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Madhyamika Prasangika

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Madhyamika Prasangika; (uma ten gyur pa): view that holds that nothing at all has any kind of self existence.

This view is considered supreme.

The view that everything is an illusion is a wrong way to understand Nagarjuna's madhyamika.

The prasangika madhyamika system arose especially to counter such an "over negation".


According to all prasangikas, everything is LIKE an illusion (but not an illusion).


If everything would be (really) an illusion, there would be no actions and their effects, and thereby most of Buddhadharma would be a sham.

Buddhist Tantra is based on the prasangika view that says that all is like an illusion, thus avoiding the extreme of inherent existence of the things (dharmas) and the extreme of non-existence of the things (dharmas).


This is the main point of "middle way" or madhyamika.

Without understanding this view, liberation is impossible, whether one practises Sutra or Tantra.

The Madhyamika Prasangika view is that held by the Gelug Order- and only the Gelug Order.

The nyingmapas who I have talked with, have all agreed with me and Chandrakirti.

They just express the view of emptiness differently, but the intention remains the same.

let alone say something like: "What has been taught since Nagarjuna (about 150 C.E) is Madhyamika Prasangika."

From historical point of view, Nagarjuna did not teach prasangika, but from the prasangika practitioners point of view, he did (just like Shakyamuni was teaching madhyamika, although it was "invented" by Nagarjuna.)


So, from the prasangika's point, Chandrakirti merely clarified Nagarjuna's intent, and he merely expressed the Buddha's ultimate intention....

Retrospectively, Shakyamuni Buddha was a prasangika also (provided of course that you think that prasangika system is the correct method to view emptiness.)

Highest Yoga Tantra which is all Madhyamika Prasangika"- I'm sure there are many Kagyupa's, Sakyapa's and Nyingmapa's that would be very surprised to learn this!

HYT is based on the correct view of emptiness, which from the prasangika's point of view IS the madhyamika prasangika view.


The Mahayana views "Nirvana" to be an illusion also.

Nirvana is LIKE an illusion, but not (real) illusion.

True, non-dual "Enlightenment" being seen as transcending the illusory duality of Samsara/Nirvana.

No school of thought upholds this view stronger than the Madhyamika Prasangika


All phenomena possess two natures:
That which is revealed by correct perception
And that which is induced by deceptive perception.
The object of correct perception is ultimate reality,
The object of deceptive perception is conventional reality.


But interestingly, it does not follow, that Sakyapas et al could not realize emptiness.

This is because one does not need to have the correct philosophical understanding of emptiness to realize emptiness.

Throughout the history of Buddhism, people of various schools have realized emptiness even though their presentation of emptiness has been something else than that of Je Tsongkhapa's - namely


Je Tsongkhapa's presentation of Prasangika is different from all the others, including Atisha himself!


If one would need to have the same view as JT, then even Atisha would have been an ordinary being.


In Tibetan philosophical texts, the JT's view is sometimes called a special Gelukpa presentation of the Madhyamika-Prasangika view, because it is not the same Prasangika that others have.

The same view can be found only from some Theravada sources, and perhaps from some Nyingma termas, but not from the writings of realized beings like Sakya Pandita, for instance.

It is the best way to explain the correct view of emptiness, I think, but interestingly, other views are adequate also, in practice.

Considering this, Pabonkhapa was telling the truth without being sectarian, or being against any other presentations, or denying their validity. I'm quite sure he thought that Asanga, Atisha and Sakya Pandita were realized beings, eventhough they did not share the view of Je Tsongkhapa.


"...Maha-realizations are possible even with a mind only view, no doubt.

Yet why settle for a lesser if two choices are presented to you?

To cut the root of samsara why settle for a dull butter knife?

Seek that bleeding edge wisdom, that flaming excalibur brighter than a hundred torches..."

This is so very true...


Also, one has to remember the times have changed. We are at the end of the Kali yuga.

At the time of the Buddha, Chuddhapanthaka became an arahat by sweeping the floor with a broom.

The first five disciples of the Buddha became arahats just by hearing the Four Noble Truths from the mouth of the Buddha.

Today, I doubt anyone can do that.

This is because of the times.


Remember also, Tsongkhapa was not achieving any results by relying other (dull butter knife!) teachings.

This is why he was adviced by Manjushri to engage in Purification, accumulation, petitionning his lama and also study extensively madhyamaka litterature in order to perceive emptiness, because other methods and teachings were not usefull anymore.

They were no longer antidotes to reification and self-grasping!


All this is because our bodies and minds have changed over time. It is not like before, so we need a special method.

All the difficulties relating to the times is also what made Manjushri say to Tsongkhapa that anyone who do no have this practice with five unique features (Solitary Hero Yamantaka) will not be successfull in their dharma practice...


this is not because Hevajra or Heruka cannot lead to full enlightenment, it is just that, because of the times and Karma, there are so much obstacles (even to Tulkus!) that the obstacle-clearing and wisdom bestowing practice Yamantaka is now absolutely required to achieve full-enlightenment within a single lifetime in a single body.

In brief, the method (the teatment) has to be fitting to the times we live and the types of minds we have (type of illness).

This is what the Gelug ear-whispered lineage offer: a quick, undefiled, undiluded method befitting the times we live in. And that's what Pabongkha taught!


Apart from the doctrine of Manjughosha Tsongkhapa alone, these days the views of all Sakyas, Kagyus, Nyingmas and so on are erroneous.

They are not even Svatantra or Cittamatra, let alone the view of Prasanga Madhyamakameditating only the nihilist view like tirthikas and Hashang.


I think those two little words put Je Phabongkhapa's thoughts into context.

This tells me that he did not believe non-Gelug views had always been erroneous, but that something was happening during his day that was a departure from the views these traditions had taught and practiced in previous generations.

In Clear Light of Bliss (see http://www.dharmaprotector.org/fundamentalwisdom.html), GKG says that the major Gurus of the non-Gelug traditions always taught the Prasangika view.


What Je Rimpoche's unique interpretation brings to prasangika view is the union of Dharmakirti's Pramana system with Nagarjuna's Madhyamaka.

In short, Je Rimpoche adds realism to Nagarjuna's philosophy in order for the later not to be interpreted in a nihilistic fashion.

Emptiness, Je Rimpoche says, is a feature of real objects.

So what is illusory is the object's inherent existence (reification of the object) rather than the object itself.


Others such as Gorampa state that objects are a conventional truth therefore illusory.

Je Rimpoche says objects are real, only their intrinsic nature (as posited by us) is illusory.

Nagarjuna does not develop this thesis.

Nagarjuna however states that samsara is no different than nirvana, so Je Rimpoche interprets this to mean the objects are not illusions, the illusions is the reified identity of the object.

For an excellent sum-up of all this see Sonam Tackchoe' "The Two Truths Debate" this is a must-read for any serious gelugpa scholar.


Notice this is also one of the main point of philosophical contention between Gelug and other schools.

Here, we are taxed as "materialists" for upholding the reality of material objects (conventional truths)! >:(