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Searching for the self

"This volume begins with an introduction by His Holiness in which he places our study of reality within the framework of a compassionate motivation to benefit sentient beings. Since the value of whatever we undertake depends on our motivation, cultivating a motivation to contribute to the welfare of all beings places our study of emptiness in a beneficial context. Chapter 1 explains why realizing emptiness is important and describes the qualities to develop to understand it correctly. Chapter 2 speaks of the Buddhist sages whose teachings are the most reliable for us to follow. It culminates with a praise His Holiness wrote that introduces us to the seventeen great scholar-adepts of the Nālandā tradition followed in Tibetan Buddhism. Then in chapters 3, 4, and 5 we explore assertions of both Buddhist and non-Buddhist philosophical tenet systems. This topic is vast, so only the important positions regarding the topics of the present volume-selflessness and emptiness-are spoken of here. Although initially this material may seem replete with new terms and ideas, as you progress in your study and practice to develop insight into emptiness, you will see the value of learning these because they point out some of our own incorrect ideas and direct us to views that are more reasonable. Chapter 6 provides some of the epistemological material that helps us to understand both cognizing subjects and cognized objects, and chapter 7 fleshes out some of the mental states involved in both our ignorant and accurate cognitions. Chapter 8 discusses inherent existence and other fantasized ways of existence that comprise the objects of negation-what we seek to disprove when meditating on emptiness-and chapter 9 establishes the Middle Way view that has abandoned the extremes of absolutism and nihilism. The view of absolutism superimposes false ways of existence, whereas the nihilistic view negates what does in fact exist. Chapter 10 looks more closely at the extreme of absolutism, as this is the view that we ordinary sentient beings usually cling to. Chapter 11 speaks of the two extremes as presented in the Pāli tradition and the three characteristics of impermanence, duḥkha, and not-self that counter the absolutist views. Chapter 12 goes into some of the many arguments presented in the Pāli tradition that help to overcome clinging to a false notion of the I. Although the arguments to support selflessness in the Sanskrit tradition are expounded in the next volume of the Library of Wisdom and Compassion, readers who are already familiar with these will see the similarities with arguments found in the Pāli sūtras. The coda is designed for people who have studied the tenet systems in the Tibetan tradition as well as for followers of the Pāli tradition who want to learn more about their own Abhidharma system. Many Tibetans believe that modern-day Theravāda corresponds to the Vaibhāṣika and/or Sautrāntikas systems as these systems are explained in the Tibetan tradition. However, this is not the case; although the Pāli tradition shares many commonalities with these two systems, there are some important differences. In addition, this coda orients the reader to some of the foundational, canonical ideas informing the Tibetan treatises on the nature of reality, selflessness, and emptiness. Being aware of the development of the Abhidharma provides background for the refutations in Nāgārjuna's Treatise on the Middle Way"--


Bhikṣu Tenzin Gyatso and Bhikṣunī Thubten Chodron.

Includes bibliographical references and index.
Target Readership: