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
Although they strived, were not lowly in accomplishments
From direct experience, were learned in the Doctrine,
And even dedicated themselves to philosophy!"
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
For all beings. By accurate translation of word
Of the statements of the Buddha, and of the elucidations
of the sages, masters in discernment of their
They thus established this land of snows
As the field of worship by the worlds crowns,
My mind takes refuge in them with great faith
But I have seen it quite precisely
By grace of my guru, saviour Manjughosha,
And I am going to explain it with great love!"
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
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.