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Chandrakirti - Madhyamakavatara

Chandrakirti - Madhyamakavatara

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Published by: elations on Oct 01, 2010
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11/14/2012

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Introduction to the Middle Way
Chandrakirti’s
Madhyamakavatara
 
With commentary by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche
Given at the Centre d’Etudes de ChanteloubeDordogne, France1996, 1998, 1999, 2000Arranged according to Gorampa’s commentaryEdited by Alex Trisoglio
©2003 by Khyentse FoundationAll rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in anyform or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying,recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Khyentse Foundation
Publication of this text has been sponsored by the Khyentse Foundation
 
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche – 
 Madhyamakavatara
Foreword
FOREWORD
The view of Madhyamika in Buddhism
In Buddhism, the view is essential for both theory and practice. All the various Buddhist schoolsand paths have been established based on the right view, and the result of the Buddhist path – enlightenment – is none other than the complete understanding or realisation of the view. Theview is indispensable for all kinds of Buddhist practice, from the simple and seemingly mundaneacts of a Theravadin monk shaving his head and not eating after midday, to the Mahayana practitioner abandoning meat, offering butterlamps and circumambulating, to more complicatedand exotic paths such as building monasteries or practicing kundalini yoga. The view not onlygives us the reason to practice; it is also the result we seek to attain through practice.Furthermore, the view is also a safety railing that prevents us from going astray on the path.Without the view, the whole aim and purpose of Buddhism is lost. If we wish to reach adestination, it is fruitless to proceed aimlessly on the journey if we have not established our direction and destination. Likewise, meditation and action will not bear fruit unless we haveestablished the view.For example, when teaching the Four Noble Truths, Buddha taught that the fundamental truth – the view – is that we
are
not suffering; we merely
have
suffering. Therefore, by knowing thenature and cause of suffering, we can follow the path to liberate ourselves from suffering. Nevertheless, although many of us are eager to follow the path to liberate ourselves fromsuffering, and we may even understand what our suffering is caused by, few of us pay attentionto the view: the fact that we are not suffering, we just have suffering. Because we do notunderstand the view, we still cling to primordial suffering. Therefore, no matter how much we practice and seek to apply methods to end our suffering, our path is not a middle path – aMadhyamika path, a path beyond conceptual clinging. Instead, it ends up becoming an extreme path – a path of concepts, which will not liberate us from suffering.Another example is the concept of renunciation mind, and the familiar images of monks with begging bowls, shaved heads on so on. When the Buddhist path teaches us to developrenunciation mind, we might think that we are being asked to renounce samsara with the attitudethat it is imperfect, full of pain and endless futility – i.e. to recognise that samsara is suffering.Most of us find such renunciation difficult, as we feel we’re missing out on the good things – welong for the pleasant and beautiful aspects of samsara, which we still believe truly exist out there.But it is something quite different to renounce samsara based on the view – the view of emptiness – which holds that both the desirable and futile aspects of samsara are just fabricationsof mind. With the view of emptiness, we can see that renouncing samsaric life is not something painful. It’s not really a penance or sacrifice, because we realise that there is, in reality, nothingto sacrifice.This text, the
Madhyamakavatara
,is an indispensable text that is widely studied both in Buddhist philosophical schools and Buddhist meditative schools, and Chandrakirti’s method of establishing the view in this work has been one of the most venerated throughout the ages. Nowthat Buddhism is taking root in the West, I feel it is important for at least some of us to payattention to the study of the view and how it is to be established. Unfortunately, our humantendency is to be much more attracted to the methods of doing something, rather than why we aredoing it. The study of the view appears to be very dry, boring and long-winded, whereas anyonecan just buy a cushion, sit on it, and after a few minutes feel satisfied that they have sat andmeditated. In this age of materialism, people suffer from alienation and lack of purpose, and

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