Tsong Khapa’s Tengyur text, Essence of True Eloquence, is discussed here as preparation for the 2014 Beacon Theater teachings given by the H.H. the Dalai Lama.
Profound Wisdom and Vast Compassion: Tsong Khapa’s Essence of True Eloquence
Course of Preparation for H. H. the Dalai Lama’s Historic Discourse
Sept. 10, 17, 24 and Oct. 10 (evenings, 7-9) and retreat on Oct. 11, 10-12:30, 2-5. (13.5 contact hour, 7.5 homework, 21 hour course).
H. H. the Dalai Lama will be giving an historic discourse on Nov. 3 & 4 on this topic, and the masterpiece text by Jey Lama Tsong Khapa (1357-1419) that is considered a classic presentation of the profound view of reality that is foundational for opening the floodgates of universal compassion. The text is known as the Essence Of True Eloquence: Distinguishing the Interpretable from the Definitive Meanings of the Buddha’s Sutra Discourses (Tibetan– Drang nges legs bshad snying po), which is lucid and detailed expansion of the Short Essence of True Eloquence, the poem Jey Tsong Khapa wrote on the morning of the dawning of his full enlightenment in 1398.
On the above dates, we are offering a preparatory course which will go over some of the main points of the text, with a view to providing a basic familiarity with the territory of the realistic worldview—first branch of the eightfold path of the fourth noble truth—as understood and taught by the Indo-Tibetan Nagarjuna–Chandrakirti–Tsong Khapa–Dalai Lama tradition. The point of preparing for the Dalai Lama’s own discourse is to be familiar with the main concepts about and outlines of the most important insights, so that when His Holiness, the living transmitter of the authentic tradition, gives his discourse, the prepared recipient can listen with a better understanding.
The essence of this realistic worldview is the nonduality of nirvana and samsara, wisdom and compassion, emptiness and relativity. As long as the slightest trace of separation of these two levels remains in one’s mind, wisdom of emptiness does not reach the ultimate depth, and great compassion cannot spring forth from the wholehearted commitment to the amelioration of the condition of suffering beings in the emptiness/relativity nondual reality of their world, blocked by some version of an escapist concept of some sort of absolute release.
The text delves deeply into this essential focus, first briefly from the perspective of the seemingly dualistic Individual Vehicle Realist schools, then in more detail from that of the Idealist (“Mind-only”) schools, and then finally from the perspectives of the Dogmaticist (Svatantrika) and Dialecticist (Prasangika) Centrist (Madhyamika) schools. The course will proceed with lecture, Q & A, and some contemplative sessions, with a final day-long retreat on Oct. 11.
Recommended reading for this course is in R. Thurman, Central Philosophy of Tibet, (Princeton paperback), especially the Introduction, but one can come to the course without having done so, as a summary pamphlet will be made available during the course. It is also recommended that one attend the entire course; but, space permitting, walk-in attendance might also be possible.