A brief Sketch on Six Major Texts of Buddhist Philosophy by Aenpo Kyabgon Rinpoche
Most of the Tibetan Buddhist schools accept and mainly undergo the study of five major texts, which are:
Prajnaparamita was originally expounded by the historical Buddha Shakyamuni and the teaching was passed through Maitreyanath, Arya Asanga Vasubandhu, Arya Vimuktisena, Haribadra etc. India as well as scholars like Yakton, Rongton, omniscient Gorampa Sonam Senghe etc. In Tibet. The term Prajnaparamita has three different applications:
The resultant Prajnaparamita refers to a Buddha's discriminative awareness (prajna) which is totally non-dual, free of all obscuration and spontaneously perceives the dual aspects of all phenomena in a single mental act.
The topics mainly discussed in text are summarily categorised into eight divisions, which are:
The Sixth refers to a Bodhisattvic wisdom/ yoga, in order to gain firm understanding of the three wisdom of basis, path and omniscience, through serial meditation upon the aspects of these three aspects respectively.
From these eight realisations or topics of the text, the seventy sub-divisions were branched. They are:
a) the ten topics that characterises the Omniscience
b) the eleven topics that characterises the knowledge of the paths
c) the nine topics that characterises knowledge of basis
d) the eleven topics that characterises training of the complete aspects
e) the eight topics that characterises the peak training
f) the thirteenth topics that characterises the serial training
g) the four topics that characterises the momentary training and
h) the four topics that characterise the resultant truth body or Dharmakaya.
(In the 5th century) almost after nine centuries of Buddha's mahaparinirvana, there lived the renowned scholar Acharya Vasubandhu, who had four extraordinary disciples who become more learned than the Guru himself in four different subjects.
It was under him that he studied the Pramanasamuccaya.
1-2 corrects and wrongs direct perception
3-4 corrects and wrongs inferential cognition
5-6 corrects and wrongs argument
7-8 corrects and wrongs refutation
The correct direct perception be divided into four:
1. the sensual direct perception
2. the mental direct perception
3. the self referential direct perception and
4. the meditative direct perception
Buddha Shakyamuni's discourses which elucidate and define the principals of monastic vows and discipline is know as Vinaya Pitaka, which is one of the three primary collection of discourses which comprises in the Buddhist Canon.
The Vinaya Pitaka defines a means by which an individual monastic adherent may achieve the soteriological goal of Buddhism and it determines the manner in which the collective community may sustain its special identity.
For that one has to uproot every discordant factors and produce its antidote, uncontaminated wisdom, which is developed only from the practice of pure morality. So therefore, one receives the monk's Pratimoksha vow, by generating a thought of renunciation and that of keeping the vows excellently.
The key to understanding the ethos of Vinaya sources involves a serious reckoning with the teaching of Buddha and the importance attached to the notion of "discipline". It will be necessary for us to reconstruct in outline from the essential elements of the Four Noble truths before we begin our consideration of Vinaya in detail.
The root textual source on Abhidharma is called "seven treatises on Abhidharma" which are the prime source of Vaibhashika and it is not considered the Buddha's direct teaching yet it is believed that these were set together by seven Arhats (foe-destroyer) from the discourses which Buddha taught separately to different people in different places.
Following this (in 5th century) after nine centuries of Historical Buddha's Mahaparinirvana, the renowned scholar Acharya Vasubandhu composed Abhidharmakosha and its auto commentary, which followed by the composition of commentaries on it by masters such as Yashomitra and Purnavardhana.
Throughout the varying phases of Abhidharma's historical development, Buddhist philosophy has unmistakably preserved certain traits which at the outset formed the very life force of Buddhist thought and, which still vitally concern us as a truly spiritual force.
Historically, two different traditions of representing the subject matter of Abhidharma was developed; one through the "five fundamentals" of phenomena and other through the divisions of aggregates, natures and sources.
However, it should not be forgotten that an abstract idea, such as god- at least we nowadays try to conceive them as an abstract idea- is not arbitrarily hypothesized and transplanted into a world of beyond, but that which is called heaven or hell is essentially the term for the psychic reverberation of strongly emotionally toned experiences which, when they appear reproduced, are so sensuous that we actually sees or feel them.
Though the ultimate object of Buddha's teaching is to point out a way to nirvana, Abhidharma presents a very extensive analysis of cognitive process and mental states conducive to the realisation of nirvana.
So to scrutinize these elaborately and more others, based on the system of Kashmiri Vaibhashika school, one must undergo the study of Abhidharma, in which, as I mentioned earlier, the training of higher level of wisdom and study of metaphysics and cosmology are elucidated.
After four centuries of his Mahaparinirvana there came Arya Nagarjuna who brought up Prajnaparamita Sutras from Naga's realm, and later compiled the text Mulamadhyamakarika Yuktisastika and others in which the profundity of Madhyamaka path, interdependent origination, emptiness and substantiality are presented and disperse all the extremes of exaggerations and depreciation by which he found the Madhyamaka philosophical school of Buddhist thought.
The Tibetan tradition considers Nagarjuna one of the two most important personalities in Indian Mahayana Buddhism (the other being Maitreyanath), and among the multitude of classical Indian scholars his authority outshines all others.
According to this view, all phenomena, both mental and physical, cannot be found to posses any independent and self-validating natures and their existence and identity are regarded as valid only within a relative framework of worldly convention.
The Madhyamaka school, as I mentioned earlier, was found by Nagarjuna in the second century and was later classified into two subdivision, Prasangika and Svatantrika, based on the different interpretations of Nagarjuna's view which were made by Buddhapalita and Bhavaviveka respectively.
The Svatantrika for their part constructed syllogisms whose elements they admitted to be established by virtue of valid cognition. This, indeed, constitutes the principal differences between the doctrines of Prasangika and Svatantrika School.
They also differ in the arguments, which they advanced in support of the Madhyamaka's interpretation of nature of ultimate reality with regard to their interpretations of nature of conventional reality.
The Tibetan tradition, while recognizing Bhavaviveka's contribution to Buddhist logic and philosophy, generally considers the Prasangika technique of consequential reasoning and being the most refined logical method in Buddhism of establishing the view of emptiness.
This text is arranged in sixteen chapters of twenty-five stanzas each.
He was indeed, the foremost exponent of Prasangika madhyamaka School and his rigorous formulation of the orthodox Prasangika standpoint is accepted even today by living Buddhist traditions of India and Tibet.
Like Chandrakirti, Shantideva rigorously criticizes the doctrine of the Vijnanavada. He is perhaps the last of the great Indian exponents of the Prasangika schools.
In the text he not only delineates and interprets mainly on the distinctions between the vows of Pratimoksha, Bodhisattva and Tantras, but rather expresses his objection towards the misconceptions put forward on the practices of Buddha's teaching by the mistaken/erroneous Buddhist exponents who lived after the Mahaparinirvana of the Great Sakya Founder, Sachen Kunga Nyingpo.
The topics mainly discussed in the text are subsumed into eleven divisions.
way of receiving vows,
importance of mind generation,
non-differentiation between the real compassion and emptiness,
the two stages of generation and completion,
Mahamudra primordial wisdom,
outer and inner dependent arising
and lastly the order of the levels and the paths towards enlightenment.
All the practices in Buddhism are summarily condensed within the commonly associated practice with the Hinayana's Vinaya, the commonly associated practice with the Mahayana's Prajnaparamita and the uncommon practice of Vajrayana.
Firstly, the commonly associated practice with the Hinayana's Vinaya are condensed within the practice of Pratimoksha vows, because the vows received by the Hinayanist are meant to abandon harm for others, by generating a thought of renunciation from this ocean of Samsara.
Pratimoksha vow is classed into Hinayana Pratimoksha and Mahayana's. The Hinayana Pratimoksha refers to a sole thought of liberating one self from the samsara and it is classed into eight vows. The latter refers to a thought of liberating every sentient beings from samsara.
And this is classed into Mahayana Pratimoksha practice commonly associated with the Hinayanic system, the practice associated with the uncommon Mahayana Pratimoksha and the practice commonly associated with the superior vehicle.
This vow is classified into the practice of Bodhisattva vow commonly associated with the Pratimoksha system, the uncommon Bodhisattva vow and the practice commonly associated with the tantric empowerment.
In the third chapters, that of tantric vow, the various acceptances on the classifications of tantra were made, such as the acceptance of two tantras, three tantras, five tantras, six tantras, six tantras etc. However, the four classes of tantra are widely accepted in Tibetan Buddhism, which are:
2. Caryatantra (performance)
4. Anutarayogatantra (the highest level)