Monastic Pedagogy on Emptiness in the Geluk Sect of Tibetan Buddhism: Intellectual History and Analysis of Topics Concerning Ignorance According to Svatantrika-Madhyamika in Monastic Textbooks by Jamyang Shaypa

Yi, Jongbok, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Germano, David, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

This dissertation is a multifaceted study of an essential genre of Tibetan Buddhist monastic textbooks called Decisive Analysis (mtha’ dpyod) from historical, intellectual, and pedagogical viewpoints. It focuses on the section on the object of negation in Jamyang Shaypa’s Decisive Analysis of the Middle, which is the main monastic textbook on the philosophy of the Middle (madhyamaka, dbu ma) in Gomang Monastic College of Drepung Monastery.

Chapter 1 of Part I provides a historical overview of the development of monastic textbooks in Gomang Monastic College from 15th century C.E. to 18th century C.E. The development is presented in three phases: Early Monastic Textbooks, Old Monastic Textbooks, and New Monastic Textbooks. This chapter concludes that these monastic textbooks contribute to organizational identity by providing philosophical distinctiveness and hence enhancing the communal solidarity of the monastic college.

Through Chapters 2 – 5, this study looks at the intellectual history recorded in the section on the object of negation in Madhyamaka in Jamyang Shaypa’s Decisive Analysis of the Middle. These chapters discuss how Decisive Analysis not only functions as an authoritive monastic text providing debate skills and strategy, but also is as an arena where historical figures criticize each other through virtual debates conducted in debate style.

The pedagogical aspect of Decisive Analysis is explored in Part II. Decisive Analysis mostly consists of debates except for the part on Establishing Our Own System. However, if exposition of Jamyang Shaypa’s philosophical points is relatively sparse in Establishing Our Own System, how can such a Decisive Analysis text function as a main monastic textbook? The tabular presenation in Part II demonstrates an effective way of understanding Decisive Analysis in this regard. Using Jamyang Shaypa’s own positions extracted from a series of debates documented in the parts on Refuting Other Systems and Dispelling Objections, this study exposes how these sections implicitly convey Jamyang Shaypa’s own philosophical stances. It demonstrates that the monastic textbooks have an explicit pedagogical goal and function indicated clearly in their detailed account of actual debate format and methodology—they teach monks how to debate but also make arguments promoting specific philosophical points.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Tibetan Buddhist monastic textbooks, decisive analyss, Jamyang Shaypa’s Decisive Analysis of the Middle
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