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The Ornament of the Middle Way: A Study of the Madhyamaka Thought of Shantarakshita Hardcover – April 2, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

Review invaluable contribution to the West's understanding of the history of Madhyamaka both in India and Tibet."-- Geshe Lhundup Sopa, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin, and co-author of Cutting Through Appearances -- Geshe Lhundup Sopa

From the Back Cover

Shantarakshita's The Ornament of the Middle Way is among the most important Mahayana Buddhist philosophical treatises to emerge on the Indian subcontinent. In many respects it represents the culmination of more than 1,300 years of philosophical dialogue and inquiry since the time of the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni. Shantarakshita set forth the foundation of a syncretic approach to contemporary ideas by synthesizing the three major trends in Indian Buddhist thought at the time (the Madhyamaka thought of Nagarjuna, the Yogachara thought of Asanga, and the logical and epistemological thought of Dharmakirti) into one consistent and coherent system.

Shantarakshitas's text is considered to be the quintessential exposition or root text of the school of Buddhist philosophical thought known in Tibet as Yogachara-Svatantrika-Madhyamaka. In addition to examining his ideas in their Indian context, this study examines the way Shantarakshita's ideas have been understood by, and been an influence on, Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Specifically, Blumenthal examines the way scholars from the Geluk School of TIbetan Buddhism have interpreted, represented, and incorporated Santaraksita's ideas into their own philosophical project.

This is the first book length study of the Madyamaka thought of Shantarakshita in any Western language. It includes a new translation of Shantarakshita's treatise, extensive extracts from his autocommentary, and the first complete translation of the primary Geluk commentary on Shantarakshita's treatise, Gyal-tsab Je's Remembering [Shantarakshita's] The Ornament of the Middle Way.

James Blumenthal holds a doctorate in Asian Religions from The Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia at the University of Wisconsin. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at Oregon State University.

"Santaraksita is not only a 'founding father' of Tibetan Buddhism, but one of the great philosophers of the later Buddhist era in India. James Blumenthal's multi-faceted work includes a complete translation of Santaraksita's most important work on Madhyamaka, as well as a stimulating, critically astute analysis of the ways in which Santaraksita's thought has been used by Tibetan commentators over the years. Blumenthal's book is a fascinating excursion across 700 years and two Asian cultures, and should be required reading for all students of Indian philosophy and of the intellectual history of Tibetan Buddhism."--Roger R. Jackson, Professor of Religion, Carleton College, and author of Is Enlightenment Possible?

"This study is an invaluable contribution to the West's understanding of the history of Madhyamaka both in India and Tibet. Blumenthal's analysis of the Geluk materials on Shantarakshita's thought are particularly insightful."-- Geshe Lhundup Sopa, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin, and co-author of Cutting Through Appearances


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