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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars crucial comparative study
Dr. Thakchoe provides an important study of diametrically opposed understandings of emptiness in Tibet, showing clearly and with many citations the ways in which the Indian masters Nagarjuna and Candrakirti were comprehended differently. Thakchoe also refers to the Buddha's own words, particularly those in the Pali canon - an important move which shows the continuity of...
Published on April 13, 2008 by Edward A. Arnold

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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Worthwhile Read for Madhyamakans
This book is a consideration of the "two truths"--Ultimate (or Noumenal) Reality and conventional (or phenomenal) reality--in the context of Tibetan Madhyamaka. The consideration is presented in the form of a "debate" between the respective (and dramatically contrasting) philosophies of Tsongkhapa and Gorampa, two of Madhyamaka's foremost exegetes.

Thakchoe is...
Published 21 months ago by L. Ron Gardner


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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars crucial comparative study, April 13, 2008
This review is from: The Two Truths Debate: Tsongkhapa and Gorampa on the Middle Way (Paperback)
Dr. Thakchoe provides an important study of diametrically opposed understandings of emptiness in Tibet, showing clearly and with many citations the ways in which the Indian masters Nagarjuna and Candrakirti were comprehended differently. Thakchoe also refers to the Buddha's own words, particularly those in the Pali canon - an important move which shows the continuity of thought across the Buddhist traditions. This study is critical for understanding common misapprehensions of emptiness and more than supplements the works of Tsongkhapa and Gorampa. The most important doctrinal points are examined, and topics are considered in significant depth at each step. Anyone interested in the intellectual history of Tibet or the doctrinal concerns of Buddhism will want this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good! Get it., July 19, 2014
This review is from: The Two Truths Debate: Tsongkhapa and Gorampa on the Middle Way (Paperback)
Fantastic exposition. One of the best, perhaps the best, Tibetan Renaissance Madhyamaka debate books I have come across (Svatantrika-Prasangika Distinction and Freedom From Extremes are pretty close). If you are new to madhyamaka this might be a little heavy, but can provide benefit if read a couple-few times.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Worthwhile Read for Madhyamakans, April 29, 2013
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This review is from: The Two Truths Debate: Tsongkhapa and Gorampa on the Middle Way (Paperback)
This book is a consideration of the "two truths"--Ultimate (or Noumenal) Reality and conventional (or phenomenal) reality--in the context of Tibetan Madhyamaka. The consideration is presented in the form of a "debate" between the respective (and dramatically contrasting) philosophies of Tsongkhapa and Gorampa, two of Madhyamaka's foremost exegetes.

Thakchoe is a clear and concise writer, and does a fine, objective job comparing and considering the two opposing philosophies. Anyone into Madhyamaka and/or the "two truths debate'' will find this an interesting read.

A criticism I have of Thakchoe is that he is too loose with his relegation of various philosophers (such as Longchen Rabjam and Jaideva Singh) to Gorampa's camp. Rabjam, for example, in direct contrast to Gorampa, considers Nirvana and samsara to have equal ontological staus. And Singh, who champions Hindu Kashmir Shaivism as the acme of Indian philosophy, has, like me, little regard for Madhyamaka; so to stick him on Gorampa's side based on a few out-of-context statements from an introduction he wrote to another author's Buddhism book is ridiculous. In fact, in his book "Spanda Karikas: the Divine Pulsation," Singh has a subchapter in which he totally reams Madhyamaka, thoroughly deconstructing its argument that Ultimate Reality is Sunya (Emptiness).

A problem (at least for me) with this book is its narrow focus. To my mind, comparing Tsonghapa's and Gorampa's philosophies is akin to a basketball book that only compares, say, Benoit Benjamin to Stanley Roberts. Just as neither Benjamin nor Roberts is as great a player as Chamberlain or Jordan was, neither Tsonghapa's nor Gorampa's philosophy is on par with, say, Abhinavagupta's, Jaideva Singh's, or Adi Da Samraj's. Even if you find Tsonghapa's arguments more convincing than Gorampa's (which you probably will if you read the book), it doesn't elevate him to even within shouting distance from the top of the spiritual philosophy heap.

It would be interesting to see one of the contemporary Tibetan Buddhism scholars of Madhyamaka--viz. Hopkins, Garfield, Dreyfuss, Newland, or Thakhchoe--step out of his comfort zone and pit Madhyamika against the Pratyabhija system of Kashmir Shaivism, or the Advaita Vedanta of Ramana Maharshi, or Adi Da Samraj's Daism; but it's unlikely to happen because Sunya would get its clock cleaned versus Siva-Shakti.
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The Two Truths Debate: Tsongkhapa and Gorampa on the Middle Way
The Two Truths Debate: Tsongkhapa and Gorampa on the Middle Way by Sonam Thakchoe (Paperback - October 1, 2007)
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