This course is a study of Catuhśataka by Āryadeva (ca. 2nd century)—a direct student of Nāgārjuna. This influential Madhyamaka treatise is renowned for balancing the presentation of the seeming and ultimate realities, emphasizing both the view and meditation. We will approach this treatise through the lenses of its Tibetan commentators.

Prerequisite: BUD 630

Required texts: 

    • Rendawa Shonnu Lodro’s commentary on Aryadeva’s “Four hundred verses”, translated by Ven. Dr. Tashi Tsering and Mr. Jürgen Stöter Tillmann, 2004, Manjushri Press, Cambridge, MA 
    • Aryadeva’s Four Hundred Stanzas on the Middle Way: With Commentary by Gyel-tsap, by Geshe Sonam Rinchen and Ruth Sonam, 2008, Snow Lion Publications 

This course is a study of the unique view of Indian mater Śāntarakṣita (8th century) who harmonized the Madhyamaka view of Nāgārjuna with the Yogācāra and Pramāna traditions. The exposition of Madhyamakālamkāra will be based on an extensive commentary by Ju Mipham (1846–1912), frequently taught in Nyingma colleges. 

Prerequisite: BUD 630

Required texts: 

    • Speech of Delight: Mipham's Commentary on Santaraksita's Ornament of the Middle Way, by Ju Mipham, translated by Thomas Doctor, 2004, Snow Lion Publications  
    • The Adornment of the Middle Way: Shantarakshita's Madhyamakalankara with Commentary by Jamgön Mipham, translated by Padmakara Translation Group, 2005, Shambhala Publications
    • Commentary on the Adornment of the Middle Way, by Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen, 2009, Nitartha Institute Publications 

This course is a study of the Madhyamaka view of Indian master Śāntideva (8th century) in the 9th chapter of his famous Bodhicāryāvatāra together with a commentary by Pawo Tsugla Trengwa (1504-1566), one of the two most important students of the Eight Karmapa, Mikyö Dorje. Pawo Rinpoche's presentation is an essential source for the Kagyü view of the Middle Way philosophical tradition.

Prerequisite: BUD 630

Required texts: 

    • The Center of the Sunlit Sky: Madhyamaka in the Kagyu Tradition, by Karl Brunnhölzl, 2004, Snow Lion Publications  
    • The Wisdom Chapter: Jamgön Mipham's Commentary on the Ninth Chapter of The Way of the Bodhisattva, by Jamgon Mipham, translated by The Padmakara Translation Group, 2017, Shambhala Publications 
    • A Commentary on The Ninth Chapter of the Bodhicaryavatara on Supreme Knowledge, based on the commentary by Pawo Rinpoche Tsugla Trengwa, by The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, 2 volumes, 2000—2001, Nitartha Institute Publications

This course is an in-depth study of renowned Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, the root treatise of the Madhyamaka philosophical system, composed by Ārya Nāgārjuna in 2nd century, together with Ornament of Reason, a commentary by Machawa Jangchub Tsöndrü (died 1185), an early Tibetan commentator on Candrakīrti's view. Machawa's account of the Middle Way exercised lasting influence on the development of Madhyamaka philosophy in all four schools of Buddhism in Tibet. Ornament of Reason has been frequently taught in Nyingma colleges.

Prerequisite: BUD 630

Required text: 

    • Ornament Of Reason: The Great Commentary To Nagarjuna's Root Of The Middle Way, by Mabja Jangchub Tsondru, translated by Dharmachakra Translation Committee, Snow Lion Publications, 2011

This course is an in-depth exploration of the Mahāyānasūtrālamkāra, the last of the five works of Maitreya to be taught at Nitartha Institute. The text presents materials on the view and path of Bodhisattvas from a yogacāra point of view. It thus gives a synopsis of all the mahāyāna sūtras that are not contained among the prajñāpāramitā sūtras or the sūtras on buddha nature.

Prerequisite: BUD 630

Required text: 

    • Ornament of the Great Vehicle Sutras: Maitreya's Mahayanasutralamkara with Commentaries by Khenpo Shenga and Ju Mipham, translated by Dharmachakra Translation Committee, 2014, Snow Lion Publications

This course is a study of Dharmadhātustava, attributed to Nāgārjuna, the early śāstra commenting on the tathāgatagarbha sūtras, as elucidated by the Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje (1284-1339) in his commentary.

Prerequisite: BUD 630

Required texts: 

    • In Praise of Dharmadhātu, by Karl Brunnhölzl, 2007, Snow Lion Publications  
    • Commentary on In Praise of Dharmadhatu, by The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, 2010, Nitartha Institute Publications

The Beacon of Certainty (Tib. nges shes sgron me) is a commentary composed by the great Nyingma master and scholar Lama Mipham (1846-1912). It is structured around seven questions which address the foundations of the Nyingma tradition, from Madhyamika philosophy to the view of Dzogchen. This key text is studied in virtually all Nyingma shedras. We will study its commentary by Khenpo Kunpal, (c.1872-1943), a close disciple of Lama Mipham.

Recommended Text: 

    • Mipham's Beacon of Certainty: Illuminating the View of Dzogchen, the Great Perfection Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, by John W. Pettit, 1999, Wisdom Publications

This course is a systematic overview of Mipham’s teachings on the Middle Way by the influential scholar of the twentieth century Bötrül (1898-1959) of the Nyingma tradition. Bötrül’s root text, Distinguishing the Views and Philosophies, and his auto-commentary, Ornament of Mañjughoa’s Viewpoint, provide a meaning commentary on Mipham’s Beacon of Certainty.

Required text: 

    • Distinguishing the Views and Philosophies:Illuminating Emptiness in a Twentieth-Century Tibetan Buddhist Classic, by Bötrül and Douglas Samuel Duckworth, SUNY Press, 2012