Buddhist Tenet Systems

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Access here various teachings on the Gelugpa framework for understanding views on the nature of reality, progressing from gross to the most subtle. The purpose of this intricate and systematic presentation is to cultivate a mind able to investigate appearances and determine how they really exist.

Who it’s for

This series of teachings will appeal to those interested in the philosophical presentation of how to understand reality according to Buddhist scriptures. There is a particular emphasis on the ‘wisdom’ side of the path, in terms of how to generate a realization of emptiness and dependent arising, according to the four different Buddhist tenet systems: Vaibashika (Great Exposition), Sautantrika (Sutra), Cittamatra (Mind-Only) and Madhyamika (Middle Way).

Teachers, content and resources

Geshe Dorji Damdul, a distinguished Buddhist scholar with a particular interest in the relationship between science and Buddhism, taught on the root text Presentation of Tenets written by Gon-chok-jik-may-wang-bo at Sravasti Abbey in 2008. This series of teachings covers such topics as:

  • An explanation of the four tenet systems
  • Karma, impermanence and cognition
  • Emptiness and impermanence
  • Persons, perceptions and mental factors
  • Conventional and ultimate truths
  • Cultivating bodhicitta
  • Buddhism, science and mind

Access here the audio and video recordings of this 32-part series:

Geshe Dadul Namgyal, Senior Resident Teacher at Drepung Loseling Monastery in Atlanta and part of the Emory University Emory-Tibet Partnership, taught on Madhyamaka Through Metaphors over three years (2015-2017).

Using metaphors from Buddhist scriptures, Geshe Dadul brings to life the teachings on how to understand the ultimate nature of reality according to the highest tenet system, Prasangika Madhyamika. This 27-part series covers such topics as:

  • Explaining the Madhyamaka view
  • Coming to the right understanding of emptiness
  • Identifying the object of negation
  • Meditations on identifying the self and space-like emptiness
  • Types of dependent origination
  • The determination to be free and cultivating bodhicitta

Access the audio and video recordings, as well as the PDF, of Geshe Dadul’s presentation below. Find the full playlist on the Sravasti Abbey youtube channel.

Geshe Dadul Namgyal taught a course on the key points of the four main Buddhist tenet systems. The four main Buddhist philosophical systems—Vaibhashika, Sautrantika, Chittamatra,and Madhyamaka, assert the Buddhist doctrine of selflessness, but each offers an increasingly subtle explanation of what that means. The series includes question and answer sessions led by Venerable Thubten Chodron and Venerable Sangye Khadro.

Access here Geshe Dadul’s series on the Sorting Out Tenets. This set of teachings covers such topics as:

  • History and origin of tenet school teachings
  • What is the person?
  • Each school’s view of the root of cyclic existence and emptiness
  • The view of spiritual disposition and Buddha nature

The full playlist is also available on the Sravasti Abbey youtube channel.

Dr. Guy Newland, a scholar of Tibetan Buddhism at Central Michigan University, has taught two series on tenets at Sravasti Abbey.

Access here Dr. Newland’s 9-part series on the Varieties of Madhyamaka. This set of teachings covers such topics as:

  • The variety of perspectives on Madhyamaka
  • How the teachings of the different Tibetan Buddhist lineages relate to Madhyamaka
  • Practical applications of studying philosophy
  • Approaching and coping with diversity

The full playlist is also available on the Sravasti Abbey youtube channel.

Access here Dr. Newland’s 14-part series on The Two Truths, that is conventional and ultimate truths. This set of teachings covers such topics as:

  • What are the two truths?
  • The two truths and karma
  • The two truths according to the four Buddhist tenet systems
  • Understanding the mind, emptiness and dependent arising
  • Debates on coming to the correct conclusion about the nature of reality

The full playlist is also available on the Sravasti Abbey youtube channel.