General Meaning of the Middle Way

Gorampa Sönam Senge – General Meaning of the Middle Way

translator: Constance Kassor, in collaboration with Khenpo Ngawang Jorden

An encyclopedic treatment of the development of Madhyamaka in India and Tibet, with thorough clarifications of its philosophical points.

The fifteenth-century Sakyapa scholar Gorampa Sonam Senge was a prolific author, but he is most renowned for his philosophical writings on Madhyamaka. His encyclopedic General Meaning of the Middle Way (dbu ma’i spyi don) has come to represent the mainstream philosophical view of the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, and its arguments continue to be studied in both Sakya and non-Sakya monastic institutions. Gorampa’s presentation of Madhyamaka is based on his understanding of the two truths (bden pa gnyis), his methods for employing analysis within the tetralemma (mu bzhi), and his conception of a buddha’s enlightened awareness (ye shes). Focusing on these key issues, Gorampa manages to successfully debate with other Mādhyamika thinkers using rational, analytic arguments, while simultaneously employing those rational arguments against the entire project of rational analysis itself. As a result, Gorampa advocates for a philosophical practice by which one utilizes conceptual thought in order to eradicate conceptual thought in its entirety.