Schools of Buddhist Philosophy

After my introduction to the concept of emptiness I hope you feel intrigued and curious about it. I suspect that you maybe are a little bit intimidated after that long discussion of the concept that I published. It’s not common in the religious traditions of the world to hear that everything is possible precisely because everything is unreal.

Here, I’m going to push the study of emptiness a step further, by looking in the way Indian philosophers have tried to pin down its meaning. The study of Buddhist philosophy unfortunately is not particularly easy.

Buddhist philosophical texts were produced in a sophisticated monastic environment. They often rely in a lot of technical discourse that now seems impenetrable to us even in some of the best translations. However, I think that it’s worth spending our time grappling with the works of these philosophers.

  • Introduction to Buddhist Philosophy: Where do we start? Maybe the best place is with a pretty basic question. What do we mean when we say Buddhist philosophy?

  • Philosophy as a Form of Practice: Philosophy is a form of practice. Philosophy helps a person see through the appearances of things and confront reality face to face. The goal of all of this is to experience the freedom of the Buddha’s awakening.

  • The Madhyamaka School of Thought: The first major school of Mahayana philosophy. It says that when the Buddha teaches the Dharma, you learn two truths: Ordinary relative truth and ultimate truth. This is the doctrine of two truths.

  • Yogacara School: The Reality of the Mind: The second major school of interpretation of the concept of emptiness. The Yogacara took a position that was quite different from the Madhyamaka. The Yogacara says that the mind is real. It is only the imaginary construction of the mind that is unreal.

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