The Great Madhyamaka of the Sakya Masters
The term “great madhyamaka” has been used by all three primary Tibetan presentations of Madhyamaka, i.e. Tsongkhapa’s presentation of prasangika, the extrinsic emptiness school of the Jonangpas and the Sakya presentation known as “freedom from proliferation” or “freedom from extremes”.
Though the term “great madhyamaka” is not frequently used in the Sakya school to refer to our own presentation of Madhyamaka, it does occasionally crop up. The basis of the Great Madhyamaka of the Sakya masters is to be found primarily in the writings of Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen who states in his Great Song of Experience:
Freedom from extremes is beyond knowledge, expressions and objects,
Madhyamaka, Cittamatra and so on,
expressions in words are proliferations...
That view of Great Madhyamaka
is bliss free of delusion because it is not a proposition.
Another such instance may be found in the works of Lowo Khenchen, Sonam Lhundrup [1456-1532] who most notable for his expansions on Sakya Pandita’s famed Clarifying the Muni’s Intent thub pa’i dgongs pa rab tu gsal. In the brief work ,Ornamenting the Intent of Manjushri thub pa dgongs gsal gyi 'chad thabs 'jam dbyangs dgongs rgyan, Lowo Khenchen identifies three strains of Madhyamaka:
Out of the three in Madhyamaka, the prasangikas maintain that one gradually enters the practice of the ten stages according to the explanations in The Introduction to Madhyamaka. The svatantrika madhyamikas maintain that one enters into the practice of Mahayāna through three stages of practice as it is explained in the Blaze of Dialectics “Not abandoning bodhicitta, correctly relying on the strict conduct of a muni, the search for understanding reality is the practice that accomplishes all aims”.
For the position of the third madhyamika, as Master Nāgārjuna states:
The Dharma taught by the Buddha
uses two truths.
Having gathered all phenomena into two truths, [they] maintain practice is applied to two classes of intellectual capacity, sharp and dull, of persons who are practicing those (two truths):
When seeking reality, first
one should teach “everything exists”;
having comprehend meanings, and lacking desire,
later, [teach] absence.
Master Āryadeva teaches:
First, reject what is not meritorious,
in the middle, reject the self,
in the end, reject all views.
As Jetsun Rinpoche writes in the Great Song of Experience:
The supreme view is without views...
generally, there is no object to see in reality,
now, also, the view is not a view.
Posted by Malcolm Smith