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Ocean of Reasoning: A Great Commentary on Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika Paperback – April 20, 2006

5 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review


"With the publications of Ngawang Samten and Jay Garfield's lucid translation of the Ocean of Reasoning, by the founder of Geluk, Tsongkhapa (1357-1419), Western readers can for the first time appropriate the most influential Tibetian commentary on the single most important text in the Mahayana philosophical canon." --Buddhadharma


"Samten and Garfield have achieved a small miracle by making Ocean of Reasoinng as clear and accessible in English as they have. Tsongkhapa's interpretation of the Fundamental Verses is consistent and compelling."--Buddhadharma


"This book is essential reading for those who are seriously interested in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. The combination of a prominent Tibetan scholar and a Western philosopher yields an erudite but readable translation of one of the most important Tibetan works on Madhyamaka philosophy. The authors do a superb job of introducing the text and in rendering it into English in a way that makes it accessible to readers with a background in Buddhist thought or Western philosophy."-- John Powers, author of Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism


"In so clearly presenting Tsongkhapa's text, [the authors] have produced a model work, which will hopefully be emulated by others working in the field. It is highly recommended for anyone who is seriously interested in Madhyamaka philosophy and/or its reception in Tibet." --Religious Studies Review


About the Author


Jay L. Garfield is Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Philosophy at Smith College and Director of the Five Colleges Tibetan Studies in India Program, and also teaches at the Universities of Massachusetts and Melbourne and the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in India. He is the author of The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way (OUP 1995), which is the standard English translation of N=ag=arjuna's M?lamadhyamakak=arik=a, and Empty Words: Buddhist Philosophy and Cross-Cultural Interpretation (OUP 2002). Geshe Ngawang Samten is Director and Vice Chancellor, as well as Professor of Indian Buddhist Philosophy, of the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in India. He is the editor of the standard critical Tibetan edition of N=ag=arjuna's ratnavali (CIHTS Press 1991).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 632 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 20, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195147332
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195147339
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.7 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #865,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Jay Garfield and Geshe Samten worked on this project for 10 years, and it shows. This text is difficult in translation as well, with Tsongkhapa's deep insight and vast learning engaging the reader on every page. Garfield's Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way is a necessary guide to plumb these dark waters, though Ocean's translation of the root verses replace that one's. This material can be approached only by those who have some familiarity with the topic, and only repeated engagement with the proofs can bring the sort of spiritual benefits promised by Nagarjuna and Tsongkhapa, those delving beyond the intellectual awareness of emptiness. If you are looking for Zen-like sound bites to amuse yourself, then look elsewhere - this is 'Tibetan stone cheese' that requires patience and effort.
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The present generation of well-informed translators are doing the world a great service as they continue to bring the great texts of Buddhist philosophy to us. This is an authoritative translation of one of the greatest philosophical works of all time, which has never before been available in English. About one thousand years ago it took hundreds of years for the Tibetans to translate the early Buddhist works into the Tibetan language. Now, following the Tibetan diaspora that was forced by the Chinese invasion of Tibet, the center of humanity's philosophical consciousness is relocating to the English speaking world. It is now more than one hundred years since the early English translators managed to produce translations of marginal quality. The present generation of translators is providing not only great translations, but also well-informed commentary. This is a great gift to humanity. Thank you.
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By Janice on September 12, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book to have while attending a week of Geshe Sopa's summer course at the Deer Park Buddhist center in July '09. Honestly it is way beyond my understanding, but in the presence of Geshe Sopa and with his powerful teaching, I benefited greatly from this study. It's a very interesting work, but unless you are way farther along this spiritual path than I (easily possible) or have the benefit of a knowledgeable teacher to guide you along, it's extremely deep and steep at the same time. The arguments/debates are mind-bogglingly complex at times and then reduced to what seems absurdly obvious at others. It's an experience to be sure! One morning at Deer Park, it seemed to me that most of the teaching that morning revolved around the point of whether or not a rabbit has/can have horns. Of course the jackalope image came to mind which made the whole argument kind of humorous to me. But it turns out to have very serious implications in this context. This is serious study.
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Format: Paperback
A substantially empty treatise of utmost elaboration saying nothing at all! How excellent and precise! But it does give me a headache. Uh, what a rigmarole sometimes! Tsongkhapa minutely examines every line of Nagarjuna, as a platform to dismantle the arguments of opposing schools. He parses for nits with a fine tooth comb of rationality; going half the distance and half the distance and half the distance. Endless cogitations on the existence of non-existence, for example. And then, further: the existence [or not] of essencelessness as a sort of objective correlative of analytic cognition; the way in which even mentative perception tends to reify, attributing existence where there is none. So sometimes, in parsing the existence of non-existence, he seems to be verging on paradoxical absurdity or pointless elaboration, with his extrapolations either side of nothing [or everything]. However, while tearing my hair out, I found it instructive to note that, in several of the philosophical schools of India, absence was a sort of presence; the way you return to your home town and see that a particular building is no longer there. The perimeters of absence are as determinative for perception as presence is and both are reified when some thing-in-itself is grasped as inherently existent or grasped inherently as an existent absence - both attributions are elaborations that require relentless deconstruction to achieve the utter removal of elaborate obfuscation.

Tsongkhapa's use of terms of existence sometimes slides around a little and begs its own question - especially in his positive assertions - when nihilism is negated and we have to fill in our own gaps and realise that he is not negating the phenomenality of phenomena nor insisting on the interior existence of dependent origination.
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