Hakuin - Settled

Glossary

 


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The Glossary contains definitions and explanations. To locate topics in the teachings, see Index.

 

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2 obscurations (Wylie: sgrib pa gnyis or sgrib gnyis, Tibetan: སྒྲིབ་པ་གཉིས་ dribpa nyi or སྒྲིབ་གཉིས་ dribnyi)

The two obscurations: emotional obscurations and cognitive obscurations. The two factors (literally "two obstructions", also "two obscurations" or "two defilements") which, according to the Mahayana, cause a sentient being to remain unenlightened and enmeshed in samsara. They are:

(1) emotional obscurations or nyöndrip (Wylie: nyon sgrib, Tibetan: ཉོན་སྒྲིབ་ nyöndrip): the obscurations that are caused by grasping at/clinging to the personal ego (the self of the person). They are the cause of negative emotions (the three poisons) and prevent liberation from samsara (for further information, see main Glossary entry on emotional obscurations).

(2) cognitive obscurations or shédrip (Wylie: or shes sgrib, Tibetan: ཤེས་སྒྲིབ་ shédrip): dualistic thoughts or obscurations that are comprised of wrong and perverse views about the nature of reality. They are caused by grasping at/clinging to phenomena as truly existent (the self of phenomena). They function so as to prevent complete enlightenment (for further information, see main Glossary entry on cognitive obscurations)

According to the Mahayana, an arhat is capable of eliminating the emotional obscurations and thus attains an inferior form of nirvana, but only Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are able to break through the cognitive obscurations through a direct realization of the emptiness (shunyata) of all phenomena.

Definition [Dictionary.com]: ➜Obscuration: the state of being obscured, where obscure is: (1) not clear or plain; ambiguous, vague, or uncertain ("an obscure sentence in the contract"); (2) not clear to the understanding; hard to perceive ("obscure motivations"); (3) not expressing the meaning clearly or plainly; (4) indistinct to the sight or any other sense; not readily seen, heard, etc.; faint.

See also: ignorance [summary] / cognitive obscurations / emotional obscurations

See also (external): ➜rigpawiki


2 Truths (Sanskrit: dvasatya द्व सत्य, Wylie: bden pa gnyis, Tibetan: བདེན་པ་གཉིས་ denpa nyi)

According to the Madhamaka, all objects of knowledge are exhaustively comprised of the Two Truths: conventional truth (Sanskrit: samvrti-satya) which comprises the relative beliefs of ordinary people that are conventionally accepted as valid in the world (loka लोक), based on their common ways of thinking and speaking; and ultimate truth (Sanskrit: paramārtha-satya) which refers to the nature of all phenomena that is beyond thought and language, and can be known only by nondual wisdom. The Buddha attained enlightenment upon fully realizing the meaning of the Two Truths.

Nagarjuna, in his Mulamadhyamakakarika, argues that the Two Truths form the very heart of the Buddha's teachings:

[24:8] “The Dharma taught by the buddhas is precisely based on the two truths: a truth of mundane conventions and a truth of the ultimate”

In their commentary on Chapter 24 of the Mulamadhyamakakarika, Siderits and Katsura explain that conventional truth connotes three different meanings: 'concealing', 'mutual dependency' and 'customary practices of the world':

The term translated as “conventional” is a compound made of the two Sanskrit words loka लोक and samvrti संवृति. Candrakirti gives three distinct etymologies for samvrti. On one etymology, the root meaning is that of “concealing,” so conventional truth would be all those ways of thinking and speaking that conceal the real state of affairs from ordinary people (loka). The second explains the term to mean “mutual dependency.” On the third etymology, the term refers to conventions involved in customary practices of the world, the customs governing the daily conduct of ordinary people (loka).

In the Madhyamakavatara, Chandrakirti introduces an additional distinction. He notes that while all "ways of thinking and speaking" in the world share the first two characteristics outlined by Siderits and Katsura (i.e. "concealing" and "mutual dependency"), not all are in agreement with "customary practices of the world". So he introduces the broader category of 'relative truth', which he subdivides into two:

  • Invalid relative truth (Sanskrit: mithyā-saMvRti मिथ्या संवृति,  Wylie: log pa’i kun rdzob, Tibetan: ལོག་པའི་ཀུན་རྫོབ་ logpé künzop): this refers to relative beliefs that are invalid, in the sense that they are not consistent with the conventional consensus (loka लोक) of ordinary people. For example a person with an eye disease might see a white conch shell as yellow, even though other people see it as white.
  • Conventional truth (Sanskrit: saMvRti-satya संवृति सत्य, Pāli: sammuti sacca, Wylie: tha snyad bden pa, Tibetan: ཐ་སྙད་བདེན་པ་ tanyé denpa), synonym for Valid relative truth (Sanskrit: tathya-saMvRti तथ्य संवृति, Wylie: yang dag kun rdzob, Tibetan: ཡང་དག་ཀུན་རྫོབ་ yangdag künzop): this refers to valid relative beliefs, in the sense that they are consistent with the conventional consensus (loka लोक). Because these beliefs and concepts are understood and accepted by ordinary people, they can be used as a means of communication, and therefore as a way to teach the Dharma path. By contrast, because the invalid relative truth is not conventionally understood or accepted, it cannot be used as a path. For example, in order to be able to successfully follow route directions, we need to know the conventional meaning of 'turn left' and 'turn right'. If someone mixes up left and right (for example, someone who suffers from ➜Gerstmann syndrome), their route directions cannot be used as a path.

Each Buddhist school has its own interpretation of the Two Truths, and according to Tibetan Buddhism the highest view is that of the Prasangika-Madhyamaka school, which holds that in the relative truth everything appears like an illusion (there is no truth in appearances), and in the ultimate truth everything is free from dualistic extremes (or elaborations). This distinction of relative/ultimate corresponds to Rupakaya/Dharmakaya and also to form/emptiness in the Heart Sutra.

The terms 'absolute truth' and 'ultimate truth' are often used interchangeably, however their etymologies differ. 'Ultimate truth' is a more literal interpretation of the Sanskrit word paramārtha परमार्थ (excellent, highest, supreme), whereas 'absolute truth' is closer to the Madhyamaka meaning of 'existing independently'.

Word origin: from Sanskrit dva द्व (two, both) and satya सत्य (true, real, actual, genuine).

Found in: Madhyamakavatara (introduced in verse 6:23) / Week 3

See also: conventional truth / relative truthultimate truth

Definition [Google]: ➜Truth (1) the quality or state of being true ("he had to accept the truth of her accusation") synonyms: veracity, truthfulness, verity, sincerity, candour, honesty; antonyms: dishonesty, falseness; (2) that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality ("tell me the truth") synonyms: what actually happened, the case; antonyms: lies, fiction; (3) a fact or belief that is accepted as true ("the emergence of scientific truths") synonyms: fact, verity, certainty, certitude.

Bibliography: Thakchoe, Sonam (2016) "The Theory of Two Truths in India", Stanford Encyclopedia of PhilosophyGarfield, Jay (2010) "Taking Conventional Truth Seriously", Chapter 2 in The Cowherds (2010) Moonshadows: Conventional Truth in Buddhist Philosophy, also available as Garfield, Jay (2010) ➜"Taking Conventional Truth Seriously" [PDF], Philosophy East and West, Vol. 60, No. 3, 341-354

See also (external): rigpawiki (➜relative truth, ➜Two Truths, ➜valid & invalid relative truth) / wiki (➜Two Truths) / Patrul Rinpoche Clarifying the Two Truths

See also (etymology): Sanskrit dictionary (dva द्वloka लोकmithya मिथ्याsamvrti संवृतिsatya सत्य, tathya तथ्य)


3 Marks of Existence (Sanskrit: trilakṣaNa त्रिलक्षण, Pali: tilakkhaNa တိလက္ခဏ)

The three marks of existence are the three characteristics that are common to all phenomena and beings, namely:

  • Impermanence (anicca)
  • Unsatisfactoriness (often translated as "suffering") (dukkha)
  • Non-self (anatta)

These three characteristics are mentioned in verses 277 to 279 of the Dhammapada, where they appear as three statements:

  • [anicca]: all conditioned phenomena are impermanent
  • [dukkha]: all conditioned phenomena are dukkha
  • [anatta]: all dharmas are without self

Walpola Rahula explains the meaning of the three marks in What The Buddha Taught (p.57):

In the Dhammapada there are three verses extremely important and essential in the Buddha's teaching. They are nos. 5, 6 and 7 of chapter XX (or verses 277, 278, 279). The first two verses say: 'All conditioned things are impermanent' (Sabbe SAMKHARA anicca), and 'All conditioned things are dukkha' (Sabbe SAMKHARA dukkha). The third verse says: 'All dhammas are without self' (Sabbe DHAMMA anatta).

Here it should be carefully observed that in the first two verses the word samkhara 'conditioned things' is used. But in its place in the third verse the word dhamma is used. Why didn't the third verse use the word samkhara 'conditioned things' as the previous two verses, and why did it use the term dhamma instead ? Here lies the crux of the whole matter. The term samkhara denotes the Five Aggregates, all conditioned, interdependent, relative things and states, both physical and mental. If the third verse said: 'All samkhara (conditioned things) are without self', then one might think that, although conditioned things are without self, yet there may be a Self outside conditioned things, outside the Five Aggregates. It is in order to avoid misunderstanding that the term dhamma is used in the third verse.

The term dhamma is much wider than samkhara. There is no term in Buddhist terminology wider than dhamma. It includes not only the conditioned things and states, but also the non-conditioned, the Absolute, Nirvana. There is nothing in the universe or outside, good or bad, conditioned or non-conditioned, relative or absolute, which is not included in this term. Therefore, it is quite clear that, according to this statement: 'All dhammas are without Self', there is no Self, no Atman, not only in the Five Aggregates, but nowhere else too outside them or apart from them. This means, according to the Theravada teaching, that there is no self either in the individual (puggala) or in dhammas. The Mahayana Buddhist philosophy maintains exactly the same position, without the slightest difference, on this point, putting emphasis on dharma-nairatmya as well as on pudgala-nairatmya.

As the Buddha taught in the Four Noble Truths, sentient beings live in denial or ignorance of the three marks, and this delusion results in suffering. The removal of that delusion through the practice of the Noble Eightfold Path path leads to nirvana, the end of suffering. As Theravada scholar Nyanaponika Thera ➜writes:

The first and the third apply to inanimate existence as well, while the second (suffering) is, of course, only an experience of the animate. The inanimate, however, can be, and very often is, a cause of suffering for living beings: for instance, a falling stone may cause injury or loss of property may cause mental pain. In that sense, the three are common to all that is conditioned, even to what is below or beyond the normal range of human perception.

Existence can be understood only if these three basic facts are comprehended, and this not only logically, but in confrontation with one's own experience. Insight-wisdom (vipassana) which is the ultimate liberating factor in Buddhism, consists just of this experience of the three characteristics applied to one's own bodily and mental processes, and deepened and matured in meditation.

To "see things as they really are" means seeing them consistently in the light of the three characteristics. Ignorance of these three, or self-deception about them, is by itself a potent cause for suffering — by knitting, as it were, the net of false hopes, of unrealistic and harmful desires, of false ideologies, false values and aims of life, in which man is caught. Ignoring or distorting these three basic facts can only lead to frustration, disappointment, and despair.

Word origin: from Sanskrit tri त्रि (three) and lakṣaNa लक्षण (mark, sign, symbol, characteristic, attribute, quality)

See also: 4 Seals / vipassana

See also (external): ➜wiki / Nyanaponika Thera in ➜Access to Insight

See also (etymology): Sanskrit dictionary (➜tri त्रि, lakṣaNa लक्षण)


4 Seals (Wylie: sdom bzhi or chos kyi sdom bzhi, Tibetan: སྡོམ་བཞི་ or ཆོས་ཀྱི་སྡོམ་བཞི་)

The Four Seals set out the Buddhist view of reality, and they are also considered the four characteristics which reflect the true Dharma. It is said that if a teaching contains the Four Seals then it can be considered Buddha Dharma. The Four Seals are:

  • All that is conditioned is impermanent,
  • All that is tainted is suffering,
  • All phenomena are empty and devoid of self (or inherent existence),
  • Nirvana is peace.

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche frequently teaches the Four Seals as an introduction to the view of Buddhism. They are the main subject of his first book What Makes You Not a Buddhist and the summary ➜"The Four Seals of Dharma are Buddhism in a Nutshell". He expresses these Four Seals in slightly different words, particularly the second seal (dukkha):

  • All compounded things are impermanent,
  • All emotions are pain,
  • All phenomena are empty (without truly/inherently existent self),
  • Nirvana is beyond extremes (also "nirvana is beyond description")

The ➜Rangjung Yeshe entry on the Four Seals offers a literal translation:

The Four Summaries of the Dharma, the four dharma emblems (Wylie: chos kyi sdom bzhi, Tibetan: ཆོས་ཀྱི་སྡོམ་བཞི་)
Synonym: the four seals (Wylie: chos rtags kyi phyag rgya bzhi, Tibetan: ཆོས་རྟགས་ཀྱི་ཕྱག་རྒྱ་བཞི་)
Synonym: the four main principles of Buddhism (Wylie: phyag rgya bzhi, Tibetan: ཕྱག་རྒྱ་བཞི་)

These four main principles marking a doctrine as Buddhist are:

1) All conditioned/compounded things are impermanent (Wylie: 'du byas thams cad mi rtag pa, Tibetan: འདུ་བྱས་ཐམས་ཅད་མི་རྟག་པ་),
2) all defiling things (defiled with ego-clinging) are suffering (Wylie: zag bcas thams cad sdug bsngal, Tibetan: ཟག་བཅས་ཐམས་ཅད་སྡུག་བསྔལ་),
3) all phenomena are empty and devoid of a self-entity / identityless (Wylie: chos thams cad stong zhing bdag med pa'o, Tibetan: ཆོས་ཐམས་ཅད་སྟོང་ཞིང་བདག་མེད་པའོ་)
4) nirvana is peace (Wylie: mya ngan las 'das pa ni zhi ba, Tibetan: མྱ་ངན་ལས་འདས་པ་ནི་ཞི་བ་)

Three of the Four Seals appear in the Pali suttas as the 3 Marks of Existence, but the fourth seal is a later addition. According to the research of Phillip Stanley, the Four Seals do not appear in the early Tibetan sources on Buddhist terminology such as the Mahavyutpatti and Madhyavyutpatti, and the first Tibetan author to mention the four seals was Longchen Rabjam in his Treasury of Philosophical Tenets (see: ➜rigpawiki).

Found in: Introduction to the Middle Way (on pages 43, 118, and 194 of the PDF version)

Bibliography: Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche (2017) ➜"The Four Seals of Dharma are Buddhism in a Nutshell", Lion's Roar (first published 1 March 2000 as "Buddhism in a Nutshell: The Four Seals of Dharma") / Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche (2007) What Makes You Not a Buddhist

See also: 3 marks of existence

See also (external): ➜wiki➜rigpawiki / ➜Rangjung Yeshe / more advanced ➜Berzin


5 Paths (Sanskrit: pañcamārga पञ्च मार्ग, Wylie: lam lnga, Tibetan: ལམ་ལྔ་, lam nga)

A classic Mahayana presentation of the stages of progress on the Dharma path, from first entering the path to final enlightenment. These five stages are the Path of Accumulation, Path of Joining, Path of Seeing, Path of Meditation and Path of No More Learning.

  • (1) Path of Accumulation (Sanskrit: sambhāramārga सम्भार मार्ग, Wylie: tshogs lam, Tibetan: ཚོགས་ལམ་ tsoklam, literally 'path of preparation or collection of necessary provisions, materials and equipment'): The first path describes the first stages of our journey (corresponding to Act I of the Hero's Journey). We have a strong desire to overcome suffering, and then we decide to leave our ordinary lives behind. So on the Theravada path that might be renunciation. On all Buddhist paths it would including taking refuge in the Three Jewels. On the Mahayana path that’s taking the bodhisattva vow and starting to embark upon the path of entering bodhicitta, as we saw in Week 2. Then that moves into the second path, the Path of Joining.
  • (2) Path of Joining (also translated as "Path of Preparation" and "Path of Engagement") (Sanskrit: prayogamārga प्रयोग मार्ग, Wylie: sbyor lam, Tibetan: སྦྱོར་ལམ་ jorlam, literally 'path of joining together, connecting'): Here we do two things: (i) We start to practice meditation, and (ii) we really establish the view and then start to practice integrating the view into our lives. This is what we are doing now as we study the Madhyamaka and establish the view.
  • (3) The Path of Seeing (also translated as "Path of Insight") (Sanskrit: darśanamārga दर्शन मार्ग, Wylie: mthong lam, Tibetan: མཐོང་ལམ་ tonglam): This is the 1st bhumi, where we have now purified our dendzin and we actually realize emptiness for the first time.
  • (4) The Path of Meditation (Sanskrit: bhāvanāmārga भावना मार्ग, Wylie: sgom lam, Tibetan: སྒོམ་ལམ་ gom lam): This encompasses the 2nd to the 7th bhumis, the "impure bodhisattva stages" where we purify and remove our tsendzin, and the 8th to 10th bhumis, "the pure bodhisattva stages" where we purify the last subtle traces of dualism (nyinang), culminating in the realization of enlightenment.
  • (5) The Path of No More Learning (Sanskrit: aśaikṣamārga अशैक्ष मार्ग, Wylie: mi slob pa'i lam, Tibetan: མི་སློབ་པའི་ལམ་, literally 'no longer a pupil'): in the Shravakayana path this corresponds to the state of shravaka arhat or pratyekabuddha arhat, and in the Mahayana this is the state of the Buddha (also referred to as "bodhisattva arhat").

Note: there are many different versions of the Five Paths. As ➜Berzin discusses, there are differences between Prasangika and Svatantrika Madhyamaka traditions, as well as between the Sakya, Nyingma and Gelug schools of Tibetan Buddhism. As Berzin also notes, different schools in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism explain the relationship between the Five Paths and the arhat stages in different ways, including whether or not the Shravakayana arhats eventually develop bodhicitta and attain enlightenment.

Word origin: from Sanskrit pañca पञ्च (five) and mārga मार्ग (way, path).

Found in: Week 3

See also: ignorance [summary] / dendzin / nyinang / tsendzin

Bibliography: Patrul Rinpoche, trans. Adam Pearcey (2007) Brief Guide to the Stages and Paths of the Bodhisattvas

See also (external): ➜wiki / ➜rigpawiki / ➜Berzin / Berzin also offers an ➜advanced presentation of the 5 paths and 10 bhumis based on Maitreya's Filigree of Realizations

See also (etymology): Sanskrit dictionary (aśaikṣa अशैक्ष, bhāvanā भावनाdarśana दर्शनmārga मार्गpañca पञ्च, prayoga प्रयोग, sambhāra सम्भार)


8 Worldly Dharmas (Wylie: ‘jig rten chos brgyad, Tibetan: འཇིག་རྟེན་ཆོས་བརྒྱད་)

A classic list of the ways in which ordinary people get caught in hope and fear, attachment and aversion, and thus become trapped in the day-to-day activity of everyday life and the suffering of samsara. The Eight Worldly Dharmas are:

• hope for happiness  /    fear of suffering,
• hope for fame           /    fear of insignificance,
• hope for praise         /    fear of blame,
• hope for gain            /    fear of loss.

They are mentioned in verse 29 of Nagarjuna's Letter to a Friend , which gives the practice advice to "make them the same", or what Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche calls "equalizing the 8 worldly dharmas":

You who know the world, take gain and loss,
Or bliss and pain, or kind words and abuse,
Or praise and blame—these eight mundane concerns—
Make them the same, and don’t disturb your mind.

Found in: Week 1

See also (external): ➜rigpawiki / ➜Lion's Roar / more advanced: ➜Berzin


10 Bulls (十牛, Chinese: shíniú, Japanese: jūgyū)

Ten Bulls (also known as Ten Ox-Herding Pictures) is a series of short poems by the 12th century Chinese Rinzai Chan (Zen) master Kuòān Shīyuǎn (traditional 廓庵師遠, simplified 廓庵师远; Japanese: Kakuan Shien). Probably the first series was made by the 11th century master Ching-chu (清居, Japanese: Seikyo). The text and accompanying pictures illustrate the stages of a practitioner's progression towards the purification of the mind and enlightenment, as well as his or her subsequent behaviour in the world guided by wisdom and compassion. The unfolding of the ten stages follows the mythic structure of the Hero's Journey described by Joseph Campbell. A translation of Ten Bulls is included in Paul Reps' Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, a compilation of Zen stories on emptiness and nonduality.

Found in: Week 1 / images used as structure for 8-Week Program (following the Hero's Journey)

Bibliography: Reps, Paul (1957) Zen Flesh, Zen Bones / Rahula, Walpola (1975) ➜Zen and the Ten Ox-Herding Pictures (PDF), talk at ➜Buddhist Society, London

Text: Translation of the ➜10 poems by Kuòān Shīyuǎn (Kakuan) by Nyogen Senzaki and Paul Reps, as it appears in Zen Flesh, Zen Bones

Artwork: (the images below are the first picture in each artist's series)

Ten Bulls by ➜Tenshō Shūbun (天章周文) (1414-1463)

Ten Bulls painted on external walls of Songgwang-sa temple, Korea (Hangul: 송광사; Chinese: traditional 松廣寺, simplified 松广寺), one of the "three jewels" of Korean Buddhism [➜PDF]

Ten Bulls by ➜Tokuriki Tomikichirō (德力富吉郎) (1902–99)

Abstract expressionist interpretation of Ten Ox-Herding Pictures (2005-2008) by ➜Max Gimblett (1935 -)

Photographic interpretation of Ten Ox-Herding Pictures (2009) by photographer and former Buddhist monk ➜Andrew Binkley (1979 -)

Videos: Young, Shinzen (2009) on how the 8th to 10th bulls correspond to the "substance, appearance, and ultimate use of enlightenment" (set of three YouTube videos: ➜Part 1, ➜Part 2, ➜Part 3)

See also (external): ➜wiki / comprehensive ➜list of commentaries and artwork


A

Absolute truth (Sanskrit: paramārtha-satya परमार्थ सत्य, Pāli: paramattha sacca, Wylie: don dam bden pa, Tibetan: དོན་དམ་བདེན་པ་ döndam denpa, synonym for ultimate truth)

The absolute truth or ultimate truth refers to the nature of all phenomena (which in the Madhyamaka is considered to be the same as the nature of mind/consciousness). It is beyond word and thought and can be known only by nondual wisdom (for a more detailed explanation, please see the Glossary entry on 2 Truths).

Although the terms 'absolute truth' and 'ultimate truth' are often used interchangeably, their etymologies differ. 'Ultimate truth' is a more literal interpretation of the Sanskrit word paramārtha परमार्थ (excellent, highest, supreme), whereas 'absolute truth' is closer to the Madhyamaka meaning of 'existing independently'.

See also: conventional truth / relative truth  / 2 Truths / ultimate truth

Definition [Google]: ➜Truth (1) the quality or state of being true ("he had to accept the truth of her accusation") synonyms: veracity, truthfulness, verity, sincerity, candor, honesty; antonyms: dishonesty, falseness; (2) that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality ("tell me the truth") synonyms: what actually happened, the case; antonyms: lies, fiction; (3) a fact or belief that is accepted as true ("the emergence of scientific truths") synonyms: fact, verity, certainty, certitude.

Definition [Google]: ➜Absolute: viewed or existing independently and not in relation to other things; not relative or comparative. ("Absolute moral standards") synonyms: universal, fixed, independent, nonrelative, nonvariable, absolutist

See also (etymology): English etymology (➜absolute➜truth) / Sanskrit dictionary (paramārtha परमार्थ, satya सत्य)


C

Chandrakirti (Sanskrit: Candrakīrti, Wylie: zla ba grags pa, Tibetan: ཟླ་བ་གྲགས་པ་ dawa drakpa)

Scholar at Nalanda, author of Madhyamakavatara (Introduction to the Middle Way), the main text still used by Tibetan monastic colleges to study the Madhayamaka.

Bibliography: root text of Chandrakirti's Madhyamakavatara and Mipham's commentary by Padmakara (2002) Introduction to the Middle Way / 9th Karmapa's commentary on the MadhyamakavataraKarmapa IX (Wangchuk Dorje), trans. Tyler Dewar (2008) The Karmapa's Middle Way

Found in: 8-Week Program / Madhyamaka Lineage in India

See also: Madhyamakavatara

See also (external): ➜wiki / ➜rigpawiki / ➜bio [PDF]


Co-emergent ignorance: see innate ignorance.


Cognitive obscurations (Sanskrit: jñeyāvaraNa, Wylie: shes-bya'i sgrib-pa or shes sgrib, Tibetan:  ཤེས་བྱའི་སྒྲིབ་པ་ or ཤེས་སྒྲིབ་ shédrip)

Cognitive obscurations are dualistic thoughts or obscurations that are comprised of wrong and perverse views about the nature of reality (also 'obstructions to knowledge' and 'obscuration of false views'). They are caused by grasping at/clinging to phenomena as truly existent (the self of phenomena), and they function so as to prevent complete enlightenment. According to the Gyü Lama, in essence they are dualistic thoughts (i.e. thoughts that involve the three conceptual ‘spheres’ of subject, object and action).

According to the Mahayana, an arhat is capable of eliminating the emotional obscurations and thus attains an inferior form of nirvana, but only Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are able to break through the cognitive obscurations through a direct realization of the emptiness (shunyata) of all phenomena.

Word origin: from Sanskrit jñeya ज्ञेय ([that which is] to be known) and āvaraNa आवरण (covering, hiding, obscuring, obstructing)

Found in: 8-Week Program / see especially: discussion of stories in Week 3

Definition [Google]: ➜Cognitive, related to Cognition: (1) the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses; (2) a result of this; a perception, sensation, notion, or intuition; synonyms: perception, discernment, apprehension, learning, understanding, comprehension, insight;

Definition [Dictionary.com]: ➜Obscuration: the state of being obscured, where obscure is: (1) not clear or plain; ambiguous, vague, or uncertain ("an obscure sentence in the contract"); (2) not clear to the understanding; hard to perceive ("obscure motivations"); (3) not expressing the meaning clearly or plainly; (4) indistinct to the sight or any other sense; not readily seen, heard, etc.; faint.

See also: ignorance [summary] /  2 obscurations / emotional obscurations

See also (external): ➜rigpawiki

See also (etymology): English etymology (➜cognitive➜obscuration) / Sanskrit dictionary (āvaraNa आवरणjñeya ज्ञेय)


Conceptual ignorance: see imputed ignorance.


Conventional truth (synonym of Valid relative truth) (Sanskrit: saMvRti-satya संवृति सत्य, Pāli: sammuti sacca, Wylie: tha snyad bden pa, Tibetan: ཐ་སྙད་བདེན་པ་ tanyé denpa)

The truth that comprises the relative beliefs (including language and cultural conventions) of ordinary people that are conventionally accepted as valid in the world, based on their common ways of thinking and speaking, as distinct from the ultimate truth that is beyond thought and language (for a more detailed explanation, please see the Glossary entry on 2 Truths).

Word origin: literally "concealing truth", a compound of the Sanskrit words satya सत्य (true, real, actual, genuine) and samvrti संवृति (covering, concealing, keeping secret).

Definition [Google]: ➜Conventional: based on or in accordance with what is generally done or believed ("a conventional morality had dictated behaviour") synonyms: normal, standard, regular, ordinary, usual, traditional, typical, common; antonyms: original

Definition [Google]: ➜Truth (1) the quality or state of being true ("he had to accept the truth of her accusation") synonyms: veracity, truthfulness, verity, sincerity, candour, honesty; antonyms: dishonesty, falseness; (2) that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality ("tell me the truth") synonyms: what actually happened, the case; antonyms: lies, fiction; (3) a fact or belief that is accepted as true ("the emergence of scientific truths") synonyms: fact, verity, certainty, certitude.

See also (main entry): 2 Truths

See also: relative truthultimate truth / (synonym): valid relative truth

See also (external): ➜wiki / ➜Britannica

See also (etymology): English etymology (➜conventional➜truth) / Sanskrit dictionary (samvrti संवृतिsatya सत्य)


D

Dashabhumika-Sutra (Ten Bhumi Sutra) (Sanskrit: Daśabhūmika Sūtra दशन्भूमि, Wylie: phags pa sa bcu pa'i mdo, Tibetan: ཕགས་པ་ས་བཅུ་པའི་མདོ་, simplified Chinese: 十地经,  traditional Chinese: 十地經, pinyin: shí dì jīng)

The Dashabhumika-Sutra describes the ten bhumis or stages of development that a bodhisattva must progress through in order to accomplish full enlightenment and buddhahood. The Sanskrit word bhumi literally means "ground" or "foundation". Each stage represents a level of attainment and serves as a basis for the next one, like climbing a staircase. Each level marks a definite advancement in one's training, that is accompanied by progressively greater wisdom and skilful means. Progress along the Buddhist path is best understood as a result of elimination (dreldré), so the bhumis can also be understood in a successive elimination of the 2 obscurations. The Dashabhumika-Sutra also covers the subject of Buddhanature and the awakening of bodhicitta, the aspiration for enlightenment.

The Dashabhumika-Sutra is Chapter 26 of the Avatamsaka-Sutra (the Flower Ornament Sutra or Flower Garland Sutra), which is one of the most influential Mahayana sutras of East Asian Buddhism. Scholars are not entirely sure about the origin of the Avatamsaka-Sutra, but the leading theory is that it is composed of a number of originally independent scriptures of diverse provenance which were then combined, probably in Central Asia, sometime in the late 3rd or early 4th century CE. We know the Dashabhumika-Sutra was first translated into Chinese in the 3rd century, and the first Chinese version of the whole text was around 420 CE.

Chandrakirti's Madhyamakavatara is a commentary on the Dashabhumika-Sutra as well as Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika. Many of the elements of Chandrakirti's text including the descriptions of the ten bhumis are derived from the Dashabhumika-Sutra, and some are quoted directly.

Word origins: from Sanskrit daśan दशन् (ten) and bhūmi भूमि (earth, soil, ground, foundation)

Found in: Week 3

See also: 2 obscurations / 5 Paths / dreldré

Bibliography: Cleary, Thomas (1993) ➜The Flower Ornament Scripture: A Translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra

See also (external): ➜wiki / ➜rigpawiki

See also (etymology): Sanskrit dictionary (bhūmi भूमिdaśan दशन्)


Dendzin (Wylie: bden ’dzin, Tibetan: བདེན་འཛིན་ dendzin)

Clinging to true existence; mistaking things as having a true existence; taking or holding to be real. It is the root defilement that keeps sentient beings trapped in samsara. When sentient beings have abandoned dendzin, this corresponds to nirvana in the Shravakayana path and the 1st bhumi (or the Path of Seeing) in the Mahayana path.

Found in: Madhyamakavatara (introduced in verse 1:8, how bodhisattvas outshine shravakas and pratyekabuddhas) / Week 2

See also: ignorance [summary] / 5 Pathstsendzin

Definition [Google]: ➜Existence: the fact or state of living or having objective reality ("the plane was the oldest Boeing remaining in existence"); continued survival ("she helped to keep the company alive when its very existence was threatened") synonyms: actuality, being, existing, reality; survival, continuation


Dreldré (Wylie: bral ’bras, Tibetan: བྲལ་འབྲས་ dreldré)

Result of elimination (also 'result of absence', 'result of disengagement', 'result of divestment'). Refers to a result that is obtained after removing something rather than adding something, e.g. a clean window may be considered dreldré as it is obtained by removing the dirt that was on the surface of the glass.

Word origin: 'result' is from the Sanskrit phala फल (fruit, consequence, effect, result). 'Elimination' or 'absence' is a translation of the Tibetan བྲལ (Wylie: bral), which has a rich semantic range covering several different Sanskrit words:

● vigata विगत (departed, gone away, disappeared, devoid of, free from)
● vidhūta विधूत (shaken off, dispelled, removed, abandoned)
● viyoga वियोग (separation, loss of, absence, abstention from, liberation from)
● prahāNa प्रहाण (abandoning, omitting, quitting)
● vikala विकल (deprived of, deficient in, destitute of)

Found in: Madhyamakavatara (introduced in verse 1:4ab, explaining how progress along the bhumis of the bodhisattva path is a result of elimination) / Week 2

See also (etymology): Sanskrit dictionary (phala फल / prahāNa प्रहाण / vidhūta विधूत / vigata विगत / vikala विकल / viyoga वियोग) / Tibetan dictionary (bral བྲལ)


E

Eight worldly dharmas: see 8 worldly dharmas.


Emotional obscurations (Sanskrit: kleśa-varaNa क्लेश आवरण, Wylie: nyon-mongs-pa'i sgrib-pa or nyon sgrib, Tibetan: ཉོན་མོངས་པའི་སྒྲིབ་མ་ or ཉོན་སྒྲིབ་ nyöndrip)

These are the three poisons: passion (or attachment), aggression (or aversion) and ignorance, which keep beings trapped in samsara. These obscurations are caused by grasping at/clinging to the personal ego (the self of the person) (they are also referred to as the 'obscuration of the defilements' and 'obscuration of negative emotions'). They are the only obscurations to be purified on the Shravakayana path. According to the Gyü Lama, in essence they are the opposite of the six paramitas (for example, the emotional obscurations include thoughts such as avarice, which is the opposite of the 1st paramita of generosity, etc.).

According to the Mahayana, an arhat is capable of eliminating the emotional obscurations and thus attains an inferior form of nirvana, but only Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are able to break through the cognitive obscurations through a direct realization of the emptiness (shunyata) of all phenomena.

Word origin: from Sanskrit kleśa क्लेश (pain, afflication, anguish, suffering, distress, trouble) and āvaraNa आवरण (covering, hiding, obscuring, obstructing).

Definition [Google]: ➜Emotional: (1) relating to a person's emotions ("children with emotional difficulties") synonyms: spiritual, inner, psychological, psychic, of the heart ("their emotional needs are often ignored") antonyms: material; (2) having feelings that are easily excited and openly displayed ("he was a strongly emotional young man") synonyms: passionate, hot-blooded, ardent, fervent, excitable, temperamental, melodramatic, tempestuous; antonyms: cold, apathetic

Definition [Dictionary.com]: ➜Obscuration: the state of being obscured, where obscure is: (1) not clear or plain; ambiguous, vague, or uncertain ("an obscure sentence in the contract"); (2) not clear to the understanding; hard to perceive ("obscure motivations"); (3) not expressing the meaning clearly or plainly; (4) indistinct to the sight or any other sense; not readily seen, heard, etc.; faint.

See also: ignorance [summary]2 obscurations / cognitive obscurations

See also (external): ➜rigpawiki

See also (etymology): English etymology (➜emotional➜obscuration) / Sanskrit dictionary (āvaraNa आवरणkleśa क्लेश)


F

Four seals: see 4 seals.


Five paths: see 5 paths.


G

Gorampa Sonam Senge (Wylie: go rams pa bsod nams seng ge, Tibetan: གོ་རམས་པ་བསོད་ནམས་སེང་གེ་) (1429-1489)

An important philosopher in the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism who wrote a vast collection of commentaries on sutra and tantra that were influential throughout Tibetan Buddhism. Established one of the definitive interpretations of Prasangika-Madhyamaka, and criticized the view of Tsongkhapa, resulting in his works being banned throughout Tibet for centuries until they became more popular again in the 19th century around the time that the Rimé movement developed. Kagyu and Nyingma scholars, who, until the 19th century, did not have analytical systems of their own that were as highly developed as those of Gelug and Sakya scholars, were able to appropriate Gorampa’s philosophy and incorporate it into their own systems. Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche used Gorampa's commentary on Chandrakirti's Madhyamakavatara when he taught this text in France 1996-2000, and Gorampa's commentary (Elucidating the View, Wylie: lta ba ngan sel) also forms the basis for the structural outline in the transcript of the teachings (pp. 431-442).

Found in: Week 3

See also (external): ➜wiki➜rigpawiki / Excellent overview of Gorampa's influence on Madhyamaka in Tibetan Buddhism ➜Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy


I

Ignorance [Summary]

There are several different approaches to talking about ignorance in Mahayana Buddhism.

Three kinds of clinging and their objects: We may classify the dualistic defilements to be purified, from the most gross to the most subtle, and we then distinguish three different kinds of clinging and their objects:

  • dendzin (samsara): dendzin is clinging to self and phenomena as truly existing. Clinging to the true existence of the self of the person is the cause of samsara.
  • tsendzin (1st to 7th bhumis: the "impure bhumis"): tsendzin is clinging to marks/characteristics. Although arhats and bodhisattvas have overcome clinging to true existence, and so they are no longer samsaric beings, they still perceive marks, conceptual attributes etc. Arhats and bodhisattvas up to the end of the 6th bhumi still create the causes of tsendzin, but from the 7th bhumi onwards, bodhisattvas no longer create the causes of tsendzin.
  • nyinang (8th to 10th bhumis: the "pure bhumis"): nyinang is the most subtle kind of clinging. It is the mere apprehension of duality as such, without any fixation or concept of marks, symbols, characteristics, etc. We might think of it as the innate sense that there is still some separation between 'self' and 'other', or the dualistic experience that there is still some subject/object split in (self)-awareness,

Two obscurations: We may also classify these defilements into two obscurations that need to be purified during the path. These two obscurations may be used to distinguish the Shravakayana and Mahayana paths, because only the Mahayana path recognizes the existence of the cognitive obscurations and the need to purify them.

  • emotional obscurations (nyöndrip): these are the three poisons: passion (or attachment), aggression (or aversion) and ignorance, which keep beings trapped in samsara. These emotional obscurations are caused by clinging to the self of the person (the personal ego) as truly existing. They are the only obscurations to be purified on the Shravakayana path.
  • cognitive obscurations (shédrip): these are the obscurations that are caused by clinging to the self of phenomena as truly existing (in other words, any dualistic concepts that has the three aspects of subject, object and action). They prevent complete enlightenment (an alternative translation for shédrip is "obscurations to omniscience"). The Mahayana recognizes both emotional obscurations and cognitive obscurations as needing to be purified.

Innate and imputed ignorance: We may also classify the defilements into two kinds of ignorance: innate and imputed. According to Gorampa, both clinging to the self of the person and clinging to the self of phenomena have both innate and imputed ignorance, giving a total of four kinds of ignorance.

  • innate ignorance (or co-emergent ignorance): innate ignorance is the basic dualistic self-clinging or fixation on the thought of "I" shared by all sentient beings. It is pre-linguistic and pre-conceptual. In the Vajrayana it refers to the basic distraction or forgetting of the nature of mind.
  • imputed ignorance (on conceptual ignorance): imputed ignorance includes any kind of concept or labelling, as these involve a reification of the phenomenal world and a superposition of boundaries and an identity or phenomenal self that does not truly exist and cannot be found in reality.

Impermanence: see three marks of existence (anicca)


Imputed ignorance (also 'Conceptual ignorance') (Sanskrit: parikalpita परिकल्पित, Wylie: kun btags, Tibetan: ཀུན་བཏགས་kuntak), Chinese: traditional 徧計所執, simplified: 徧计所执, pien-chi-so-chih)

Imputed ignorance includes any kind of concept or labelling, as these involve a reification of the phenomenal world and a superposition of boundaries and an identity or phenomenal self that does not truly exist and cannot be found in reality. In the introduction to The Karmapa's Middle Way, Tyler Dewar writes (page 25):

In addition to our basic ignorance of ego-fixation and duality (innate ignorance), we develop all kinds of sophisticated labels and concepts to enhance our sense of being a distinct entity in our world. In particular, we may develop elaborate theories to justify the existence of ourselves and our environment by relying on religious, scientific, or sociological philosophies (e.g., “I think, therefore I am.”). These more elaborate forms of conception are expressions of imputed ignorance.

In Vajra Speech, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche writes (page 82):

There are two types of ignorance: co-emergent and conceptual ignorance. In the moment after seeing our essence, it almost immediately slips away. We get distracted and we start to think of something. Co-emergent ignorance is simply to forget. Conceptual ignorance comes in the moment after forgetting, forming thought after thought. As one thought follows after another, a long train of thoughts can develop. Forgetting and thinking - that is the twofold ignorance, co-emergent ignorance and conceptual ignorance.

In Buddhist Phenomenology, Dan Lusthaus examines how parikalpita is not simply discrimation, but a cognitive closure that is foundational to dualism itself (pages 336-337):

Hsüang-tsang's rendering of parikalpita literally reads pien 徧 ('everywhere', 'generally', 'universally') + chi 計 / 计 ('calculate', 'plan', 'scheme'). Other Chinese translators have sometimes rendered parikalpita as wang-chi 妄計 / 妄计 ('erroneous calculation'). The 'long-form' in Hsüang-tsang's Chinese for parikalpita is pien-chi-so-chih 徧計所執 / 徧计所执 (being attached to what is schematized everywhere). Hsüang-tsang's term implies that this 'erroneous discrimination' applies itself everywhere as a mental elaboration or as a determinative cognitive grid. it is not simply that one discriminates, or allows one's imaginative constructions to pervade one's experience. One becomes deeply attached (so-chih) to these constructions. In other words, parikalpita constitutes a cognitive closure that intrudes into the very process of knowing/perceiving one's self and the world, or anything in cognition. In fact, since parikalpita's basic assumption is that whatever it discriminates has substantialistic existence (svabhava), it basically functions as that which 'discriminates' the world into 'self' and 'perceived components', ie atman and dharmas. What renders parikalpita erroneous is not simply the fact that it discriminates, but more importantly, that these discriminations instigate and fuel attachment to 'self' and 'dharmas'.

Word origin: from Sanskrit parikalpita परिकल्पित (settled, decided, made, invented, contrived, arranged).

Found in: Week 3 (imputed and innate ignorance) / Week 4 (3 natures)

See also: ignorance [summary]innate ignorance

Definition [Google]: ➜Ignorance: lack of knowledge or information ("he acted in ignorance of basic procedures") synonyms: incomprehension of, unawareness of, unconsciousness of, unfamiliarity with, inexperience with, lack of knowledge about, lack of information about; antonyms: understanding, familiarity, knowledge, education

Bibliography: Karmapa IX (Wangchuk Dorje), trans. Tyler Dewar (2008) The Karmapa's Middle Way / Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche (2006) on ➜ignorance and penetrating wisdom / Lusthaus, Dan (2003) Buddhist Phenomenology

See also (external): ➜rigpawiki

See also (etymology): Sanskrit dictionary (parikalpita परिकल्पित)


Innate ignorance (also Co-emergent ignorance) (Sanskrit: sahaja सहज, Wylie: lhan skyes, Tibetan: ལྷན་སྐྱེས་ lhenkyé)

Innate or co-emergent ignorance refers to the basic fixation on the thought of “I” shared by all sentient beings. In the introduction to The Karmapa's Middle Way, Tyler Dewar writes (page 25):

Innate ignorance is the basic fixation on the thought of “I” shared by all sentient beings, from dung beetles and dogs on up through scholars and scientists. All ordinary sentient beings have a strong tendency to think of themselves as real persons separate from others and of their environments as objectively existing.

In Vajra Speech, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche writes (page 82):

There are two types of ignorance: co-emergent and conceptual ignorance. In the moment after seeing our essence, it almost immediately slips away. We get distracted and we start to think of something. Co-emergent ignorance is simply to forget.

Word origin: from Sanskrit sahaja सहज (born or produced together or at the same time as).

See also: ignorance [summary]imputed ignorance

Definition [Google]: ➜Ignorance: lack of knowledge or information ("he acted in ignorance of basic procedures") synonyms: incomprehension of, unawareness of, unconsciousness of, unfamiliarity with, inexperience with, lack of knowledge about, lack of information about; antonyms: understanding, familiarity, knowledge, education

Bibliography: Karmapa IX (Wangchuk Dorje), trans. Tyler Dewar (2008) The Karmapa's Middle Way / Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche (2006) on ➜ignorance and penetrating wisdom / Lusthaus, Dan (2003) Buddhist Phenomenology

See also (external): ➜rigpawiki

See also (etymology): Sanskrit dictionary (sahaja सहज)


Invalid relative truth (Sanskrit: mithyā-saMvRti मिथ्या संवृति,  Wylie: log pa’i kun rdzob, Tibetan: ལོག་པའི་ཀུན་རྫོབ་ logpé künzop)

Relative beliefs that are invalid, in the sense that they are not consistent with the conventional consensus (loka लोक) of ordinary people. For example a person with an eye disease might see a white conch shell as yellow, even though other people see it as white. Because these beliefs and concepts are not understood and accepted by ordinary people, they cannot be used as a means of communication or as a way to teach the Dharma path (for a more detailed explanation, please see the Glossary entry on Two Truths).

Word origin: relative truth literally means "concealing truth", a compound of the Sanskrit words satya सत्य (true, real, actual, genuine) and samvrti संवृति (covering, concealing, keeping secret). This is the aspect of relative truth that is mithyā मिथ्या (inverted, contrary, incorrect, wrong, improper).

See also: conventional truth / relative truth / 2 Truthsultimate truth / valid relative truth

Found in: Madhyamakavatara (valid & invalid relative truth are first introduced in verse 6:24) / Week 3

Definition [Google]: ➜Invalid: not valid; not true because based on erroneous information or unsound reasoning ("a comparison is invalid if we are not comparing like with like") synonyms: false, untrue, inaccurate, faulty, fallacious, spurious, unconvincing, unsound, weak, wrong, wide of the mark, off target

Definition [Google]: ➜Relative: considered in relation or in proportion to something else ("the relative effectiveness of the various mechanisms is not known") synonyms: comparative, respective, comparable, correlative, parallel, corresponding

Definition [Google]: ➜Truth (1) the quality or state of being true ("he had to accept the truth of her accusation") synonyms: veracity, truthfulness, verity, sincerity, candour, honesty; antonyms: dishonesty, falseness; (2) that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality ("tell me the truth") synonyms: what actually happened, the case; antonyms: lies, fiction; (3) a fact or belief that is accepted as true ("the emergence of scientific truths") synonyms: fact, verity, certainty, certitude.

See also (external): rigpawiki (➜relative truth, ➜Two Truths, ➜valid & invalid relative truth) / wiki (➜Two Truths) / Patrul Rinpoche Clarifying the Two Truths

See also (etymology): Sanskrit dictionary (loka लोकmithya मिथ्याsamvrti संवृतिsatya सत्य)


M

Madhyamaka (Sanskrit: madhyamaka मध्यमक, Wylie: dbu ma pa, Tibetan: དབུ་མ་པ་ umapa; also known as Shunyavada)

The Madhyamaka or "Middle Way" refers both to the view of emptiness and nonduality that is at the heart of Buddhism, and also to the Madhyamaka school of Buddhism, which is a Mahayana Buddhist school of philosophy founded by Nagarjuna. According to the Madhyamaka all phenomena (dharmas) are empty (shunya) of any "nature," “substance" or "essence" (svabhava) that might give them solid and independent existence. Instead we refer to them as being dependently co-arisen. But this "emptiness" itself is also "empty": it does not have an existence on its own, nor does it refer to a transcendental reality beyond or above phenomenal reality.

Word origin: from Sanskrit madhyamaka मध्यमक (middlemost).

Found in: 8-Week Program

See also (external): ➜wiki / ➜rigpawiki / ➜Britannica / philosophy: ➜Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

See also (etymology): Sanskrit dictionary (madhyamaka मध्यमक)


Madhyamakavatara (Sanskrit: Madhyamakāvatāra मध्यमक अवतर, Wylie: dbu ma la 'jug-pa, Tibetan: དབུ་མ་ལ་འཇུག་པ་ uma la jukpa)

Introduction to the Middle Way (also known as Entering the Middle Way) is a text by Chandrakirti that is core to the Madhyamaka school of Mahayana Buddhist philosophy. It is a commentary on the meaning of Nagarjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā and the Sutra of the Ten Bhumis (Dashabhumika-Sutra, also known as Ten Stages Sutra). It is included among the so-called "Thirteen great texts", which form the core of the curriculum in most shedras.

Name origin: From Sanskrit madhyamaka मध्यमक (middlemost) and avatara अवतर (descent, entrance).

Found in: 8-Week Program

Bibliography: free download of commentary by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche (2004) Introduction to the Middle Way / root text of Chandrakirti's Madhyamakavatara and Mipham's commentary by Padmakara (2002) Introduction to the Middle Way / 9th Karmapa's commentary on the MadhyamakavataraKarmapa IX (Wangchuk Dorje), trans. Tyler Dewar (2008) The Karmapa's Middle Way

See also (external): ➜wiki / ➜rigpawiki

See also (etymology): Sanskrit dictionary (avatara अवतरmadhyamaka मध्यमक)


Mulamadhyamakakarika (Sanskrit: Prajñā-nāma-mūlamadhyamakakārikā, Wylie: dbu ma rtsa ba shes rab, Tibetan: དབུ་མ་རྩ་བ་ཤེས་རབ་ uma tsawa sherab)

Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way (also known as The Root Verses on the Wisdom of the Middle Way). The most famous and important text on Madhyamaka philosophy, composed by Nagarjuna and commented upon by the Madhyamaka lineage masters including Buddhapalita, Bhavaviveka and Chandrakirti. It is included among the so-called "Thirteen great texts", which form the core of the curriculum in most shedras.

Name origin: from Sanskrit mūla मूल ("firmly fixed", root), madhyamaka मध्यमक (middlemost), kārikā कारिका (concise statement in verse of doctrines; a memorial verse, or a collection of such verses, on grammatical, philosophical, or scientific subjects)

Found in: 8-Week Program

Bibliography: Siderits, Mark & Katsura, Shoryu (2013) Nagarjuna's Middle Way: Mulamadhyamakakarika

See also (external): ➜wiki / ➜rigpawiki / ➜Britannica

See also (etymology): Sanskrit dictionary (kārikā कारिकाmadhyamaka मध्यमक, mūla मूल)


Mumonkan (Chinese: traditional 無門關, simplified 无门关, Wúménguān, Japanese: 無門関 Mumonkan)

The Gateless Gate (more accurately translated as The Gateless Barrier) is a collection of 48 Chan (Zen) koans compiled in the early 13th century by the Chinese Zen master Wumen Huikai (traditional 無門慧開, simplified 无门慧开; Japanese: Mumon Ekai, 1183–1260). It is a central work in the Rinzai School of Zen. The common theme of the koans is how dualistic thinking acts as an obstacle to insight, and how a practitioner is challenged to break through this barrier. A translation of the Mumonkan is included in Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, a compilation of Zen stories on emptiness and nonduality.

Found in: Week 1

Bibliography: Reps, Paul (1957) Zen Flesh, Zen Bones / free online version of ➜Mumonkan from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones / free download of Blyth, Reginald (1966) Zen and Zen Classics, Vol. 4: Mumonkan [PDF], translation and extensive commentary on the koans

See also (external): ➜wiki / ➜Chinese text and translation


N

Nagarjuna (c.150 - c.250 CE) (Sanskrit: Nāgārjuna नागार्जुन, Wylie: klu sgrub, Tibetan: ཀླུ་སྒྲུབ་ ludrup)

Founder of Madhyamaka, revealer of the Prajñaparamita Sutras, author of Mūlamadhyamakakārikā (Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way), one of the 84 mahasiddhas.

Found in: 8-Week ProgramMadhyamaka Lineage in India

See also: Mulamadhyamakakarika

See also (external): ➜wiki / ➜rigpawiki / excellent biography by Donald Lopez on ➜Britannica

See also (etymology): Sanskrit dictionary (Nāgārjuna नागार्जुन)


Nyinang (Wylie: gnyis snang, Tibetan: གཉིས་སྣང་ nyinang)

The mere apprehension of duality as such, without any fixation or concept of marks, symbols, characteristics, etc. This is the defilement that remains to be purified by bodhisattvas on the 8th to 10th bhumis.

Found in: Madhyamakavatara (introduced in verse 1:8, how bodhisattvas outshine shravakas and pratyekabuddhas) / Week 2

See also: ignorance [summary] / 5 Pathstsendzin


Nyöndrip (Wylie: nyon sgrib, Tibetan: ཉོན་སྒྲིབ་ nyöndrip), see: emotional obscurations


R

Relative truth (saMvRti-satya संवृति सत्य, Pāli: sammuti sacca, Wylie: kun rdzob bden pa, Tibetan: ཀུན་རྫོབ་བདེན་པ་ künzob denpa)

The truth that comprises the relative beliefs of ordinary people, based on their common ways of thinking and speaking, as distinct from the ultimate truth that is beyond thought and language. Relative truth is subdivided into two:

  • Invalid relative truth: refers to relative beliefs that are invalid in the sense that they are not consistent with/in agreement with the conventional consensus of ordinary people. For example a person with an eye disease might see a white conch shell as yellow, even though other people see it as white.
  • Conventional truth (or valid relative truth): refers to relative beliefs that are valid in the sense that they are consistent with/in agreement with the conventional consensus. Because these beliefs and concepts are understood and accepted by ordinary people, they can be used as a means of communication, and therefore as a way to teach the Dharma path.

For a more detailed explanation, please see the Glossary entry on 2 Truths.

Word origin: literally "concealing truth", a compound of the Sanskrit words satya सत्य (true, real, actual, genuine) and samvrti संवृति (covering, concealing, keeping secret).

Definition [Google]: ➜Relative: considered in relation or in proportion to something else ("the relative effectiveness of the various mechanisms is not known") synonyms: comparative, respective, comparable, correlative, parallel, corresponding ("the relative importance of each factor")

Definition [Google]: ➜Truth (1) the quality or state of being true ("he had to accept the truth of her accusation") synonyms: veracity, truthfulness, verity, sincerity, candour, honesty; antonyms: dishonesty, falseness; (2) that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality ("tell me the truth") synonyms: what actually happened, the case; antonyms: lies, fiction; (3) a fact or belief that is accepted as true ("the emergence of scientific truths") synonyms: fact, verity, certainty, certitude.

See also (main entry): 2 Truths

See also: conventional truthultimate truth / valid relative truth

See also (external): ➜rigpawiki➜wiki / ➜Britannica

See also (etymology): English etymology (➜relative➜truth) / Sanskrit dictionary (samvrti संवृतिsatya सत्य)


Rimé (Wylie: ris med, Tibetan: རིས་མེད་ rimé, literally "unbiassed")

Rimé means 'unbiassed', and refers to the unbiassed or ecumenical tradition of Tibetan Buddhism that was founded in Kham in the 19th century by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820-1892) and Jamgön Kongtrül (1813-1899) who compiled together the teachings of the Sakya, Kagyu and Nyingma, including many near-extinct teachings. The Rimé masters compiled collections of scriptures, including the Rinchen Terdzod and the Sheja Dzö.

Found in: Khyentse Lineage

See also (external): ➜wiki➜rigpawiki


S

Shédrip (Wylie: or shes sgrib, Tibetan: ཤེས་སྒྲིབ་ shédrip), see: cognitive obscurations


Suffering: see 3 marks of existence (dukkha)


T

Ten Bulls: see 10 Bulls


Three Marks of Existence: see 3 marks of existence


Tsendzin (Wylie: mtshan ’dzin, Tibetan: མཚན་འཛིན་ tsendzin)

Tsendzin means 'fixation on characteristics' (also 'fixation on conceptual attributes'). It refers to a defilement on the path, in which sentient beings have clinging to characteristics (Wylie: mtshan ma, Tibetan: མཚན་མ་ tsenma, also translated as 'marks', 'conceptual attributes', 'sybolisms'). In other words, they still perceive appearances, although this does not necessarily imply that they cling to these perceptions as truly existing.

According to the Mahayana, even after abandoning belief in true existence (dendzin), it is possible to have subtle clinging to the 'characteristics' of phenomena (tsendzin). When sentient beings abandon clinging to the true existence of the self they are no longer bound in samsara, which corresponds to nirvana in the Shravakayana path and the 1st bhumi (and the Path of Seeing) in the Mahayana path. However, bodhisattvas on the 1st to 7th bhumis still have tsendzin, so these bhumis are known as the 'impure bodhisattva stages'. The 8th to 10th bhumis are known as the 'pure bodhisattva stages', as bodhisattvas on these bhumis no longer have tsendzin. Their only remaining defilement is nyinang, the mere apprehension of duality as such, without any fixation or concept.

Verse 1:8 of the Madhyamakavatara contains a famous passage explaining why the 1st bhumi bodhisattva is able to outshine shravaka arhats and pratyekabuddhas by the strength of his merit but not yet by the strength of his wisdom. This is because until they reach the 7th bhumi, bodhisattvas still create the causes for tsendzin, and they are therefore no different in that respect from the shravaka arhats and pratyekabuddhas, so they cannot yet outshine them by the strength of their wisdom.

Found in: Madhyamakavatara (introduced in verse 1:8, how bodhisattvas outshine shravakas and pratyekabuddhas) / Week 2

See also: ignorance [summary]Five Paths / nyinang


Two Obscurations: see 2 obscurations


Two Truths: see 2 truths


U

Ultimate truth (Sanskrit: paramārtha-satya परमार्थ सत्य, Pāli: paramattha sacca, Wylie: don dam bden pa, Tibetan: དོན་དམ་བདེན་པ་ döndam denpa, synonym for absolute truth)

The ultimate truth refers to the nature of all phenomena (which in the Madhyamaka is considered to be the same as the nature of mind/consciousness). It is beyond thought and language and can be known only by nondual wisdom (for a more detailed explanation, please see the Glossary entry on 2 Truths).

Although the terms 'absolute truth' and 'ultimate truth' are often used interchangeably, their etymologies differ. 'Ultimate truth' is a more literal interpretation of the Sanskrit word paramārtha परमार्थ (excellent, highest, supreme), whereas 'absolute truth' is closer to the Madhyamaka meaning of 'existing independently'.

Word origin: the term is a compound of the Sanskrit words paramārtha परमार्थ (excellent, highest, supreme, whole, literally "uppermost meaning") and satya सत्य (true, real, actual, genuine).

See also (main entry):  2 Truths

See also: absolute truth / conventional truth / relative truth

Definition [Google]: ➜Truth (1) the quality or state of being true ("he had to accept the truth of her accusation") synonyms: veracity, truthfulness, verity, sincerity, candor, honesty; antonyms: dishonesty, falseness; (2) that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality ("tell me the truth") synonyms: what actually happened, the case; antonyms: lies, fiction; (3) a fact or belief that is accepted as true ("the emergence of scientific truths") synonyms: fact, verity, certainty, certitude.

Definition [Google]: ➜Ultimate: (1) being or happening at the end of a process; final. ("Their ultimate aim was to force his resignation") synonyms: eventual, final, concluding, terminal, end; (2) being the best or most extreme example of its kind. ("the ultimate accolade") synonyms: best, ideal, perfect, greatest, supreme, paramount, superlative, highest, utmost, optimum, quintessential

See also (external): ➜wiki / ➜Britannica

See also (etymology): English etymology (➜truth➜ultimate) / Sanskrit dictionary (paramārtha परमार्थsatya सत्य)


V

Valid relative truth (synonym for Conventional truth) (Sanskrit: tathya-saMvRti तथ्य संवृति, Wylie: yang dag kun rdzob, Tibetan: ཡང་དག་ཀུན་རྫོབ་ yangdag künzop)

The truth that comprises the relative beliefs of ordinary people that are conventionally accepted as valid in the world (loka लोक), based on their common ways of thinking and speaking, as distinct from the ultimate truth that is beyond thought and language. Because these beliefs and concepts are understood and accepted by ordinary people, they can be used as a means of communication, and therefore as a way to teach the Dharma path (for a more detailed explanation, please see the Glossary entry on 2 Truths).

Word origin: relative truth literally means "concealing truth", a compound of the Sanskrit words satya सत्य (true, real, actual, genuine) and samvrti संवृति (covering, concealing, keeping secret). This is the aspect of relative truth that is tathya तथ्य (true, real, genuine).

See also (main entry): 2 Truths

See also: conventional truth (synonym) / relative truthultimate truth

Found in: Madhyamakavatara (valid & invalid relative truth are first introduced in verse 6:24) / Week 3

Definition [Google]: ➜Valid: having a sound basis in logic or fact; reasonable or cogent ("a valid criticism") synonyms: well founded, sound, reasonable, rational, logical, justifiable, defensible, viable, bona fide.

Definition [Google]: ➜Relative: considered in relation or in proportion to something else ("the relative effectiveness of the various mechanisms is not known") synonyms: comparative, respective, comparable, correlative, parallel, corresponding

Definition [Google]: ➜Truth (1) the quality or state of being true ("he had to accept the truth of her accusation") synonyms: veracity, truthfulness, verity, sincerity, candour, honesty; antonyms: dishonesty, falseness; (2) that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality ("tell me the truth") synonyms: what actually happened, the case; antonyms: lies, fiction; (3) a fact or belief that is accepted as true ("the emergence of scientific truths") synonyms: fact, verity, certainty, certitude.

See also (external): rigpawiki (➜relative truth, ➜Two Truths, ➜valid & invalid relative truth, / wiki (➜Two Truths) / Patrul Rinpoche Clarifying the Two Truths

See also (etymology): Sanskrit dictionary (loka लोकsamvrti संवृतिsatya सत्यtathya तथ्य)



Last updated 7 July 2017