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Book cover of Practical Ethics and Profound Emptiness

Practical Ethics and Profound Emptiness

A Commentary on Nagarjuna’s “Precious Garland”

Let a great Tibetan scholar, Khensur Jampa Tegchok, guide you through one of Nagarjuna’s masterworks. Timely advice on everyday life, ethics, public policy, and the true nature of our existence. Edited by Venerable Thubten Chodron.

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About the book

In Practical Ethics and Profound Emptiness Khensur Jampa Tegchok walks us carefully through a classic of Indian Buddhist philosophy, explaining the implications of its philosophical arguments and grounding its advice in a recognizable day-to-day world. In Precious Garland, the source text for this commentary, Nagarjuna advises his patron king on how best to take advantage of human life to secure a happy rebirth in the next life while making progress toward the goal of enlightenment. Known primarily for his incisive presentation of emptiness, here Nagarjuna shows his wise understanding of how to navigate the intricacies of worldly life to balance everyday needs with spiritual practice. Loaded with equal measures of penetrating explanations of the highest reality and inspiring encouragement towards the bodhisattva practices, Practical Ethics and Profound Emptiness makes the case for living a thoughtful, morally upright life in the world to achieve immediate and ultimate spiritual goals.

The story behind the book

Venerable Thubten Chodron reads an excerpt



“Practical Ethics and Profound Emptiness” is a beautifully clear translation and systematic explanation of Nagarjuna’s most accessible and wide-ranging work. As the title suggests, it gives advice on everyday life, public policy, and meditation on the profound nature of our existence. Dharma students everywhere will benefit from careful attention to its pages.

— Guy Newland, author of “Introduction to Emptiness”

I am very glad to see this extremely clear translation of an important Madhyamaka work, accompanied by a lucid commentary solidly grounded in the Tibetan scholastic tradition. Serious students of Buddhist philosophy will be delighted by the opportunity it offers to gain a more profound, detailed, and multifaceted view of the conceptual core of the Madhyamaka tradition.

— Jan Westerhoff, University of Oxford

Though written to a king and composed over eighteen centuries ago, this poetic text by Nagarjuna, “The Precious Garland,” offers advice like no other for it guides us in leading a wise, compassionate and ethical life even in tumultuous times like our own. For its tenth chapter alone— “Practical Advice for Leaders”—this text is a must-read. A clear, readable, and urgent call to ethical action. This work offers amazing spot-on advice for our times, especially for our leaders and policy-makers.

— Jan Willis, author of “Dreaming Me: Black, Baptist and Buddhist”