Madhyamaka philosophy of Shakya Chokden (gser-mdog pan-chen sha-kya mchog-idan) 1428-1507, translated by Komarovski Iaroslav includes three major treatises on Madhyamaka philosophy.
I. The wish-fulfilling meru: A discourse Explaining the Origination of Madhyamaka (dBu-ma’ I byung-tshul rnam-par bshad –pa’I gtam yid bzhin ihun-po),
II. Drop of Nectar of definitive meaning entering the Gate to the essential points of the Two Truth (bDen-pa gnyis-kyi gnas-la ‘jug-pa nges-don bdud-rtsi thigs-pa), and
III. Great ship of discrimination that sails into the Ocean of definitive meaning: A Treatise Differentiating the Tenets of Prasangika and Svatantrika Madhyamaka (dBu-ma) thal-rang gi grub-mtha’I rnam-par dbye-ba’I bstan-bcos nges-don gyi rgya-mtshor jug-pa’I rnam-dpyod kyi gru-chen.
The Wish-fulfilling Meru attempts in presenting in a lucid and concise way the Madhyamaka view including the Tantrik-madhyamaka and its spread in India and Tibet. Drop of Definitive Meaning, through its brief yet succinct explanation guides us in entering the spheres of definitive meaning by means of understanding the two truth- the conventional truth and the ultimate truth. Great ship of Discrimination that sails into the Ocean of definitive meaning extensively explains the divergence of philosophical views, and their interpretation of various concepts. In all, this anthology gives a general presentation of Madhyamaka schools and their views according to the great Sakyapa master.
The Library of Tibetan works & archives is pleased to publish “works on Madhyamaka philosophy of gser-mdog pan-chen sha-kya mchogldan (1428-1507)” translated by Komarovski Iaroslav. The anthology includes three major treatises on Madhyamaka philosophy by the famous writer Sha-kya mchog-ldan:I. The wish-fulfilling Meru: A Discourse Explaining the origination of Madhyamaka (dBu-ma’I byung-tsul rnam-par bshad-pa’i gtam yid-bzhim ihun-po), ii Drop of Nectar of Definitive meaning. Entering the Gate to the Essential don bdud rtsi thigs-pa) and iii. Great ship of Discriminating that sails into Ocean of definitive meaning: A treatise Differentiating the Tents gi grub mtha’I rnam-pardbye-ba’I nges-don gyi rgya-mtshor ‘jug-pa’I rnam-dbye-ba’I bstan-bcos nges-don gyi rgyamtshor jug-pa’I rnam-dpyod kyi gru chen.
The wish-fulfilling meru attempts in presenting in a lucid and concise way the Madhyamaka view including the Tantrik-madhyamaka, and its spread in India and Tibet. Drop of definitive meaning, through its brief yet succinct explanation guides us in entering the spheres of definitive meaning by means of understanding the two truth-the conventional truth and the ultimate truth. Great ship of discrimination that sails into the ocean of definitive meaning extensively explains the divergence of Madhyamaka into svatantrika and Prasangika Madhyamaka, their philosophical views, and their interpretation of various concepts. In all, this anthology gives a general presentation of Madhyamaka schools and their views according to the great Sakyapa master.
Despite the meticulous and painstaking translation rendered by the translator, readers are request to refer to the Tibetan originals for minute details and research information. We hope our readers will enjoy reading this classical work on Madhyamaka philosophy.
Over time Tibetan Buddhism has produced many outstanding scholars whose views have been studied and followed until the present time. Within the Sakya tradition, Gorampa sonam senge (go ram pa bsod names seng ge –(1429-1489) is considered to be the most influential philosopher of the past five centuries be far. Yet during his lifetime Gorampa’s influence was closely rivaled by that of Shakya Chokden works until recently received little to no attention among modern scholars.
Although the views of Shakya Chokden and Gorampa often differ greatly on many points of Madhyamaka, their contribution was similar in that they both greatly clarified the views of their own tradition through numbers commentaries on Indian and Tibetan treatises, and also through their original treatises and critical texts aimed at the views of tsongkhapa (tsong kha ba 1357-1419) and his followers, know as Gelukpa.
The lineage of most of Gorampa;s works, which are traditionally transmitted orally through reading and explanation, has survived of Shakya chokden’s works was broken. Shakya Chokden’s works commanded a lesser following because many Sakyapas facing the problem of whether to follow Gorampa or Shakya chokden had chosen to follow the former, since, according to many Sakya scholars, his approach more correctly expresses the views held by sakya Pandita kunga Gyaltsen (sa skya Pandita kun dga rgyal mtshan- 1182-1251), supreme authority of Sakya tradition, and Sakya masters of the past.
“Wish Fulfilling meru” –a discourse explaining origination of Madhyamaka (dbu ma’I byung tshul rnam par bshad pa’I gtam yid bzhin lhun po) is one of the last texts Shakya Chokden composed during his lifetime. He wrote this text at the age of 74, in 1501, at the request of the seventh karmapa Chodrak Gyamtso (ka rma pa chos grags rgya mtsho -1454-1506). At the same time, Shakya Chokden ones”-a discourse on origination of traditions of the chariots of the Sutra of Valid cognition with (its) commentaries (tshad) ma’I mdo dang bstan bcos kyi shing rta’I srol rnams ji ltar buying ba’I tshul gtam du bya ba nyin mor byed pa’I snang bas dpyod idan mtha dag bar byed pa), also at the request of the Seventh karmapa. Both texts were composed in Serdokchen (gser mdog can, or Golden) monastery, which Shakya Chokden had renamed from Zilum (zi lung) when he was 44years old.
Wish Fulfilling Meru is a concise presentation of Madhyamaka views and history in India and Tibet. The question of differentiating between Prasangika nad Svatantrika and the issue of the two truths are raised in it just briefly. To further elucidate Shakya Chokden’s understanding of these points, two of his other texts are also translated below. Great ship of discrimination which sails into the ocean of Definitive Meaning (nges don gyi rgya mtshor jug pa’I rnam dpyod kyigru chen) explores the difference between the two types of Madhyamaka. Shakya Chokden’s explanation of this key topic is similar to those offered by other scholars both inside and outside the Sakya tradition, but differs greatly from Gelukpa interpretations. Drop of Nector of Definitive meaning (nges don bdud rtsi’I pa) presents Shakya Chokden’s unique approach to the interpretation of the two truths.
These and other works of shakya chokden comprise no less then a reconsideration of many aspects of the Buddhist philosophy, such as the views of the Five Dharmas of Maitreya (panca Maitreya –see footnote 28). Most Tibetan scholars since Tsongkhapa’s time have Asanga’s works, such as compendium of knowledge (Abhidhramasamuccya) as Cittamatra works and Dignaga and Dharmakirti’s logical treatises as Sautrantika-Cittamatra texts. As a result, the views expressed by these texts have been generally undervalued. Only the views of prasangika (for Geluk) along with the views of Svatantrika (for the mainstream of the rest of Tibetan Buddhist traditions) are held to be correct and ultimate. Thus, the works of Dharmakirti, Adanga and others tend to be studied merely for the sake of learning logic and various aspects of conventional existence. Their views on the ultimate truth are learned either in order to be abandoned or in order to be preserved within the tradition as if they were exhibits in a museum. As soon as some inconsistency is found the views themselves and not their interpretation by later scholars are blamed.
Shakya chokden’s approach is completely different. For him the views outlined by Maitreya, Asanga, Dharmakirti, etc. are the views of Yogacara, which is a sundivision of Madhyamaka and not synonymous with Cittamarta. Thus, thee views are no less valid than the views of Proponents of Entity lessness (another subdivision of Madhyamaka). Furthermore, while the latter views are necessary for severing conceptual superimpositions and gaining a conceptual realization of emptiness the views of Yogacara are indispensable for and more fully express a direct realization of the ultimate truth, according to Shakya chokden. Furthermore, they provide a bridge to the views of Tantric Madhyamaka to which the stand very close, much closer than the views of proponents of Entitylessness. Thus, based on his interpretation, the above mentioned texts of Maitreya and others turn out to be of utmost importance.
In this translation I have attempted to offer as literal a rendering of the original as possible. As much as possible I reserve my efforts to clarify the meaning to footnotes. These footnotes are not intended to offer a commentary on Shakya Chokden’s approach. people familiar with Buddhist thought in general and that of Shakya Chokden I particular can easily skip them.
Certain terms I used in my translation (“primordial mind” for ye shes, jnana, “false truth” for kun rdzob bden pa, samvrtisatya, etc.) may seem awkward to the readers not acquainted with the views of Shakya Cokden. Nevertheless, they fit well in the context of his works as will be seen from the works themselves. For example, one will see that for Shakya Chokden to exist means to exits truly Any other type of existence will be false existence i.e “non-existence”, which exists only for mistaken mind which falsely takes it to be true. Thus, it is “false truth”. “Ye Shes”cannot be translated as” primordial wisdom” or” exalted wisdom”, when it is described by Shakya Chokden as the innate quality of everyone’s mind –that of sentient being as well as Buddhas (note also that Shakya Chokden doesn’t accept an existence of Buddha’s qualities, Buddha’s wisdom innate in the mental streams of ordinary beings). While “primordial wisdom” cannot, for example, be driven by karmas and afflictions into cyclic existence, this is exactly how Shakya Chakden describes jnana when commenting on “Jnana of dharmadhatu” in his Abbreviated Madhyamaka Essence (dbu ma’t snying po bsdus pa).
My translations are intended to offer a basic introduction to Shakya Chokden’s unique philosophical views, I the hope of sparking further detailed studies.
In rendering Tibetan names into English, I have aimed at approximating the Tibetan pronunciation of those names. For those names that have come to have a conventional spelling in English, such as ‘Tsongkhapa’, Nyingma, etc, I have adopted the spelling most commonly used, although ‘Tsonkhapa’, Nyinma, etc, would be a more precise representation of their sound in Tibetan.
I wish to express my deepest gratitude to Robert Allan Miller, Diana Finnegan, Derek Maher and John Groeneveld for their work in editing this translation. Also I wish to thank Don Eisenberg and Alexander Narinyani who helped me to put this work into computer.
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