Great Madhyamaka

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Key Term Great Madhyamaka
Hover Popup Choices Uma Chenpo; Great Middle Way
In Tibetan Script དབུ་མ་ཆེན་པོ་
Wylie Tibetan Transliteration dbu ma chen po
Devanagari Sanskrit Script महामध्यमक
Romanized Sanskrit Mahāmadhyamaka
Tibetan Phonetic Rendering Uma Chenpo
English Standard Great Middle Way
Term Type Noun
Source Language Tibetan
Basic Meaning The term Great Madhyamaka is utilized in different contexts depending on the tradition. In the Jonang tradition it generally refers to the Zhentong Madhyamaka philosophy as it was developed and systematized by Dölpopa. In this context, the Great Madhyamaka refers to the presentation of ultimate truth, while Madhyamaka describes the emptiness of relative level of truth. In the Nyingma tradition, Great Madhyamaka refers to the subtle, inner Madhyamaka that unifies the philosophical positions of Nāgārjuna and Asaṅga. This is presented in opposition to the coarse, outer Madhyamaka that is the dialectic approach of Prāsaṅgika and Svātantrika. In the Kagyu tradition, the term is used in a similar vein in that Madhyamaka is used to refer to philosophical inquiry, while Great Madhyamaka is used to refer to the view arrived at through yogic accomplishment. However, in all of these traditions, Great Madhyamaka is heavily associated with buddha-nature (tathāgatagarbha) and the definitive status of these teachings.
Definitions
Other Definitions

In the Nyingma and Kagyu traditions, the name given to the fusion of the teachings of the second and third turnings of the Dharma wheel. These two turnings are paralleled, respectively, by the approach of Nagarjuna, the view that ultimate reality is beyond conceptual formulation, and the approach of Asanga, the view that ultimate reality is the buddha nature, the tathagatagarbha, free from all defects and primordially endowed with all enlightened qualities. The Great Madhyamika is also referred to as the Yogachara Madhyamika, for it stresses the role of meditation in the realization of ultimate reality, the nature of the mind. Associated with this system is the expression gzhan stong, "emptiness of other," referring to the understanding that ultimate reality is an emptiness which is a freedom from all factors extraneous to itself. In other words, it is a positive value and not a mere negation.

-Fletcher, W., Padmakara Translation Group, Blankleder, H. in Treasury of Precious Qualities: Book One (2001)


Along with Yogācāra, it was one of the two major philosophical schools of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Founded by Nāgārjuna in the C. 2nd Century, it is rooted in the Prajñāpāramitā Sūtras, though it's initial exposition was presented in Nāgārjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā.

The term Great Madhyamaka is utilized in different contexts depending on the tradition. In the Jonang tradition it generally refers to the Zhentong Madhyamaka philosophy as it was developed and systematized by Dölpopa. In this context, the Great Madhyamaka refers to the presentation of ultimate truth, while Madhyamaka describes the emptiness of relative level of truth. In the Nyingma tradition, Great Madhyamaka refers to the subtle, inner Madhyamaka that unifies the philosophical positions of Nāgārjuna and Asaṅga. This is presented in opposition to the coarse, outer Madhyamaka that is the dialectic approach of Prāsaṅgika and Svātantrika. In the Kagyu tradition, the term is used in a similar vein in that Madhyamaka is used to refer to philosophical inquiry, while Great Madhyamaka is used to refer to the view arrived at through yogic accomplishment. However, in all of these traditions, Great Madhyamaka is heavily associated with buddha-nature (tathāgatagarbha) and the definitive status of these teachings.

The term Great Madhyamaka is utilized in different contexts depending on the tradition. In the Jonang tradition it generally refers to the Zhentong Madhyamaka philosophy as it was developed and systematized by Dölpopa. In this context, the Great Madhyamaka refers to the presentation of ultimate truth, while Madhyamaka describes the emptiness of relative level of truth. In the Nyingma tradition, Great Madhyamaka refers to the subtle, inner Madhyamaka that unifies the philosophical positions of Nāgārjuna and Asaṅga. This is presented in opposition to the coarse, outer Madhyamaka that is the dialectic approach of Prāsaṅgika and Svātantrika. In the Kagyu tradition, the term is used in a similar vein in that Madhyamaka is used to refer to philosophical inquiry, while Great Madhyamaka is used to refer to the view arrived at through yogic accomplishment. However, in all of these traditions, Great Madhyamaka is heavily associated with buddha-nature (tathāgatagarbha) and the definitive status of these teachings.

The state of being devoid of that which is wholly different, or essentially nonexistent, meaning that it is inherently free of these external contaminants.

"Ultimate truth" or "absolute truth;" the reality of things as they truly are.

The Nyingma, which is often described as the oldest tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, traces its origin to Padmasambhava, who is said to have visited Tibet in the eighth century.

Buddha-nature, literally the "womb/essence of those who have gone (to suchness)."

"Ultimate truth" or "absolute truth;" the reality of things as they truly are.

The qualities or attributes of an enlightened being.

Along with Madhyamaka, it was one of the two major philosophical schools of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Founded by Asaṅga and Vasubandhu in the C. 4th Century, many of its central tenets have roots in the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra and the so-called Third Turning of the Dharma-Wheel (See tridharmacakrapravartana).