Madhyamika philosophy

The Beacon of Certainty

In the first year of my MA TTIP, I got this wonderful opportunity to study the text The Beacon of Certainty (nges shes sgron me) by Jamgön Ju Mipham Gyatso along with a commentary by Khenpo Kunzang Palden. It explains how Dzogchen should be practiced based on the Madhyamaka view of reality. In his text, Mipham Rinpoche takes us through seven questions and answers exchanged between a mendicant and a sage which are the personification of his randomly arising doubts and his discerning intellect respectively. While responding to the questions he distills the essence of the Madhyamaka thought as interpreted in the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism presented in the fashion of refuting illogical positions of the opponent followed by positing the logical position of one’s own tradition.

For him, Vajrayana in general and Dzogchen in particular, should be rooted in the analytical reasoning of the Madhyamaka philosophy. Only after the practitioner has developed the conviction, or like Mipham Rinpoche calls it, certainty in the union of appearances and emptiness as the two faces—two truths—of the same coin, is the practitioner ready to embark in the Dzogchen path. Armed thus with the beacon of the certainty arose from the Madhyamaka correct view of reality—the absence of inherent existence in all phenomena—the yogin(i) can cut through all mental constructs and navigate to the safe haven of self-arising gnosis (rangjung yeshe) present in all sentient beings since time immemorial. In the Nyingma tradition, The Beacon of Certainty is considered to be the bridge between sutra and tantra, since Mipham Rimpoche presents us with the unity of the analytical and non-conceptual traditions par excellence—Madhyamaka and Dzogchen. Therefore, this class offers us a chance to put into practice the union of study and practice that gives rise to the ideal of the scholar practitioner so much emphasized by our precious Guru, Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche.

                                                                                                                                                                Karma Lhazom Thimphu,Bhutan                                                                                                                                    

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