the Path of Enlightenment, by Dalai Lama III, translated by Dr Chok Tenzin Monlam, LTWA.
- Teachings on Je Tsongkhapa’s Three Principal Aspects of the Path, with commentary by the Dalai Lama, LTWA.
- Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way: Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamikakarika, translation and commentary by Jay Garfield, Oxford University Press.
- The Harmony of Dependent Arising and Emptiness, by Je Tsongkhapa, commentary by Lobsang Gyatso, LTWA.
- Three Principal Aspects of the Path: An Oral Teaching, by Geshe Sonam Rinchen, translated by Ruth Sonam, Snow Lion.
- Atisha’s Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, Commentary by Geshe Sonam Rinchen, translated by Ruth Sonam, Snow Lion.
- Tsongkhapa’s Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, Vol. I–III, translated by the Lamrim Chenmo Translation Committee, Snow Lion.
- The Life and Teachings of Tsongkhapa, edited by Robert A F Thurman, LTWA or 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.