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Visions of Unity

The Golden Pandita Shakya Chokden's New Interpretation of Yogacara and Madhyamaka

Yaroslav Komarovski

Publication Year: 2011

Presents the thought of a controversial Tibetan Buddhist thinker on the Yogaµcaµra and Madhyamaka systems. This landmark book discusses the thought of Tibetan Buddhist thinker Shakya Chokden (1428–1507) on the two major systems of Mahaµyaµna Buddhism. Influential and controversial in his own day, Shakya Chokden’s thought fell out of favor over time and his writings were eventually repressed, becoming available again only in the 1970s. Yet, his startling interpretations of the core areas of Buddhist thought remain valuable and well worth consideration today. Yaroslav Komarovski has used the twenty-four volumes of Shakya Chokden’s collected work to provide a systematic presentation of a central aspect of his thought: a reconciliation of Yogaµcaµra and Madhyamaka. Providing a detailed analysis of the two systems’ mutual refutations of each other, Shakya Chokden argues for their fundamental compatibility and shared vision. In analyzing Shakya Chokden’s ideas, Komarovski explores some of the most important issues of both traditional and modern Buddhist scholarship, including contested approaches to the nature of reality, the relationship between philosophy and contemplative practice, inter- and intrasectarian Buddhist polemics, and the nature of consciousness and mental processes.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vii

List of Tables

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p. ix

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pp. xi-xii

I want to express my deepest gratitude to everyone who directly or indirectly helped bring this book project to completion. First and foremost, I acknowledge my indebtedness to Shakya Chokden himself. Although this remarkable thinker lived five centuries ago, his life and ideas have been the focus of my research ...

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pp. 1-16

During the long history of growth, transformation, and spread of Buddhist traditions across various cultures of Asia, their followers developed a wide variety of worldviews, contemplative techniques, and ritual practices. Of special interest are the diversity of Buddhist ideas about reality and the methods ...

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Chapter 1 - Life and Works of the Golden Paṇḍita

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pp. 17-70

This chapter provides an historical and biographical background for the analysis of Shakya Chokden’s philosophical views. Exploring this background is as crucial as exploring Shakya Chokden’s interpretive writings themselves. As soon will become clear, although his thought tends to transcend the boundaries ...

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Chapter 2 - The Intellectual Background of Shakya Chokden's Interpretation of Yogācāra and Madhyamaka

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pp. 71-108

In this chapter I address those elements in the intellectual history of Mahāyāna Buddhism that facilitate a better understanding of Shakya Chokden’s views. I start with the developments in the Madhyamaka and Yogācāra systems that anticipated the formation of his ideas. I then move to Shakya Chokden’s own descriptions ...

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Chapter 3 - Readjusting Rungs of the Ladder: Revisiting Doxographical Hierarchies

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pp. 109-156

This chapter focuses on key elements of Shakya Chokden’s approach that are crucial for an in-depth understanding of his interpretation of Yogācāra and Madhyamaka. It places that interpretation within the broader context of Buddhist doxographical writings and provides a new perspective on philosophical classifications ...

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Chapter 4 - Through Broken Boundaries to New Enclosures: Reconciling Yogācāra and Madhyamaka

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pp. 157-212

To put forward and defend his own unique structuring of Mahāyāna tenets, Shakya Chokden advances on two different but interdependent fronts: reworking the subcategories of Yogācāra and reworking the subcategories of Madhyamaka, respectively. In the first case, he demonstrates clear differences between Alīkākāravāda ...

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Chapter 5 - Explorations in Empty Luminosity: Shakya Chokden's Position on Primordial Mind

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pp. 213-268

Whether we explore tantric teachings and meditative instructions, address the question of reality contested by Mahāyāna thinkers, or analyze ultimate truth directly experienced in meditative equipoise, we will notice that one of the key themes saturating these issues is the nature, meaning, and status of mind ...

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Conclusion: The Grand Unity—Shakya Chokden's Middle Way

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pp. 269-278

The multiple strands of Shakya Chokden’s thought explored in this study are all in some way related to its main topic: the nature and relationship of Alīkākāravāda Yogācāra and Niḥsvabhāvavāda Madhyamaka. Against a background of different approaches—both distancing and reconciliatory—to the relationship of these two systems ...

Glossary of Buddhist Terms: English-Tibetan with Sanskrit parallels

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pp. 279-298

Spellings of Tibetan Names and Terms

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pp. 299-306


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pp. 307-390


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pp. 391-422


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pp. 423-451

E-ISBN-13: 9781438439112
E-ISBN-10: 1438439113
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438439099
Print-ISBN-10: 1438439091

Page Count: 450
Illustrations: 3 tables
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 775362080
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Visions of Unity

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Yogācāra (Buddhism).
  • Mādhyamika (Buddhism).
  • Śākya-mchog-ldan, Gser-mdog Paṇ-chen, 1428-1507.
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