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Esoteric Philosophy: Study of the Endless Path of Wisdom

Lord Tsong Khapa and Scientific Materialism

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Lord Tsong Khapa and Scientific Materialism
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Buddhist Doctrine

 

During a strong intellectual and materialistic trend pioneered by Hoshang Mahayana, a Chinese Ch'an teacher, spiritual study and wisdom lost some ground to the thrust of the intellect and it was for this reason that Kamalashila drew upon his wide scholarship and lucid spiritual philosophy of Hoshang to refute and the ever growing tide of materialism thus drawing upon his deep understanding of Buddhist doctrine and steering the Tibetan's along correct lines of Buddhist humanism and heart ethics, towards the path of enlightenment according to the "magnificent practise lineage" of the great Buddhist teachers. Je Tsong Khapa continued this tradition.

A brief outline, with an expounding on key points, of the work of Robert A. F. Thurman' book "The Speech of Gold" dealing with the life and work of Lord Tson-kha-pa and his "Essence of true Eloquence". JPC.

Tsong Khapa refutes the proposition that philosophy cannot approach a reasoned understanding of the absolute. The interpretation of inexpressibility, in-conceptualisation, and un-cognition-ability of the absolute is argued to be incorrect. Philosophical word, concept and intellectual reasoning cannot encompass the absolute it is true, but it is able to bring the philosopher equipped with the 'wisdom intuition' as Tsong Khapa describes it, to the stage where it is within reach of direct understanding. This is a quality of the Buddhic intuition which is not accounted for by the philosophical sophist or nihilist.

Tsong Khapa in following the tradition of Atisha, found philosophical fault with the understanding and teaching of rNgog-lo and other scholars of buddhic philosophy. However this scholastic discernment and divergence of understanding pertaining to the work of rNgog-lo is found only at an extremely high level and, for instance, TK much preferred rNgog-lo' 'Stages of the path' only after Atishas 'Lamp of the Path of Enlightenment'. rNgog-lo is not to be in anyway confused with the usual level of sophistry expounded by many scholars.

Dol-bu-pa's idea of reality is as follows. 'Emptiness' is the true nature of reality. It is radically "other" reality, other than the world of illusion. It manifest as a permanent, unchanging and stable self of all beings. In Shakyamuni's scriptures it is "alternative reality" and "absolute other". These are indeed comparable to Tsong Khapa's "Thatness" or "That place".

Tsong Khapa says, " I assign "thatness" in its use in the direct sense of "absolute reality". Thatness means in context, truth, reality, principle and imminent absoluteness. This "Thatness" is then HPB's "boundless immutable principle, one absolute reality". It is clear that Tsong Kahpa does not deny in any way the first fundamental of the Secret Doctrine.

Tsong Khapa even exercised his discrimination in pointing out the shortcomings of the bodhissatvas in not having achieved true Buddha-hood. One must not confuse this with criticism as ordinarily understood. His Will and compassionate love for his disciples is supreme. He refers in critique to those predecessors and contemporaries "who did not achieve that place" of perfect enlightenment while praising their accomplishments as worthy indeed and of true genius.

"There have been many who did not realise That place,

Although they strived, were not lowly in accomplishments

From direct experience, were learned in the Doctrine,

And even dedicated themselves to philosophy!" Je Tson-kha-pa.

Verses from the Golden Rosary:

"Here, where even the great ranges of white peaks,

Unbroken in all directions, dimming the brilliance of even Kailash,

Where obscured by the thick fog of misknowledge,

The magically incarnate Translators, Pandits, Kings and Ministers

Made supreme efforts to make clear the Path of liberation

For all beings. By accurate translation of word and meaning

Of the statements of the Buddha, and of the elucidations

of the sages, masters in discernment of their meaning,

They thus established this land of snows

As the field of worship by the worlds crowns, including gods-

My mind takes refuge in them with great faith forever!

VII

But I have seen it quite precisely

By grace of my guru, saviour Manjughosha,

And I am going to explain it with great love!" Je Tson-kha-pa.

Interestingly, we are told that Nāgārjuna (Telugu) (c. 150 - 250 CE) released his teaching on the 'central way' as a critical counter to the scientific work of the day. This is a major reason that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas proclaim the strict necessity for achieving liberation and eventually Buddha-hood. It is the experimental and forced progression of evolution that eliminates the hold of the entrenched forces of darkness from its grip over humanity, with its ever tendency towards dogma and materialism and consequent movement toward material science.

It was due to the non achievement of the individualist, and the materialist thrust of the time [c 740-815] which was creating such an environment of spiritual ignorance, that it was thought needed a dissemination of the teachings from the white lodge. The over analytical mind was thought to be taking to strong a hold over China, Tibet and all the East through the Buddhist realists and Brahmin logicians and meta-physicians. Nāgārjuna preceded a succession of Buddhas and Bodhissatvas, including Asanga and Buddhapalita, through to Atisha [c 982-1054], in a wave of teachings which sought to counter such materialistic thought.

During a strong intellectual and materialistic trend pioneered by Hoshang Mahayana, a Chinese Ch'an teacher, spiritual study and wisdom lost some ground to the thrust of the intellect and it was for this reason that Kamalashila drew upon his wide scholarship and lucid spiritual philosophy of Hoshang to refute and the ever growing tide of materialism thus drawing upon his deep understanding of Buddhist doctrine and steering the Tibetan's along correct lines of Buddhist humanism and heart ethics, towards the path of enlightenment according to the "magnificent practise lineage" of the great Buddhist teachers.

The waves of enlightenment and of esoteric teachings based on the universal truth body the "universal vehicle or "beautific" Vajra vehicle of the great Buddhas, proved to be the sequential revelation needed due to the ever tendency toward dogmatism and degradation of the teachings by those who through slackness of the intellect and ignorance as to the spiritual thrust, miss-interpreted and so incorrectly taught these teachings. It is for this very reason that this series of papers on the works of Lord Tsong Khapa and the Gelugpa oriental teachings, of the Yellow hat wisdom tradition, deals with this problem.

It is a continuous problem and one reason HPB released 'Isis Unveiled' in 1875 and the 'Secret Doctrine' in 1888. These were also a counter to the scientific materialism and religious dogmatism of more recent times. It is for this reason also that the Tibetan Master DK continued his work [first with HPB and then AAB] and wrote in the mid nineteenth century of a future event... "Buddhism will be spreading and becoming increasingly dogmatic... the Buddha will send two trained disciples to reform Buddhism." EXT 573.

10/11/08.

JPC.