- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Shambhala (8 February 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1590300092
- ISBN-13: 978-1590300091
- Product Dimensions: 15.1 x 2.9 x 22.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,92,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Introduction to the Middle Way: Chandrakirti's Madhyamakavatara with Commentary by Ju Mipham Paperback – 8 Feb 2005
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From the Inside Flap
Introduction to the Middle Way combines the timeless devotional-scholarly poetry of Indian master Chandrakirti (ca. seventh century) with the exhaustive explanation of its meaning by Jamgön Mipham (1846-1912), whose commentary was composed eleven centuries after Chandrakirti lived. Chandrakirti is one of several Indian thinkers whose treatises were brought to Tibet and whose realized teachings about the nature of the mind are the foundation of Tibetan Buddhist thought. Hidden in his verses are the guideposts to enlightenment, composed in this way to help those students who have received instruction to commit it to memory. Miphams commentary, presented in thorough outline form, offers a point-by-point explanation of Chandrakirtis meaning.
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Chandrakirti was a seventh-century Indian Buddhist philosopher, revered for his interpretation of Nagarjuna's teachings on the Middle Way.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The book itself is a comment by Chandrakirti on the genius Nagarjuna, who argued that we all fail to see the ultimate in appearances because of flaws in our perception. This is a classic text in the Buddhist tradition. A must read for those with a deep interest in Buddhism. The intro to the book is more than worth the cost! Really outstanding.
"When the mind realizes emptiness, it overcomes the subject-object dichotomy. It does not just break through the appearances that conceal the ultimate status of phenomena; it also penetrates the veils of mental construction that had concealed its own true nature and had made the misperception of phenomena possible. When the true nature of phenomena is discovered, the mind's nature also stands revealed, for the realization of emptiness is the experience of nondual wisdom."
Among other arguments the book clearly refutes the Cittamatra tenet system (not the Yogacara) and Shentong (extrinsic emptiness) views that we may fall into and are not Nagarjuna's Madhyamaka, the Buddha's definitive meaning.
It's clear from Mipham's word that he's not interested only in Madhyamaka as an academic subject but as the ultimate goal of practice, and it seems he truly knows it from experience!
I find it interesting that Jamgon Mipham (a Tibetan) wrote a commentary on a commentary (Chandrakirti) on an interpretation (Nagarjuna) of the writings on an oral tradition of a teacher who lived hundreds of years before. Seems these ideas might have a bit of potency and staying power.
After the introduction, which lasts about 50 pages and gives a good background on these and other matters, the translation of the actual text of Chandrakirti's commentary begins, in verse form, and lasts about 50 pages. Following this we have Jamgon Mipham's commentary for over 200 pages.
In my little view of the universe, I always try to start with source texts, if at all possible, so I read Garfield's translation of the Mulamadhymakakarika before this text. I'd recommend this, since it gives a grounding, and by the time you get to Mipham, it helps your understanding to have read what both Chandrakirti and Mipham are refering to.
Obviously this is a work of profound depth and requires rereading and study to begin to appreciate. Mipham wrote an incredibly detailed outline of the Chandrakirti text and uses it to explicate from. The translators have included it in full. Also, the translators include extensive and useful footnotes which cover many aspects of Mipham's text.
Of course, it's hard to find the heart to be critical of such a work, but I need to raise two points. First, passive voice. Sometimes I just wanted to scream. I might have. I'm not sure if Mipham wrote in the passive (or if Tibetan even has one), but the translators sure do. Perhaps they think this makes their meaning more accurate, I don't know. But I found myself rewriting things in active voice in my head in order to understand what the heck was, uh, being said. It seems to me that a difficult text with Mipham was made unecessarily moreso by too much passive voice. Second, I also found it a bit frustrating that the glossary didn't cover a lot of the terms in the text. I'd say about 40% of the items that I went to the glossary for were there.
Mipham's text itself is both profound and charming, and he take great pains to make something clear, repeating himself from different angles until he drives the point home. I laughed in several places, for example when he says that if you tell someone who just broke a vase that it doesn't matter because it's just a falsely existent object of knowledge, the person will only get angry. He's illustrating a difference between the two truths, the conventional and the ultimate, and making me laugh from over a hundred years and huge cultural differences away. He has a solid, down-to-earth style that I really appreciated.
I take a star off because of the passive voice. Understanding was being made more difficult than it was needing to be made, if you get my passive drift. The translation of the Madhymakavatara didn't skimp on the passive either, but here this didn't adversely affect clarity much.
Even with these flaws, I'd still recommend the book. And maybe the passive won't bother you as much as me. I think it's possible some people might actually think in the passive... perhaps these translators... or even you.
I thought this was more than an introduction, I'm glad to have
this. This is a deep and profound work that will serve me well,
until my end.