“Name only”: The dangerous attitude of Nihilism being taught in the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT)

Just as a chariot is verbalized
In dependence on collections of parts.

So conventionally a sentient being
Is set up depending on the mental and physical aggregates.
— The Buddha

Buddhism itself is very radical but this involves an understanding that none of the things we normally perceive exist.
Kadam Lucy James

As a former NKT teacher and as a student of the founder of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) Kelsang Gyatso, I am quite convinced that within the NKT there is a profound misunderstanding of reality. A misunderstanding which can be pointed out as “Nihilism” – the rejection that conventional phenomena exist. This rejection is going along with the belief that it depends only on you what phenomena are and how they function – dependent on the name you give to phenomena. According to this thinking NKT teachers teach, “if you see Geshe la [Kelsang Gyatso] as a Buddha he will function for you as a Buddha” or “if you see Shugden [Dolgyal] as a Buddha he will function for you as a Buddha”. Likewise, NKT teachers teach, “if we understand emptiness we can impute things in a way that they are most beneficial to us.”

These explanations reflect a nihilistic attitude. This nihilistic attitude is wide spread within the NKT and permeates the minds and arguments of the majority of NKT followers, including NKT teachers.

A sidetrack reflection about pure and impure minds and labelling

Funnily, NKT leadership and their followers are inconsequential in applying their own teachings – and thus would have to be regarded according to their own logic as being “hypocritical”. Seeing “Geshe la” and Shugden as Buddhas or NKT as pure is a valid approach and true (if you see them as Buddhas you get the blessings of the Buddhas but if you see them as ordinary beings you get nothing – so they say). The NKT leadership encourages to project perfection and purity onto those things that form the basis of the NKT and onto the NKT leadership itself. But when it comes to the Dalai Lama or Tibetan Buddhism in general, labels such as “worst 21st Buddhist century dictator”, “hypocrite”, “evil and cruel”, or “quite degenerated” etc. are regarded as valid labels and are believed to reflect reality.

Now, according to NKT’s own arguments, why labelling the worst things onto the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism? Weren’t it better to see them in a more positive light, or in a more beneficial way, “if we understand emptiness we can impute things in a way that they are most beneficial to us.”? What’s so beneficial to see the most negative things in the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism? Why can’t NKT followers see the Dalai lama also as a Buddha and Tibetan Buddhism as pure? Does the NKT leadership has a need to create outer enemies as a power tool and as a part to form a nationalist NKT identity?

What does this labelling of negative attributes to outer NKT forces tell about the NKT leadership and their devoted followers? Gen-la Kelsang Kunsang, the Deputy Spiritual Director of the New Kadampa Tradition and the National Spiritual Director of Mexico, teaches about “The Purity of Mind” as follows:

Following Gen la Kunsang’s teachings, it follows, how impure must be the minds of the NKT leadership and many of the NKT followers who slander and harass the Dalai Lama or Samdhong Rinpoche as “cruel and evil or “corrupt and evil”? How does this reflect NKT followers’ minds according to the NKT teachings?

ShugdenProtests-SamdhongRinpocheCaricature

In the center NKT nun Gen Kelsang Norden.

Back to topic – The nihilistic attitude within NKT

The nihilistic attitude, which is so present in the NKT, is dangerous and is also used for what I call sometimes “brainwashing” or “indoctrination” within the NKT.

It forms an important part to bring reality in line with the NKT ideology of a pure NKT world that is threatened by a “very degenerated” outer world. This attitude serves as an important basis to bend reality until it fits the NKT party line. Such a way of seeing things won’t bring you closer to reality – as the Buddhist path should do – but it brings you far away from enlightenment and undermines your conviction in the law of cause and effect (Karma) and subsequently it undermines ethics and good ethical conduct – which makes a nihilistic attitude really dangerous. That’s why Buddhist commentaries – including those by Je Tsongkhapa – state that Eternalism is less dangerous than Nihilism because the latter is going to undermine your faith in the law of karma and then your behaviour will degenerate and the result, when the misdeeds ripen, will be suffering. Eternalism doesn’t have these detrimental effects and can coexist with faith in the law of Karma.

I think, the misunderstandings of conventional reality and the nihilistic view within NKT are based on a lack of substantial and open debate, a lack of substantial knowledge of the works of Gelug masters such as Je Tsongkhapa, Khedrup Je or Gyaltsab Je, and the narrow, sectarian and stupid attitude promoted by the NKT that if you read only the books of its founder, Kelsang Gyatso, this would be good enough to reach enlightenment – “its all in his books” as NKT teachers use to claim.

Here is one example for this Nihilism from the former, closely moderated, official NKT internet chat forum, a comment NKT lay teacher and NKT advocate Kadam Ryan gave:

There are three main things to think about when thinking about the ‘Dorje Shugden issue’. The first is that Buddhas do not exist from their own side, but depend upon the minds of the living beings who view them. If you view Dorje Shugden as a Buddha, then for you he will function as a Buddha. If you view him as big blob of orange Jell- O, then for you he will be a big blob of orange Jell-O.

When I remember correctly, this explanation was not only accepted but also praised by NKT forum members as “profound” or “wise” etc. For sure nobody challenged it or doubted that explanation in any way. Expressions and discussions of such views occur not only in NKT teachings by NKT teachers but they were expressed also on this blog and Wikipedia talk pages.

The view of the NKT leadership and what Tsongkhapa actual states about conventional reality

Now lets focus on what NKT leadership teaches. Kelsang Gyatso, NKT’s final and only authority, states:

I am not saying all phenomena do not exist. All phenomena do exist. The way they exist is as mere name. Anything other than mere name does not exist. But all the phenomena that we normally see or perceive do not exist even as mere name because they are all mistaken appearance. – The Oral Instructions of Mahamudra

Gen Kelsang Dekyong, the Spiritual Director of the NKT and the Resident Teacher at Manjushri KMC, the Mother Center of “Kadampa Buddhism“, explains emptiness this way:

If you carefully analyse what Kelsang Gyatso and Kelsang Dekyong say, you can detect that there is a lack of clarity that gives space to the interpretation or misunderstanding that things are name only – a type of Idealism. And from this it makes perfectly sense (if you don’t question it or dig deeper into the topic using authentic Buddhist scriptures), when NKT teachers teach “if we understand emptiness we can impute things in a way that they are most beneficial to us.” The reason for this heavy misunderstanding and wrong view I think is, that the NKT leadership does not properly and in-depth explain what “mere name” really means. As a result of this, there is too much space for interpretation, a space that invites to fill the gaps of knowledge with fantasy. I think, there is an ambiguity and a lack of clarity or scrutiny within NKT what conventional phenomena are – at least according to how Tsongkhapa explained it.

The insight chapter of Je Tsongkhapa’s Lam Rim Chen Mo (folio 313b Tibetan, p. 178 of English) states:

How does one determine whether something exists conventionally? We hold that something exists conventionally:

  1. if it is known to a conventional consciousness;
  2. if no other conventional valid cognition contradicts its being as it is thus known
  3. if reason that accurately analyses reality – that is, analyses whether something intrinsically exists – does not contradict it.

We hold that what fails to meet those criteria does not exist.

The meaning of “mere name” or “name only”

Now, what does “mere name” or “name only” actually mean within the context of the Gelug school which the NKT claims to be the “pure” heir of?

In Buddhism the term self has two meanings that must be differentiated in order to avoid confusion. One meaning of self is “person,” or “living being.” This is the being who loves and hates, who performs actions and accumulates good and bad karma, who experiences the fruits of those actions, who is reborn in cyclic existence, who cultivates spiritual paths, and so on.

The other meaning of self occurs in the term selflessness, where it refers to a falsely imagined, overconcretized status of existence called “inherent existence”. The ignorance that adheres to such an exaggeration is indeed the source of ruination, the mother of all wrong attitudes — perhaps we could even say devilish. In observing the “I” that depends upon mental and physical attributes, this mind exaggerates it into being inherently existent, despite the fact that the mental and physical elements being observed do not contain any such exaggerated being.

What is the actual Status of a sentient being? Just as a car exists in dependence upon its parts, such as wheels, axles, and so forth, so a sentient being is conventionally set up in dependence upon mind and body. There is no person to be found either separate from mind and body or within mind and body.

NAME ONLY

This is the reason why the “I” and all other phenomena are described in Buddhism as “name-only.” The meaning of this is not that the “I” and all other phenomena are just words, since the words for these phenomena do indeed refer to actual objects. Rather, these phenomena do not exist in and of themselves; the term name-only eliminates the possibility that they are established from the object’s own side. We need this reminder because the “I” and other phenomena do not appear to be merely set up by name and thought. Quite the contrary.

For instance, we say that the Dalai Lama is a monk, a human, and a Tibetan. Does it not seem that you are saying this not with respect to his body or his mind but about something separate? Without stopping to think about it, it seems that there is a Dalai Lama that is separate from his body, and independent even of his mind. Or consider yourself. If your name is Jane, for instance, we say, “Jane’s body, Jane’s mind,” so it seems to you that there is a Jane who owns her mind and body, and a mind and body that Jane owns.

How can you understand that this perspective is mistaken? Focus on the fact that there is nothing within the mind and body that can be “I.” Mind and body are empty of a tangible “I.” Rather, just as a car is set up in dependence upon its parts and is not even the sum of its parts, so the I depends upon mind and body. An “I” without depending on mind and body does not exist, whereas an “I” that is understood to be dependent upon mind and body exists in accordance with the conventions of the world. Understanding this type of “I” that is not at all to be found within mind and body, and is not even the sum of mind and body but exists only through the power of its name and our thoughts, is helpful as we strive to seeourselves as we really are.

– “Realizing That You Do Not Exist in and of Yourself”, pp. 126–29 – HH the 14th Dalai Lama

You can’t label things arbitrarily as you like – A clarification by Pabongkha Rinpoche

Ok, NKT followers won’t except what His Holiness teaches nor won’t they sincerely check what Je Tsongkhapa taught or challenge easily the view of their leadership. However, maybe they accept Pabongkha Rinpoche as a valid source of information within the context of their own school of thought. Pabongkha Rinpoche states in his commentary to Je Tsongkhapa’s Three Principles of the Path – published by Mahayana Sutra and Trantra Press and Khen Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Tharchin, whose root gurus were Pabongkha Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche:

If we look for the very root that keeps you and I going round in this circle of life, we come down to ignorance, to our grasping for a “self”. To cut this root, we must develop wisdom which perceives that no such “self” exists. If we were to discuss what no-self is in any detailled way, it would be best to apply a number of sections from the works on the Steps to the path [Tsongkhapa’s Lam Rim Chen Mo]; one example would be the “fourfold analysis.”Here though we will give only a brief presentation of the most vital points concerning correct view, and we will use the classical reasoning based on interdependence.

Now every existent object is a product of something to be given a name and something else to give it a name. There is not a single atom of anything in the universe which does not rely on this process—there is nothing which exists from its own side. I too then am a product: someone has taken two things together, my body and my I mind, and called it “me.” I am nothing more than that. There is no “me” which exists from its own side; there is no “me” which does not rely on someone taking my body and mind together and granting it the name. Neither in fact do my body or my mind themselves exist from their own sides.

We can express all this in the classical form of a logical statement:

Consider all objects, those of the cycle and those beyond it.
They have none of the true and solid existence that I hold them to have; they cannot exist on their own.
Because they are interdependent.

What we mean here by “interdependence” is that all objects are interrelated with others on which they depend; that is, they occur through dependence on other objects. This is why there is absolutely no way they can exist on their own.

We can take for example the way we appoint the chanting master of a monastery, or the governor of some district, or any similar figure. First there must be a reasonable basis to be called “chanting master”: there must be a person who is worthy of being the chanting master.

Then there must be someone like the abbot of the monastery who says, “He is now the chanting master.” Until the abbot does so, until the abbot applies the name and the concept to this person, he cannot be the chanting master—even though he may have all the qualities you need to be named “chanting master.”

If this were not the case, and if the person were somehow the chanting master from the beginning, all on his own without anyone putting the name or idea on him, then he would have to have been the chanting master all along—from the time he lay in his mother’s womb. And when he was bom, the moment he came out of her womb, people then should have said, “Here comes the chanting master!”

But people didn’t say it, because getting to be the chanting master depends on many other factors. We don’t call someone “chanting master” until there is a basis to give the name—a monk who is fit to be chanting master, and until a person qualified to give him the name hangs it on him, and says “This is the chanting master.” Neither until this time does the person himself think “I am the chanting master.” But once the concept has been applied to him, “You are the chanting master,” then people start to talk about him as “chanting master,” and he too begins to think “I am the chanting master.”

The case is the same with something like a horse. We take the body and the mind of the horse, and we put them together— we take all the proper causes and conditions together—and label them with the name “horse.” A building is the same too: nothing but a name put on a certain collection of parts that act as the basis to receive the name.

And the same goes for every existing entity: they arc nothing but a name and a concept, “This we call this, and that we call that,” applied to the collection of parts that acts as the basis of the particular entity’s name. There does not exist the single tiniest bit of anything thatis some kind of object on its own, divorced of the parts we give its name.

“Well then,” you might think to yourself, “if every object is nothing more that what we label it, then I can go out and call gold ‘brass,’ or call a pillar a ‘pitcher,’ and that’s just what they will be.” But it’s not; we do say that things are just labelled what they are, but for the label to be applied, the basis that gets it must be a reasonable one for the particular label.

When we apply a label, three conditions must be present. The three are as follows: (1) the object must be known to a conventional perception; (2) no other conventional perception can contradict its existence; and (3) no ultimate analysis can contradict its existence either. All three must be there.

Now here is what we mean when we say that one conventional perception has been contradicted by another. We can be standing looking at a scarecrow way off in the distance, and someone next to us says ‘That’s a man over there,” and we believe him. Then someone comes up who’s seen for himself that the thing is a scarecrow and tells us “It’s just a scarecrow.” Our initial perception of the thing as a man then vanishes. This is an indication that the basis was not a reasonable one for the given name.

That’s not all—we can go around giving out all sorts of names, we can say “Rabbits have horns,” but that’s not going to make the horns exist; there’s no reasonable basis to get the label. Therefore we must have a reasonable, conventional state of mind that is applying a name to a reasonable collection of parts which acts as the basis we want to give the name—and which actually exists.

Thus too when we go to name somebody governor of a district we have to have a person who is suitable to be given the name—we must have a reasonable basis for our label. We don’t take some deaf-mute bastard kid and appoint him governor.

A Final thought

What the NKT teachings often ignore is that for a correct process of labelling a name to a basis, the basis must have the respective qualities and must be able to perform the function the label is referring to. If I label rope to a vicious snake and use that “rope” as a belt to fix my trousers, the vicious snake won’t accept that usage, to serve as my belt, and highly likely this vicious snake, that is not a rope, is going to bite me – no matter how much or how deep I believe or convince myself that this vicious snake is a rope and suitable to be used as a belt.
Similarly, the rope won’t serve as a basis from which poison for medical purposes can be extracted. No matter how much you “squeeze” the rope and no matter how much you pray or how deeply you believe the rope to be a poisonous snake, no poison can be extracted from the rope.

Last edited by tenpel on October 31, 2015 at 11:50 pm

Comments

  1. waterhousereport says:

    “What the NKT teachings ignore is that to label a name to a basis, the basis must have the respective qualities and must be able to perform the function the label is referring to. If I label rope to a vicious snake and use that “rope” as a belt to fix my trousers, the vicious snake won’t accept that usage, to serve as my belt, and highly likely this vicious snake, that is not a rope, is going to bite me – no matter how much or how deep I believe or convince myself that this vicious snake is a belt. Similarly the belt won’t serve as a basis from which poison for medical purposes can be extracted, no matter how much you “squeeze” the belt and no matter how much you pray or how deeply you believe the belt to be a poisonous snake, no poison can be extracted from the rope.” You are only saying what Geshe Kelsang Gyatso says himself, and you should surely know this having previously been an NKT student yourself. The following passage is from New Heart of Wisdom pp. 51-52 “Although the snake and our body exist in a very similar way, there is an important difference. When we discover that the snake is really a toy snake and realize that the real snake was merely imputed by our mind, we conclude that a real snake does not exist at all in our room. However, when we realize that our body is merely imputed by our mind, according to the common view it would be a great mistake to conclude that our body does not exist at all. It is true that the inherently existent body that normally appears to our mind has no more existence than the real snake that appears to be in our room – both are completely non-existent – but a body that is empty of inherent existence and is merely imputed upon the collection of the parts of our body does exist. A merely imputed body exists because the parts of our body are, by convention, a suitable basis on which to impute a body because they can perform the functions of a body. A length of striped rubber, on the other hand, is not a suitable basis on which to impute a real snake because it cannot perform the functions of a snake. Therefore, in the analogy described above, we say that a real snake does not exist at all in our room. Both the snake and our body are merely imputed by our mind, but our body is imputed correctly whereas the snake is imputed incorrectly. To overcome the sufferings associated with our body, we need to understand that the body that we normally see, the inherently existent body, does not exist, but to perform our activities, we need to accept that the merely imputed body does exist.” Emptiness is a holy object of refuge – the ultimate Dharma Jewel – and we should not “play politics” with it as you appear to be doing in this article. The ISC protests are a completely different and separate matter from the view of emptiness as taught by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso – which I have every confidence is in exact accordance with that of Nagarjuna, Chandrikirti, and Je Tsongkhapa.

    • Thank you. Very useful this quote.

      On a first and quick glance what Kelsang Gyatso says in this quote seems to be perfectly fine and correct.

      However, the quote cannot correct my valid criticism that there is a widespread Nihilism existent in NKT. This Nihilism is especially applied when NKT want to sell Shugden as a Buddha or when selling Kelsang Gyatso as a Buddha. It is also applied when any criticism towards NKT or its leadership is addressed: the faults you see are the faults of your own mind. Nihilism and the topic of Pure View in the context of Tantra are mixed together and form a basis that serves as self-brainwashing or self-censorship: all qualities are those of Kelsang and NKT and all faults are mine.

      • Any appearance is in itself a display of buddhanature. To deny buddhanature or buddha as the basis for appearnce of any person or phenomena is in error.

        Beside this, to claim that nihilsm -which strictly negates any meaning and value in this world- as basis for selling Shugden as a Buddha, is self contradicting statement. Since that what strictly denies any meaningful existence cannot be used to establish existence (of Shugden or anyone as a Buddha). So again tenpel your cliam is utter nonsense.

      • waterhousereport says:

        The main point that I want to make in this context is simply that we shouldn’t mix up the separate issues of the emptiness teaching as presented by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso in his books such as the New Heart of Wisdom and any other criticisms anyone might have of the actions of the NKT and the ISC. They are just completely separate issues. Since what Geshe Kelsang Gyatso says is correct, as you yourself acknowledge, it is simply untrue to accuse him of holding a nihilistic view as you do. It seems to me that what you are really accusing the NKT of is of being cult-like and self-deluded with respect to its criticisms of the Dalai Lama. I basically think that if we unpack what you are saying there are three separate issues to deal with: 1) The view of emptiness as taught by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and whether it accords with the view of emptiness as taught by Je Tsongkhapa, 2) Whether the NKT exhibits cult-like characteristics, and 3) Whether or not the ISC’s criticisms of the Dalai Lama with respect to the issue of Dorje Shugden are valid. I don’t think that it helps to mix these issues up. Maybe it helps in terms of building a case against the NKT, ISC, and Geshe Kelsang Gyatso – which is what your statements look like to me (obviously I know that you may feel that you have just grounds for that) – but it certainly doesn’t help in terms of discussing these matters in a truthful and principled manner.

        • I think the key point in our discussion boils down to that while you think if you find a quote by Kelsang Gyatso that explains emptiness correctly then this is a valid indication that he taught emptiness always correctly, and the fault of Nhilism can come only from his students. However, this argument fails to consider that what he stated at one occasion or in one of his books correctly can be totally contradicted by another statement at another occasion by him. To give you an example which you can check and see for yourself, in How To Solve Our Human Problems, Kelsang Gyatso states:

          Our problems do not exist outside our mind.

          But in his reply to Newsweek he states:

          The Dalai Lama is the source of all these problems.

          Or in his book Modern Buddhism … he states:

          There is no creator other than the mind.

          But in his reply to Newsweek he states:

          All the present problems regarding Dorje Shugden … have no creator other than HH the Dalai Lama.

          This clearly demonstrates that Kelsang Gyatso has a type of “double speak”, which means he says here something but in another context he says something else; something that is not in line with what he said earlier but is mutually exclusive or contradictory to it. I mentioned in an earlier comment three other examples of this type of “double speak”.

          This “double speak” itself creates ambiguity where students can chose to grasp to different types of realities according to their needs and ideas. So at the end it is hard to pin point where the line of faults actually started.

          —-

          Then, of course, NKT and ISC are one thing but different labels and the ideology and the views of NKT express well via ISC. You could say the ISC is the shadow side of NKT as Jung explained it. He said when one strives to the light there is the danger to project the own shadows onto an outer entity. This is exactly what is happening here. NKT and ISC are NOT two totally separate issues. How can this be? ISC was the successor of the WSS and the WSS was founded by Kelsang Gyatso himself “against the Dalai Lama”. ISC as WSS and SSC etc have as their managers only people of the NKT leadership. How can you ignore these facts?

          • The Buddha was (seemingly!) incosistent in his teachings, the three turnings of the wheel are also “double speak”. Or was that triple speak?
            So the Buddha also said something here but in another context and in front of another public he said something else…

            • Good argument. I had this im mind when I wrote the comment. However, it doesn’t apply here, because KG uses double speak not to create insights in the students but for power politics and control. To give one of the examples I already gave: to give his students a good feeling of freedom and to make then work for the NKT centre he says in public “it are YOUR centres” but when it is really used by the people and the development in the centre is not as he wishes it he accuses the people to have “stolen MY centres”. So in, in fact, he think these are all HIS centres but using double speak he says in public it are YOUR centres. The Buddha didn’t have this type of double speak.

              • In case it is OUR centre, then YOUR centre and MY centre are both correct and true… in a sense it is a kind of unbounded whole conventionally, isn’t it Tenpel?

                • If I give you 100€ from my money and say its yours, then its yours, right? If I say some days later, you have stolen MY money, and if I still claim its my money, I am wrong, right?

                  You withdraw into the typical cult world that’s fuel is fuzziness. With this fuzziness and lack of discrimination/intelligence, you can see anything as anything, black is white, green is yellow, the world is carried by a turtle etc. Gradually, you will get more and more unable to discriminate right from wrong, thereby undermining your wisdom and ethics.

                  PS: Marc, I finish the discussion with you at this point. No need for circling and wasting each others’ time.

                  • What discussion? The ad hominem you use above is the word “cult”. You are probably not even aware of the fact that you continously do this. You do not counter the arguments by others, but you frame others with predicates as cult, narrow, stupid and nihilistic and by doing so make any discussion impossible.

                    • I have reasons for using the term cult. Cult is for sure pejorative but it also describes a certain setting and therefore it is not ad hominem per se. I use the term not to denounce a opponent but to make aware of a mental structure and background. If I use the term cult ad hominem I must says something like this “you are a cult follower and cannot think for yourself” but I didn’t do that, did I?

                    • Ah ja… you finish the discussion.. and must follow, since there is no “reply” button on your final comments. Nice open discussion we have here… It has a bit of an East German totalitairian flavour. ;)

                      “Cult is for sure pejorative”

                      Indeed. And using pejorative terms is unecessary and even unwanted in any discussion, since:
                      1. pejorative terms can also be formulated in a more neutral and more objective way
                      2. using pejorative terms for someone else or his position is ad hominem

                      And therefor a person that uses pejorative terms intentionally and as ad hominems. dismisses him/herself from any discussion. And a person that uses more objective terms enhances the discussion. It is as simple as that. Is thyat clear enough for you Tenzin “ad hominem” Peljor, Michael “cult” Jäckel? You are like Don Quichote fighting your selfcreated windmills.

                    • the reply button is generated by the template. if the discussion goes to ever deeper levels those who coded the template just don’t allow any reply button anymore. it has nothing to do with me. (that I can still reply even without such a reply button is because I reply from within the WordPress Admin board).

                      so far to your

                      bit of an East German totalitairian flavour

                      “Cult is for sure pejorative”
                      “a bit of an East German totalitairian flavour” is for sure pejorative

                      As I said you apply double standards. And what you issue against me falls back on your own behaviour as “no name” already pointed out.
                      So you accuse me of an ad hominem which is an ad hominem according to your own logic (as I pointed out recently) you accuse me of “East German totalitairian flavour” which according to you also an ad hominem, therefore “a person that uses pejorative terms intentionally and as ad hominems. dismisses him/herself from any discussion.” Therefore I cease now discussion with you.

                      Its getting boring to follow your circling arguments. You can answer to other commentators on the blog. I won’t approve further comments addressed to me. But feel free to find a discussion with others as long as they are willing to to so.

                      To put it in your own words “It is as simple as that. Is thyat clear enough for you “ad hominem” anonymous Marc? You are like Don Quichote fighting your selfcreated windmills.” Good bye.

        • “I don’t think that it helps to mix these issues up” indeed, if finding the truth is your intention. But if the intention is to damage someone else’s reputation it is THE thing to do!

          And while it is not explicitly one’s intention to damage someone else’s reputation, this can well implicitly be the case. Maybe even uncounciously…

    • I read it again the quote. What KG says is formally correct but it appears to be not as clear as what Pabongkha and HHDL say, and then combined with other teachings by Geshe la like the quote in the post from his Mahamudra book seem to undermine what he says in his commentary on the Heart Sutra … To bring this subtle dissonance into line – to make sense of it – one could easily end with a Nihilistic view. There must be reasons why there is a prevailing Nihilistic view within NKT.

      Maybe I have to investigate this further. It wouldn’t make me wonder that the reason for this lies in the teachings by KG himself.If I want to understand the cause for the Nihilism within NKT more clearly, I guess, I would have to read and go through all of his emptiness teachings – including the ones on NKT festivals.

      KG is used to say things that contradict each other and he has nobody who corrects him or points him out his own contradictions. For instance, he can say during a festival that you can go to other Buddhist teachers, but when you are actually doing it, he is angry with you and threatens you. Or he says he visits every of “his” centers twice a day but then he is not informed what is really going on in his centers … or he says that it are “your centers” but then he is angry because some one has “stolen my centers”.

      So, actual if you say I “play politics”, you miss to see that KG is the one who “plays politics” while I try to understand and to make sense of what’s going on there.

      • “There must be reasons why there is a prevailing Nihilistic view within NKT”

        Simple: it is all in the eye of the beholder.

        • dorjeshugdentruth says:

          It’s very simple – it’s a misunderstanding. Tenpel’s misunderstanding of my view and his conflating it with nihilism is the very reason why these internet discussion are a waste of time. Just follow your Guru and tradition, meditate correctly and realise the truth for yourself. As for what others think of your view, who cares?

          • It could be that I misunderstood you but I am rather sure I got the key point of your view.

            With respect to the Guru and the tradition just to follow them blindly is not Buddhism and wasn’t recommend by the Buddha. The Buddha said that people should have doubts were doubts are appropriate and that they shouldn’t believe in any thing just because teachers or tradition tells so. The decisive factor for judgement must be if it leads to the wholesome and if it overcomes the unwholesome. This is all in the Kalama Sutra but there are other words by the Buddha with similar meanings as well.

            I think its a good final point to end the discussion with the words from the Buddha:

            It is proper for you, Kalamas, to doubt, to be uncertain; uncertainty has arisen in you about what is doubtful. Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another’s seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, ‘The monk is our teacher.’ Kalamas, when you yourselves know: ‘These things are bad; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,’ abandon them.

            Also the Kakacupama Sutta: The Simile of the Saw is very useful as a reflection, instruction and exhortation for myself to cultivate patience:

            “In the same way, monks, there are these five aspects of speech by which others may address you: timely or untimely, true or false, affectionate or harsh, beneficial or unbeneficial, with a mind of good-will or with inner hate. Others may address you in a timely way or an untimely way. They may address you with what is true or what is false. They may address you in an affectionate way or a harsh way. They may address you in a beneficial way or an unbeneficial way. They may address you with a mind of good-will or with inner hate. In any event, you should train yourselves: ‘Our minds will be unaffected and we will say no evil words. We will remain sympathetic to that person’s welfare, with a mind of good will, and with no inner hate. We will keep pervading him with an awareness imbued with good will and, beginning with him, we will keep pervading the all-encompassing world with an awareness imbued with good will equal to a catskin bag — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.’ That’s how you should train yourselves.

            “Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding. Even then you should train yourselves: ‘Our minds will be unaffected and we will say no evil words. We will remain sympathetic, with a mind of good will, and with no inner hate. We will keep pervading these people with an awareness imbued with good will and, beginning with them, we will keep pervading the all-encompassing world with an awareness imbued with good will — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.’ That’s how you should train yourselves.

            “Monks, if you attend constantly to this admonition on the simile of the saw, do you see any aspects of speech, slight or gross, that you could not endure?”

            “No, lord.”

            “Then attend constantly to this admonition on the simile of the saw. That will be for your long-term welfare & happiness.”

  2. Nihilism is the negation of the existence of any meaning and value in this world. In this article it is claimed several times that the NKT holds nihilism as it’s view. This is however nowhere established, it is “merely” posited… and thus the use of this term can serve no other purpose as to be pejorative, in my eyes. The same holds for the pejorative phrasing: “the narrow, sectarian and stupid attitude promoted by the NKT”.

    A nihilist would deny seeing a guru as the buddha as meaningful or as a true path. Since NKT followers hold that seeing their geshe as a buddha as meaningful (for them), it shows they are not nihilsts.

    If you want to write about the “mere I” based on your sekt’s commentaries on buddhist scriptures, please do so. But why do this over some other sect back? Why use slander and harassment yourself in critisizing somene else supposed slander and harrassment? It is a circular and hypocrite form of reasoning which does not do any good for Tibetan buddhism in general, nor does it bring any good for any particular sect within Tibetan buddhism, nor yourself Tenpel.

    Please tenpel be critical to your own practice, before you condemn othres’ practice as being nihilistic, narrow minded or stupid. And ask yourself whether your “cricical journalism” supports harmony in this world or not…

    Nihilism is one of the four extremes. Madhyamika non affirmatively negates all four extremes. All Tibetan buddhist sects hold Madhyamika as their highest view (though they might have a great and perfect view too – mahamudra or dzogchen – this great or pefect view does not negate or contradict madhyamika). So to claim that any Tibetan buddhist sect is nihilstic is utter nonsense. And If any sect would… it would not be buddhist, but “merely” Tibetan… :)

  3. waterhousereport, this is not the only time that the unqualified NKT teachers give teachings that contradict what Kelsang Gyatso says. Such discrepancies have been pointed out over the years, yet the same errors are still repeated.

  4. jigmeyeshe says:

    The core value of the NKT that changed Dharma and the way students approach practice was when Kelsang Gyatso changed the ‘object of cherishing ‘for his students in 1992 with the start of the NKT. He said that students should ‘cherish their centre’ as their practice. That by cherishing the centre, you would cherish all living beings. Therefore students of the NKT can easily forget individuals as ‘cherishing centres’ is far more important.

    Added to these ambiguous teachings, you have the core problem. The vision is flawed.

    • ‘cherish their centre’ as their practice.

      This could explain why NKT is so inhuman and cold and treats their people not like human beings but like furniture.

    • “to change Dharma”… meditate on (the posibility of) that. And I am sure there will e a big smile on your face at the end of your meditation session.

      Tomorrow I’m going to change the fundamental laws of nature… and when finished with that I am going to annihilate space. Phat!

      :))

  5. “I am not saying all phenomena do not exist. All phenomena do exist. The way they exist is as mere name. Anything other than mere name does not exist.”
    according to KG
    If this is so, the basis of imputation does not exist. This is wrong
    For any phenomena to exist at the relative level, a labelling mind and a dependently arisen basis of imputation are the essential prerequisites. KG is saying that “the way they exist [ie in the relative world] is as name only. This omits the need for a base for the name. It is therefore a clumsy mixture of mind only and nihilism since KG is claiming that all that exists is mere name.He is forgetting the dependently arisen base-the fabric of all relative appearance. He is imprisoning people in a room full of mirrors

    • exactly.

      • The basis of imputation also merely conventionally exists. And ultimate reality also merely conventionally exists… This is what KG is saying. He is proclaiming mere nominal existence, which is correct and in accordance with Kadampa teachings. He is not explicitly denying nor explicitly ommiting a basis of imputation at all! Actually by claiming mere nominal existence, this implicitly holds for the basis of imputation too trivially.

        That the NKT is nihilistic has nowhere been established in this topic, so does not have to be refuted. Though it can easily be refuted: since nihilism can not serve as a basis for any existence at all – since it serves as the basis for utter non-existence – and since KG does proclaim mere nominal existence it follows he does not proclaim utter non-existence, so it follows he is not a nihilist.

        Simple…

    • Can you mix a view that claims utter non-existence of anything with any other existential view? Let’s say: mind only? Nope… that is utter nonsense. So why claim this then?

      And remember that the metaphysical claim mind only makes – that mind truely exists- is denied by madhyamika, but their view of ’emptiness of a differnet substance of subject and object’ is not refuted. Since there is no substantial difference between mind and the objects of mind. They are both gross and conceptual mind.

      It is all in the eye of the beholder… especially and most clearly it is merely in the mind of the beholder when utter nonsense is concerned. ;)

    • “It is therefore a clumsy mixture of mind only and nihilism”…

      Nonsense, since nihilism -a view that strictly negates all existence- cannot be mixed with something else. You cannot mix nothing with something. So seeing NKT as a mix between mind only and nihilism is therefor nonthing less than slander and harrassment of the NKT.

  6. dorjeshugdentruth says:

    Dude, you are clueless and don’t really understand emptiness or conventional truth. You don’t understand Je Tsongkhapa’s teachings. If you have a problem with Geshe Kelsang’s explanation of emptiness you will also have a problem with Lama Zopa’s explanation because it’s exactly the same!

    http://multimedia.lamayeshe.com/the-merely-imputed-i

    You must have better things to do with your time than create more negative karma that will obscure your understanding of emptiness even further. Seriously, please stop! Geshe Kelsang is your Guru no matter what you think because you made that relationship and your anger and fault finding towards him is just creating problems for you. You’re spitting at the sky.

    • You miss the point. There is a profound difference between what Lama Zopa Rinpoche says:

      It is merely imputed by the mind and it is nothing more than a collection of all these parts of the body.

      and what Kelsang Gyatso says:

      I am not saying all phenomena do not exist. All phenomena do exist. The way they exist is as mere name. Anything other than mere name does not exist. But all the phenomena that we normally see or perceive do not exist even as mere name because they are all mistaken appearance.

      If you cannot see the difference its not my fault.

      Noname commented correctly (based on a proper understanding of emptiness) with respect to KG:

      “I am not saying all phenomena do not exist. All phenomena do exist. The way they exist is as mere name. Anything other than mere name does not exist.”
      according to KG
      If this is so, the basis of imputation does not exist. This is wrong
      For any phenomena to exist at the relative level, a labelling mind and a dependently arisen basis of imputation are the essential prerequisites. KG is saying that “the way they exist [ie in the relative world] is as name only. This omits the need for a base for the name. It is therefore a clumsy mixture of mind only and nihilism since KG is claiming that all that exists is mere name.He is forgetting the dependently arisen base-the fabric of all relative appearance. He is imprisoning people in a room full of mirrors

      • dorjeshugdentruth says:

        Yup, you’re grasping at the basis of imputation as inherently existent. Welcome to Madhyamika Svantantrika land!

        Mere name does not negate the basis of imputation for any phenomenon, but just as the object itself is merely imputed on its basis of imputation (mere name), the basis of imputation is also merely imputed one or more of its parts (mere name), these parts are imputed on other parts (mere name), and so on. There’s nothing that can be found from this analysis apart from emptiness (’emptiness is form’ as it says in the Heart Sutra). If you found something, such as a basis of imputation, you’re grasping at something inherently existent.

        Tsongkhapa’s critics accuse him of nihilism because they don’t understand his view. Neither do you or Noname.

        • Yup, you’re grasping at the basis of imputation as inherently existent. Welcome to Madhyamika Svantantrika land!

          No, I don’t do that.

          If you use a consciousness that analyses the ultimate you won’t find the object of that analysis, inherent existence, because inherent existence does not exist. However, a consciousness analysing the conventional will find an object, for instance a table. You mix both types of analysis.

          What did you read of Tsongkhapa’s commentaries? What is his view on the conventional? What does he say about the difference of a wisdom consciousness analysing the ultimate and wisdom consciousness analysing the conventional?

          • When you analyse a person’s position and conclude that he is a nihilist, you are applying an ultimate analysis on that person’s conventional statement: “If you view Dorje Shugden as a Buddha, then for you he will function as a Buddha.”

            So, seeing your ultimate conclusion in the title of this topic, who is mixing both types of analysis in this topic Tenpel? You are… Ouroboros.

            • This is not correct. Though the term Nihilism is used in different contexts in different ways, when I use it here in this context, Nihilism is to negate a phenomenon that exists. This understanding of Nihilism occurs frequently also in the scriptures. So when I analyse a person’s position and come up with the conclusion that the person has a nihilistic pov, I am stating that the person denies a phenomenon (or phenomena) that exist(s).

              • Stricitly speaking nihilism does not negate the existence of anything directly. What nihilism tries to do is to show the unabilty to proof the existence of any phenomenon. So it negates the proof for the existence of phenomena, not their existence itself.

                This seems to be very close to what is written in madhyamika scriptures. But according to Madhyamika, nihilism is considered one of the four extremes since it grasps for the true existence of the “non-existence of a proof of existence of persons and phenomena”. Madhyamika non affirmatively negates all (four) extremes, and is thus clearly not the same nor even close to nihilism. Since the non-affirmation of the extremes implies non-grasping for these extremes. And that is the whole point: the non-grasping at any form of (true) reality.

                Tenpel, you fail to see that you grasp at the true existence of “The NKT is nihilistic”, and that “SR abuses women” and that “Marc is using ad hominem arguments”. You do not realize that you are not different from a dog biting it’s own tail, sinced ultimately you are grasping at “the true Dharma”…
                And grasping at the true Dharma implies that you actually belief in the inherent existence of the basis of imputation of “the true Dharma”: Je Tsongkhapa’s words. As dorjeshugdentruth said….

                It is so simple: when a person perceives another person or a phenomenon, it is a circular and reflexive awareness: it is emptiness looking at emptiness, illusion perceiving illusion. Not realizing this illusion (looking at illusion) as illusion is even worse, and far more subtle than conventional delusion.

                • Marc, I studied these subjects. Nihilism in general refers to the denial of things that do exist, e.g. a table, and eternalism in general refers to things that do not exist, postulating them as existent, e.g. the permanence of a table. I can go back to my study material and give you exact quotes but I think this brief summary should be sufficient.

                  The problem you seem to have is that you can’t accept that women have been harmed by SR, a fact even Rigpa instructors and Rigpa officials acknowledge, and because you can’t accept this conventional reality you come with views on the ultimate to deny the existence of this harm. This is exactly how the NKT operate, they abuse the ultimate view to deny conventional existent phenomena that do not fit their view of the world. This is nothing more than a type of self-manipulation or “brainwashing”. It is not in line with Buddha’s teachings either.

        • dorjeshugdentruth,

          Tsongkhapa said sunyata was a negation of inherent existence.

          This is nihilism.

        • “you’re grasping at the basis of imputation as inherently existent”

          … Exactly. Or as truely existent (by way of its own truely existent characteristics).

    • dorjeshugdentruth:
      Kelsang Gyatso is the student of the Great 14th Dalai Lama–whether he likes it or not–and we now know definitively that the former has broken his samaya with the latter…so don’t lecture us about karma, which incidentally is not your own personal ego-enhancing servant, quite the reverse.
      Since it has no attributes, there is no way to grasp at shunyata.
      Particularly badly behaved malpractitioners will never get it because it evades the network of concepts.

    • Exactly.

      • Ha ha, Rigpa and NKT united in their effort to negate conventional reality ;-)

        • Bönpo here… with Gelug training and Nyingma and Kagyu background…
          Another one of your errors Tenpel, based on your prejudice and inclination to frame everything and put all into convenient conventional categories. And another ad hominem attacks, clearly intended to drive a wedge among Buddhist practitioners.

          Tenpel you fail to realize the openess and clarity of mental pheneomena, both conventional as well as ultimate. The unbounded wholeness of reality, and the pure and spontanious perfection of all naming and designation. You fail to distinguish Dharma and Dharmata.

          Tenpel you are what is called “Dharma stubborn”, because you marginalize your oponents by using ad hominem arguments, and draw conclusions that are not based on facts nor on sound reasoning.
          It is obvious that you do not even realize what nihilism actually is. And not hindered by this knowledge it shows that it is easy for you to draw baseless conclusions.
          Your are struggeling with diffi-cult issues that seem to be based on your personal frustrations with teh NKT. And you offer a platform for others to ventilate their obsessions with other traditions and make baseless claims. By fighting extremism you are balancing on the edge of becoming extreme yourself.

          Look at your mind and your motivations Tenpel. You are the only one that can do that. Don’t try to see others’ minds when not on the path of seeing.

          • Could you please provide any evidence or example for your claims and could you please stop to speak about “unbounded wholeness of reality” bla bla?

            A rose is a rose, a failure is a failure, a bad deed is a bad deed, a good deed a good deed. However, all of these phenomena do not inherently exist but relatively.

            That SR has harmed women was even acknowleded by a high Rigpa person with whom I spoke. I don’t have personal frustrations with NKT. I am fine with my past and stand with it.

            Obviously you are on the path of seeing because you can see that I am not on the path of seeing but SR is. What you do is ad hominem attacks against my person. However, I have no problem with it. But since this discussion with you becomes fruitless I think we can stop it now.

            • I do not base my claim that you are not on the path of seeing on your behaviour on this blog, not on my supposed insight because I am supposedly myself on the path of seeing. So you are in error claiming that I am “obviously on the path of seeing”.
              Moreover from your perspective your reasoning is circular and selfrefuting, since for your claim that I am “obviously on the path of seeing” it should hold for you too -from your perspective- that you must be on the path of seeing. Wich you are clearly not based on seeing your BEHAVIOUR (not on my clairvoyance as you erronuously claim) on this blog, like using pejorative terms, framing things and boxing persons in order to “handle” them easier. The way you approach an opponent clearly shows a lack of respect and a lack of compassion towards thyat person, which shows you are not on the path of seeing. Maybe not even on a (spiritual) path at all! Maybe your intentions are merely based on personal frustrations that caused obbsessive behaviour towards any “sect”. By fighting sectarianism you have become sectarian yourself Tenpel…

              And you are mixing topics Tenpel, why? And you even start “borrowing” your opponent’s arguments. But as you know I have not used any pejorative terms, like you continously do ( calling NKT “narrow, sectarian and stupid”), and I do not change the subject in order to be able to include more false and selfrefuting claims that are not on the subject matter. You are drifting Tenpel…

              Tenpel, your reasoning is “old school” since reductionist. You fail to see your opponents position of wholism: any functional description of reality is as good as any other BECAUSE it is FUNCTIONAL! And it is not functional by itself ofkoz, since it is only functional relative to a person or a group. That is what conventional reality is. No more, no less.
              So reality is a functional and GENERAL whole, that is unbounded by any PARTICULAR “highest view”, nor is it bounded by any inherent quality of any PARTICULAR person or phenomena.

              Oh ja. I almost forgot: your “bla bla” is a respectless ad hominem… ;)

              • Bristollad says:

                Marc,
                I don’t want to add any fuel to the fire of disagreement but does this statement accurately your point-of-view:
                “any functional description of reality is as good as any other BECAUSE it is FUNCTIONAL! it is not functional by itself ofkoz [sic], since it is only functional relative to a person or a group. That is what conventional reality is. No more, no less.”

                • @Bristol lad
                  I have already replied to this mail but it was infinately delayed. My response then was: “YAZZ… my master”. (Pun intended).

                  But to further explain myself Bristol lad, and I refer for this also to Maik108’s post below, I first bring back to mind again the context of the word function: “if you see Geshe la [Kelsang Gyatso] as a Buddha he will function for you as a Buddha,

                  Conventional designation is based on functionality (for someone). If something has a function for humanity it get’s a name in order to discriminate it from the rest of the world. This functionality is thus subjective and is based on cultural values. For instance Eskimos have several words for what we merely call “snow”. Snow for building iglos, fresh snow, snow that glides well, snow that does not glide well, snow after one night’s frost, snow for making drinkwater, and of course the “yellow snow” we all also know. (See Frank Zappa)

                  As buddhists we do not believe in “the myth of a given reality” or an “a reality independent of a cognizer”. There is no intrinsic reality with objects that have inherent charateristics that humans can validly know by empirical means. Meaningful characteristation of the world “out there” arises in dependence of humas cognizing and naming objects in this world based on functionality for humanity. And the terms used are based in culture. Not in a “given” and “outer” world, but on “inner” and “subjective” values.
                  We see the world not directly but in-directly by means of our concepts. If a human would not have concepts – based in a culture- then no forms would arise in his conceptual gross mind. No forms would be discriminated by his mind. This picture shows we see the world in-directly and by means of concepts.
                  .
                  If (characteristics of) objects would be “given”, we as humans would be forced to see an old woman AND a young woman at the same time. But instead we can only see one at a time since we “see” the world in-directly by means of (two mutually exclusive) concepts.
                  Now back to the context: “if you see Geshe-la as a Buddha he will function for you as a Buddha”. This functionality is thus based on a culture or tradition, and should be “judged” from the perspective of that tradition AND thus in terms of that tradition, in order to see if it is valid or not.

                  Beside the fact that a statement should be judged in terms of it’s own tradition in which it has been stated, judging the validity of other’s statements is also based on ones ‘theory of error’. The theory of error in this thread is very superficial and can be characterized as non-buddhist Naiyayika. Because implicit to the claim that nihilism is being taught in the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) when geshe Kelsang Gyatso teaches his students that “if you see Geshe-la as a Buddha he will function for you as a Buddha,”, is that all terms have a true and real referent “in an objective world out there”. So from this assumption of true referents in an objective world out there, it follows that “Geshe-la” has as true referent Geshe-la, “Buddha” has as true refferent Buddha, “Rabbit” has as true referent rabbit, and “horn” has as true referent horn. Each term has a true and real referent, and one is in error when one combines them erroneously. Such as “A rabbit with horns” or “if you see Geshe-la as a Buddha he will function for you as a Buddha,

                  Of course what Naiyayika claim here is (merely) conventionally true. But the point is that pointing at these type of errors by oneself or others, does not stop suffering! It has no soteriological meaning! So why does a monk, and many with him, focus on these superficial “errors” (of others!) so much on this blog? What is the meaning of this excercise that is becoming fanatical???

                  Buddhist theory of error is completely different from Naiyayika in the sense that they claim that terms do NOT have a true and real referent since the subject that is designating objects with terms is non-existent ultimately. So how can there ultimately be a valid cognition without an independent cognizing subject? What beings in samsara do not realize is that terms (thus also language and cognition) are empty of a subject. And this HAS a deep soteriological meaning, since Buddhism points at the fact that suffering in samsara does not so much arise from being mistaken in (the basis of imputationtion of) the object, but from being mistaken in the subject! By not realizing the emptiness of the person/subject cognizing these phenomena supposedly “in an objective world out there”. And by not realizing the emptiness of being of a different subtstance of subject and object, we are hooked to samsara. Suffering stops by realizing the emptiness of persons and phenomena, and by realizing subject and object are NOT of a substantially different nature. They are both mere mind (and mind is emptiness, emptiness is clear light, clear light is union, and union is great bliss).

                  • jigmeyeshe says:

                    I shall enter with a simplistic comment.

                    Marc says that as NKT folks ‘see Geshe-la as a Buddha’ and therefore he ‘will function for you [them] as a Buddha.”
                    No amount of ‘seeing’ will make ‘Geshe-la’ function as a Buddha if he does not fulfill a Buddha’s functions. In the NKT this may be just as an imaginary person to talk to during their Heart Jewel practice but in Buddhist terms this should be to take them on the path to enlightenment.

                    As far as I can see he is only taking them on a path to protest.

                    • I agree.

                      I have only one extension to what you wrote: he does not only take them on a path to protests, he takes them on a path to delusions – a samsaric path that leads more and more away from enlightenment.

                      ——
                      I won’t approve further comments by Marc, just to be clear about this.

              • In reply to all your posts Marc, without wanting to say to much, can I remind you of the old saying
                He who speaks does not know, he who knows does not speak.?
                The arrogance, pride and contempt your posts exhibit are very clear examples of the meaning of this statement.
                My advice, which you no doubt don’t want to hear, is spend more time on your cushion and less reading books/online. You will feel a lot better about yourself and the obvious need to belittle others in order to feel superior and good about yourself will dissipate

                • No name, I think this doesn’t help either.

                  @Anybody reading the thread. Is there anybody who wishes to continue the discussion with Marc or is there anybody who finds it worth to continue the discussion with Marc? I deleted 8 of his recent comments because I think the discussion is circling and I could not see much evidence or support for many of his claims. It appeared to me, what ever he writes aims essentially at establishing the idea that SR cannot be judged and every fault is in the beholder’s eye. For doing this he distorts the teachings (mixing conventional truth with teachings on the ultimate truth) until they seem to be in support to this idea.
                  Most of us know these type of arguments from NKT people (or applying these types of arguments ourselves when we were followers of the NKT). This technique serves just as a means to oppress and to deny valid criticism and to whitewash the guru. Its part of the “indoctrination” or “brainwashing” within the NKT and at times you can find it also among SR followers.

                  But maybe I err in how I perceive the situation and Marc respectively?

                  Marc wrote 5 new comments. In the past people asked me to stop to approve comments from people who circle in their arguments because everybody is kept busy and there is no insight coming from it. However, I might be wrong in how I perceive this information and I don’t have the time to invest effort to get a better and fairer perception of the situation and of Marc’s aims.

                  Let me know, what you think. Should I approve the new five comments by Marc or not? Should we stop to discuss with Marc or should we continue?

            • *** 8 comments by Marc, incl. this one, deleted by blog owner ***
              Marc, its enough now. You made your points.
              —relax—

            • “Could you please provide any evidence or example for your claims and could you please stop to speak about “unbounded wholeness of reality” bla bla? ”

              How can one ever provide proof of ones subjective inner experience of “wholeness of reality” to someone else? Do you see the nonsensical aspect of your question Tenpel? It is like asking someone else how chocolate tastes, and then disagree with that persons description of the taste of chocolate and calling it “bla bla”, without ever having tasted chocolate yourself.

              • It follows you have realised something like “unbounded wholeness of reality” because you know the taste of the chocolate while I do not. This bla bla about “unbounded wholeness of reality” distracts from sober arguments. You claimed I would run ad hominem attacks for instance but where is there a clear example that proves this claim? I couldn’t see any. To call a sectarian attitude sectarian is no ad hominem attack per se. So, what you do in many of your comments is that you claim baseless things and then twist in statements that sound spiritually great like “unbounded wholeness of reality” but mean nothing and don’t help to clarify anything or to understand things better.

                • From a Nyingma and Bönpo dzogchen point of view the taste of chocolate is as the taste of all appearances: “one taste”. The one-taste of the unseparability of clarity and emptiness of all phenomenal appearances.

                  And the Bönpo’s “unbounded whole” should be viewed from a Cittamatra point of view (without the metaphysical implications of the alaya of Cittamatra) AND from a Madhyamaka point of view (with the metaphysical implications of Madhyamaka). The mere nominally existing “whole” is unbounded and pure since there is no substantial difference between subjective mind and the objects of this subjective mind. Especially not when the mind itself is the object of mind. Then -strictly speaking- a non-subject is aware of a non-subject as non-object. And thus merely aware of it’s own cognitive capacity and energy. Like a butterlamp that by means of enlightening objects also enlightens itself. Self arising pure awareness: rigpa, a.k.a. “bla,bla” (without the metaphysical implications of ‘bla.bla’ made by Tenpel).

                  :))

                  • bla bla
                    “From a Nyingma and Bönpo dzogchen point of view the taste of chocolate is as the taste of all appearances: “one taste”. ”
                    one taste is not a Nyingma concept. It is one of the four yogas of Kagyu mahamudra
                    AFAIAA BUT iM NOT AN EXPERT LIKE MARC

    • Dorjeshugdentruth,

      Can you explain how the Dalai Lama controls the government of India?

      • To enforce a formal ban HHDL would need control over Indian government. For an informal ban within the Tibetan community, he does not need to control Indian governement.

        That there is an informal ban can hardly be refuted. What can easily be refuted is that the intention behind HHDL’s informal ban on Dolgyal is a form of religious oppression. The Dolgyal practice aims at keeping the Gelugpa teachings pure an not mixed with other schools of Tibetan Buddhism. And since the Gelugpas have dominated political and religious life the past centuries, and the Rimé movement arose in the 18th century that aims at supporting practitioners to also get acquinted with teachings from other lineages, the “ban” on Dolgyal by HHDL actually is the opposite of religious oppression: HHDL’s aim is for Tibetans to be more open to non-gelug teachings, for those who have a karmic connection to these lineages.
        HHDL has on the other hand no problem with keeping one’s own lineage pure, but that should not imply sectarian polarisation between the different Tibetan sects, as it has been the last centuries with Gelug domination. I haven’t done an in depth historical study on this, but that is my take on the “Dolgyal issue”.

        From a spiritual point of view I personally think this Dolgyal issue is mere skillful means of the Buddhas to distinguish the spiritual materialists from the yogis. The same holds, in my personal view, for the Karmapa issue. Though it is used by many practitioners to further polarize differences between lineages, it is actually intended to decrease this polarisation between lineages. Actually it is quite common in Tibetan culture to have several incarnations (body, speech and mind incarnations) of one master, or that one master is the incarnation of several masters.
        If I realize the same wisdom as Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, I am an incarnation of Geshe Kelsnag Gyatso, even while he is still alive! Geshe-la does not have to die in order to reincarnate in me, nor do I have to wait for geshe-la’s death form me to reincarnate as him. Since we both mere nominally exist there is no “real problem” with this…

        By anyway, all these issues and controversies only distract from the real practice, and have no soteriological function, so no purpose for a Buddhist practitioner.

        Just my 2 cents… for what it is worth.

        • Ditto Bon ‘ one taste’ ( in speech marks as you put it, demonstrating you refer to specific terminology), is not a feature of the Bon path. Certainly, a few contemporary authors have used the term to explain the meditative experience in the Nyingma and Bon . However, your phrasing implies it is a part of their doctrinal paths, which it is not. It is one of the Kagyu traditions Mahamudra Four Yogas.
          So, what does this tell us about your ‘ expertise’? Jack of all trades, master of none? Teacher less auto didact who has chosen their own path, without proper supervision?Certainly your repeated rants about who holds the highest philosophical perspective and claims that you do not engage in ad hominem attacks would seem to point to this. Troll. Obsessive, lmbalanced. Self taught, over intellectual, inexperienced in sitting meditation. All these things are evident from your hate campaign masquerading as virtue
          seek help- there is still hope for you. But time is running and your current trajectory is downward facing

  7. Tsongkhapa’s Madhyamaka is not real Madhyamaka according to Gorampa and 8th Karmapa.

    • Of course, there are different opinions here.

    • Quite right Sam. However, the view I expressed refuting the mistaken view of KG is in agreement with the Madhyamika perspective of both the masters you name-Gorampa and the 8TH Karmapa simply elaborated the subsequent levels of understanding but all would accept that the mechanism which produces the ‘fabric’ of relative reaility is dependent arising. G and K then elaborate further, ironically to a point beyond elaboration
      Esch view leads to realisation. KGs teaching leads to the formless realms at best

      • Making baseless judgements makes future baseless judgements easier… conventionally…

        • Marc
          Your arrogance and immaturity and gabbing on about your so called understanding of reality demonstrate a huge ego and little dharma experience. Your claims about your allegiances are clearly disingenuous and you are very clearly an NKT troll intent on causing division here. Why not just go back to your local centre and spend hours gabbing about who’s right and wrong and whatever prasangika shprasangika clap trap you want with your fellow immature pedants instead of wasting people’s valuable time- and yes, that’s an ad hominem attack.

          • I have never visted any NKT center. Nor am I a member of rigpa. I consider myself a Bönpo with several years of Gelug training and with a Nyingma and Kagyu background. I first encountered Buddhism in 1986. But you are right in one thing: I still consider myself immature, but I do not see any further resemblance in me with your prejudices about me.
            Sorry for my lack of ad hominem arguments, since that seems the main content in topics on this blog and in responses of this blog. And sorry for not fitting in in this “critical community” that is mainly critical to others and not to themselves.

            One of the greatest pitfalls in Buddhism is becoming attached to Buddhism and grasp for the true existence of the “true Dharma” and the “highest view”.

  8. Tsongkhapa has been accused of being both nihilist and crypto-realist.

    Nihilist because his ultimate truth is the negation of inherent existence.

    Crypto-realist because he throws out Anutpada, which is the main point of Nagarjuna, Candrakriti etc.

    • Yes, there are people who don’t agree with him.

      Just found this today:

      A research team comprising Jay Garfield, Mike Pelczar, Douglas Duckworth, John Power, Sonam Thakchöe was awarded $766,000 by the Singapore Ministry of Education to study the Geluk-Sakya debates in the 15th-18th centuries in Tibet initiated by Dakstang Lotsawa’s “Eighteen Great Contradictions in the Thought of Tsongkhapa.” Thomas Doctor will join the team as a postdoctoral fellow.

      More: http://jaygarfield.org

  9. ” … labels such as “worst 21st Buddhist century dictator”, “hypocrite”, “evil and cruel”, or “quite degenerated” etc. are regarded as valid labels and are believed to reflect reality. ”

    … labels such as “nihilistic”,”cult”, “narrow”, “sectarian” and “stupid” etc. are regarded as valid labels and are believed to reflect reality on this blog.

    • We speak here about correct or incorrect perception of conventional truths. The horns of a rabbit do not exist (established via a valid inferential cognizer through the power of fact).

      Similarly, the Dalai Lama as “the worst 21st Century Buddhist dictator” does not exists because he has neither imprisoned, tortured or killed anyone. One of his first deeds after he came to power was the release of prisoners and one of his first deeds coming into exile was to push Tibetan society towards democracy, even ceasing forever the Gaden Phordang in 2011. (Established via a valid inferential cognizer through the power of fact).

      However, the setup and mental attitude of NKT is clearly sectarian, even the works of Kelsang Gyatso are called by an academic sectarian, then to point to this fact and to name it is not like referring to the horns of the rabbit but to a rabbit which exists. Similarly, if someone insists on a point that was proven to be wrong contrary to the facts, such an attitude can be called stupid and narrow because these labels are referring to something (a behaviour) that exists and functions in the way the labels express it.

      As a sutra says:

      Those who are childish and know themselves to be childish are wise in this regard. Those who are childish but consider themselves to be wise – they are called childish.

      or Buddha said too:

      (1) Wise ones, do not befriend
      The faithless, who are mean
      And slanderous and cause schism.
      Don’t take bad people as your companions.

      (2) Wise ones, be intimate
      With the faithful who speak gently,
      Are ethical and do much listening.
      Take the best as companions.

      (3) Do not devote yourself
      To bad companions and wicked beings.
      Devote yourself to holy people,
      And to spiritual friends.

      (4) By devotion to people like that
      You will do goodness, not wrong.

      This all clearly advises to make distinctions or to discriminate with intelligence between whats right, whats wrong or what is wise and what is foolish (or stupid).

  10. There are two things going on here, and two potential errors to make:
    1. Applying ultimate analysis on (mere) conventional truths.
    2. Mixing up psychological and epistemologcal existence with ontological existence.

    ad 1. No conventional truth withstands ultimate analysis (analysing the way that a conventional truth exists: (self-)existence, non-existence, both or neither). Since concluding someone is a “nihilist” (or an existentialist, or both or neither) is a form of analysing the way things exist, it is a form of ultimate analysis applied to a conventional truth: “if you see XYZ as a buddha, you will be blesssed by the buddha”.
    Holding on to the true existence or substantial existence of a (mere) conventional truth boils down to holding onto/grasping for 1 of the 4 forms of existence (i.e: (self-)existence, non-existence, both, neither), and thus ultimate analysis of ANY CONVENTIONAL truth held by ANYONE will ALWAYS show that person grasping for one of these four extremes.
    All four extremes are NON-AFFIRMATIVELY negated by Madhyamikas. An affimative nagation puts something in place of the negated (an ostrich as affirmative negation of the claim that ‘all birds can fly’). A non-affirmative negation does not place anything in place of the negated. Therfore the conclusion of an ultimate analysis cannot be of the form “It is this” or ” it is that” SINCE nothing is placed in place of the negated four extremes, so there is no fifth “this” or “that”. This is Madhyamika: the “middle way”.
    In other words: applying ultimate analysis on any conventional truth held any person is bound to come to the conclusion that that person is grasping for true existence of one of the four extremes. So why do this predeterminded exercise (over and over on this blog)? And why do this with the use of harsh speech like “narrow” and “stupid” that can only cause schism and sow discord among the Buddhist Sangha? And why does a monk -with the mere name Tenpel- do this???

    ad. 2 A fata-morgana can psychologically exist, but that has no ontological implications for the true or substantial existence of that fata-morgana in “the world out there”, since it clearly is an optical illusion created by a subject.
    A valid cognizer of a generality, a whole – for example “the buddhist sangha XYZ”- can epistemologically exist, but that does not imply that the referrent of that general term truely and substantially exists (independent of its parts) in “the world out there”. It is merely created by the subject cognizing a phenomenon by means of a valid cognizer. Madhymika Buddhist epistemology holds that “if a tree falls in a forest without a sentient being around, there is no sound”. So a valid cognizer of sound is created primarily by the subject (the falling tree/ airwaves are supporting secundairy conditions). Or to phase it differently: “the emptiness of subject and object being of different nature”.
    Since I (can) know that what I cognize primarily arises in dependence of my own mind, why blame others for what I primarily create myself (by means of a valid cognitizer of a mere conventional truth)? It is like blaming ones own anger on the object of our anger. It is lie a dog biting it’s own tail. Well, if anything is “narrow” and “stupid”, I think this is. Isn’t it Tenpel?

    • A valid cognizer arises dependently and “gets hold at its object” and “is incontrovertible”, therefore a valid cognizer of a human being sees water where there is water and does not see pus at the same spot while a hungry ghost has a valid congnizer seeing pus there. The cognizer is valid in each of those beings’ perspective.

      If the human being denies that there is water where there is water, he is negating an existing phenomenon and this is called Nihilism – denying something that exists.

      Now when it comes to the human world, a snow mountain appears to be blue but is not. A valid cognizer can realise this. Similarly, a valid cognizer can realise if someone or I myself broke monastic vows or not. If this were not possible the whole Vinaya and monastic rites which mainly deal about FAULTS and how to address and to overcome them would be senseless, then it follows according to your logic the Buddha taught senseless things and even his scolding of Devadatta proved that he was not enlightened because he saw faults in Devadatta’s behaviour and didn’t realise that “what he cognized primarily [in Devadatta] arises in dependence of his own mind” and he “blame[ed] others for what [he] primarily create [him]self”.

      • Tenpel, you mix up epistemological existence and ontological existence.

        The water/pus example you give could make this clear. But appearantly you do not see this deeper level, but only see the superficial level.
        Cognizing something as water as a human, and cognizng that same substance as pus by a hungry goast are both epistemologically valid coignizers RELATIVE to the one that cognizes. In other words, the cognition of a characteristic of any object do not come so much from the object side, but primarily arise in dependence on the subject. This examples shows that two mutually excluding characterisations of an object can BOTH epistemologically exist beside eachother as valid cognizers.
        But ontologically speaking there cannot be two mutually exclusive characteristics of an object…

        The Buddha’s judgement of Devadatta was relative to the vinaya that he taught (to HUMAN beings). The vinaya form the rules for HUMANS who take ordination. So when he taught the vinaya the Buddha spoke in terms that ordinary humans can understand, and are valid cognizers for humans. And from that point of view humans can judge fellow humans based on the vinaya. So all is in accordance with your position so far: in a relative sense one can make valid and correct MERE conventional judgements of someone else’s behaviour. But now lets consider the question: how would Buddhas see this…
        We all want to become Buddhas, don’t we? So why not try to ALSO see things as a Buddha sees things… as mere emptiness “judging” emptiness, illusion “judging” illusion.

        You try to frame things and claim that I only want to see things from an ultimate point of view, and by doing so try to make conventional judgements look futile and meaningless. This is clearly making a caraciture of my position. Since I acknowledge both point of views: a human’s pov and a Buddha’s pov. So my point is the reverse of what you claim about me: you only want to see the conventional and “ordinary” human pov and ignore an “enlightened” Buddha’s point of view, because your only intention is to judge others (why else start a blog merely about controversies)
        So my point to you personally is: when you put all your energy in judging others conventionally, you might forget your intention to become an enlightened being. Making conventional judgements is not what ordinary humans need to learn from the Dharma. Ordinary human beings are well capable of that (as is shown on this blog over and over and over…). The Dharma teaches ordinary humans beings how to familiarize themselves with an ultimate pov that is beyond conventions and (pejorative) conventional discrimination. And THEREFOR beyond suffering.

        Only seeing the conventional side of things -like you do- and only focussing on anther group’s faults and making discriminations between schools, and using pejorative terms -the crucial pejorative term on this blog is “cult” in the context of the NKT- for these discriminations made between different schools (who share the same lineage) is a form of spiritual materialism. That’s what I am saying. Or as I have said before: these so called controversies within Buddhism -that this blog ONLY focuses on- are mere skillful means of the Buddhas to “separate” (figuratively speaking) the spiritual materialists from the yogis.

        • Making conventional judgements is not what ordinary humans need to learn from the Dharma.

          I see, that’s why the Buddha taught the discrimination between good and bad spiritual friends, in order that human beings don’t judge?

          Therefore, again, you use the teachings to undermine the discrimination what’s right and what’s wrong by doing this you undermine ethics and discriminating intelligence or wisdom. No matter how you phrase your points all what you write boils down to these points – which are non-Dharma.

          Or as His Holiness put it:

          If faith were sufficient to gain realizations, there would be no need for qualified teachers. Then the Buddha would not have needed to list the qualifications of a Vinaya, Paramitayana, or tantric guru.

          Without sober discrimination what’s right what’s wrong there is no basis for ethics, there is no basis to improve yourself and to help others, there is no basis to discriminate good from bad teachers or good from bad spiritual friends.

          A yogi btw can see the faults in sentient beings and is able to describe them. Just read the songs of Milarepa how he pointed out and described the faults of his students, family, villagers, Geshes etc. For you he must have been (like the Buddha) a spiritual materialist. Ha ha ha, or both weren’t yogis …

          I think we can rest the discussion at this point. The discussion is circling and I will never subscribe to your point of view which I regard as non-dharmic because it is illogical and not in line with the scriptures, the meaning of the scriptures and the behaviour of the great masters and what they taught. You made your points, I made mine. No need to elaborate further on this with other words. The key points of disagreement are now clear enough.

          —-

          BTW, in the past I tried to avoid the use of the term “cult” because it is controversial. However, I think the term and its definition (especially by Singer) describes the NKT good enough so I started to use the term more frequently in the comment section but still I use this term rarely (if at all) in any of my posts. Nevertheless, its a good reminder to be more careful with the usage of this term even in the comment section. Thank you!

          However, using it sometimes, I don’t intend to denigrate NKT but I refer to a destructive structure and a set up in which an individual looses gradually all of his freedoms and projects finally a reality onto the outer world that reflects the mind and hostility of Kelsang Gyatso but not reality.

        • you only want to see the conventional and “ordinary” human pov and ignore an “enlightened” Buddha’s point of view, because your only intention is to judge others (why else start a blog merely about controversies)
          So my point to you personally is: when you put all your energy in judging others conventionally, you might forget your intention to become an enlightened being.

          According to your previous arguments, isn’t just illusion looking on illusion? Is what you see in me not only in your mind?* So why are you so diligent to judge my actions as wrong? And why listing anonymous blogs that slander me and don’t see me as an illusion and therefore are “spiritual materialism” according to you? You apply double standards or double ethics in your own system. You can criticise me and my actions and this is correct but I can’t criticise others or their actions. Well, this mental set up is not very reasonable.

          * To be more precise in the perspective of your individual valid cognizer. But the problem is that this is not a valid cognizer because you didn’t get my intentions or the way how I think. You just speculate.

        • @Marc & dorjeshugdentruth, with respect to the basis of imputation and the example of water and pus, Khedrub Je’s work sTong thun chen mo of mKhas grub dGe legs dpal bzang will be of great help as a basis for a better understanding and for digging deeper into it. The text was translated into English, A Dose of Emptiness, by Prof Jose Ignacio Cabezon and on pp. 234–345 (Indian edition) under the heading “Sense Perception Across World Spheres: The Case of Water” you find the respective discussion.

          Khedrub Je, one of the two main disciples of Je Tsongkhapa, refutes the idea that it depends solely on the mind what one perceives …

          To accept this, and to claim that only that is true which appears to one’s own mind, and that it is not therefore possible to decisively posit something to be x or not x, reduces one to being unable to decisively distinguish between the correct philosophical position of the Buddhists and the incorrect position of the heterodox. Therefore, because the teachers of the heterodox and our own teacher, the perfect Buddha, would not be distinguished in goodness, what worse Karma is there than this, the slandering of the three jewels?”

          BTW; Khedrub Je states about those who hold those positions* “Those who advocate these positions are making themselves known to be utter fools …”
          * He attacks two different positions. For details see the origin work or Cabezon’s translation. If I find time, maybe I can provide more details or more quotes but the best would be you and dstruth read the whole chapter and think about it.

  11. This thread is extremely ad hominem: https://buddhism-controversy-blog.com/2014/11/30/indyhack/
    With all it’s silly pictures and eventual exclusion of Indyhack from the discussion, it has all the characteristics of a midieval wich-hunt. And is clearly merely intended to denounce a person.

    And as I have commented there: Though a term might be a valid cognizer and an accurate description of a person of phenomen, that alone does not dismiss it from being an ad hominem. It is the intention to exaggerate and frame things by USING a PEJORATIVE term in order to dismiss a person from the discussion (in order to not have to counter his arguments) that makes an eventual accurate description an ad hominem. It is the INTENTION behind stating something in a PEJORATIVE way that makes it an ad hominem! Not the fact whether it is accurate or not, or a valid cognizer or not!

    This blog is full of it, but the blog owner keeps his eyes wide shut for the ad hominems he continously makes.

    • Are my posts or my comments ad hominem? You accused me of slandering my opponents which is not true and for which you could not provide any convincing evidence so far – at least not as far as I can see ;-) IndyHack was not excluded from the discussion he withdraw himself and actual this was better because otherwise I had excluded him. Why?
      This blog is not an extension of IndyHack’s propaganda network but it aims to correct his and his NKT friends’ Agit Prop. His work is propaganda because he tries systematically and deliberately to form and to manipulate public opinion in order to create a response according to his own (and NKT’s) wishes and ambitions. For doing this he invents facts, he bends facts, he mixes semi-truths with untruths, some truths with semi-truths and he/she/they take things out of context and hype minor issues to big scandals.

      If I refer to him as a propagandist, this has a basis in reality, however, if he/she/they or NKT refer to the Dalai Lama as the “worst 21st Century Dictator” this hasn’t a basis in reality (the reasons I gave already), therefore to call IndyHack a propagandist is not ad hominem but a proper label that refers to an existing and functioning basis, however, to call the Dalai Lama the “worst 21st Century Dictator” is ad hominem.

      Its quite interesting to see your partisan attitude in judging things and your tolerance to real ad hominem and your rather weak assumptions of ad hominem made by me.

      As I said, any real ad hominem by me I would see as a fault and I would be diligent to correct it. I don’t say that I didn’t do any ad hominem, an ad hominem could have slipped through my writings. However, so far you didn’t offer any good example for an ad hominem by me as far as I can see. There is also a difference to call a way of thinking stupid or to call the person stupid. I regard the latter as ad hominem but not the former.

  12. Dear Marc
    The vast majority of your criticisms can just as easily be aimed at yourself [conventionally]

    • exactly. but he doesn’t seem to be able to see this. i tried to point this out in my last comment.

      marc wrote me personal emails and i inferred from it, that for him this subject matter is quite important. that’s why I approved older comments and newer ones, even deleted ones, and gave some more time to discuss this. don’t know if this will be of benefit in any way but you never know…

    • Yazz ofkoz NoName. I’m not independent of this world, nor free from prejudice. And my position is very close to nihilism and idealism. And the way I see things is mainly based on my own mental projections. But I do not make use of ad hominems, and I do not frame persons, nor do I try to put them in convenient boxes in order to be able refute their SUPPOSED position, in order to promote my own quasi-superior view (over someone else’s back). Since that would make me a spiritual materialsit like the vast majority here…

      So… in a sense you are (not completly not) right! But not completly right. But right anayway (from your point of view).

      ;)

  13. Bristol Lad says:

    Tenpel,
    thank you for the quote from Khedrub Je. It clearly articulated the unease I felt with Marc’s position of “wholism: any functional description of reality is as good as any other BECAUSE it is FUNCTIONAL!”

    Marc,
    I understand how sometimes, in the course of debates, one can mis-state one’s position (often in an attempt to make it clear to another who doesn’t appear to understand). Is this statement above, from your previous post your position vis a vis conventional reality or would you like to restate it?

    I find it interesting that you have Gelug training, a Kagyu and Nyingma background and yet you identify yourself as a Bonpo. What made you settle on Bon? I have little knowledge of it myself beyond having read that it shares some Dzogchen teachings with the Nyingma tradition (and I have very little understanding of Dzogchen either for that matter).

    • Bristol Lad, good to know that it was helpful. Here the end of the chapter which gives more analysis and also demonstrates that both Marc and dstruth hold a idealist position:

      (pp. 341–345):

      [Khebrub Je] Such a preta first sees that river from far away. If he did not, he would not go to it with the thought that desires to drink [from it]. Thus, desiring to drink, he approaches; but obstructed by his karma, his eye consciousness does not see the river. When he does not see it, he sees instead the bottom, a river bed filled with dirt, rubble, and so forth. If it were not obscured by the river, men too would see that. In this way, they directly see the dirt on the bottom of the river. Due to their not seeing the river, which would act as an obstruction, they see the bed at the bottom of the river, and doing so they conceptually think “the river is dry.” Such a conceptual thought (rtog pa) is a mistaken consciousness (log shes) in error with regard to its conceived object (zhen yul). It is not a valid cognition in regard to its conceived object. That eye consciousness is a valid cognition in regard to the rubble and pebbles of the river’s bottom. These do actually exist. It is the case that their eye consciousness does not see the river and not that the river appears to be nonexistent. Likewise, it is the case that karma obstructs their seeing the fruit so that they do not see it, and see only the branches of the tree. Hence, [that eye consciousness] is a valid cognition in regard to the branches of the tree, but it does not perceive the fruit to be nonexistent. The conceptual thought that apprehends the fruit to be nonexistent is a mistaken consciousness that is in error as regards its conceived object. That is why we do not accept it to be a valid cognition in regard to the conceived object.

      Therefore, when we consider the river and the dirt at its bottom, the eye consciousness of man is a valid cognition in regard to the [river] water and is not a valid cognition in regard to the dirt at the bottom; whereas the eye consciousness of a preta is a valid cognition in regard to the dirt at the bottom, but is not a valid cognition in regard to the [ontological status of the] river. Likewise, before some kinds of food reach the mouth of some pretas, they are ordinary food, but when they reach their mouths, the further succession [of moments] of the food actually becomes fire, by virtue of the preta’s karma. Were this not so, that is, were the fire that is the basis of that appearance not real but only a mere appearance of fire to the mind, it would follow that it could not scorch their mouths and burn their throats and stomachs, which would be a form of skepticism in regard to karma and its result. If the mere appearance that appears to the mind in this way could burn and so on, then the mere appearance that appears as hair [to the one suffering from cataracts] could act as hair, that is, it could be braided and so forth; and the mere appearance that appears as a bee to the one suffering from eye disease could act as a bee, stinging one’s body. Hence, all of the distinctions between whether the basis appearing to any consciousness actually exists or not would become utterly without purpose, and it would follow, absurdly, that even the appearance of a mirage as water could act as water.

      Therefore, a river appears as pus and blood to some pretas, as nectar to the gods, and as a home to some creatures, and so forth; and these eye consciousnesses as well as the way in which [their objects] appear are valid cognitions. If the entities that are the basis of the appearance, [that is, the pus, nectar, and so on,] did not exist, then the entities that are the basis for what appears to a hell being, that is, fire, weapons, and so forth, would not at all exist over and above the mere appearance of fire, molten iron, the forest of razor leaves, and the weapons and so on that appear to the eye consciousness of a hell being. This is because the reasoning in both cases, [that is, in the case of pretas seeing pus and hell beings seeing weapons and so on,] is analogous. If you accept that, [that is, that what hell beings witness being done to them is mere appearance,] then there would follow the absurdity that there is no possibility for the real burning of the body or the cutting of the limbs over and above the mere arising of such appearances to the mind. Thus, it would follow that hell beings and pretas and so on would have no feelings of bodily suffering whatsoever, over and above mere mistaken mental appearances. What greater skepticism can there be in regard to karma and its effects than the likes of this? How would you refute someone who advocated that the appearance of fire and water and so forth to the eye consciousness of a man was a valid cognition in regard to the mere appearance but that there was not the slightest entity such as fire or water that was the basis of the appearance, [that is, you would end up refuting such a person just as we are refuting you].

      [Opponent:] Because it is established by the experience of men themselves that [fire and water] have the ability to perform functions such as burning and cooking, and [acting as sources for] washing and drinking, fire and water do actually exist.

      [Reply:] Well then, why do you deny the actual existence of pus and blood and so on, for it is established by the experience of pretas that pus and blood, and the fire that has fallen into their mouths and so on, can act as food and drink, can burn their throats and so forth? 

      [Opponent:] That is mere fancy (rloms pa tsam) due to an error in so far as it is established by the experience of those pretas.

      [Reply:] Then even with men it would be mere fancy established by experience under the influence of error.

      [Opponent:] Well then, they would not really perform the functions of cooking and washing.

      [Reply:] To say “well then, they would not really burn the throats of those pretas” would be completely analogous. Hence, you are either accepting that there is no phenomenon whatsoever that can really perform a function or else you are accepting that the entities that are the bases of whatever appears to beings in the lower realms and gods, due to their individual karma, do not have the slightest ability to perform the functions of creating happiness or suffering. Because [in either case] this would mean that [these entities] would be in no way different from the fictitious hair that appears to one who suffers from eye disease, you are confusing a view of skepticism in regard to karma and its effects for an exposition that has been set forth via valid reasoning.
      Don’t go showing off!

      The Avatara says:
      “Similar to the sense organ of one who suffers from eye disease
      Is the preta’s perception of pus in a river of flowing water.”

      Both the root text and the commentary explain that both the eye consciousness of pretas who see pus and blood in the river, that is, the consciousness that possesses the object, and the object itself, equally lack any inherent existence; and that, just as there exists a consciousness, a possessor of objects, in a merely nominal way, as long as it is not being examined or analyzed, there also exist external objects. [The MA] is showing that this situation is similar to one previously explained, that is, that the eye consciousness of the patient with eye disease and its external object both lack inherent existence, but that from a strictly nominal [viewpoint] the eye consciousness to which the falling hair appears and its external object both exist. How could it possibly be showing [instead] a similarity between the fact that the hair that is the basis of the appearance can perform no function over and above its merely appearing as hair to the consciousness to which the hair appears and there being in reality no pus and blood that is the basis of the appearance over and above their appearing to the eye consciousness of pretas to which they appear? [Were that so,] it would mean that the argument between the Madhyamikas and Cittamatrins was not over whether or not object and consciousness had the same ontological status, but over whether or not the basis of appearance of the appearances of erroneous consciousnesses exist; and it would be clear that you have not even seen the section of the Bhasya [to MA] that deals with the verse that goes, “Due to the power of the eye disease, the hair that is seen,” in which the opponent’s position is set forth. It makes it clear that you are just another one of those who are for the most part false teachers in the midst of retinues satisfied with the mere sound of the words of the lecturer, [as opposed to requiring that the meaning make sense].

      [Opponent:] The Bodhicaryävatära says:

      Who purposely creates the weapons
      [Used to torment] the beings of hell?
      Who creates the ground of burning iron?
      Who creates those multitudes of fire?
      All such things have been said by the conqueror
      To arise from sinful minds.

      This is indicating that the weapons of hell and the ground of burning iron and so forth do not really exist. If they did, then who created them? These are all the mere mistaken appearances of the mind. Hence, it is analogous to the mind of the preta [who sees] pus in the river of flowing water.

      [Reply:] To claim this is to claim that the fact that a holy being who has correctly trained himself or herself in the path of the ten virtuous actions and is born as a god and the fact that a sinful being who has committed’ the five heinous sins and is born into hell are both mistaken appearances of the mind with no difference in desirability; that is, that there is not the slightest difference as regards the pleasure or suffering that is actually experienced by the body [in these two states]. Hence, there would be no difference between dharma and nondharma, and it would be fitting for all great beings to make only that kind of mental prayer to exert themselves in the practice that takes demerit as its object.

      [Opponent:] Well then, what is the meaning of that scripture, [that is, the Bodhicaryavatara citation]?

      [Reply:] The words who purposely creates and who creates are indicating that there is no other being, no one at all, not even God, who creates the weapons and burning iron of the hells in a premeditated way.

      [Opponent:] Then who or what is the creator of them?

      [Reply:] The creator is the sinful mind of those beings who have accumulated that karma in their own previous lives and who then experience the ripening of it [in hell]. It is indicating that, as this is the source, the mind itself is the chief creator of happiness and suffering. Do not claim that because it arises from the mind which is the cause of this [suffering or happiness], it therefore does not exist!

      [Opponent:] Well then, do you accept that when a god, man, and preta, possessing the proper karma, assemble, there appears in the place occupied by a bowl full of [liquid possessing the characteristics] of wetness and fluidity a [whole] bowl full of nectar to a god, a [whole] bowl full of pus to a preta, and so forth? 

      [Reply:] At that place, pus does appear to the preta, and the basis of that appearance does actually have the ability to act as pus. Nectar does appear to the god in that place, and the basis of that appearance does actually have the ability to act as nectar. We believe this. It is not necessary, however, that there appear with absolute precision the same amounts; that is, a [completely] full bowl of nectar or a [completely] full bowl of pus. Were it necessary, then it would also be necessary that the amount of a bowl full [of liquid] appear even to a microbe the likes of which cannot be seen by the ordinary eye, and that lives in the bowl full of liquid [possessing the characteristics of] wetness and fluidity with the thought of its being a home. Were that so, then the depth, width, and breadth of the ocean would have to appear exactly as it is to the tiny fish who lives in the ocean. It would also be necessary for it to appear as a bowl full of weapons when it appears as weapons to some demigods (lha ma yin) [which it of course does not]. Even if it were necessary that at that time there appear exactly similar proportions, that is, a [complete] bowl full of pus, a [complete] bowl full of nectar, and so forth, this still presents no problem for us. This is because no one could refute the assertion that, though those eye consciousnesses are valid cognitions merely in regard to pus that has the ability to act as such and in regard to nectar that has the ability to perform the function of the basis of appearance, they are not valid cognitions in regard to the aspect of the proportion; that is, of just how much it is that appears. In these [various] ways, this point has been misapprehended by those of small intellect using [as their source] the mere words of those who cannot analyze it, so that they do not realize the eloquence of the holy to be eloquence. Seeing their incertitude in regard to karma and its effects, I have explained it in a slightly more elaborate way.

      Unlike Marc or dstruth who deny the existence of a basis and fall into the extreme of Idealism or Nihilism and claim that to posit any real basis would be grasping for inherent existence, Kherub Je’s and Tsongkhapa’s pov are these:

      p. 339:

      [Reply:] [Well, in exactly the same way], because the single entity that [has the characteristics of] wetness and fluidity is a whole that has [six different] parts that are seen in six different ways, how is [this view of ours] in contradiction to the line “because a single thing is different for different minds”? [Have we not given a rationale, via this example, for calling these six different ways of perceiving the parts of the object “ways of perceiving the single object,” just as the five different actions of the five limbs are called “actions of the man” — each of the former being in the relationship of part and whole to the latter?]

      [Opponent:] Let the object that occupies the place of the single [entity that possesses the characteristics of] wetness and fluidity, that is, the whole, be perceived by those who possess the condition, that is, the karma, of a god, a man, and a preta. You believe that occasionally, when [such beings] come together, the parts of that whole, the pus and blood, the nectar, and the clean, cool water, are actually present. If that is so, then it would be necessary that in the place occupied by the one river there exist those various substances. Hence, one material thing would not displace another, [as is commonly accepted by all].

      [Reply:] The one who advocates this has not yet come to understand the nature of reasoning; before the dawning of an opponent, the sun of his refutation has already risen. It follows [according to him] that it is impossible for many different entities, the parts, to exist in the place occupied by a single whole, for were it possible there would arise the absurdity that other material things would not be blocked from arising in the place occupied by one material thing. If you accept the [original premise, that the parts cannot exist where the whole does,] then it follows, absurdly, that in the place occupied by a ceremonial pot there do not exist the many [parts] such as the spout, the base, the hollow cavity, and so forth. What is more, when a bowl is filled with a mixture of clean, cool water, milk, beer, and blood, it follows, absurdly, that other material things are not blocked from arising in the place occupied by one material thing because four different things, clean, cool water, milk, blood, and beer, exist simultaneously in the place occupied by that bowl full of liquid.

      Our omniscient Lord [Tsong kha pa] believes that at that special time [when all three beings simultaneously witness the bowl of liquid we call water] there exist at one time many parts, which arise as pus, nectar, and so forth, in the bowl full of liquid. He does not at all accept that in the place occupied by the bowl full of [substance possessing the characteristics] of wetness and fluidity there exists a bowl full of pus, a bowl full of nectar, and a bowl full of clean, clear water; nor does he at all accept that at the place occupied by one molecule of water there exist simultaneously a molecule of nectar and a molecule of pus. As he in fact claims no such thing, when you demonstrate any fault [in his position], thinking that he does teach this, then you are only showing (what kind of person] you yourself are [and not what the Lord Tsong kha pa is like].

      • And now in your own words…

        My position is not not (double negation intended) madhyamaka, so my position is a non-position since madhyamaka is a NON-AFFIRMATIVE negation of all four extremes. Idealism is an AFFIRMATIVE position and boils down to the extreme of holding onto mind as truely and substantially existent. And it boils down to Tenpels intentional misinterpretation of my words as meaning that one can conventionally designate anything as one likes, since all is in the eye of the beholder. This is making a gross caricature of my position. And is thus mere rhetorics, not debate. Tenpel is fighting his selfcreated windmills here.

        Tenpel don’t try to box other people in every time, in order to evade the position that it is absurd to call a madhyamaka -like Geshe Kelsang Gyatso- a nihilist, since nihilism is an AFFIRMATIVE negation of a proof of existence. Or in supposedly “my” case, and also in Geshe Kelsang’s case that we are idealists (the mind as creator of the world, so you can name anything as you like and thus call Dolgyal a Buddha). It is utter nonsense and a gross and intentional mis-interpretation of one’s opponents words (though you very well know that Geshe Kelsang, as well a I, try to explain the madhyamaka position to you).

        Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’s position looks like “a mix of nihilism and cittamatra” as someone said, and in a sense this is so. But it merely LOOKS like it… Since as I have explained (in a post still under moderation at 23:35 8-11-2015 since Tenpel first has to look in his study books to find quotes in order to try to refute Marc’s personal formulations) nihilism is quite close to Madhyamaka in a sense. And Madhyamaka is exactly the same as cittamatra -NOT in the sense that madhyamakas hold on to a truely and substantially existent mind/alaya as cittamatrins do- but in the sense that both agree that there is no substantial difference between subject and object.This emptiness of a different substance of subject and object is what Geshe Kelsang is reffering to when he states:”When you see Dolgyal as a Buddha, he will function for you as a Buddha”. And don’t try to box him in as being cittamatra or as a nihilist. This is an exageration and an intentional gross mis-interpretation of his words, in order to frame him as a nihilist for the innocent reader.

        Dzongsar Khyentse once said: there are two types of communication; successful mis-communication and unsuccessful mis-communictation. The last one is what ordinary people use to call communication.

        • My position is not not (double negation intended) madhyamaka, so my position is a non-position since madhyamaka is a NON-AFFIRMATIVE negation of all four extremes.

          Non-sense if you want to claim that madhyamaka doesn’t have a position. Some indologists misunderstood madhyamaka as a non-position but this has been refuted and pointed out as wrong by other academics and Buddhist scholars alike. If madhyamakas didn’t have any position they wouldn’t be able to make any statement regarding ethics but if you read Nagarjuna’s works e.g. Ratnavali, it becomes clear that he has positions.

          The refutation of the four extremes refutes inherent existence but not conventional reality. It does not undermine the ability of a reasoning consciousness analysing the conventional to refute with a vaild congnizer right from wrong and water from pus a wrong guru from a good guru etc.

          • Spending time debating over who holds the correct philosophical view and launching ad hominem attacks: dharma practice conducive to subduing delusion or a meaningless waste of precious time, only conducive to ego enhancement through spiritual pride?
            “Having renounced all pride, I have abandoned the saliva splashing debate”
            Jetsun Milarepa

          • Tenzin, I really think you fail to understand Mādhyamaka. As has been mentioned, in his Vigrahavyāvartanī, Nāgārjuna wrote: “If I had a thesis, I would be at fault; since I alone have no thesis, I alone am without fault.”
            Mādhyamikas don’t have a position. That’s not to say that Nāgārjuna didn’t function in the world amongst conventional appearances, but Mādhyamaka doesn’t deal with conventional appearances other than saying that they are the appearances adhered to according to convention. Whether it’s ethics or the internal combustion engine, conventional appearances appear but do not withstand ultimate analysis. The four extremes are refuted as they are – existence, non-existence, both existence and non-existence and neither existence nor non-existence. There is no need to mention inherent or intrinsic or extrinsic or any other qualifier.

            • Hi Dorje.

              Nagarjuna speaks about the ultimate in that context. If you say he has no position whatsoever, this is contradicted by the fact that he wrote enough things which clearly are positions. If you, Nagarjuna or the Buddha say “if there is a then b follows”, this is of course a position that draws a connection between cause and effect. As far as I understand it, Madhyamaka is not only understanding of the ultimate but also about conventional existence. That’s why they discuss about “the two truths” and not only about the ultimate truth.

              Are the verses below from Nagarjuna about conventional reality and how it functions not positions? If they are not positions, what else are positions?

              The discussion revolved more or less around the wrong approach to deny conventional existence by following a reason consciousness that analyses the ultimate. What a reason consciousness that analyses the ultimate finds at the end of an analysis is distinct different to what a reason consciousness finds that analyses the conventional. The former won’t find its object under analysis, inherent existence, but the latter can find an object under analysis, e.g. if the table has four or three legs. In my observation what Marc and dstruth did was, they confused both types of analysis by using the former, that can never find the object of analysis [inherent existence], to negate an existing conventional phenomenon [good or bad ethics] of a certain person or group.

              Now here some positions by Nagarjuna from his Ratnavali:

              No. 2.
              O King, I will explain practices solely virtuous
              To generate in you the doctrine,
              For the practices will be established
              In a vessel of the excellent doctrine.

              No. 3.
              In one who first practices high status
              Definite goodness arises later,
              For having attained high status,
              One comes gradually to definite goodness.

              No. 4.
              High status is considered to be happiness,
              Definite goodness is liberation.
              The quintessence of their means
              Is briefly faith and wisdom.

              No. 5.
              Due to having faith one relies on the practices,
              Due to having wisdom one truly knows.
              Of these two wisdom is the chief,
              Faith is its prerequisite.

              No. 6.
              One who does not neglect the practices
              Through desire, hatred, fear, or bewilderment
              Is known as one of faith,
              A superior vessel for definite goodness.

              No. 7.
              Having analyzed well
              All deeds of body, speech, and mind,
              Those who realize what benefit self and others
              And always perform these are wise.

              No. 8.
              Not killing, not stealing,
              Forsaking the mates of others,
              Refraining completely from false,
              Divisive, harsh, and senseless speech,

              No. 9.
              Thoroughly forsaking covetousness, harmful intent,
              And the views of Nihilists-
              These are the ten gleaming paths of action;
              Their opposites are dark.

              No. 10.ab
              Not drinking intoxicants, a good livelihood,
              Non-harming, respectful giving,

              No. 10.c
              Honoring the honorable, and love-
              No. 10.d
              Practice in brief is that.

              No. 11.
              Practice is not done by just
              Mortifying the body,
              For one has not forsaken injuring others
              And is not helping others.

              Of course in my interpretation or understanding of Mādhyamaka I try to follow Tsongkhapa according to his Illumination of the Thought or gompa rabsel (dgongs pa rab gsal) as we studied it in Italy under Geshe Jampa Tegchok who is highly respected among the Gelug scholars. I would regard it as wrong from my side to mispresent Je Tsongkhapa or Geshe Jampa Tegchok in how they explain Mādhyamaka. So if you find any fault in this, please point it out. However, I did neither study Gendun Choephel nor Garompa and other masters so far with respect to their criticism and interpretation of Tsongkhapa/Mādhyamaka. [I studied a Western paper about Garompa/Tsongkhapa but it was to short to come to more decisive conclusions]. I also didn’t study Vigrahavyāvartanī. However, I studied Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakarika and Tsongkhapa’s commentary to it to a larger extent (not fully). This is my background. Therefore, if you say “I really think you fail to understand Mādhyamaka” it is important to give the context from which perspective you come. Tsongkhapa clearly doesn’t accept the tetralemma without a qualifier as you know, and he gave a lot of reasons for it. If you object Tsongkhapa’s point of view this is fine but here I discuss mainly with people who come from the NKT and who see Tsongkhapa as a valid source, therefore I solely focus on Tsongkhapa’s interpretation, presentation or understanding because they claim to be the heirs of him but don’t present his views. It would not help in that context to come from the pov of the critics of Tsongkhapa.

              • The text you quote is not from Nagarjuna’s Madhyamaka texts but from his collection of advice. Many texts have been written or attributed to Nagarjuna. When I talk about Madhyamaka I am referring to texts from his Collection of Madhyamaka Reasoning. I’m sure he also wrote shopping lists or notes to friends that asserted this or that, but that’s not Madhyamaka.
                Madhyamaka is actually really rather simple and elegant. Conventional truth is what everybody commonly and conventionally accepts. We see objects and assume them to exist as we perceive them. Ultimate truth is the fact that when we investigate them, using Madhyamaka analysis which rejects all assertions, they cannot be found – they do not withstand analysis. It isn’t that they lack some kind of ‘inherent existence’ imagined by philosophers. They simply cannot be said to be. They appear but are empty of any conceptual designation at all. The idea that one could analyse the conventional and the ultimate separately is silly. This pulls the two truths apart and one falls into the abyss of concepts.
                Anyone bothering with valid cognisers and logic to understand the conventional is wasting one’s time. Everyone understands the conventional truth – that’s why it’s a convention. I suppose if you are discussing these things according to Tsongkhapa, fair enough, but why bother?

              • You are having an interesting discussion here and I feel you are both right. Although I agree more with Tenpel’s position: Nagarjuna’s rejection of assertions is naturally an assertion. When he rejects that he himself has made any propositions, he is referring to propositions of inherent qualities, both positive and negative. So I don’t see this as self-contradictory at all.

                Furthermore he is a Buddhist, not an academic, less so an academic attempting to fit western ideas of philosophy. Most of his paradoxes are not paradoxes when one remembers that his wish is enlightenment and the expounding of teachings that will help others attain this. He wager he would prefer expounding a position that would benefit others while possibly including philosophical inconsistencies rather than the opposite; but granted, that’s just speculation.

                Dorje wrote “It isn’t that they lack some kind of ‘inherent existence’ imagined by philosophers. They simply cannot be said to be.”

                It is the “be” in “cannot be said to be” that indicates the inherent existence, only it is not imagined by philosophers but innately conceived of by ordinary people. So therefore, simply stating that they cannot be found when using Madhyamaka analysis indicates that they lack inherent existence.

                Also, in the text “Illocution, No-Theory and Practice in Nagarjuna’s Skepticism” (previously linked by Marc), it is said:

                “In his Nyayasutra, Gautama identifies abhava to be a prameya, and uses the example of marked and unmarked cloths to show that, were one asked to pick up the unmarked cloths, one would do so because one could perceive the absence of marks on those cloths.”

                This is indicative of a practice of negation within Buddhism, not only Madhyamaka. Negation needs to refer to an affirmation, which generically we could call inherent existence.

                • …”he wager” should read “I wager”…! thanks:)

                • “Nagarjuna’s rejection of assertions is naturally an assertion. When he rejects that he himself has made any propositions, he is referring to propositions of inherent qualities, both positive and negative.”
                  No.
                  “It is the “be” in “cannot be said to be” that indicates the inherent existence, only it is not imagined by philosophers but innately conceived of by ordinary people. So therefore, simply stating that they cannot be found when using Madhyamaka analysis indicates that they lack inherent existence.”
                  No.
                  Look, I don’t want to get bogged down in some pointless Madhyamaka debate and I know how you Tsongkhapa followers, like you and Tenzin, love endless conceptual elaboration, but, no.

                  Madhyamaka does one thing and one thing only. It takes what we all experience (everyone; man, woman, child, Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Muslim, Atheist, etc.) and asks about it. Say we all see a pot (Indians seem to love talking about pots, or chariots, but let’s stick with pots.) Madhayamikas ask about the pot: Where is it? Where did it come from? What produced it? Asking these questions (they tend to examine things in five main ways; 1. with the reasoning of neither one nor many (which breaks them down into parts); 2. with the reasoning that examines the four theories of production; 3. with the reasoning that looks at origination according to the four (self, other, both, neither) alternatives; 4. with the reasoning that looks at the production of truly existent or truly nonexistent effects; and 5. with the reasoning of dependent arising.) On investigation, they notice, the thing they thought was there cannot be found. The pot does not bear analysis. It appears, sure, but they can’t find it. It is ’empty’. Empty of what? Empty of itself.

                  This is the Madhyamaka challenge. Like one of those challenges set by people skeptical of paranormal phenomena, they challenge anyone to come forward with anything that can be found under analysis. They do not say that these things ‘exist’, nor do they say they do not ‘exist’. They put forward no proposition of their own, they simply ask.

                  When the opponent of the Madhymaka, maybe a Samkhya, for example, is unable to prove that parusa and prakrti exist as they claim, the Madhyamika ‘wins’ the debate, because they Samkhya’s proposition (that parusa and prakrti are truly existent) fail under the weight of the Madhyamaka analysis. BUT the Madhyamika puts forward no proposition at all of his own.

                  • This is debatable (with regards to Tsongkhapa) as the affirmative nature can be found in the tantric aspects of his teachings, the positive nature of clear light mind, awareness, etc.

                    Nonetheless I agree that Madhyamaka concerns itself not with metaphysics, but it is ontological and phenomenological. I don’t understand why you think it incorrect to say that the phenomenon a certain thing is empty of is it’s inherent existence. Empty of ‘itself’ means empty of its inherent existence.

                    And yes of course Nagarjuna’s assertion is a position and thus a view. It is a common folly of Western Buddhologists (such as Jay Garfield) to believe that Nagarjuna had no view. Of course he had a view, hence the ‘Middle Way view between extremes’.

                    • Of course phenomena are empty of “inherent existence”, but this is not something separate from the phenomenon itself. It’s not like there’s something imagined as characteristic of, but separate from, the pot called it’s inherent existence, that doesn’t exist, as if “inherent existence” was just some falsely attributed quality of the pot. It is the pot itself that can not be found under analysis. If you just refute it’s “inherent existence”, the pot remains untouched by analysis.
                      The pot is empty of pot not just “inherent existence”.

                    • “of course Nagarjuna’s assertion is a position and thus a view. It is a common folly of Western Buddhologists (such as Jay Garfield) to believe that Nagarjuna had no view. Of course he had a view, hence the ‘Middle Way view between extremes’.”

                      You miss the point. Madhyamaka was essentially a tool to debate with non-Buddhists or Buddhists who adhered to other views. Have you ever heard of the “yes-no game?” In it one person asks the other person questions (often ‘closed questions’) and the opponent must avoid using the words “yes” or “no”. Madhyamaka is a bit like that. Madhyamikas would debate non-Buddhists and Buddhists that held other views, not by proposing a thesis or putting forward a propostion, but just by showing the internal inconsistences of their opponents position using commonly accepted logic.

                      It isn’t just “folly of Buddhologists”, it is the Madhyamaka method as taught by Nagarjuna and followed by Buddhapalita and Chandrakirti. When Nagarjuna said he proposed no thesis, he meant it.

                    • @Dorje & @Maik108, I lack time to read and to engage in the discussion. However; I guess Maik108 you noted already that Dorje does not accept Tsongkhapa’s stance on Madhyamaka? It also seems that Dorje is greatly convinced that his pov of Madhyamaka is that of Nagarjuna which is an object of debate.

                      I clearly remember having read academic texts that said that it is a misinterpretation of earlier Indologists that Nagarjuna has no position. However, I lack time to check the texts and arguments related to it at the moment.

                      Earlier Dorje wrote:

                      Ultimate truth is the fact that when we investigate them, using Madhyamaka analysis which rejects all assertions, they cannot be found – they do not withstand analysis. Iet isn’t that they lack some kind of ‘inherent existence’ imagined by philosophers. They simply cannot be said to be. They appear but are empty of any conceptual designation at all.

                      I totally disagree with this as far as I have studied and understood this topic. If you analyse conventional phenomena in order to find if they have an essence or if they exist independently, if there is something ultimately (ontologically seen), you cannot find such an essence or independent existence or final thing of something. So what you find is that an essence or independent / inherent existence cannot be found.

                      However, I trained and studied mainly in Gelug school though I have also Kagyue teachers and Sakya teachers and though I received a commentary on the Heart Sutra by the Jonangpas by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Mahamudra teachings etc. …

                      The idea that one could analyse the conventional and the ultimate separately is silly. This pulls the two truths apart and one falls into the abyss of concepts.

                      Its not silly. The conventional and the ultimate are seen as (mental) isolates. They are two different isolates but one entity. Like the frontside and the backside of a coin or like the gold of a gold bar. You can mentally isolate the gold from the bar and you can speak about the gold and you can speak about the bar. You have two different objects as the object you are referring to when speaking of gold and when speaking of the bar; but you cannot separate the bar from the gold. Both exist always together = are of one entity. With the conventional and the ultimate it is likewise.

                      Anyone bothering with valid cognisers and logic to understand the conventional is wasting one’s time.

                      Dorje, this sounds quite arrogant and self-assertive. One of the important masters of the Nyingma school is Shantarakhsita – it was HE who brought Indian Mahayana Buddhism for the first time to Tibet and who invited later Padmasambhava. As you know Shantarakshita expressed his view in Madhyamakalankara and his view is a synthesis between the Madhyamaka of Nagarjuna, the Mind Only Teachings traced back to Asanga, and the logico-epistemological tradition of Dignaga and Dharmakirti. Jamgön Mipham’s commentary to it was translated into English (I read parts of it.)

                      You sound like some of my Gelug masters who hold their view also as the highest and best. But at least they are humble to a certain degree, saying “these great masters, who were incredible in … but they didn’t get the right view”.

                      Everyone understands the conventional truth – that’s why it’s a convention.

                      No, not necessarily as the discussion with NKT people and fanatics or people in general show. For the NKT the Dalai Lama is “the worst 21st Century Buddhist dictator” and this is a conventional truth for them though it is not but a mere projection with no basis in reality, while the Dalai Lama “not being the worst 2st Century Buddhist dictator” has a basis in reality and is a conventional truth. This clearly shows that a reason consciousness analysing the conventional is useful, lacking it you might fall into the extreme of Nihilism which is in this context, to deny conventional existent and functioning phenomena, and then you misconstrue your path, denying things that exist (the Extreme of Nihilism in this context) or inventing things that don’t exist (the Extreme of Externalism in this context). Building your path on non-existent things – or following Nihilism – you highly likely are going to cultivate wrong views, delusions and undermine your ethics. And this is exactly what the NKT is doing and what the post above addresses and aims to point out.

                      Now if you come with your interpretation here in that context, I find this rather counter productive because the post above aims to point out misconceptions and the basis of confusion in the NKT, Nihilism. The NKT claims to be Gelugpa, Kadampa and to be the pure heirs of Tsongkhapa. Mainly that’s why I based the discussion here on Tsongkhapa’s pov as this is the one NKT claims to follow. If you enter the discussion from a complete different angle and don’t pay attention to the context of the post and the discussion this really opens a complete new topic and I wonder if this is helpful in any way here.

                      As you assumed:

                      I suppose if you are discussing these things according to Tsongkhapa, fair enough, but why bother?

                      CONTEXT!

                      That’s why, if there were a post here on the blog (which might come, rather later than sooner) about controversies with respect to Madhyamaka interpretations, any of your comments would make perfectly sense and will be helpful but I fear, they are not really helpful in the context of the post above, keeping in mind that those I wish to reach with it have a Gelug or NKT background and see Tsongkhapa as authoritative to some degree.

                    • Just as an addition, Dorje.

                      You do not only object Tsongkhapa but you object also Chandrakirti who speaks himself of “inherent existence” in his Madhayamakavatara. Chandrakirti is accepted in all the Tibetan traditions as far as I know (maybe not by the Jonangpas). So if you say:

                      Iet isn’t that they lack some kind of ‘inherent existence’ imagined by philosophers. They simply cannot be said to be.

                      You object in essence also Chandrakirti’s Madhayamakavatara when I get this correctly.

                      Many of Chandrakirti’s root verses from the 6th chapter refer to inherent existence or the lack of that as the object of abandonment and the object to be realised. To give a brief overview of some of them:

                      In the context of suchness, production from self and other
                      Is not suitable by any reasonings.
                      Since, even in conventional terms, it is not suitable by these reasonings,
                      By what does your production exist? [6.36]

                      Empty things, reflections and so forth, that
                      Depend upon a collection are not even not renowned.
                      Just as for that from empty reflections and so forth
                      Consciousnesses in their aspect are produced, [6.37]

                      Likewise, even if all things are empty
                      They are strongly produced from those that are empty.
                      Even with respect to the two truths there is no inherent existence.
                      Therefore, they are not permanent; they are also not annihilated. [6.38]

                      Therefore, they do not inherently cease.
                      Due to that, even without a mind-basis-of-all, because there is the potential for that
                      It should be understood that ceased actions in some,
                      Even after a long time has elapsed, give rise to an appropriate result. [6.39]

                      Having seen an observed object in a dream,
                      Even upon awakening, the foolish generate longing.
                      Likewise, also from actions that have ceased and
                      Do not inherently exist, there exist results. [6.40]

                      Just as, although similar in being non-existent objects,
                      Those with cataracts see the aspect of falling hair,
                      But not the aspect of other things,
                      Likewise, understand that ripened actions do not ripen again. [6.41]

                      Therefore, a non-virtuous fruition is seen
                      To be from a black action; a virtuous fruition from virtue.
                      Those having the awareness that virtue and non-virtue do not exist will be liberated.
                      Thinking about actions and results is also to be repudiated. [6.42]

                      Although free from the view of the transitory collection,
                      The Buddha taught I and mine.
                      Likewise, although things are indeed without inherent existence,
                      He taught “existence” as an interpretable meaning [teaching]. [6.44]

                      And Chandrakirti is quite sure to have understood and presented Nagarjuna very well:

                      Since with scripture as well as reasoning
                      [Nagarjuna taught] how those [sixth-ground bodhisattvas] realize
                      The very profound doctrine, I [Chandrakirti] will speak
                      In accordance with the system of the Superior Nagarjuna. [6.3]

                      There is an English translation of Chandrakirti’s self commentary to his Madhayamakavatara: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lucid-Exposition-Middle-Way-Prasannapada-ebook/dp/B00CUFJZ0O/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1447625229&sr=8-2&keywords=sprung+candrakirti

                      —-
                      Just as a side track, two Amazon sellers sell the hardcover of this book for £1,162.45 or £679.49. I’ve never seen any such prize for a book that was published not long ago. Crazy, and I guess not a good Karma to make such profit out of Dharma books.

                    • Hi Tenpel & Co., thanks for your insightful post.

                      I would like to get back to the heading of this particular blogpost, which is the position that NKT teach an incorrect version of conventional truth, one that we might call nihilistic.

                      First, as you replied to Dorje, I agree that according to Tsongkhapa’s method, we can (and should) investigate an object in accordance to both the conventional and ultimate. GKG writes in ‘Mahamudra Tantra:

                      “There are two ways of searching for an object. An example of the first way, which we can call a ‘conventional search’, is searching for our car in a car park. The conclusion of this type of search is that we find the car, in the sense that we see the thing that everyone agrees is our car. However, having located our car, suppose we are still not satisfied with the mere appearance of the car and we want to determine exactly what is the car. We might then engage in what we call an ‘ultimate search’ for the car, in which we look within the object itself to find something that is the object.”

                      I think this passage is in line with Tsongkhapa’s method and that of other Gelugpa Lamas, but I’d be interested to know if you agree or not. It indicates to me however, that as far as conventional searching goes, the teaching is clear: the car exists conventionally, others can also see it, agree upon it, etc. This is not nihilistic.

                      Going on from this, Gyatso explains more about conventional truth in ‘Ocean of Nectar’:

                      “All permanent and impermanent phenomena have two natures, an ultimate nature and a conventional nature. Their ultimate nature is the main object of a valid cognizer realizing a truth and their conventional nature is the main object of a valid cognizer realizing a false object. Buddha said that (….) the main object of a valid cognizer realizing a false object is a conventional truth. (….) All conventional truths are false objects because they appear to be truly existent when they are not. However, worldly people who have not realized emptiness do not realize this, and so they distinguish between correct and incorrect conventional truths”

                      Once again, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this passage. To me it seems to be correct and does not indicate a kind of ‘anything goes’ version of conventional reality.

                      Other highly realized Gelugpas such as Lama Yeshe actually write in a much looser way about conventional reality than Gyatso does. For example, in ‘The Bliss of Inner Fire’, Lama Yeshe says:

                      “In an absolute sense the mind is empty, or non-self existent, while relatively it exists in dependence upon causes and conditions. All phenomena of samsara and nirvana exist like an illusion, a dream or a reflection in a mirror.”

                      Now here is an interesting issue to me, namely the NKT’s “beneficial belief” thing, something that Gen Dekyong loves to talk about. Due to the fact that she generally waters down the teachings to suit the ‘green ears’ of all the newcomers showing up at festivals every year, her teachings on beneficial belief I think CAN be seen as somewhat nihilistic – or at least wishy-washy. But that doesn’t mean they are wrong per se; rather, they are too superficial, leading many who have not properly studied the two truths to fall into an extreme view of ‘whatever I believe will be’.

                      BUT…! We then have the whole tantric path, which is non-different from beneficial belief. For example, if I am self-generating as Heruka lets say, of course I know that conventionally, I am not yet Heruka. But, according to Gyatso, it is beneficial for me to hold the view or divine pride that I am Heruka as this view helps the mind overcome ordinary appearance. Now we may argue that it is an ‘incorrect conventional cognition’, but actually it isn’t: If we view our self as the deity and we understand that the deity is none other than our own enlightened potential in form, our cognition is correct. Conversely, if I cling to ‘Maik’ during my self-generation practice, this belief has no benefit at all.

                      All of Gyatso’s ‘mere name’ and ‘mere appearance’ teachings that I have found seem to fit perfectly with what I have read elsewhere. Here a brief comparison between ‘Heart of Wisdom’ and ‘Praise of Dependant Relativity’ by Lobsang Gyatso:

                      Heart of Wisdom: “If someone places a toy rubber snake in our room, the first time we see it we may believe that it is a real snake and be startled by it. Even though there is no snake in our room, a snake appears vividly to our mind. For a short time we may cling to this appearance as real and develop fear as a result. However, if we look more carefully we shall discover that the snake does not exist in the way it appears. Clearly there is no snake existing from its own side; we have merely imputed a snake with our conceptual mind….. When we discover that the snake is really a toy snake and realize that the real snake was merely imputed by our mind, we conclude that the real snake does not exist at all in our room. However, when we realize that our body [for example] is merely imputed by our mind it would be a great mistake to conclude that our body does not exist at all….Both snake and body are merely imputed by mind, but our body is imputed correctly whereas the snake is imputed incorrectly.”

                      Lobsang Gyatso/Graham Woodhouse:”If the person who thinks the rope is a snake takes a closer look, he will see that it does not accord with the convention ‘snake’. He will know the rope for what it is. The subsequent perception, of a piece of rope lying in the grass, establishes that the former one, of the rope as a snake, was mistaken. Seeing the rope as a snake was wrong, just as assuming the world to be flat would be….. When we mistakenly think a patterned rope is a snake, the snake that arises to mind in place of the rope is just an appearance of such to the mind that grasps the rope to be a snake, merely posited out there by that mind. Similarly, when we correctly think “I” in dependence upon the aggregates, the “I” that arises to that mind is no more than an appearance posited there by that mind”

                      Best wishes. @Tenpel, I would be happy to hear your comments about these points as I think this is an important subject. No rush at all, I know you’re busy.

                    • “I clearly remember having read academic texts that said that it is a misinterpretation of earlier Indologists that Nagarjuna has no position. ”
                      Nagarjuna himself says this, pretty unequivocally. Bizarre that we should defer to ‘Buddhologists’ or ‘Indologists’.
                      “If you analyse conventional phenomena in order to find if they have an essence or if they exist independently, if there is something ultimately (ontologically seen), you cannot find such an essence or independent existence or final thing of something. So what you find is that an essence or independent / inherent existence cannot be found.”
                      You are not looking for an “essence”, an “independent existence” or an “inherent existence”, you are just looking for the thing you are looking for; chariot, pot, whatever, and you can’t find it. No one ever looked for “inherent existence”. Madhyamaka is a question of epistimology not ontology.

                      “However, I trained and studied mainly in Gelug school though I have also Kagyue teachers and Sakya teachers and though I received a commentary on the Heart Sutra by the Jonangpas by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Mahamudra teachings etc. …”
                      So?
                      “The conventional and the ultimate are seen as (mental) isolates. They are two different isolates but one entity. Like the frontside and the backside of a coin or like the gold of a gold bar. You can mentally isolate the gold from the bar and you can speak about the gold and you can speak about the bar.”
                      conventional truth is simply the deluded confused imagininings of the unenlightened, whilst ultimate truth is reality directly perceived by Buddhas. I like you gold bar analogy but it is unnecessarily confusing.
                      “Dorje, this sounds quite arrogant and self-assertive.”
                      Another unnecessary ad hominem attack or something else?
                      “Shantarakshita expressed his view in Madhyamakalankara and his view is a synthesis between the Madhyamaka of Nagarjuna, the Mind Only Teachings traced back to Asanga, and the logico-epistemological tradition of Dignaga and Dharmakirti.”
                      I know and I admire Shantarashita’s search for synthesis with these three traditions. But It doesn’t really fit with what Nagarjuna was doing. Nor does Tsongkhapa’s Pramana / Madhyamaka synthesis. Conventional truth is just delusion, and trying to back up valid cognition with valid cognisers just leads to a totally circular argument in the end.
                      “You sound like some of my Gelug masters who hold their view also as the highest and best. But at least they are humble to a certain degree, saying “these great masters, who were incredible in … but they didn’t get the right view”. ”
                      Another unnecessary ad hominem attack?
                      “For the NKT the Dalai Lama is “the worst 21st Century Buddhist dictator” and this is a conventional truth for them though it is not but a mere projection with no basis in reality, while the Dalai Lama “not being the worst 2st Century Buddhist dictator” has a basis in reality and is a conventional truth. This clearly shows that a reason consciousness analysing the conventional is useful, lacking it you might fall into the extreme of Nihilism which is in this context, to deny conventional existent and functioning phenomena, and then you misconstrue your path, denying things that exist (the Extreme of Nihilism in this context) or inventing things that don’t exist (the Extreme of Externalism in this context). Building your path on non-existent things – or following Nihilism – you highly likely are going to cultivate wrong views, delusions and undermine your ethics. And this is exactly what the NKT is doing and what the post above addresses and aims to point out.”
                      This is just a difference of opinon. The NKT claim to have evidence of great suffering caused by the Dalai Lama’s “ban” and I think they really do think that they are correct in attacking the Dalai Lama in the way they do. They see him as undermining his and their entire lineage because he rejects not only their protector but the exclusive approach proposed by Pabongkha and Trijang Rinpoche. This isn’t just some stuff the NKT made up. The Dalai Lama really does oppose the way the majority of his Gelugpa lamas believed things should be. Maybe also the majority of Gelugpa lamas, including the current Ganden Tripa also believe the Dalai Lama is wrong and polluting the Ganden tradition with false Dharma. If people actually believe that, the Dalai Lama is worse than Hitler or whoever because he is destroying the only possible path out of samsara. The NKT aren’t being nihilistic and it is folly of you to suggest that they are. They simply hold a different view to you.
                      “Now if you come with your interpretation here in that context, I find this rather counter productive because the post above aims to point out misconceptions and the basis of confusion in the NKT, Nihilism. ”
                      Counter productive for whom? Sorry if I am not here to cheerlead for you. Maybe you would prefer if people here just post to say how wonderful and insightful you are. I actually think you are misusing the Buddha’s teachings to attack the NKT. Their teaching that if you see a being as a Buddha you will receive the blessings of a Buddha, etc. is quite common in tantric teaching. I think Patrul Rinpoche talks about receiving the relatively great amount of blessings the more faith one has in an object. The NKT don’t just rely on this though. They reason that Kelsang Gyatso is a learned Geshe and qualified guide by looking at his past and what other lamas, including the Dalai Lama, has said about him. They focus on his learning at Sera and his years in retreat. This is why they say he has realisation and is even a Buddha. It is not nihilistic, just that you have a different opinion. But once you had exactly the same opinion as them, and the tantras are pretty unequivocal over what happens to someone who once had faith in a lama and took empowerments and then acted against this lama, and it doesn’t look good for you, according to every tantric text I’ve ever read.
                      Regarding dogyal, it is the same. The NKT don’t just say dogyal is an enlightened manifestation without cause. They back it up with the same reasoning Trijang used. Dogyal was previously Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen, recognised by the then Panchen Lama as an incarnation of Gelek Pelsang Sonam, etc. Indeed, from their view, it is nihilistic to suggest that this long line of great realised beings could then become anything other than an enlightened protector. To say these realised beings could become a gyalpo spirit is denying karmic causation and is therefore nihilistic. So, this is really just also a difference of opinion.
                      |”If you enter the discussion from a complete different angle and don’t pay attention to the context of the post and the discussion this really opens a complete new topic and I wonder if this is helpful in any way here.”
                      Sorry, I will pay attention in future and make sure I only post if it fits in with what I think you would like me to say.

                  • “You do not only object Tsongkhapa but you object also Chandrakirti who speaks himself of “inherent existence” in his Madhayamakavatara. Chandrakirti is accepted in all the Tibetan traditions as far as I know ”
                    Nonsense. I object to an over-emphasis on “inherent existence” being the sole object of negation and particularly to Tsongkhapa’s reading of it as being the “subtle object of negation.” I could say you and Tsongkhapa reject Aryadeva but not refuting the tetralemma and instead only negating a “inherent existence” that isn’t actually any part of any phenomena anyway.

                    • Bristollad says:

                      Dorje,
                      The article is discussing a possible misinterpretation of Tsongkhapa’s explanation concerning conventional and ultimate truths. The NKT says it follows Tsongkhapa’s interpretation. The article questions whether they are doing so correctly. As Malik has shown, it is not so clear whether it is incorrectly taught – he has provided quotes from Geshe Kelsang which seems in line with common Gelugpa teachings.
                      Your purpose seems to be to show that Tsongkhapa is wrong. This is not on-topic or helpful for this discussion. It would be like two physicists discussing evidence for special relativity and a third coming along and quoting quantum mechanics at them.
                      Also, your proposal that:

                      “Maybe also the majority of Gelugpa lamas, including the current Ganden Tripa also believe the Dalai Lama is wrong and polluting the Ganden tradition with false Dharma.”

                      is mere supposition and not backed by any evidence I’ve seen or heard. The current Ganden Tripa, Rizong Rinpoche is vocal in his support for HH Dalai Lama and spoke against supporters of Dorje Shugden when I received teachings from him in the summer. Actually, not all Gelugpas accept that Drakpa Gyaltsen is the source of Dorje Shugden – this is the view commonly held within Drepung Loseling for instance (and Rizong Rinpoche is the former abbot of Drepung Loseling).

                      You show great knowledge of Madhyamaka philosophy and you clearly disagree with Tsongkhapa’s presentation: why not leave it at that and return to the topic – does the Geshe Kelsang and/or the NKT correctly teach Tsongkhapa’s presentation.

                    • Thank you. Exactly. Back to topic!

                    • “The NKT says it follows Tsongkhapa’s interpretation. The article questions whether they are doing so correctly.”
                      Regarding areas of contention that Tenzin highlights, such as Kelsang Gyatso being realised, or dogyal being a Buddha, the NKT employ clear arguments of causality. For example they say Kelsang is realised because he studied a lot and engaged in lengthy retreats and never rejected or broke samaya with his root lama. Or, dogyal is a Buddha because he is the accepted incarnation of a long line of realised lamas (indeed, if one accepted this incarnation lineage, it would be nihilistic to assert that dogyal is just a gyalpo spirit, as that would reject karma and causation.)

                      They say the Dalai Lama is “the worse dictator” because they believe he is destroying the lineage coming down from Pabongkha and Trijang Rinpoche, major teachers of just about every Gelugpa lama in the previous century, which they also believe comprises the only valid path to enlightenment, at least for them. This clearly shows that even their more outlandish views are backed up by arguments of causation. Therefore, they are not being nihilistic, in that they are appealing, very definitely, to causation. You or Tenzin may choose to reject their arguments, but these will be questions of history (Kelsang didn’t really do retreat, Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen didn’t incarnate as dogyal, etc.) but not questions of philosophy and I think it is dishonest and disingenuous of Tenzin to claim it is.

                      “The current Ganden Tripa, Rizong Rinpoche is vocal in his support for HH Dalai Lama and spoke against supporters of Dorje Shugden when I received teachings from him in the summer.”
                      The dogyal debate largely comes down to whether Gelugpas should take Dzogchen teachings or not. The Dalai Lama is well known for taking Dzogchen teachings from Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Trulshik Rinpoche, etc. The current Ganden Tripa dismisses Dzogchen as taught in the Nyingma tradition as “misinterpretations, misunderstandings.”
                      In a teaching on Mahamudra given in Wales, Rizong Rinpoche, through the broken English of a translator, said,
                      “And in fact what had happened was, in fact they call in the Tibetan tradition we have Dzogchen, part of the Nyingma tradition, which […] in the Nyingma tradition there is this practice called Dzogchen, they call the Great Completion or Great Perfection. And so this particular tradition or system called the Great Perfection is said to have drawn from this text by Dewa Gonpo, the Accomplishment of the Secret, so this becomes the source of the Dzogchen teachings. In fact of course Dzogchen was taught by Guru Padmasambhava and therefore Dzogchen is an authentic teaching of Buddhism. However, it is said that over the centuries, because the later followers of Dzogchen were not able to comprehend the meaning of these secret texts fully, therefore there had been misinterpretations, misunderstandings, and therefore, later on they were, the texts and practices drawn, which claim to be Dzogchen practice, but er, and teachings but they have been slight misrepresentations of Dzogchen in the Nyingma tradition. Of course, Dzogchen in the beginning was pure and authentic teaching of Buddhism, but because of misunderstanding and the lack of understanding on the part of the practitioners who follow that tradition, there have been kind of mix-ups with other views and thoughts, and in Tsongkhapa’s Lamrim Chenmo it is mentioned that although a tradition which is established by, at the time when Buddhism was first brought to Indians and was present in Tibet by these two great masters, Master Padmasambhava and Master Shantarakshita; although these, their teachings were authentic and pure Dharma, Buddhist teachings, but then they became a little bit adulterated later on by the followers of the Nyingma tradition. And therefore there is a slight difference in the later versions of the Nyingma Dzogchen tradition and the earlier versions. And similarly, it is said that because Dzogchen is such a high level of practice, it talks about the mind being non-conceptual, without any thought and so forth, these terms are used, and because of these terms and certain practitioners misunderstood them to mean that you don’t think about anything when you meditate. Even at the level of the, the beginner level you don’t make any thought, you don’t bring up any thought and so just stop thinking, so this is wrong understanding of Dzogchen and this kind of tradition spread in China and we, in the Tibetan term, the tradition, they call this meditation that spread in China […] which means “the meditation of nothingness”, which is not actually Dzogchen meditation at all, but people misunderstood it to be Dzogchen meditation because of finding these words in these very sacred texts of Dzogchen, which mentions this meditation without thought and so forth.”

                      Therefore, arguably, the Dalai Lama’s approach is not only in direct opposition to Trijang Rinpoche and the lineage coming down from Pabongkha, it is also in opposition to the views stated by the current head of the Gelugpa tradition.

                      “Thank you. Exactly. Back to topic!”
                      You are just looking for cheerleaders, aren’t you, Tenzin?

                    • Dear Dorje & Maik108
                      I didn’t read any of the past comments except that of Bristollad. So I am not tuned in what’s going on.
                      I just catched the last two lines while approving the new comment from you, Dorje:

                      “Thank you. Exactly. Back to topic!”
                      You are just looking for cheerleaders, aren’t you, Tenzin?

                      I am not looking for cheerleaders.
                      But as I said, what is the point to bring into the discussion an angle that is out of context of the discussion and comes from a very different angle and is in itself an object of debate and controversy?
                      It is a bit like someone talking of a house and another one talking in that context all of the time about a forest near the house.

                      The topic is, if there is a widespread attitude of Nihilism in NKT or not. The discussion is based on the frame NKT is operating in (or believes to operate in), the Gelug school and Tsongkhapa’s texts.

                      A discussion about Madhaymaka and controversial views about it can be mentioned in such a context of course but mixing in a view that totally rejects Tsongkhapa’s position (and holding to it as the highest and final) + avoiding to discuss what is topic is a total distraction in my eyes and not very useful. A separate post about Madhaymaka controversies and a discussion there would be by far more productive.

                    • I think, if you do not read the comments you are in no position to comment on them, Tenzin. If you read my recent comments you will see that I am engaging with your specious article.
                      The NKT make all the claims they make (Dalai Lama is evil, Kelsang is a realised geshe, dogyal is a Buddha, etc.) based on arguments of causality. You can disagree with their arguments in terms of history or of understanding the nature of lineage, you cannot [correctly] dismiss their position as nihilism.
                      (I just wrote a comment to this effect, but I think it got lost due to my connection dropping off. Sorry if I’m just repeating myself.)

                    • I think, if you do not read the comments you are in no position to comment on them, Tenzin.

                      Thank you Dorje, you are right. I guess I will find time at the weekend to read the comments.

                      The NKT make all the claims they make (Dalai Lama is evil, Kelsang is a realised geshe, dogyal is a Buddha, etc.) based on arguments of causality. You can disagree with their arguments in terms of history or of understanding the nature of lineage, you cannot [correctly] dismiss their position as nihilism.

                      I am not so sure. In the NKT it was taught to me and others that it is all a matter of labelling. “Because all things are merely labelled we can choose a label that helps us the most. So if we label Shugden as a Buddha he will function for us as a Buddha.” This IS Nihilism.

                    • Tenpel, when you’re not busy I’d appreciate a reply to my post above (15th). I gave some quotes from GKGs books that clearly indicate, to me, a correct presentation of conventional truth, one that is not simply ‘whatever we want it to be’, as you suggest. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on that. Best wishes!

                    • Sure, to base conventional reality on mental imputation alone would mean anything that occurs to us would be conventionally real. But in every discussion I’ve ever had with the NKT, they clearly base their claims on dependently arisen phenomena and therefore appeal to causality rather than just mental imputation. Their argument that enlightened protectors of worldly ones “don’t exist from their own side” is exactly what Trijang says in ‘Music delighting’. He does say, though, that only pure minds perceive dogyal as enlightened.
                      Overall, I’d say the NKT demonises the Dalai Lama with reasons based in [some kind of] conventional reality. They even write books explaining their position and reasons for it. You can disagree with these but they can’t be rejected as nihilistic in the sense that you are using the term. I think their appeal to mental imputation and wanting to think helpful thoughts has its roots in Vajrayana pure view – and then it is contradictory because if all we perceive is a Buddha field, where does the evil Dalai Lama fit in? But Vajrayana is pretty contradictory anyway, with wrathful deities doing battle with samaya breakers etc. In all I don’t think the nkt’s take on it is so unusual.

    • Bonpo geshes have their debate classes in gelug monasteries. Did you know that? So a gelug link is not so strange as it looks at first sight. And in my eyes you can notice this Gelug link in the sense that their phrasing of for instance “selfawareness” (rang rigpa) has a Tsongkhapian flavour to it, in the sense that Bönpo lamas phrase it as “the mind looking back on itself”. That is: selfawareness as a function of memory -as Tsong Khapa explains selfawareness- instead of the reflexive selfawareness of Nyingma and Kagyu. That was criticised by Tsong Khapa because reflexivity would imply “a sword that cuts itself”.
      And the Bön curriculum is broader in my experience than other Tibetan schools, since it also contains for instance Tibetan medicine, yoga/trulkhor, and of course dzogchen.

      And the Bönpo centres are not like those massive retreat centres with a 1000 retreatants in the summer with all “types” of buddhists: buddhagroupies with mala around their wrists, quasi monks and nuns with quasi robes, spiritual materialists, hippies, volvo drivers and celebrities, etc.. If you allow me some prejudicial ad hominems this time… hihihi :)
      But ya’all better stay in your Gelug centres. Since the food is awful at Bönpo centres, the roofs leak, the gompa is badly ventilated, you have to sleep on a matras on the floor, and Bönpos lack humor… and we still do animal sacrifices(*) ofkoz…

      :))

      (*) not all meals are vegetarian.

  14. More on non-affirmative negation / illocutionary negation of Nagarjuna’s non-position /non-assertion
    https://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Asia/AsiaBerg.htm

    “The argument runs that Nagarjuna does not refute rival philosophical positions by simply refuting whatever positive claims those positions might make, but rather he refuses the very act of making an assertion.”

    “The catuskoti (tetrolemma) dialectic employed by Nagarjuna in the Mulamadhyamikakarika consists of a series of propositional negations which are meant to exhaust all possible metaphysical claims regarding causation, motion, action, conditionality, essence and so on. Were skepticism a matter of merely practicing illocutionary negation, the catuskoti could be seen as non-essential if not superfluous to it.”

    “if illocution plays a role in Nagarjuna’s skepticism (which it surely does), it is only the last methodical step in a long philosophical process toward espousing Nagarjuna’s sunyavada, for the final illocutionary act is made compelling by the host of metaphysical refutations that have proceeded it.”

    And especially for Tenpel (which showsTENPEL”S POSITION RESEMBLES NON BUDDHIST NAIYAYIKA)

    “His prospective opponent has opined that “there is no name whatever without an object” (nama hi nirvastukam kimcid api nasti), and since Nagarjuna has found various names to characterize the things of the world, like nihsvabhavatva and sunya, he must with these words be identifying some sort of substantial nature in things that serves as their ground. Nagarjuna concedes that, were he to be making a proposition, the above objection would indeed show his position to have an error (dosa). This concession is a strange one for Nagarjuna to make at this point, for it seems to represent him as holding that propositions refer. It is well known that the Naiyayikas held the view that all propositional errors have their perceptual foundation in a real object (arthajanya), but result from the “misplacement” (anyathakhyati or viparitakhyati) of a real predicate into the locus of a real subject which does not belong there, and thus while there are fictitious entities we can speak of such as “a round square” or “a rabbit’s horn” or “the son of a barren woman,” the elements which these expressions wrongly combine can always be found among the reals in the world. Therefore all propositions, whether mistaken or true, have a referential character. The Buddhists on the other hand held a theory of error called asatkhyati, or attributing reality to unreal things, and therefore they maintained that almost all propositions, containing as they do supposedly ostensive terms, are non-referring, or in fact contain “empty subject terms.” This being the case, Nagarjuna could have simply objected to his opponent here that not all propositions, specifically those regarding sunyata, are referential. Instead, he concedes the point of the objection, but then claims it does not apply to him because he makes no assertion.”

  15. This is a very interesting post, thanks for starting it Tenpel! As I’m very interested in the topic of conventional reality I thought I’d participate once again ;-)

    I think overall, Gyatso’s books offer a valid and correct description of conventional reality. Having said that, I always found the passage you quoted from ‘Oral Transmission of Mahamudra’ problematic and even pointed it out to Jim Belither some months ago. He hasn’t responded yet.

    Having read through these posts and critiques on NKTs ‘nihilistic’ presentation, it seems that some have too rigid an understanding of conventional reality as well. It is as if they say ‘So-and-so cannot be a Buddha because he functions as a worldly being’, which is not an argument unless they themselves are omniscient. Indeed, any pro or con argument concerning the function of a deity or person as a Buddha or non-Buddha is a made up argument, as we cannot prove whether a being is a Buddha or not (by ‘made-up’ I mean it is based on an opinion or belief). The conventional nature of an entity being enlightened is therefore very different from the conventional reality of a gross, agreed-upon phenomenon, such as a house or a sink.

    We may say that, conventionally, a Buddha has specific functions in dependence upon causes, conditions and the karma of those experiencing it. But we cannot prove who or what is or is not a Buddha based upon such functions, as we do not know these directly.
    This type of conventional reality is tricky as we are not talking about the chemical composition of a specific element or mathematics; we are talking about beliefs. If we consider Dorje Shugden/Dolgyal as an example: We may in part base ‘function’ on scriptural references that say Shugden is a worldly being. However, if scriptural references prove the function of a being, then we have a problem, as there are also scriptural references stating that Shugden is an emanation of Wisdom Buddha. Now, you may argue that these are far newer, or that there are not many. To that I have two more objections: If the age of a scripture adds weight to the conventional nature it describes, the Vedic view on conventional reality is right and the Buddhist one is wrong. Second, if the sheer number of texts indicate the validity of conventional reality then the inherent, materialistic view of Darwinian evolution should be accepted and dependent relativity dropped.

    Conclusion: It remains impossible to prove if a being is conventionally a Buddha or not. This can only be determined relatively, within a specific framework, tradition or view. If NKT people believe in Shugden as a wisdom Buddha who protects their own wisdom, practice and tradition, it is academically and philosophically unsound to say they are wrong. Naturally the same goes the other way around: we cannot say the Dalai Lama’s view on Shugden is incorrect. This is an absurd statement to make.

    But now I digress…! Tenpel said that if one has tremendous faith in a fake tooth-relic as being an actual tooth of Buddha, one would receive blessings. But, if that relic were the real thing, we would receive far greater blessings. This is the subject of conventional reality in relation to dependent-relativity, as taught by Tsongkhapa.

    I think this is a very subtle subject that requires much meditation. Secondly, it is clear from scriptural analysis that the functional potentiality of a Buddha is dependent-related to the mind of the sentient being who is experiencing the Buddha’s function. Milarepa declared that everything gave him dharma teachings; all sounds were emanations of Buddha’s speech, all forms of Buddha’s body, etc. Naturally, we believe Milarepa was a highly realised being, therefore possessing a mind that was deeply in tune, or connected to, Buddhanature.
    Tsongkhapa (along with other non-Madhyamaka teachers) taught that the enlightened mind is equal to the ultimate nature of all phenomena (in fact, this wording may have been introduced by Yogacharins). Thus, we can infer that Buddha/Buddhas are everywhere at all times. It is only our self-grapsing ignorance that prevents us from seeing this.

    But now, to use another popular counter example, suppose we say ‘no, that is nihilism! If that were true, we could generate a mind of faith and ‘pure view’ towards Hitler and he would function as a Buddha’. This is subtle but there is a difference:
    Hitler is of course not an inherent Hitler and as all Buddhists would have to accept, even he has Buddha-nature, his clear-light mind. Conventionally however, it seems his clear-light mind was rather unclear to say the least and he performed actions and promoted an ideology that were horrifically detrimental to the well-being of mankind. It would be very difficult to say that, from a different point of view, he might function as a Buddha. Nonetheless, we cannot say that he existed in a fixed, rigid way: this would completely contradict Shakyamuni, Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu and Tsongkhapa. He existed in one way to the Jews, another to his soldiers, another to his lover and another to his dog. Furthermore, he is changing momentarily, continuously (Shantideva, Dromtönpa, Chandrakirti, etc). So to pin-point a fixed “function” of “Hitler” becomes highly problematic. There are countless different conventional natures of ‘Hitler’.

    I would suggest that Gyatso generally points this out with the well-known Father/Husband/Son example.
    So we understand, again very much from Tsongkhapa, that function is dependent-related and the observer of said function plays much of a role. This in turn relates to the manifestation/fruition of that person’s karma, I would claim. Another writer on one of these blogs mentioned that no matter how we try to view Ronald McDonald, he will always simply be a clown. This is too gross an understanding of conventional reality. It turns functionality into an inherent quality in its own right, which contradicts all the teachers.
    It needs to be understood however, that as far as both valid and invalid cognitions go, both of their objects of imputation exist as mere objects of imputation. Example: A rope mistaken for a snake in the dark is an invalid imputation, while a mind that sees that it is in fact a rope is a valid imputation. Yet in both cases, the object of the cognizer – the snake and the rope – are mere imputations and do not exist intrinsically. As such, they are exactly the same. By conventional function, they are different.

    Here I would accept that there is a problem when NKT say ‘everything is mere name’, because of course it isn’t. If it was, the snake would be a rope if we named it such. So if we say the basis of imputation needs to be suitable to the name, we cannot literally say a thing is mere name. Nonetheless, I believe that in many of his books, Gyatso explains this quite clearly by giving some more commentary. He will often say that things do not exist upon investigation, there is no ‘real’ or inherent object behind its label. We label a ‘car’ correctly in dependence upon our Ferrari and a dog labels it ‘toilet’ correctly. Behind these nominal labels nothing inherently exists.

    This is in line with Tsongkhapa’s teachings I believe, it fits with Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti. It is exactly how Gyatso has presented it, along with other great teachers such as Geshe Rabten, Lama Yeshe, Lama Zopa, HH the Dalai Lama and others.

    Now a question arises, which is this: does this method of determining the validity of a conventional truth depend upon majority says?

    We know today that the world is round and revolves around the sun. Some centuries ago we all believed the world was flat and that the sun revolved around us. This is a tremendous paradigm shift. But if majority decides the truth of conventional reality, how is that possible? We can answer this by saying the people of the Earth had an invalid understanding and thus imputation of the Earth: Had they looked more closely at their surroundings and environment, they would have seen the signs that suggest a round Earth (as many far more ancient civilizations had done before them). This is like the rope being mistaken for a snake: if the onlooker were to investigate more closely, they would see that it is, in fact, just a rope. So this seems to contradict majority says.
    I believe this can be explained by ‘unconscious imputation’, much like instinct. The world appears in dependence upon far deeper layers of ‘karmic pressure’, layers of planted seeds that are flourishing deep within our subconscious. In dependence upon causes and conditions, these can arise as a valid basis for our imputing them as such and such. Therefore, our imputation can still be mistaken. This is how it works. So, even a mistaken imputation exists also correctly within our mind! We just don’t realize it (i.e. we subconsciously impute ’round world’ and superficially impute ‘flat world’).

    The functions of a sentient being are far more complex and (therefore) subtle than the conventional reality of a car or house.
    To conclude, mass consensus is that Hitler functioned as an evil dictator and the majority of people who experienced his being experienced this in the form of tremendous suffering. Therefore someone meditating on Hitler believing him to be an emanation of Buddha would almost certainly not attain any spiritual results as the vessel is by all convention so far removed from one that would be suitable to yield them.
    To return to Tsongkhapa’s three ways, we can use the last way as a more definitive proof: namely, an omniscient being, who sees clearly the union of emptiness and conventional truth, will see simultaneously the Buddha-nature or clear light mind of Hitler, as well as his severely deluded conventional self. This would then be the final proof.
    There are some teachings that say Buddhas can appear or emanate as extremely evil or murderous beings who kill and torture many beings, if that is their karma. But this is in the realm of total faith-exclusivity, meaning we cannot refute or defend it. To me, I find this teaching problematic; on an individual level, for a practitioner, it might be useful in some circumstances for the sake of protecting their own mind.

    …Sorry, that ended up being very long :-) Best wishes.

    • “Another writer on one of these blogs mentioned that no matter how we try to view Ronald McDonald, he will always simply be a clown. This is too gross an understanding of conventional reality. It turns functionality into an inherent quality in its own right, which contradicts all the teachers.”
      No I didn’t. I said the NKT’s refusal to accept that dogyal has the conventional appearance as a gyalpo spirit would be,
      “like a bunch of aliens coming to earth and deifying Ronald McDonald and refusing any suggestions Ronald’s a clown. The two big shoes represent wisdom and compassion, the red nose is perfect conduct and the big red lips show his perfect teaching.
      Err, no, he’s a clown…”

      My point was about the cultural ignorance of NKT cult members, not about inherent characteristics of Ronald McDonald. Though, I think, given that Ronald is simply a character invented to sell burgers rather than, say, a sentient being, the character and his attributes are quite fixed. Even though his clown quality is not ‘inherent’, and he could be taken up by another person and turned into a superhero, a Buddha figure or whatever, they would probably be in breach of trademark and copyright law, so, though not totally inherently a clown that promotes burgers, definitely legally just a clown that promotes burgers.

      If you come back to say that dogyal’s characterists can change from a violent sectarian harmful gyalpo spirit to something lovely and nice, I agree, but that’s not happened. Indeed, in being promoted by two of the world’s most sectarian and unpleasant Buddhist cults, Kechara and the NKT, I would argue that dogyal’s characteristics are actually now worse than before, when it was just a spirit praised for killing loads of people.

      • The slogan depicted in the article above: “Samdhong, Corrupt and Evil” speaks to the aberrations of reality that characterizes these two unpleasant cults Dorje mentions.
        Not that he needs my defense, but Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche (who administered Tibetan schools for many years) is one of the least corrupt and ethical people one can imagine–although I don’t particularly agree with his old school conservativism.
        Someone I do admire without reservations is Aung San Suu Kyi to whom hearty congratulations are due! Thank you also to Mr. Anthony Aris for his love and support. Of course Kechara/Tsem have been publishing vicious attacks on the Lady Aung San Suu Kyi as befits their status as ignorant Chinese agents. Tsem is on the wrong side of history and his lightning downfall will be precipitous.

        • Whomever I met or heard, they all spoke praise of Samdhong Rinpoche regarding his simple modes life style, his lack of any corruption, his ethics and also his brilliance as a teacher. A Geshe told me you can print every single sentence he says about the Dharma so sharp and clear they are. Also true, many don’t agree with his old school conservativism.

      • If you have a few minutes, watch this.

  16. test

  17. Prayers for Paris – the victims and the insane antagonists whose unimaginable suffering yet awaits them. May they all come under the loving care of Avalokiteshvara and Tara, OM MANI PAME HUM, OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA

  18. “I think, if you do not read the comments you are in no position to comment on them, Tenzin.”

    I think, if we do not have a complete and experiential understanding of the topics under discussion, none of us is in a position to comment on them.

    One moment of experience is infinitely more useful to ourselves and others than all this blah, blah, blah.
    The Buddha sat on a meditation seat, not at a computer desk

    • …he writes, whilst sitting at a computer desk. I find this kind of hypocritical preaching so tiresome. There is nothing wrong with trying to understand the teachings of the Buddha as presented by various teachers and then testing one’s understanding in discussion.

      There is a common Tibetan saying that what is experienced in the drupdra should not be brought into the shedra.

      • Here’s another : ” all shedra and no drupdra makes Jack a dull boy.”
        In 1982′ my highly respected yogi monk teacher was asked to come down the mountain after a senior teacher at the dialectics school had taken ill. The man was clearly dying. However, when his monk colleagues tried to advise him how to manage the experience, he became extremely agitated, even throwing thins and shouting. In light of my teachers reputation as a realised yogin with a great heart, he was asked to come and try and help.
        Sadly, when he mentioned the term bodhicitta, the poor man once again became confrontational and aggressive. He died a painful death and when it came to time to distribute his belongings to his fellow monks in accord with the five powers to be practiced at the time of death, all of the monks refused, fearing that the monks spirit would remain, clinging to his former belongings and haunting those who used him without having his consent.
        The thing is, this man was very senior at the School of Dialectics, and was renowned for his philosophical understanding; my teacher told me the man knew the tenets so well he could recite their supporting backwards.In the Tibetan community he was one of the most highly respected scholars of the time.
        So what had gone wrong? My teacher told me that even though the monk concerned had extensive scriptural knowledge and was a master of debate, he had spent all of his time memorising and arguing and none of it purifying the mind and accumulating merit. In short, all study and no meditation. The result was his mind was totally unssubdued and the many invaluable teachings and initiations went to waste. As my teacher put it, his mind was like water and the dharma like tsampa ( no matter how much you stir cold water and tsampa they don’t mix. Similarly, without meditative experience, all the philosophical knowledge we accumulate, all the debates we win, all the concepts we unravel with our conceptual mind are completely valueless, without meaning. OTOH, a single mani, recited with a kind heart is more valuable than a philosophical understanding born of book learning and debate.
        As for the statement about tantra, check out why the real name for tantra is guhya mantra…..sshh, it’s a secret! Talking about tantra and its significance in an Internet chat room cheapens the precious tradition infinitely- no genuine tantric practitioner would contribute to the degeneration of the tradition by trivialising it in such a manner, or in so public a forum. Good luck.

    • ” wanting to think helpful thoughts has its roots in Vajrayana pure view” REALLY?
      i say again” I think, if we do not have a complete and experiential understanding of the topics under discussion, none of us is in a position to comment on them.”
      The above suggestion is bunkum-shame on you for trivialising the vajrayana with such silly words
      Debating the qualities of tantra on the internet; REAllY?
      Shame on you

      • Yes, really. I am simply saying the NKT seem to derive their teaching that “if you think something is a Buddha, you will get the benefits of praying to a Buddha” or “if you see things as pure, you will receive some benefit” on the teaching regarding development of pure perception (dag snang).
        This is kind of important because that aspect of NKT teaching is being judged against sutrayana criteria, where it has vajrayana precedents (in some admittedly crude and simplistic way.)
        Though I don’t think I’m debating the qualities of tantra on the internet in any significant detail, if my comments offend your sensibilities I can only apologise.

  19. Dorje,
    thank you for your quote from the Rizong Rinpoche – was this teaching at Lam Rim Buddhist Centre in S. Wales? I have very fond memories of it and the people there: it was my first centre and Geshe Damcho-la my first teacher.
    I’ve only read it through once, but in the quote Rizong Rinpoche seems to accept the authenticity of Dzogchen whilst questioning some later interpretations and understandings. This would be in line with the reformist view that Gelugpas hold – that some teachings had degenerated and some practitioners had formed incorrect views based upon misinterpretations of the earlier texts. This of course is a subject for debate. Other teachers for instance, argue with Tsongkhapa’s novel interpretations.
    Meanwhile, back at the topic of this thread…
    I agree with Malik that the teachings he quotes from Geshe Kelsang appear to be in line with orthodox Gelugpa teachings: the question which arises for me is whether the teachers in the centres actually teach and explain that view properly or misrepresent it. The video clip Tenpel posted suggests that maybe it is sometimes (often?) mistaught. I’m not sure it is right to suggest that any reasoning based upon causality is necessarily not nihlist (which seems to be your position) – are you using the term nihlism/nihlist in the same way that Tenpel and Malik are? Perhaps it would be worthwhile to define what the term means in this context.

    • Rizong Rinpoche was echoing the sectarian views of Pabongkha, that though Dzogchen may have originally been authentic, it has been corrupted and confused by successive generations of Nyingma lamas. The Gelugpa sectarian view tends to follow that narrative; older traditions degenerated and became invalid paths to enlightenment but Tsongkhapa revitalised the Dharma and presented the only true uncorrupted path. The NKT repeat this narrative, but say even other followers of Tsongkhapa’s tradition, through mixing Dharma with politics, etc. are also now degenerate and corrupt.
      It may be “a subject of debate”, but it is clear that the Dalai Lama’s position differs markedly from the Ganden Tripa’s view, unless the Dalai Lama chose to take teachings from Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and Trulshik Rinpoche whilst thinking they were mistaken, confused and spreading a corrupted false Dharma, which I doubt.

      • Bristol Lad says:

        Dear Dorje,
        It seems a matter of interpretation – for me, the text you provided does not show that Rizong Rinpoche believes that Dzogchen is corrupted, false Dharma or that teachers like Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche or Trulshik Rinpoche were mistaken or confused in their practise. You think it does. I believe you do a disservice to Gelugpa teachers when you generalise that they all agree wholeheartedly with the sectarian actions and teachings of Pabongkha Rinpoche. I know Lama Zopa Rinpoche gives Pabongkha Rinpoche’s sectarianism as an example of the damage that Dorje Shugden can bring, even to great practitioners.
        However, the Gelugpas are reformist – they do think that the practise of many had degenerated (particularly in regards to observing Vinaya) and that Tsongkhapa clarified/corrected misunderstandings concerning many teachings. I’ve known some Gelugpas who view with suspicion even their fellow Gelugpas who follow a different monastic textbook tradition – Jamyang Shayba instead of Jetsunpa – nevermind Kagyupas or Nyingmapas. In the end, we hopefully find a teacher and teachings that resonate with us and as No name says below, “spend our time on the cushion rather than at the computer, …[and]…develop the power to do something effective”.

    • Dorje, apology accepted. I also apologise for my abruptness. I am no great scholar but I have faith in the tantras and in practice. Sadly, IMO every time these profound dharmas are mentioned on the Internet, I feel it trivialises the profundity and, more importantly reduces their efficacy- that’s why we keep things secret and why my teachers at least, condemn speculation on the web based on our limited understanding.( so why am I here :(
      Bristollad, you’re right, the NKT teaching on emptiness is very much standard Gelug fayre. The quote TP cites is certainly not.
      The big problem in the NKT isn’t so much the teaching, as the way the uneducated students use it to justify their wayward actions. The idea that ultimately things just depend on how you see them is a very general interpretation of Buddhist thought that just doesn’t stand up to analysis and borders on rampant egotism,and is rampant therein. Such simplistic naive thought is also used to justify negative actions such as the demos, the idea that if your motivation is virtuous, it doesn’t matter if you act in a seemingly negative way.
      the concept that if you see a person as Buddha you get the blessings of the Buddha overlooks the importance of a suitable base for the label ( if you pray to a melon for wealth while believing it’s a wealth deity, does the melon have the ability to cure poverty?)and the idea that the positive or negative nature of an action are determined solely by motivation ( if you give a sick child cyanide with the intention of curing him, will it cure him?), are both dangerous misinterpretations of the teaching born of ignorance and lack of investigation and both ideas are rife in NKT thinking.The former is used to justify the belief in Shugden as a Buddha and the latter to justify the demos.
      Therefore, what is needed is not necessarily a critique of Kelsang Gs teaching. Rather, a proper analysis of these two very simplistic interpretations of the teachings would perhaps be more appropriate.especially one based on Tzongkapa’s philosophical view as a base for the refutation.

      Sadly however, even if we do this, it is quite possible that our analysis will fall on deaf ears. ” you can even get relics from a dogs tooth” is a very useful way of increasing the power of faith but is also a very dangerous justification of mistaken thinking. It’s obvious to you and I that this is the case but, for those convinced they have found salvation via the NKT, a moral blindness to obvious, logical truths is pervasive.Trying to teach the truth to people who are convinced they’ve already found it I feel certain that if we spend our time on the cushion rather than at the computer, we will develop the power to do something effective.Meditation first, political activism later

      • “The idea that ultimately things just depend on how you see them is a very general interpretation of Buddhist thought”

        “the idea that if your motivation is virtuous, it doesn’t matter if you act in a seemingly negative way.”

        “the concept that if you see a person as Buddha you get the blessings of the Buddha overlooks the importance of a suitable base for the label ”

        “the idea that the positive or negative nature of an action are determined solely by motivation”

        How can one more show that one not ready for the definitive teachings of the third turning of the wheel.

        • Here is an example of ‘it’s only in the name’ as described by the NKT. As an object is ‘only’ name, anything can be labelled ‘Tharpaland’. And what makes the ‘new’ Tharpaland different to the ‘old’ Tharpaland? They both say Tharpaland is a ‘place’, as the ‘place’ where KG did his ‘three year retreat’ (that story is yet to be told!) and also the new ‘place’…Considering the original teacher for Tharpaland is also no longer there, what does make it ‘Tharpaland’ rather than any other centre of the NKT? The franchise system makes them as similar as possible – same books, same teachings, same statues, same decor.

          Tharpaland is the first International Retreat Centre of the New Kadampa Tradition.
          Since it was founded in 1985 by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso originally in Scotland, thousands of people from all over the world have come to engage in the many retreats offered at Tharpaland making it one of the most blessed and loved Centers of our Tradition.
          Now since 2012 it is set in an impressive mansion in North East Germany amidst beautiful parkland with forest walks and a lake.

          • The NKT is full of such examples where reality is knocked out by claiming “its only a label” and this is exactly the Nihilism my post wants to address. It doesn’t matter if at times Kelsang Gyatso writes it correctly in his books. What he says in his books and what he really does can be quite the opposite. (I think I gave already two examples of it. If not I attach two memes which confirm this fact.)

            The NKT has a lingering Nihilism that is often applied to deny problems, or to undermine valid criticism and to ease the followers with the arbitrary and often inhuman NKT politics. In a way this lingering and sometimes more openly manifesting Nihilism – a Nihilism where the basis of the label is neglected – expresses itself even in the (mis)understanding within NKT that the most important thing an NKT Buddhist teacher needs is “faith in Geshe la”. What a non-sense.

            Also what Ryan said in the discussion here on the blog often is based on this Nihilism and Ryan is not just anyone. He was extremely active to promote the NKT pov in the once important official NKT chat forum and nobody opposed his Nihilism. Why? Because it is commonly understood as the correct view.

            • Tenpel your underlying theory of truth (epistemology) is that of “(1 on 1) correspondence” and in the case of Geshe Kelsang’s words that of “coherency”. Investigate the inherent inconsistency of both theory of truths (because it will follow that science has nothing to do with truth since the different disciplines within science are incoherent) And moreover: investigate the coherency of your own claims.

            • I still disagree that this is nihilism. On one side is the view that all subjective experience comes from or is experienced in the mind and on the other side, the view that the Dalai Lama is the source of the current problems regarding dogyal. The first is a possible truth from one particular perspective, the other is also true from another perspective.
              In my opinion (which you just ignored and rejected without reading) is that the NKT are not generally nihilistic as they base their views (Kelsang’s qualification to teach, dogyal’s status as a Buddha, the Dalai Lama being evil, etc.) on very clear reasons based on causality. If a position is based on causality it is, by definition, not nihilistic.
              On the other hand, if you say dogyal is a harmful spirit or kelsang gyatso is not a qualified teacher or even Buddha, you are being nihilistic because you are denying causality. Many lifetimes of being a fully realised lama means dogyal must also be fully realised. Many years studying and practicing under the great Trijang Rinpoche, at the great monastery of Sera Je, and practicing intensively for many years in retreat, must lead to realisation, or you are denying causality and the Buddhist path. So, you are the nihilist, Tenzin. The NKT are just speaking the truth, as it appears to them, based on evidence that is convincing to them.
              Some may sometimes say that it comes down to how you choose to view it, but, in the end they back up their views with reasoning rooted in causality not nihilism.

            • jigmeyeshe says:

              Actually, when the NKT say that all you need to be an NKT teacher is ‘faith in Geshe-la’ they are telling the truth – this is all you need, nothing more. No studies, no exams passed, no training other than in ‘transmitting the books to others’ which you do by reading them out after doing Heart Jewel (Ganden Lhagyema with extra ‘throat/speech blessings and receiving ‘blessings’ from the Shugden Guru to ’empower’ you). You don’t even have to have studied the text in question if you have ‘faith in Geshe-la’. The NKT always tell the truth about what they do inside the NKT! The problem is that what they do isn’t actually Buddhism or ‘oral transmission’ or coming from what actually IS Tibetan Buddhist training elsewhere. As you know.

              I think outsiders find it difficult to believe that that really is all you need to ‘be a teacher’ in the NKT. it is difficult to believe. And if you wear robes then people will take you more seriously. I was told that getting ordained would help ‘to promote the tradition’ as when teaching you are more likely to be listened to and therefore there would be more demand for teachings and more centres, etc.

              There needs to be more direct comparison between what the NKT do and what other people do so that the general public and others can see just how ‘separate’ the NKT is from Tibetan Buddhism. They use it. And some people there do practice it. But dreadfully muddled up.

              • Nobody has responded to my post previously in which I sited correct teachings by GKG, black-on-white. Tenpel, I respectfully need to conclude that you have been pushed into a corner: you said “It doesn’t matter if at times Kelsang Gyatso writes it correctly in his books.”

                …yet previously in this blog you were quoting passages from the books, including specifically Oral Transmission of Mahamudra and Great Treasury of Merit to show that Gyatso has mis-taught conventional reality. You have not shown this to be the case at all. You have presented a thesis without much evidence.

                Jigmeyeshe, I fear your conclusions are highly inferential and based upon partial truths and falsities as well. On the one hand it is undoubtedly true that the NKT have been overly zealous and ambitious with their teacher training programmes, which has resulted in 19-year olds with ‘faith in Geshe-la’ assuming to teach others about the path to enlightenment, with no Buddhist background at all.

                Yet your description of internal procedure is wrong (and one would wonder how, as someone who doesn’t practice with them, you would know so much about it anyway). Teachings are not ‘read out after Heart Jewel’ nor is the ‘oral transmission’ decidedly different from practices within other Buddhist groups. I have had teachings from young, uninformed ‘faithful’ disciples of Lama Zopa or Sangharakshita; no different.

                I wrote a paper on NKT’s ‘separateness’ from mainstream Tibetan Buddhism, and I completely agree with you. Where we differ is that I believe ther separateness is one of their most virtuous qualities, but that is perhaps a different subject for a different blog.

                Lets keep this post in line with the original theme and question, which was: do the NKT teach a form of nihilism, can this be found in the books (specifically with regard to the way they teach conventional reality) and is this being abused. So far, I conclude the following points:

                -NKT does not teach any form of nihilism at all;
                -The books (the basis of their belief) teach conventional and ultimate reality perfectly in accordance with Tsongkhapa’s presentation of Chandrakirti’s madhyamaka
                -Many teachers are badly educated and have misused or mis-taught various Buddhist teachings for the sake of (for example) manipulating people into supporting the demonstrations against His Holiness.

                I look forward to some replies!

                • Obviously, the trolls get more attention ;-)
                  Sorry. Still too busy. Not sure when I will find time …

                • Dear Maik,

                  I was on one of the strongest TTP programmes in the NKT for 8 years and studying GP and FP before that. Several current illustrious senior NKT teachers studied with me. I saw them develop the techniques which I was also required to develop. I know the rules we were taught. I have had contact with some of these people since and nothing much has changed except the speed at which people are drawn in to teach due to the demand for teachers as so many of them have left and new centres are continually being created. It is no wonder there are no stats about ‘NKT life’!

                  Definitive, not interpretive, instructions included the obligation for each teacher to do Heart Jewel before teaching (in private, of course – did you think I meant that the students in the class would do this?) and the absolute obligation to ‘read the book’, quoting from it as part of the teaching so as to encourage students to buy and read the books themselves. As Kelsang Gyatso himself said, “the book is the teacher”. He said that he could not be with us all the time so we should treat the books like teachers. I don’t know any other teacher who teaches his students so infrequently. From 1992 he hardly gave more than 15 talks a year. He was definitely busy looking for new land and properties, wasn’t he?

                  i also suggest you look at the NKT’s guidelines for doing bookshop talks. The rules I mention are also clarified in there. If you have no access to those documents, we do have it on the files.

                  I must suggest that if you are not aware of these definitive NKT instructions then perhaps you have not spent much time on the NKT TTP programmes yourself. The ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ mechanisms of NKT life are quite different from one another.

                  The requirements for becoming an FPMT teacher I have been told are more than in the NKT. In the NKT there is no need to actually pass any specific exams, you just need to take them doing the best you can. It’s back to the ‘good intentions’ (of having faith in Kelsang Gyatso) as being the only necessary qualification (nihilism again?!) and no need for the true basis of what a good teacher should rely on – knowing the Dharma! And if you are lucky, a few realisations to back that knowledge up! But then, the NKT Dharma is simplistic compared to any I have heard taught by Tibetan Buddhist teachers. I wonder how many people have now finished the ‘old’ TTP? In my day there were only two.

                  I do not consider Triratna to be a Tibetan Buddhist group. But then, neither is the NKT…I don’t see anyone in the NKT taking any responsibility whatsoever for anyone’s spiritual path. That’s what a Tibetan teacher does though. However ‘perfect’ or ‘imperfect’ an explanation in a book may be, it’s not a path. We need real live experienced teachers for that.

                  At least we agree that the NKT’s teachers aren’t sufficiently supervised by anyone – it’s a free for all mixed with instructions on what ‘intention’ should be held whilst bullying bodhisattvas. Surely it’s the latter that should now stop, whatever the NKT is or does….

                  Best.

                  • Dear Jigmeyeshe,

                    Thanks for your response and clarification about the Heart Jewel practice.

                    I see very little of what you wrote as being a problem or issue. When I read what you wrote I cannot help but sum it up thus: you don’t like the NKT.

                    You criticize the fact that teachers do Heart Jewel in private before giving a teaching and that they quote from GKG’s books; you failed to back this criticism with reasons other than your opinion that quoting the books must be some kind of business ploy to get students to buy the books. This is absurd. Furthermore, every single Buddhist institution in the world (in particular the expensive West!) make money from selling books, statues, art, etc. What’s the problem with that?

                    You say GKG often said ‘the book is the teacher’. Indeed, he said this many times. I wonder what’s wrong with that? On the one hand you and Tenpel have criticized him for emphasising his role as the root guru too much, yet now you criticize him for not emphasizing it enough.

                    You say he was an infrequent teacher. I was not around the NKT in the 80s or early 90s. Like many practitioners, I was able to get teachings from him at the various festivals every year. This amounts to roughly 20 – 25 full days of teachings from Gyatso directly. I and many others were happy with that and I don’t think disciples of other elderly and well known Tibetan Lamas see much more of their Guru, unless of course they are close friends. Perhaps I am wrong, but I rarely see events with full teachings from Lama Zopa, the Karmapa or the Dalai Lama. They are special events when they happen and usually (not always) last a couple of hours over the course of a day or two.

                    Btw, I mention that only for the sake of comparisson.

                    You suggested to me that the inner and outer aspects of NKT life are quite different from one another and I believe you told me this in a previous post some years ago. It seems that you are suggesting I don’t know anything about the inner world of the NKT and am therefore not qualified to talk about it. Aside from the fact that you are wrong in thinking this, if indeed you do, it is a deflection of the issues and a form of avoidance. It does not make for any productive discussion.

                    You stated that the FPMT has a more rigorous teacher training program than the NKT and on that we agree (from what I know of the FPMT). I have also been very critical of the NKT’s somewhat weak and expansive TTP and this is an area that needs severe improvement. Beyond that, I don’t see it as a great evil and nothing in these posts would suggest so.

                    But you then jump to the conclusion that….”the NKT Dharma is simplistic compared to any I have heard taught by Tibetan Buddhist teachers.” What do you mean by this? Can you give some examples? Above, I posted just very few examples of correct teachings, there are many more.

                    I recently had the great pleasure of reading two books simultaneously: ‘The Bliss of Inner Fire’ by Lama Yeshe and ‘Clear Light of Bliss’ by Geshe Kelsang. Completely different style yet completely complementary and identical (semantics aside) in content. Brilliant books. I did the same with ‘Echoes of Voidness’ by Geshe Rabten and ‘Heart of Wisdom’. I recently studied Tsongkhapa- Praise for Dependent Relativity, and found Gyatso’s ’emptiness’ books (i.e. Heart of Wisdom, Ocean of Nectar) to be in perfect harmony with it.

                    I’ve had FP classes with some of the most useless teachers imaginable. I’ve also had some very good ones. In such cases, the dharma being taught is profound, practical and engaging. Perhaps we have simply had different experiences.

                    Your spiritual life is definitely NOT the responsibility of your teacher; maybe that’s why you are now angry because you feel let down, I don’t know. NKT have many kind teachers; I have been many times the focus of tremendous kindness during some very dark and difficult times a couple of years back. They were there all the time.

                    Human beings bully and fight. Everywhere, often.

                    I’m afraid I don’t find your points compelling, but would enjoy a reply from you, perhaps you can clarify some issues. But at the end of the day, none of this has very much to do with Tenpel’s proposition that the NKT is nihilistic, which it isn’t.

                    Best Wishes

                    • “I don’t think disciples of other elderly and well known Tibetan Lamas see much more of their Guru, unless of course they are close friends. Perhaps I am wrong, but I rarely see events with full teachings from Lama Zopa, the Karmapa or the Dalai Lama. They are special events when they happen and usually (not always) last a couple of hours over the course of a day or two.”
                      You are totally wrong on this point. I know a number of Tibetan lamas that are much more approacable and accessible than you suggest. We are not “close friends” but I can visit them, within reason, when I need to. They teach publicly regularly.
                      The Dalai Lama’s teaching schedule is extensive. Not just a couple of hours over a couple of days, here and there. Just look at the recorded teachings as well as itinerary on his website. The Karmapa is also very accessible and teaches publicly every week. When I saw him more, he taught for an hour or so three or four days every week, week after week.
                      Kelsang Gyatso’s teaching, given the number of people who claim to be his student, is impoverished in comparison. He hasn’t taught in public for over two years, even briefly, not even just a recorded message to say hello. When he did teach, he limited those occassions as much as possible. I’ve known Tibetan lamas to teach right up to the day they died, because this is their commitment. “Retiring” from teaching is breaking their bodhisattva vow, and no lama worthy of the name would do that.

                    • For now, here are some brief thoughts on the subject of your posts, Mike. Sadly, you seem to have become inured to the fact that your teachers don’t take the Bodhisattva view towards you – I have had the great good fortune to have seen this sense of responsibility in action from several teachers, not just one. The Bodhisattva commitment is a profound responsibility and even more so when there are people seeing you as a Dharma teacher and you are fulfilling that role. Tibetans take that very seriously, in my experience. And serious does not mean there is no joy. In my experience, the role of an NKT teacher is to feel responsible for the students to not criticise the NKT. I see you have been well trained. You see no fault.

                      That you see no fault, and have had no bad experiences, except those you only attribute to ‘human nature’- (I am not sure whether to congratulate you or not), firstly, does not mean there is no fault. Secondly, most survivors thought the same way as you do until the NKT venom started falling upon them. Much is done in secret. This does not invalidate the experience – if many people suffer the same kind of thing then there is a case – much like that of Jimmy Saville. There are ways of ascertaining that someone is telling the truth. But I do see that our job of ‘writing the NKT up’ in ways that will create a tiny opening in the ‘NKT view’ which you so well justify, has only just started.

                      The fact that the NKT have had to use the British police to make unfounded threats of arrest, threaten ‘libel’ every five minutes (This just reminds me of the Queen in Alice in Wonderland; no one’s head will ever be chopped off – the NKT just tell you to ‘go away’ and ‘sort your mind out’ as if you would be craving to crawl back into the NKT fold asap) and make the constant attempt to harass and silence us by defamation, to me, means they are very weak. The tower has to be defended or it will fall. The NKT empire is based on the accumulation of properties not of realisations. Where are all those people who should now be enlightened after 3 years, 3 months and 3 days then? I expect their task of becoming Bodhisattvas has been interrupted by HHDL’s tours!!!

                      I think that you would be party to much of the gossip there is in the NKT world and will have ‘personal connections’ to some of the senior sangha. However, I do not think you have been on TTP as what I mentioned to you is only what we were taught there. You can read about the same techniques in Neil Elliott’s Teaching Manual which you can find on the TAS files – they are Open Access.

                      I am glad you feel so self satisfied with your chosen path. Trouble is, I think it’s not really a path any more. Like a plane that is hijacked to a completely different context, the NKT has been hijacked into something else that is now profoundly unkind. The fact that you do not see any unkindness to, for instance, Tibetans, or to us, is only a facet of your closing your mind to those around you who aren’t in your NKT world. There are a lot of us. There is no ‘proof’ that the NKT is beyond reproach in the simple fact of your contentment. Your contentment proves only that – you are content. The existence of your glee and joy does not invalidate the misery of others, it simply ignores them.

                    • P.S. I do not write to be ‘compelling’ but to analyse and discuss experience using logic. What else is the basis of valid imputations?

                    • @Yigmeyeshe your position is that of a realist, and you see truth of a proposition as a 1 on 1 correspondence of a referring term and a referent; a valid base of imputation. A realist epistemology is however not in line with madhyamika.
                      You are not the only one who has a realist view. So far I have seen only one person taking an anti-realist or constructivist position in this topic.

                    • Not sure Math if you are not just another account of Marc/Yogacara who was banned for trolling. Please confirm that you are or are not the same person / identity.

                    • Jigmeyeshe, your reply to me has a) absolutely nothing to do with this specific post, and b) is sweepingly judgemental.

                      First of all, why do you assume that I identify with the NKT, defend them or support their actions? It seems to me that you identify very strongly with your Survivor group…”There are a lot of US” etc. That’s your business, I have nothing to do with that. And I have never considered myself a member of any group, nor is my purpose to defend the honor of the NKT.

                      “In my experience, the role of an NKT teacher is to feel responsible for the students to not criticise the NKT. I see you have been well trained. You see no fault.”

                      Pardon me, but what a silly sentence. The first part of this sentence I can accept: In YOUR experience. You have yours, I have mine, everyone else has theirs. Perhaps I haven’t been too affected by the handful of ill-equipped teachers as I don’t give them much of my time or attention. Your comment that I am well-trained is another one of these deflections: no matter what I might say, you can always respond with that, can’t you. Suppose I counter some arguments on this blog and show bona fide teachings from GKG’s books. I wager someone will reply by saying ‘oh well that passage was probably not written by Kelsang Gyatso but his editor’ or something along those lines. This is cyclic conjecture, we will not get anywhere.

                      If you wish to discuss these matters, it would be more productive for you to judge less and understand that people have differing experiences. Why on earth should yours carry more weight than anyone else’s?

                      The rest of your message doesn’t really belong here, I’m sure you will find more suitable blogs that Tenpel has posted concerning illegal actions by the NKT. You then assume to know that nobody in the NKT is enlightened, which indirectly implies that you must be. I prostrate.

                      Again you criticize my ‘personal connections’ to senior sangha as being invalid and the cause of my severely brainwashed state. I won’t respond, please see my comments above.

                      You conclude by saying:

                      “I am glad you feel so self satisfied with your chosen path. Trouble is, I think it’s not really a path any more. Like a plane that is hijacked to a completely different context, the NKT has been hijacked into something else that is now profoundly unkind. ”

                      How do you know how glad I feel, and how do you know what my chosen path is? As you know neither, how can you assume to tell me it is no longer a path?!

                      There are lots of problems with the NKT and I have been very vocal about them. That is not what this specific post is about. Let’s get back to the subject.

                    • In response to Dorje:

                      I don’t think I am totally wrong, but I accept your comments of course. What I was suggesting was, say I live in Europe and cannot travel to India or the States; I would not have the access you speak about. Since the advent of ‘traveling teachers’ in the West from the 60s onwards, famous teachers (whether we regard them highly or not is irrelevant) are often hard to access or give limited teachings. Some examples: Sogyal Rinpoche may only give a couple of very short retreats anywhere near Europe, certainly more in the US. Yet in total probably no more than what GKG used to do. If I wish to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama, I will be lucky to catch him at a conference maybe two – three times a year, not to mention if I can afford the ticket. Karmapa may be more accessible but if I wish to receive many teachings from him I will have to go to India.

                      Your conclusion I agree with, I find it very strange that GKG has completely disappeared from the scene and that not so much as a sentence has come from him since 2013. Dekyong gives little messages to disciples at festivals she claims to have gotten from him but I don’t acknowledge that as a valid form of communication.

                    • The Dalai Lama really does teach a lot. You say you live in europe so can’t travel to India to see him teach, but cheap plane fairs, local buses and cheap Indian hotels probably wouldn’t set you back much more than travel and accommodation to the NKT festivals Kelsang used to teach at (unless you lived at Manjushri.) Now, for the same money, you get taught by unqualified “teachers” like Dekyong, Khyenrab and Rabten (what a total con.) And the Dalai Lama’s teachings in India are free.
                      Of course, really famous teachers may not be that accessible to meet regularly, one-to-one, but probably more accessible than kelsang ever was. Also, there might be less well known teachers that are very accessible. Being well known says nothing of quality and vice versa. Rather than renown, I think we are talking about ability to guide students, and inaccessible or reclusive teachers are not able to guide anyone.
                      A little research on your part may turn up perfectly qualified teachers living close to you that you knew nothing about. In the UK there are a number of qualified lamas and geshes resident.The 60s actually was the advent of teachers moving from Tibet to the west. There aren’t just travelling lamas you can see once or twice a year, but ones who may have lived in your country longer than you have.

                    • Between 1998 and ca. 2003/4, I would attend the two week summer festival in Ulverston. The whole thing, including camping, meals & teachings cost me about £140. This was a more than fair price, however it did increase considerably after about 2010; I think now its around £250. Either way, it is definitely less than flying to India, no matter how cheap the ticket might be.

                      But I don’t think we are here to debate pricing issues. You say other well known teachers are ‘probably’ more accessible than Kelsang ever was, this sentence doesn’t tell us anything. I know that fame has nothing to do with quality, I specified this in my first post, that was not the issue.

                      Thanks, I am well aware that there are very spiritual, special teachers – and non-teachers – living near by.

        • By not understanding why these statements Are true!

        • 1)Things depend for their existence on a multitude of causes and conditions,not just mind
          2) Again, if you perform a negative action against a holy object but with a virtuous motive, the outcome will be mixed, not wholly positive
          3) if seeing a person as Buddha means for your consciousness that they will give the blessings of a Buddha, if you see a fridge as a microwave oven, will it warm your food?
          4) your fourth critique is answered by point two

          Your name gives away the flaws in your own perspective Yogacara, your view is mind only, not shentong. You are overlooking the relative, the need for a suitable base and instead naively adhering to the faulty perspective I raised in my first point. True experience of the Third Turning does not negate the teaching of the Second Turning, in particular the concept of dependent arising. It incorporates such a view. You on the other hand are voicing the views of a solipsistic yogacaran

          But I’m no philosopher; I just recognise the opinions of a newbie who has glimpsed one facet of the dharma Jewel and who thinks they understand the whole thing.
          Two simple questions: how long have you been a Buddhist and in which tradition.I would guess less than ten and probably in the Nyingma or Kagyu
          Nevertheless, unlike you, I consider you ready to understand the definitive teaching of the third turning. So let’s make a start eh?

          • Funny NoName that you see me as a yogacarin merely based on a label. That what you see in others as an “error” you do yourself! Merely the label “yogacara” seems to make me a yogacarin! :)

            Look NoName! Look! Look a your mind! And you will see that you subtle grasp for true existence of the “right view”. You subtly grasp for true substantial causes and true substantial effects. You subtly grasp for the true (ultimate) existence of my and others behavior, though they mere conventionally exist.
            You, and others like Tenpel see your view as the “right view” and judge others’ view as a “wrong view”. And by doing so you fail to realize that any conceptual position that one takes ultimately boils down to grasping for the true existence of one of the four extremes…

            You take “mind only” to literal. Try to see it as that there is nothing beyond mind. Since all phenomenal appearance of both cyclic existence and the state beyond suffering do not go beyond the innate creativity of pure awareness, one should firmly decide that there is no other thing besides the continuous flow of this pure awareness .

            You might ask yourself “how do I recognize this non conceptual natural state of pure awareness”? Then ask yourself: “Have I ever been unaware”? If your answer is “yes”, then you are aware of your unawareness… and this is a display of pure awareness. The non-conceptual natural state. Just like asking the question “How do I recognize the natural state?” is a display of your wisdom mind itself! The conceptual manifestation of this question is a manifestation of the nirmanakaya. It’s energy is the sambhogakaya, and the self-recognition of it’s baseless base is the dharmakaya. They are inseperable and there is nothing beyond that, nothing other than that. Nothing beyond mind, so mind only.

            • Oh mighty yogi
              Thank you for your teaching. I stand in awe at the level of your understanding which is only exceeded by your overwhelming humility in your assumption that you are the teacher and we mere mortals are your students.
              I’ve come across this kind of BS before. Leave it out. Your words only demonstrate how much you have to learn. The internet is not the place for self appointed gurus to preach their distorted perceptions of Dzogchen ( semde if I’m not mistaken) Such proselytising is more at home in psychiatric units.
              Take a humility pill and get real

            • Dear Marc
              Your ramblings are the dope fuelled fantasies of a self taught Dzogchen enthusiast who still clings to the position that everything is mind. You think you hold the highest view but your perspective mirrors the faults of the semde and echoes the view of the kungye gyalpo. You overlook the fact that mind too is a mere appearance. The flaws in your understanding indicate you have never had the guidance of a close teacher your view is a mish mash of ideas that you have convinced yourself in a drug addled stupor are the highest of all. Not Nyinthig; atmanism

              • Hi no name. Seeing the comments by Yogacara, they reminded so much on Marc, that I assume Yogacara is none other than Marc.
                I am not sure about this, so there is still a doubt on my side but Yogacara wrote in reply “It does not make any sense to continue the discussion this way.” and I agree with this. So we end the discussion with him and Marc be they the same or different entities.

                Their engagement doesn’t lead anywhere.

                • Indeed. And I don’t need any more gurus either ;)

                • Tenzin, rather than spending your time responding to or commenting on trolls here and elsewhere, why not respond to Maik’s criticisms of your thesis that the NKT teach nihilism? It seems you have plenty of time to respond to Marc but not so much in answering those who honestly question your views.

                  • Good point. The trolls don’t need so much thought processing and time than philosophical topics but they can effectively undermine reasonable discussion and poison the atmosphere. If you want to have a good lecture or discussion in a class room and a nasty kid is undermining it you have to deal with the trouble maker first, isn’t it?

                  • One example of Kelsang Gyatso’s nihilism, Maik, is the fact that NKT followers are expected to know that the NKT ordination is ‘only a game’- that was a Freudian slip as it should be ‘only a name’. When you leave the NKT you are told that disrobing is not part of the NKT world – you have to convince yourself you are no longer ordained in some way…if we ever properly were. I remember Kelsang Gyatso saying that enlightenment was nothing but a ‘change of imputation’. Of course, there is some truth to that statement, but for you to posit that NKT teachings are complete and complex is to misunderstand that a full path requires more than what the NKT teach. And ordination requires more training than what is given in the NKT. Those who leave the NKT, leave themselves ‘nameless’ and being ‘nameless’ they are no longer ordained, are they? As the NKT ‘owns’ and ‘authorises’ the use of the ordination names and if you got to another teacher, outside the NKT, you lose your name, then what else is this ‘ordination’ except a nihilistic one? Only a name.

                    I don’t know of Kelsang Gyatso giving teachings on Ocean of Nectar. Did he? If so, it’s not noted in the preface to the book. He just states that he compiled it from traditional sources, as far as I remember. I should link you to some of our published work on the NKT education system. Why did Kelsang Gyatso decide we weren’t worthy enough to receive teachings on the Perfection of Wisdom sutras, for instance? He said we needed to work for the centres and create merit first – he said the book was ready – it is translated by his Tibetan translators but it is simply sitting there in the NKT archives. Kelsang Gyatso kept it simple. And you know he repeats himself from book to book.

                    I suggest you follow the several weeks of teaching this autumn that His Holiness the Dalai Lama is giving in Tashi Lhunpo Monastery to understand the complexity I am talking about. NKT people will say they can’t be bothered with ‘all that Tibetan stuff’, like, for instance the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras. Why bother with them? The online transmission of HHDL’s teachings is free to watch. Kelsang Gyatso did very little teaching for decades (and no one could listen for free) and then opted out of personal interaction with students as soon as he could. Of course he takes no responsibility – or even interest – in the spiritual lives of his students. In 12 years I got 3 short replies to letters I had sent. I know people who were jealous. Is that really enough personal information and interaction to get enlightened with? You might like to look at Geshe Rabten’s book on the Essential Nectar of Yeshe Tsondru – the book that Kelsang Gyatso’s Joyful Path of Good Fortune is based on. In the introduction Geshe Rabten gives a very clear explanation of ‘lung’ and how westerners can push too much and get seriously ill. How to analyse what kind of lung they have and how to remedy this is also mentioned. Kelsang Gyatso, when talking about lung, only mentions that this is a possible result and says it is difficult to cure. Nothing else.

                    And why don’t you ask your comrades what has happened to Kelsang Tharchin? I have been given to understand that he is no longer teaching and is not being looked after by the NKT. The Internal Rules state that only Ex Spiritual Directors and Ex Deputy Spiritual Directors can be looked after in their old age. Tharchin even blackmailed Lama Zopa so that Kelsang Gyatso could enjoy being their exclusive teacher. And there you have it – Kelsang Gyatso is a jealous god. The system, the protests, the management of students, is all about keeping the power, the NKT keeping their power. How lucky you are that you agree with this. You have been ‘authorised’ to speak well of them. If you start to disagree with the, for instance, lack of democratic processes, or the lack of kindness shown to Tharchin, or as a teacher, speak out that the protests are unkind, then you will soon be told how ‘unauthorised’ you are! Is that really the kind of system you want to put your name behind just because you like the books? Books will not get you enlightened.

                    • The debate over guru accessibility is a redundant one IMO
                      The reality of the situation is that, as any group expands, access to the guru decreases- just a sad fact of life. There are only so many hours in a day. One genuine teacher I studied with gave me continuous open access, day or night, many years ago.Now, I get a twenty minute interview, once every six months. As the dharma becomes more popular , access to teachers simply diminishes
                      The real question here is whether or not that teacher/ group can still come up with the goods, do what it says on the tin, under such circumstances.
                      And in the tantric context, I am afraid it is impossible for the NKT. or indeed any group making such claims to do so. You cannot facilitate the close, ongoing relationship between guru and disciple that tantric realisation requires in a context where there is little or no contact between the two. The idea that this intimate psychological relationship can be replaced by books, made up initiations, unqualified teachers and faith is a fantasy.
                      Kelsang Gyatso has stated publicly that he did not receive much tantric teaching and that his “understanding” was born of reading Tsong Khapas commentaries so that ” it felt like Lama Tsong Khapa was actually speaking to him”. Such a claim , given in a context wherein it is claimed that realisation can be achieved simply by faith and reading books, without any personal guidance from a realised personal master, is nothing more than a self serving fabrication designed to sell books and build a following. It would be BS even if the Dalai Lama said it. Tantric realisation can only occur on the basis of receiving proper initiation, transmission and teaching from a fully qualified teacher and then guidance through that precipitous path by said qualified guru. That is how it has always been and the manner in which the NKT rewrite this is disingenuous and mistaken. There are no qualified tantric masters in the NKT, despite their repeated assertion that there are. The conduct of their senior members in relationship to HHDL and the damage this is doing to Tibetan Buddhism alone is sufficient evidence of this.
                      But let’s not just attack the NKT for this ANY teacher or group that claims such is bogus.The portrayal of the tantric path as a one size fits all, off the peg business, ‘teach yourself enlightenment’ from books affair is a twenty first century western fabrication designed to counter traditional perameters and continue milking the tantric cow until every last cent has been extracted. In this respect, the NKT certainly does not and cannot do what it says on the tin.

                    • Jigme, my reply to you here is the same as what I wrote above.

                      But alas, I am guilty of prejudice as well, for I have judged you to be extremely attached to your identity and hurt by the fact that your experience in the NKT did not fulfill your wishes. I have judged you to be angry and bitter about it, seeking to expose your wrong-doers on account of various anecdotes you attempt to weave into a conspiracy theory of sorts. I apologize for my judgement.

                      Your analysis of NKT ordination does not suggest nihilism at all. Whether I take ten or ten thousand vows and am given a special name as a result, the mechanics of imputation upon those bases is exactly the same. If I then disrobe I have not, as you suggest, disappeared. Your insistence that NKT ordination is nihilistic shows that you do not understand the word nihilistic.

                      As for Tharchin, here we go with more ‘is he still alive’ conspiracy theories. He is still teaching and as far as I know was recently in Denmark as well. Why don’t you tell us all exactly what you heard, whom you heard it from and present some facts.

                      We have discussed the ‘blackmail tape’ on another post, there are of course differing versions and opinions about it.

  20. maik108,

    Tsongkhapa himself is a nihilist.

    He boils down emptiness to the negation of inherent existence.

    • “Tsongkhapa himself is a nihilist. He boils down emptiness to the negation of inherent existence.”

      Tsong Khapa’s critics hold that he only establishes the negation of inherent existence and ommits negating non-existence, both existence and non-existence and neither [..]. So they hold that his method underpervades from a soteriological point of view, and from a philosophical point of view. His critics do not imply he is a nihilist. His analysis is not complete according to his fellow madhyamikas, but that does not necessarily imply nihilism.
      If he would hold a nihilist position that would make him non-madhyamaka, and there is no scholar that holds that Tsong Khapa is not a madhyamika.

      One could define nihilism as merely the affirmative negation of (inherent) existence, but from my point of view one is a nihilist when one affirmatively negates both existence ánd non-existence. Tsong Khapa posits a non-affirmative negation (illocutionary negation / non-implicative negation) of inherent existence. So irrespective of how one defines nihilism, the type of a negation that Tsong Khapa uses differs from that used by nihilists, and this makes him not a nihilist.

      • Reading all this stuff about nihilism is making me feel like becoming one. Don’t you people ever just SHUT UP AND RELAX for a while
        .
        I’d rather be a simple minded old peasant yogi than an ‘educated scholar’ you know, like the Buddhists who live in the forest and Mountains. Believe it or not, if you just shut up for an hour or two, your mind will go quiet and you can be just like them, even in the city Think 84 mahasiddhas- they’re the people to emulate, not philosophical smart Alec’s who spend their time refuting others and defending their own perspectives
        Use Buddhism for what’s is for: calming th mind and discerning the real. All this arguing just ties the mind n knotsAnd there’s so little time!

        • Its good to discuss about these topics. But sober discussion needs some expertise and a good motivation would be helpful too. Discussing the Dharma is a good thing. Its not good to discuss it with a bad motivation or having only semi-knowledge or even misunderstandings but wanting to educate others and not wanting to learn from others who are better educated or have a better knowledge.

          However, I fear this blog and my own limited time and lack of deeper understanding of different Madhyamaka views is not a good basis to go into detail. I doubt also the motivation of some commentators who use Madhyamaka views to water down valid criticism. Which is in the context of this blog counter productive and undermines its cause because the blog is speaking about conventional phenomena and how they function and not about their ontological status. However, my post opened the topic and thereby a can of worms ;-)

          Die ich rief, die Geister, // Werd’ ich nun nicht los.
          Spirits that I’ve cited // My commands ignore.

          On the other hand I am happy about a debate but my own capacity is not able to manage the whole in a reasonable manner.

      • Bristol Lad,
        8th Karmapa says Tsongkhapa quotes Candrakirti out of context.

      • “there is no scholar that holds that Tsong Khapa is not a madhyamika.”
        This is not true. It is also certainly true that Tsongkhapa dismissed some (Madhyamikas who followed the ‘Freedom from extremes’ doctrine) as nihilists, and others, like Shentongpas, as eternalists.
        The entire Madhyamaka debate comes down to rejecting others views as either nihilistic or eternalistic. That’s what it’s all about. Not sure how you could have missed that.

    • Thank you Sam. I shall inform all important Gelugpas around the world that they have been wrong all along.

      • Sometimes it feels that between Gelug supremacists and Tsongkhapa critics there is not much of a difference. Both seem to share a feeling that they themselves must be totally right and therefore those who disagree must be totally wrong.

        It might be good to note that though the 8th Karmapa didn’t agree with Tsongkhapa’s view he wrote a praise about him. There is a Tibetan saying that goes a bit like this: “If two scholars meet and both agree, one of them is not a scholar. If two saints meet and disagree one of them is not a saint.”

        IN PRAISE OF THE INCOMPARABLE TSONG KHAPA
        mNyam-med-bTzong-kha-pai-bsTod-pa
        by Gyalwa Mikyo Dorje, The Eighth Karmapa (1507-1554)

        At a time when nearly all in this Northern Land
        Were living in utter contradiction to Dharma,
        Without illusion, O Tsong Khapa, you polished the teachings.
        Hence I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

        When the teachings of the Sakya, Kargu, Kadam
        And Nyingma sects in Tibet were declining,
        You, O Tsong Khapa, revived Buddha’s Doctrine,
        Hence I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

        Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, gave to you
        Special instructions on the thought of Nagarjuna.
        Tsong Khapa, upholder of the Middle Way,
        I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

        “Mind and form are not empty of their own natures
        But are empty of truly existent mind and form”,
        You, O Tsong Khapa, are Tibet’s chief exponent of voidness,
        Hence I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

        In merely a few years you filled
        The land from China to India
        With peerless holders of the saffron robes.
        Hence I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

        Those who become your followers
        And look to you and your teachings
        Are never again disappointed or forsaken.
        Hence I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

        The trainees who walk in your footsteps
        Breath the fresh air of the Great Way.
        They would die for the good of the world.
        Hence I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

        Anyone who disparages your doctrine must face
        The terrible wrath of the Dharma protectors.
        Tsong Khapa, who abides in truth’s power,
        I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

        In person and in dreams you come to those
        Who but once recollect your image.
        Tsong Khapa, who watches with compassionate eyes.
        I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

        In order to civilize men and spirits you spread
        Your teachings through Kham, Mongolia and Turkestan;
        0 Tsong Khapa, subduer of savages,
        I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

        For men coarse and far from the Way, you dispel
        Mental clouds, evils and bad karma.
        0 Tsong Khapa, who bestows quick progress,
        I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

        Those who take heartfelt Refuge in you,
        Even those with no hope for now or hereafter,
        O Tsong Khapa, have their every wish fulfilled.
        Hence I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.
        Having exposed false teachings transgressing
        The excellent ways well shown by Buddha,
        You firmly established your Bold Doctrine.
        Hence I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

        Manifesting sublime austerity and discipline,
        The form and fragrance of your life was incomparable.
        0 Tsong Khapa, controlled one pleasing to the Buddhas,
        I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

        By the strength of the sons of your lineage
        And by my having faithfully offered this praise,
        May the enlightened activity of Buddha Shakyamuni
        Pervade the earth for ages to come.

        The colophon: Once when Gyalwa Mikyo Dorje was travelling through the Charida Pass, thoughts of the incomparable Tsong Khapa welled up within him. Overcome by profound faith, he was moved to compose the above poem.

        • Indeed, when scholars meet they argue, when yogis meet they smile. But you can be both a yogi and a scholar, and Mikyo Dorje was both, viewing Tsongkhapa with faith as a yogi and criticising his philosophy as a scholar. Exactly the same can be said of Tsongkhapa and his rejection of Dolpopa and others who he saw as dangerously misled and incorrect.
          What Madhyamaka debates show is that realisation can be attained no matter what concepts one employs to approach the ultimate.
          But, this should not be used as a mindless way of rejecting the very valid search for truth that these debates embody. How to describe, explain and approach the truth is at the heart of these disputes. Mutual respect between different positions can only really exist if we actually bother to understand what the different positions are, and then decide for ourselves, quite apart from any supposed sectarian affiliation, which position we think is correct.

          In any case, I thought you didn’t have time to engage in this discussion. If you do have time (and your numerous posts on this blog and Joanne’s would suggest you have) please reply to Maik’s rejection (and mine) that the NKT are nihilistic. Once you get over that idea, you can tackle the NKT’s actual position rather than the straw man one that leads nowhere.

      • Silly response, Maik. It would be like someone saying to Tsongkhapa, “oh, so according to you no other Tibetan tradition understands Madhyamaka. I’d better go and tell \all the other Tibetan Buddhist teachers that you alone are correct. Thanks, Tsongkhapa.”
        Assuming that a position is correct because of the people that hold that position, or because of their reputations, is the fallacy of appealing to authority. It proves nothing other than some people who you respect hold a position that someone else rejects, and we knew that already.

        • I feel you engage too seriously with trivial, throw-away comments such as my banter with Sam. In light of Sam’s constant misinformed opinions about Tsongkhapa and Gelugpa, my response was quite succinct, dare I say.

    • Bristol Lad says:

      Sam,
      Tsongkhapa’s position is not nihilistic. See Madhymaka is Nihilism by Jay Garfield (http://www.smith.edu/philosophy/docs/garfield_nihilism.pdf):

      “In the chapter of Mulamadhyamakakarika entitled Examination of the Tathagata, Nagarjuna asserts one of the more challenging and paradoxical of his famous tetralemmas:
      We do not assert ’empty’.
      We do not assert ‘nonempty’.
      We neither assert both nor neither.
      They are asserted only for the purpose of designation.
      [Ocean 447]

      Tsongkhapa, following Candrakirti closely, comments as follows:
      We do not say that because the Tathagata is empty he is nonexistent, because that would be to commit the error of deprecating him. Moreover, the Tathagata has been shown to be essenceless. Because we aspire to present the undistorted meaning, nor do we say that he is nonempty — that is, that he exists inherently.
      We do not assert both of these; nor do we assert neither that he exists nor does not exist because ultimately, none of these four alternatives can be maintained. On the other hand, if we did not assert these conventionally, those to whom we speak would not understand us. So, from the standpoint of the conventional truth and for conventional purposes, we say ’empty’ and ‘non-empty’, ‘both empty and non-empty’, and ‘neither empty nor non-empty’. We say these, having mentally imputed them from the perspective of those people to whom we are speaking. Therefore, we simply say that ‘they are asserted for the purpose of designation’.
      [Ocean 448]”

      Tsongkhapa (2006). Ocean of Reasoning: A Great Commentary on Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarika.i (N. Samten and J. Garfield, trans). New York: Oxford University Press.

      • You miss the point, Bristol Lad. Sam Hoff’s criticism of Tsongkhapa was also slightly off. What Tsongkhapa’s critics commonly say is that Tsongkhapa was a nihilist because, for him, ultimate truth is a simple negation. Others say he was a svatantrika because, for him, conventional truth had a level of reality that he holds as real according to their characteristics, which is how Garfield (and you) try to refute him being a nihilist.
        Tsongkhapa’s position can be summed up as “existent according to conventional truth; non-existent according to ultimate truth.” So, the ultimate truth is just a lack of inherent existence in conventional things, but these conventional things are not refuted, because ultimate analysis (for Tsongkhapa) only establishes the ultimate; and conventional analysis, relying on valid cognition, establishes the conventional truth.
        Non-Gelugpas totally reject this splitting of the two truths. For them, conventional truth is simply the unexamined reality as experienced by ordinary people. Once this conventional reality is subjected to ultimate analysis, it falls apart and even the designations of existent, non-existent, both and neither cannot be used. This is why, to non-Gelugpas, the ultimate truth is not just a negation, because negations make no sense when where is nothing to negate. Ultimate truth is beyond all conceptual designation.

  21. maik108,

    Gelug school always acknowledged Tsongkhapa deviated from traditional Madhyamaka.

    For example Geluk Geshe Thupten Jingpa says:

    “The traditional Geluk understanding of these deviations in Tsongkhapa’s thought attributes the development of his distinct reading of Madhyamaka philosophy to a mystical communion he is reported to have had with the bodhisattva Manjusri… It is interesting that the tradition Tsongkhapa is claiming to honour is, in a strict sense, not the existing system in Tibet; rather, it appears to be in the tradition of Manjusri as revealed in a mystic vision!”

  22. THIS COMMENT SECTION IS CLOSED
    Dear All,
    thank you for the discussion. I close now the comment section. The discussion is getting exceedingly difficult to handle for me because,
    1) more and more commentators (who never posted on this blog) use different IPs for the same name (which makes it hard to detect if someone is abusing a username or has a hidden agenda).
    2) There are commentators who post under different pseudonyms the same content they said already & confirming the own position (sockpuppet accounts),
    3) There is someone, who was blocked from blogging due to trolling who now highly likely uses different pseudonyms; and last and least,
    4) I have only limited time to deal with all of that (or to follow the discussion).
    These four points make it impossible for me to manage a fair and reasonable discussion.
    IMO, the discussion became spoiled, there is no mutual faith and respect (a lack of kindness too), and the whole discussion is not very constructive in my eyes. Therefore, IMO, the best is to close the discussion now and thereby avoiding to waste time. Maybe it is better to use that to focus on study and meditation. However, discussion is important about these topics but it needs a good framework, a framework I can’t provide at the moment.

    I am a sorry for it. Mainly it is my fault because I opened this topic but then I lacked energy and time, and at times patience too, to really go through it, moderating it closely and constructively.

    Any further comment on this thread will definitely be put in the trash. There is enough material for those interested to get different perspectives and to make up their own minds.

    Thank you for your understanding and thank you for your contributions. I apology for any inconvenience.
    This comment was slightly revised and made more clear on Dec 01, 2015

    • FYI; as I said I delete all further comments on this thread. I revised my last comment to make my reasons for closing the discussion more clear.
      Thanks to all of you.

  23. Äh. Ok, section closed, sorry. I hope you don’t mind but this tweet by Madhyamaka KMC might illustrate why I started the discussion in the first place …

    In case it gets deleted I have a screenshot.

  24. not_no_name says:

    Mipham, followed by Bodpa Trulku and Amdo Gedun Chöphel, also comments
    that if the existence of an empirical object such as the vase is refuted by
    Madhyamika reasoning and established to be false, there is no need to define hypostatic
    existence as the negandum. Even without negating hypostatic existence,
    Emptiness of the vase can be realized by seeing it as false and illusory. Amdo
    Gedun Chöphel further argues that if the fear is that negating an empirical object
    such as vase would annihilate the existence of conventional vase, it is unnecessary.
    He observes:

    The fear in some [people] that a nihilistic view seeing everything as nonexistent
    would arise [in oneself] if vase, pillars, so forth were negated
    by the reasoning is a needless worry. How can it be possible for a nihilistic
    view that ‘the vase visible in the front is utterly non-existent’ ever
    arise in an ordinary person? Were such a thought to arise, because [one]
    knows directly that the vase is visible and tangible, a thought that ‘this
    vase, although appearing to me, is utterly non-existent while it is appearing’
    would arise spontaneously. Such a thought is Madhyamaka view of
    coalescence of appearance and Emptiness which comprehends appearance
    to be not existing as it appears. How could it be a nihilistic view?

    Some problems with this Gelukpa identification of the negandum to be hypostatic
    existence and not empirical objects have also been raised in Western
    scholarship on GelukpaM¯adhyamika in recent times. Hopkins dicusses bothAmdo
    Gedun Chöphel and Tandar Lharampa’s viewpoints and remarks that Gelukpa
    ‘emphasis on the valid establishment of conventionalities might merely fortify the
    habitual sense that things exist the way they appear’.

    pp 89-90 MIPHAM’S DIALECTICS AND THE DEBATES ON EMPTINESS, To be, not to be or neither.
    Karma Phuntsho (2005)

    • Bristollad says:

      To what are you referring when you use “hypostatic existence”? It is not a term I am familiar with.

      • Actual, the discussion is closed. It looks like the person who posted it is a person I banned from discussion because he has shown all types of troll behaviour. After I approved the comment and saw that it had been posted on a closed discussion I felt a bit shy to delete a quote from a Dharma text. So I left it there but maybe no need to continue what has been stopped already.

      • not_no_name says:

        “hypostatic existence” = underlying essence. So both inherent existence and non-inherent existence are forms of hypostatic existence…

        But the point is that the qualifier “inherent existence” that the gelukpas see as a neccesary qualifier in the delineation of emptiness leads to:
        – emptiness as an implicative negation instead of an non-implicative, though gelukpas see emptiness as a non-implicative negation.
        – emptiness (of self) becomes emptiness of other (i.e. shentong as opposed to gelukpa rangtong)
        – emptiness of X gets separated from the appearance of X.
        – emptiness of underlying essence/hypostatic is not realised
        – conventions will have an underlying essence.
        – conventions will have qualities/charateristics of their own
        – the 20 emptinesses become redundant
        – utter nonsense (horn of a rabbit) will not be empty, because it does not even conventionally exist
        – Things will not be (inherently) pure.

        See: MIPHAM’S DIALECTICS AND THE DEBATES ON EMPTINESS, To be, not to be or neither.
        Karma Phuntsho (2005)

  25. Dear Tenpel,

    Can you or maybe someone verify the information on Tsem’s blog relating to these lamas who are Shukden believers? Seems like a lot who are still practicing. Is the list correct?

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/dorje-shugden/they-were-not-wrong.html

    Thank you

    • Hi Tom,
      I had a quick look. It lists people who abandoned Shugden worship such as Geshe Ngawang Dargey or H.E. Choden Rinpoche.
      The intro is also not truthful in what the stance of the Sakya school is. See HH Sakya Trizin’s own letter to an NKT student.

      Dorjee Shugden is not practised by Sakyapas as a group or community. But there are a few Sakyapas who practice it individually. In my opinion, it is much better for Western Buddhists to practice Dharma Protecting deities which are transmitted from the Tantra treatises.

      Lama Jampa Thaye, an English teacher within both the Sakya and the Kagyu traditions and founder of the Dechen Community, maintains that

      The Sakyas generally have been ambivalent about Shugden […] The usual Sakya view about Shugden is that he is controlled by a particular Mahakala, the Mahakala known as Four-Faced Mahakala. So he is a ‘jig rten pai srung ma, a worldly deity, or demon, who is no harm to the Sakya tradition because he is under the influence of this particular Mahakala.

      See also Jeff Watt DO SAKYAS RELY UPON DORJE SHUGDEN?

      So the whole distorts reality and the base argument seems to be because 205 teachers practiced Shugden it must be correct. However, thousands of monks, nuns, teachers, masters, yogis, geshes, mahasiddhas, lineage holders of various schools of Buddhism believed that the moon shone from its own side and that the sun is as far away from the earth as the moon – Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and Kyabje Ling Rinpoche tough this Abhidharma teaching to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who – using his intelligence, images of the moon, and a telescope – found shadows on the moon and rejected that teaching as being wrong. Just because 205 teachers believe in something (for a while or for their whole life) is no prove for the validity of any teaching otherwise “teachers, masters, yogis, geshes, mahasiddhas, lineage holders of various schools of Buddhism” have “proved” over many centuries that the moon shines from its own side and that both, the moon and the sun, have the same distance from the earth – which obviously is wrong. Hence, also the masters can err and erred.

      • not_no_name says:

        Off topic…. or better: off closed topic… ,)

      • Thanks Tenpel.

        I read about the Sakya Trinzin denouncing Shukden Gyalpo but wasn’t the deity very big in the Sakya clan before? My problem with this kind of situation is not knowing how much of these decisions are politically motivated or if they in fact do have doctrinal basis. Its hard for ordinary people to follow and at some point we have to decide who to trust and blindly at that.

        Can you comment on the other lamas’s in Tsem’s post? Seems like a lot of others apart from the Sakyas.

        Thanks

        • Hi Tom,
          you also wrote on a thread that is closed. Please write on another thread if you wish to continue any discussion. Thank you.

          With respect to your question, the head of the Sakya school, HH Sakya Trizin stated:

          In the beginning the Sakya throne holder Sakya Sönam Rinchen bound Shugden to protect Dharma. However, neither Shudgen nor other worldly spirits were depended upon during prayer meeting at Sakya. The statue of Shugden was in some shrine rooms but in the lowest category in the pantheon. No Sakya follower has ever taken life pledging empowerment through the medium of Shugden … Later Shugden worship decreased strongly among Sakyas due to the efforts of three leading Sakya lineage lamas” [including the root Guru of Sakya Trizin who was] “extremely unhappy with Shugden practice and advised on the demerits of Shugden practice. One of his disciples, Ngawang Yönten Gyatso, took strong actions to remove Shugden statues from the Sakya monasteries and to destroy them. Khyentse Dorje Chang Chökyi Lodrö was also very unhappy with Shugden practice, although he didn’t destroy statues, he performed rituals to banish Shugden. Since these three leading Sakya Lamas were against Shugden, this practice declined greatly among Sakya followers.

          Now, if you doubt if HHST said this out of political reasons but not because it is true, you must do your own research and check how truthful HH Sakya Trizin is in what he stated. So you have to investigate to find out “how much of these decisions are politically motivated or if they in fact do have doctrinal basis”.

          Of course the Shugden proponents claim that this all would be “politically motivated” – but its a mere claim. I could also claim that Shugden proponents act out of mere political reasons. Anybody can claim anything. But whoever claims something must give clear evidence to support their claims! What evidence there is?

          If you check carefully the statement above by HHST with the historical facts and if the historical facts match what he said, what makes this statement by HHST “politically motivated”? He is just reporting facts. Reporting facts can be “politically motivated” but it can also be motivated by Right Speech – just speaking the truth. Actual, it is almost impossible to prove the motivation of any person, or can you read the mind of others? Motivation is a hidden phenomenon. It can be inferred, guessed, assumed, interpreted but only a person who can read others’ mind knows for sure others’ motivations.

          If you check the reasons why HH the DL put restrictions on Shugden worship*, you will see that HHDL had (also) spiritual and doctrinal reasons for his stance on Shugden and that he carefully analysed the whole history and background of Shugden over a very long time, and that he asked others to analyse carefully too without following him blindly in his view.

          So, as the Buddha said – a stance HHDL also stresses – nothing should be accepted out of blind faith or without sober investigation.

          Can you comment on the other lamas’s in Tsem’s post? Seems like a lot of others apart from the Sakyas.

          No time to do that, sorry.

          * see for instance: https://buddhism-controversy-blog.com/2015/05/27/why-did-the-14th-dalai-lama-change-his-stance-on-dorje-shugden-dholgyal/
          http://info-buddhism.com/dorje_shugden_controversy_von_Brueck.html

  26. not_no_name says:

    Funny that THE controversy within (Tibetan) buddhism: the delineation of emptiness according to for instance Tsong Khapa or Sera Jetsun versus Gorampa, or Sakya Chogden, or Mipham or Gendun Chöpel are ignored on this blog… since that would be functional and productive for all. Reiteration of a claim that some geshe is a nihilist is not at all functional and productive. Not for the geshe, nor for the one that claims he is a nihilist.

    Funny… isn’t it? Or sad?

    • This thread is closed, this is your last approved comment now. Marc, you were also banned because of Troll behaviour – that’s why I deleted different comments posted by you over the last days. No further comment will be accepted by you.

      However, just for the record, this controversy is just ignored because of a lack of expertise on my side and because there was no guest author who wanted to contribute to this controversy and who has the knowledge required to write something about it. There is no point to write about a subject where the author doesn’t have any expertise. However, the blog might report about future results of a huge research project about this controversy.

      A research team comprising me [Jay Garfield], Mike Pelczar, Douglas Duckworth, John Power, Sonam Thakchöe was awarded $766,000 by the Singapore Ministry of Education to study the Geluk-Sakya debates in the 15th-18th centuries in Tibet initiated by Dakstang Lotsawa’s “Eighteen Great Contradictions in the Thought of Tsongkhapa.” Thomas Doctor will join our team as a postdoctoral fellow.

      https://jaygarfield.org/news/

      There is also no use to discuss this in the context of this post which is based on the Gelug understanding. Good bye now.

  27. THIS THREAD IS CLOSED

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: