Friday, June 12, 2015

PRAMANA Course - TERM 2 - SPRING 2015 resources

In accordance with the suggestion of H.H. Dalai Lama to our teacher, Geshe Kelsang Wangmo, in May 2014, the Advanced Buddhist Philosophy in English program of the Institute for Buddhist Dialectical studies is offering a course on the Second Chapter of Dharmakirti's Commentary on [Dignaga's] Compendium of Valid Cognition (Skt. Pramāņavarttika; ཚད་མ་རྣམ་འགྲེལ་).

The multi-year Perfection of Wisdom course (based on Maitreya's Ornament for Clear Realizations (Abhisamayalamkara) that began several years ago is on temporary hiatus and will resume upon completion of this course.

Class Materials

Following His Holiness' advice, Geshe Wangmo is translating the Second Chapter of Dharmakirti's Pramāņavarttika.  In accord with the methodology for teaching this ancient text at IBD and the great Tibetan monastic universities, Dharmatkirti's terse verses are embedded into Geshe Wangmo's translation of Gyaltsab (Darma Rinchen) Je's commentary.  Furthermore, Geshe Wangmo, having received oral teachings on this text by several contemporary masters, has translated selected portions of those and inserted these explanations into the text she has prepared for this course.

The text that she has prepared to date (more will be done before the end of this term) is available for download below.  This text includes the slightly revised material from the first term in the Fall 2014:

The Text [Handout for the Spring 2015 Term] prepared by Geshe Wangmo for the second term of the Pramana Course includes:
  • An INTRODUCTION to the Pramana course.
  • Gyaltsab Je's Elucidation of the Path to Liberation, a Detailed Explanation of the Verses of the Pramāņavarttika [tshad ma rnam 'grel gyi tshig le'ur byes pa rnam bshad thar lam gsal byed - ཚད་མ་རྣམ་འགྲེལ་གྱི་ཚིག་ལེའུར་བྱེས་པ་རྣམ་བཤད་ཐར་ལམ་གསལ་བྱེད།], commonly known as, Elucidation of the Path to Liberation [ཐར་ལམ་གསལ་བྱེད་]. 
  • Translations of relevant recordings and notes of oral teachings by prominent contemporary Geluk scholars are inserted into the text to provide explanation of difficult points.  Some of those masters are:  Geshe Yeshe Thabgyal, Geshe Palden Drakpa, Geshe Wangchen, Geshe Gyatso, Geshe Tsering Norbu.
Additionally, Geshe Wangmo prepared three Handouts of Charts, Illustrations and Diagrams as study aids for topics raised in the text in 2014.  Those have been slightly revised and are available for download below.  More such Handouts will be made available during this term.

As an aid for students, Questions for Studying and learning the most important important points raised in the text are included at the end of sections.





Class PRAYERS (for before and after teaching) have been revised this year. [NOTE:  If you view this PDF in your WEB BROWSER, the Tibetan Fonts may not show up properly.  Download the PDF and open it, and those embedded fonts display properly.]

Excerpts of the Tibetan commentary by Gyaltsab Je - pages 337-345 of The Elucidation of the Path to Liberation [ཐར་ལམ་གསལ་བྱེད་] on Dharmakirti's Pramanavarttika, from the Second Chapter (The Establishment of a Valid Cognizer, Pramanasiddhi, ཚད་མ་གྲུབ་པའི་ལེའུ་གཉིས་པ།) including interpolation of the root text.   [༄༅།།ཚད་མ་རྣམ་འགྲེལ་གྱི་ཚིག་ལེའུར་བྱས་པའི་རྣམ་བཤད་ཐར་ལམ་གསལ་བར་བྱེད་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ལས་ལེའུ་གཉིས་པ་ཚད་མ་ཡང་དག་པར་གྲུབ་པ།].

DOWNLOAD MP3 Recordings of the 13 Classes held in the Fall 2014 Term here.

DOWNLOAD MP3 Recordings for SPRING 2015 Term

Explanation of the Class Prayers by Geshe Wangmo:

CLASS ONE - Wednesday, APRIL 15, 2015.

CLASS TWO - Friday, APRIL 17, 20l5:
  • Track 1 - Complete introductory review (of Fall 2014 term) to the Second Chapter of Dharmakirti's Pramanavarttika.
  • Track 2 - Begin actual text [p. 12], commentary by Gyaltsab Je on the Second Chapter of Dharmakirti's Pramanavarttika, i.e., a commentary on 2 lines of Homage by Dignaga for Compendium of Pramana that are an explanation of Buddhahood.  Two lines of Prajnakaragupta’s promise to compose his commentary (cited by Gyaltsab Je).  What is Enlightenment & How is it attained? Buddha Nature (all we need to becoming Enlightened) & Eliminations (thru wisdom) of what stands in the way.
  • Track 3 - Two Causes of a Buddha [p. 13]Excellent Intention (Great Compassion) & Excellent Application (mind focusing on Wisdom Realizing Selflessness):  Why Great Compassion (rather than Bodhicitta, great love, etc.)? Distinguish: "immeasurable" & "limitless", and more.
CLASS THREE - Monday, APRIL 20, 20l5:
  • Track 1: Review prior classes & material covered in Fall 2014, e.g., Two Excellent Causes & Results (Own Benefit & Others’ Benefit Kayas). The Teacher. The Sugata: Sugata-Eliminations: Perfect Elimination, Elimination Without Return & Completely Eliminated. Who is not “in Samsara”? - paths and grounds.
  • Track 2Sugata-Realizations. How the text relates to taking Refuge: Causal & Resultant Refuge. Do we really need to take Refuge in the Buddh?. Why establish Buddha as a Valid Cognizer Being, a reliable, genuine valid cognizer? Pages 15-16 of text].  
CLASS FOUR - Wednesday, APRIL 22, 20l5:
  • Track 1:  Concise Review of 2014. Forward & Reverse systems explanations of the Pramanavarttika's 2nd Chapter to demonstrate that Buddha is a Valid Cognizer Being by using the four qualities cited in Homage.  Continue sub-section [The Way the Meaning of (Dignaga’s Explanation) is Elucidated by the Author of the Pramanavarttika] of Gyaltsab Je's General Meaning introduction to his commentary on the Second Chapter of the Pramanavarttika.
  • Track 2:  [P. 23] Five Factors in Reverse order to prove Buddha is a Valid Cognizer Being. Unique presentation of Four Noble Truths.  Final subsection, [Dignaga & Dharmakirti's] View, of Gyaltsab Je's introduction to Chapter Two.  Debates presented by Gyaltsab Je, e.g.:  is it necessary to establish Buddha is faultless to practice?  [P. 25] Scriptural (words) & Realization (meaning) Teachings of Buddha. If (unique) Meaning is faultless, words & the Teacher also are.  "Momentariness of the Subtle". "Realization" vs "Conviction".  
CLASS FIVE - Friday, APRIL 24, 20l5:
  • Track 1:  Detailed explanation of the meaning of Valid Cognizer.  Meaning of the Branches [body of Gyaltsab Je's Second Chapter commentary]:  Explanatory addition to the text, pp. 26 & 27.  What is pramana.  Relevant definitions from Collected Topics (based on Pramanavarttika) & Lorig.  That which the mind realizes and the mind/knower .
  • Track 2:  Meaning of "to realize" is very important in Buddhism.  What are the characteristics of a mind that realizes its object so we will know if we have realized our object.  Incontrovertibly establishing something with correct logic.  What is the meaning of all the aspects of the definition of a Valid Cognizer, Pramana: an awareness/mind that is newly non-deceptive & incontrovertible.   
  • Track 3:  [P. 29], Identifying Non-Deceptive (presented In format of debate):  "The realization of objects of comprehension (high rebirth, the definite good) and the methods that lead to those goals depends on Valid Cognizer . . . what is the definition of a general valid cognizer that is such so that by satisfying that definition, a consciousness becomes a Valid Cognizer.  
    • Presentation of Self-Knowers.  
    • Q&A  
CLASS SIX - Monday, APRIL 27, 20l5:
  • Track 1:  What does it mean to know something.  What is the Knower.  How do we know we know something.  The mind that realizes something newly - a valid cognizer.  A mind that realizes something always induces a conceptual mental consciousness, at least a tiny thought.  The meaning of "to realize" is complicated not simple.
  • Track 2Non-Deceptive outline, cont.  Not only can we know objects around us, we can remember them; but only if we have realized them.  If there an awareness without ascertainment of the object, you cannot remember it later.  Self-Knowers:  We are aware of being aware. 2 PosibilitIes for Sense (Direct) Consciousness:  (1) an awareness to which its object appears but is not ascertained or (2) an awareness that realizes its object.  Even though eye consciousness is dominant, we do not see tangible or taste or sound objects  
  • Track 3Non-Deceptive, cont.  Presentation of Self-Knowers, cont.  One cannot realize an object one does not believe in; similarly, doubt is an obstacle.  [P. 29], debate.  Self-Knower and Other Knower are of one substantial entity, arise and cease simultaneously, and are not identical.  Self-Knowers are mental consciousnesses.  All awareness have Self-Knower.  Illustration of Self-Knower, a lamp that illuminates itself.
CLASS SEVEN - Wednesday, APRIL 29, 20l5:
  • Track 1:  Imputation & Designation/Labeling:  Can we know something before we label it.  What is labeling & imputation.  Mental & terminological labeling.  Can we actually perceive something if we have no concept of it whatsoever; Buddhist claim is we are born with concepts.  Nothing exists from its own side; merely labelled. Q&A. 
  • Track 2:  Differentiate terminological and mental "generic image" labeling.  Merely labelled excludes any intrinstic reality from side of object. Without labeling, we cannot know something.  Q&A.  Does eye consciousness perceives "table", or just shape & color.  Conclude presentation of Lokayata / Self-Knowers as stepping stone to understanding labeling.  [Pp. 29-31] Debate:  definition of pramana:  a non-deceptive consciousness, i.e., a mind that realizes its objects, e.g., a mind apprehending blue, is non-deceptive regarding its object and its object's functions; however, due to innate views, mental perceptions may keep some aspects of the object from being realized. Self-Knower analogy:  a lamp illuminates itself and everything around it.  So what knows the Self-knower?  The Self-Knower knows itself.  In conclusion of section Identifying the Non-Deceptive:  [P. 32} By being non-deceptive about the defining functions of its main object, a valid cognizer enables the person in whose continuum it arises to obtain a desired object.  
CLASS EIGHT - Friday, May 1, 20l5:
  • Track 1:  Why valid cognition is necessary for Buddhist Path - Review.  What is a valid cognizer.  How do you know you had a valid cognition.
  • Track 2:  Explanation of how Self-Knower knows the valid cognizer.  Formulating questions.
  • Track 3:  New topic: Valid cognizers in daily life can lead to obtaining its objects physically, or mentally attaining its object, i.e., a state of mind.  A valid cognizer cannot "obtain" spoken words, but can attain understanding of those.  P. 33.  "Definition" is translation of Buddhist term (Tib. tsen-nyi) meaning "main characteristic" . . . Q&A.  Sound and the particles that cause sound are not the same entity.  Physically obtain.  One cannot "smell a peppermint leaf", rather "obtain the smell of a peppermint leaf" from particles off the leaf.
CLASS NINE - Monday, May 4, 20l5:
  • Track 1:  Review and elaborate new material presented in Class 8 [Track 3] and its Q&A/Debates regarding how and what exactly our senses perceive.   Gyaltsab Je's text elaborates topics
  • Track 2:  Returning to debate in text: Someone says, Dharmakiriti's definintion of valid cognizer is too narrow, because not all valid cognizers are non-deceptive because it cannot obtain sound, etc.  Our system replies:  Still, one can realize sound, etc.  Explanation, e.g., observed object condition and mental functioning.  Operation of sense and mental consciousnesses during sleep.  Empowering and uncommon empowering conditions of sense perceptions.  Observed object conditions appears to and is cause of the consciousness.  Uncommon empowering condition of a mental consciousness. Apprehended objects. Q&A:  e.g., appearance without ascertainment.
CLASS TEN - Wednesday, May 6, 20l5:
  • Track 1:  Expressive Sound is debated in Gyaltsab Je's text .  Three Object Possessors.  Q&A.  Expressive Sound & Consciousness (Direct & Conceptual).  Full, Partial & Eliminative Engagers.  Speech of Buddha.  We are unable to fully communicate what we really feel because of the nature of sound.
  • Track 2:  [P. 35]  Regarding someone's assertion that a non-deceptive mind must be able obtain its object.  Our system disagrees, e.g., expressive sound.  Re valid cognizer arisen sound, e.g., ear consciousness; but can an inferential cognizer arise from sound?  Treatises & Buddha's sutras are sound; texts are symbolic representations of those sounds.  Some systems assert that their sacred texts are pramana.
  • Track 3:  New topic:  Valid cognizers in daily life can lead to obtaining its objects physically, or mentally attaining its object, i.e., a state of mind.  A valid cognizer cannot "obtain" spoken words, but can attain understanding of those.  "Definition" is a translation of Buddhist term (Tib. tsen-nyi) meaning "main characteristic" . . . Q&A.  Sound and the particles that cause sound are not the same entity.  Physically obtain, e.g., one cannot "smell a peppermint leaf", rather "obtain the smell of a peppermint leaf" from particles off the leaf.
CLASS ELEVEN - Friday, May 8, 20l5:
CLASS TWELVE - Monday, May 12, 20l5:
CLASS THIRTEEN - Monday, May 18, 20l5:
CLASS FOURTEEN - Wednesday, May 20, 20l5:
CLASS FIFTEEN - Friday, May 22, 20l5:
CLASS SIXTEEN - Monday, May 25, 20l5:
CLASS SEVENTEEN - Wednesday, May 27, 20l5:
  • Track 1.  At the TCV teaching, H.H. Dalai Lama discussed the Buddhist practice & motivation related to one of the class prayers.  Review:  Self-Knowers.  Mind and mental factors (lo-rig).
  • Track 2.  [P. 46] Gyaltsab Je outline:  Ascertaining Instances that Satisfy the Definition [of pramana, valid cognizer - an unmistaken mind that incontrovertibly knows its object]:  a consciousness that is newly non-deceptive, i.e., it newly realizes/knows its object.  Definiendum, Definition & Instances/illustrations.  Labeling.  Buddhist practice:  observing how do I know something.  Lokyata/Chravakas.- only believe direct physical perception, e.g., not past/future lives; and inferential cognizers are not pramana.  Wrong views [e.g., permanence] can inhibit perception of reality.  Due to misperceptions, we may not know that we know something, i.e., subconscious awareness.  What is it that knows we know?  Dharmakirti's 2 line refutation of one set of assertions re how one knows one knows.  Three panditas had different interpretations of those 2 lines by Dharmakirti.
  • Track 3.  Pedagogical approaches in 4th, 14th, 20th & 21st centuries & in Buddhist studies today.  Q&A.
CLASS EIGHTEEN - Friday, May 29, 20l5:
  • Track 1.  Self-ascertainment:  how do we know that we know something.  What is the mind that knows its objects; and how do we know that a particular mind in our continuum is a pramana, that the instance satisfies the definition of pramana.  Proof statements. Labeling/imputing.  Lack of objective reality. . . .   Without a proper label, confusion ensures: illustrations.
  • Track 2.  Eye consciousness realizing blue:  Self-knower realizes that the mind has realized its object of comprehension, blue.   Other Ascertainment Valid Cognizer:  Eye consciousness that sees a Juniper tree arising in the continuum of a person who doubts whether or not it is a Juniper tree.  Differentiating a mind that is mistaken and a mind that doesn't get the full details of its object.  Is the first moment of that eye consciousness realizing tree a valid cognizer?  Through its own power, the sense consciousness induces a conceptual mind that realizes the same thing.  For illustration of an eye consciousness and possible Juniper tree:  a valid cognizer induces ascertainment of tree, but does not induce ascertainment of its a final object of comprehension, a Juniper tree; that will require another valid cognizer which is the Other Ascertainment Valid Cognizer.  Examples of Other Ascertainment Valid Cognizers for other sense consciousnesses.  Q&A, e.g., differentiating an object of comprehension & a "final" such.
  • Track 3.  The purpose of using sense consciousness as examples in this context of Doubt regarding the object:  Is the final object of comprehension in a person who doesn't know whether or not the tree observed is a Juniper tree or not?  An Other Ascertainment Valid Cognizer only can remove external obstacles to the Juniper tree being final object of comprehension.  Other Ascertainment Valid Cognizers & mental consciousness:  On the basis of correct reasoning, can an inferential consciousness arise as an Other Ascertainment Valid Cognizer?  Where does our intrinsic sense of permanence come from? Q&A
CLASS NINETEEN - Monday, June 1, 20l5:
CLASS TWENTY - Wednesday, June 3, 20l5:
  • Track 1.  Explanation & Q&A re:  Other Ascertaining Valid Cognizers; Final Object of Comprehension [one with or synonymous with your object]; why Mental Consciousnesses are Other Ascertaining Valid Cognizers; Self-Ascertaining Valid Cognizers; illustration, color of fire.
  • Track 2.  Presentation of Dharmottara's interpretation of Dharmakirti's 2 lines re Self-Ascertainment Valid Cognizers: “[Some] self-experiencing self-knowing direct perceiver pramana (i.e., self-knowing valid cognizers) when realizing their own nature induce an ascertainment of the factor of non-deceptiveness that is simultaneous and of one substantial entity with themselves”. Re Other Ascertainment Valid Cognizer, a Self-Knower is aware of whether or not mind is non-deceptive with regard to, e.g., the color of fire.
CLASS TWENTY-ONE - Friday, June 5, 20l5:
  • Track 1 - Review of Course text of Gyaltsab Je covered to date in Spring 2015.
  • Track 2 - Discussion.
  • Track 3 - Text’s presentation of Dharmottara’s assertions [re:  How do we know that we know something in relation of Self-Knowers, Why Other Ascertainment Valid Cognizers are Sense Consciousnesses & not Mental Conciousnesses] & Gyaltsab Je's presentation of Self-Knower of Self Ascertainment Valid Cognizer has been explained.
CLASS TWENTY-TWO - Monday, June 8, 20l5:  
      Presentation & Discussion of Mind Only & Prajnaparagupta's response.
  • Track 1.   Prajnaparagupta's assertions -- from the Mind Only/Chittamatrin perspective -- regarding the distinction between pramana and non-pramana, "How do we know we know".  Brief overview and discussion of Mind Only system.
  • Track 2.  Complete the presentation of Mind Only & Prajnaparagupta's response to, "How do we know we know", from Mind Only perspective.  Discussion.  Since a Buddha is not omnipotent, in what sense is a Buddha "perfect"?  Imputation, labelling, generalization and bigotry.
CLASS TWENTY-THREE - Monday, JUNE 10, 20l5:
  • Track 1.  Review, chart - verbal conventions, additional text.
  • Track 2.  Presentation of Devandabodhi's assertions - some are accepted & some are not -- re:  How do We Know We know?  P. 56:  Extensive discussion regarding to Someone's Qualm/Debate re:  What do Self-Ascertainment & Other Ascertainment mean in relation to point of view of an object or point of view of Valid Cognizer?  "Color of fire, red" = an object.  While "How do we know we know" = a consciousnessness.  So must either refer to one or the other.  P. 58 - 3-Fold Object Possessors.


Anonymous said...

Hello thank you for this supreme post, really topnotch!! I have been trying to download the lectures and other resources from the previous post for the pass few days and it seems as if the link is broken. It might be on my end but just want to be sure.

Nordron said...

Thank you for your kind words. Can you please specify which links do not work for you. I test them when writing the post before publishing, but do make mistakes!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your quick response, they are linking up now, but for the pass few days all the links of the most recent post led to a 'this web page is not available' window. My internet situation is quite dodgy so that could have something to do with it. This is much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ven. Nordron,

Yes, thank you for posting these wonderful teachings. I'm having trouble downloading Class 14 teachings…get error message.

Thank you.

Nordron said...

Dear Anonymous,

THANK YOU for notifying me about the typo in the link to the Class 14 MP3 recording. It is now fixed and works.

Luís Soares said...

Hello, will you have any course on June? I'll be in India and would like to join it or at least know more about the work of Geshe Kelsang Wangmo..

Nordron said...

Geshe Wangmo is teaching a 13 day residential "advanced" course on "Grounds & Paths" at Tushita Meditation Center beginning Monday, June 22-July 4, 2015. The web link is,

Luís Soares said...

Dear Nordron. thanks for the attention, unfortunately I made a mistake, i will be in India in July, will have any teaching? Thanks!

Angchuk said...

Jullay, Tashi Deleks

First of all Please accept my heartfelt gratitude.
And I am fortunate to listen to Geshe Kelsang Wangmo's classes on IBD Blog.

While browsing, I found out that there is a typo error in the page:

*The link no 2 and 3 of the following text:*
*Explanation of the Class Prayers by Geshe Wangmo:*

- *Explanation
of Prayers
before Teaching*
- *Recitation

Tibetan) of Prayers before Teaching*
- *Dedication Prayers

& Recitation)*

the Name of the MP3 file name is typed twice

while it should have been

Thank you once again.


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