Bodhi Path Studies Program (USA)

Teaching 4. Dharmadharmatavibhanga: Maitreya's Distinguishing Phenomena and Pure Being.

Sample daily schedule


The North American Bodhi Path Buddhist centers are pleased to announce a new Buddhist Studies program being offered in the U.S. With this program, the centers wish to provide a profound opportunity for those interested in learning more deeply the meaning of the Buddha dharma, in order to benefit themselves and also to help others. This particular program, taught by Khenpo Tsering, is similar to courses held at the institute known as KIBI, located in New Delhi, India, and was designed with the intention of helping students broaden their wisdom of dharma and gain perspective on how profound and vast the Buddha dharma actually is.

This program, consisting of annual sessions over four years (for a total of four sessions), will provide teachings on four major philosophy treatises. Each annual session will draw from one major book of each treatise. Additionally, each year the program will offer teachings on important supplementary philosophy texts.

The four treatises planned for the Bodhi Path Studies Program (one treatise per annual program)

1: Madhyamakavatara: By Chandrakirti

Chandrakirti was one the most famous Indian scholars. He was not only a scholar, but also a highly realized yogi who could actually milk the cows in paintings, and who stopped a war from breaking out through the illusory manifestation of his own army of lions. He wrote many great books, among the most well-known being Madhyamaka-avatara (entering the middle way). He not only spread the lineage of Prasangika Madhyamika school founded by Buddhapalita, but also established its root.

Chandrakirti explains the profound and the vast meaning of Dharmadhatu, or emptiness. In the sixth chapter of his book, he explains emptiness by interpreting what is emptiness of self and what is emptiness of existence. In the book he first establishes the emptiness of existence and later the emptiness of self.

2: Uttaratantrashastra: Buddha nature mind

Bodhisattva Maitreya gave five different kinds of teachings to his root disciple Asanga in the realm of Tushita. Later, when Asanga spread them in the human world, these five teachings became known as the five treatises of Maitreya in our world. Of these five, Uttaratantrashastra is considered the most profound teaching from a realization point of view. Uttaratantrashastra gives the most significant and profound details on meaning of Tathagatha garbha: the Buddha nature mind.

3: Heart Sutra: The great transcendental wisdom

The Heart Sutra contains the most profound teachings on emptiness. It is the summarized version of Prajnaparamita teachings of Buddha, which he gave as the second turning of wheel of dharma. Prajnaparamita gives an extraordinary commentary on the meaning of the profound view of realization and gradual process of the vast path. It is a teaching on prajnaparamita given by Avalokiteshvara. It is believed that Buddha Shakyamuni blessed Avalokiteshvara to give this teaching, which was in turn based on the questions being raised by Shariputra.

Next program date TBA:

4: Dharmadharmatavibhanga: Maitreya's Distinguishing Phenomena and Pure Being

The Dharmadharmatavibhanga, or Middle Beyond Extremes, is one of five books which Bodhisattva Maitreya gave as a teaching to his heart disciple Asanga. It was Asanga who made these teachings available for later practitioners. He focused on spreading these five books of Maitreya and became very successful in doing so. There were two well known traditions in India: the profound madhyamika view based school or tradition that was established by Acharya Nagarjuna; and the vast prajnaparamita path based school or tradition that was established by Maitreya and Asanga. These two schools essentially speak about the second turning of the wheel of dharma by Buddha, where he unfolds the meaning of dharmadhatu, the ultimate truth of existence. But their presentations are different. This book, Middle Beyond Extremes, is essentially teachings on the meaning of emptiness, but it has also a touch of the prajnaparamita view as well.

Book list for main topic of Program 4, plus add the two texts for Additional Subjects:

Title 1:
Middle Beyond Extremes: Maitreya's Madhyantavibhaga With Commentaries By Khenpo Shenga And Ju Mipham
Title 2a:
Maitreya's Distinguishing Phenomena And Pure Being: With Commentary By Mipham
Title 2b:
Distinguishing Phenomena from Their Intrinsic Nature: Maitreya's Dharmadharmatavibhanga with Commentaries by Khenpo Shenga and Ju Mipham

Two Additional Subjects for the Bodhi Path Studies Program (select chapters will be covered at each annual program)

The Jewel Ornament of Liberation:

Sonam Rinchen or Dhagpo Rinpoche (famously known as Gampopa in the west) presents a collection of important teachings on the path to Buddhahood in his book Jewel Ornament of Liberation.

Gateway to Knowledge:

In this book Ju Mipham Rinpoche summarizes the Abhidharma teachings. The book contains teachings both from Abhidharmakosha by Vasubandhu and Abhidharmasamuccaya by Asanga. This book is indeed very profound and greatly helps dharma practitioners to remove ignorance about the nature of existences.

These last two additional subjects will be taught during the entire four-year course. Every year a particular number of chapters on these subjects will be taught. There will be no repeating of the same chapters during the four-year period. However, as every chapter in these books is a separate topic, no chapter is a prerequisite for another.

In 2011, the first annual session covered the sixth chapter from the philosophy treatise Madhyamakavatara, by Chandrakirti, and the following chapters from texts for the additional subjects: Jewel Ornament of Liberation (chapters 1-6) and Gateway to Knowledge (chapters 1-3).

In 2012, the second annual session covered Uttaratantrashastra: Buddha nature mind, and the following chapters from the texts for the additional subjects: Jewel Ornament of Liberation (chapters 7-11) and Gateway to Knowledge (chapters 4-6).

In 2013, the third annual session covered The Heart Sutra, and the following chapters from the texts for the additional subjects: Jewel Ornament of Liberation (chapters 12-15) and Gateway to Knowledge (chapters 7-8).

Video Clip from the 2013 Program on
Heart Sutra-The Great Transcendental Wisdom:
A Story about a Great Scholar's Metaphor for Teaching Emptiness