sakya tasi choling


Distinguishing the View

The following is a selection from Gorampa's Distinguishing the View (lta ba'i shan 'byed), his most well-known philosophical work. In this text, he outlines three different presentations of Madhyamaka, establishing the Sakya view as that which is ultimately free from the four extremes of existence, nonexistence, both, and neither. This passage is Gorampa's general presentation of the Madhyamaka view:
The meaning of Madhyamaka is freedom from all extremes such as existence and nonexistence, and “is” and “is not.”
One must therefore abandon all grasping at extremes and all grasping at signs.
If one does not initially refute the truth of an object that is apprehended as truly existent, one will be unable to refute the later grasping at extremes.
Because of that, it is necessary to definitively set down the truthlessness of all things, both internal and external, by means of logical reasonings such as neither-one-nor-many.
Since this is the gross object of negation, as well as the main cause of samsara, the texts give extensive reasonings for negating the truth of conceived objects.
Having negated truth, however, one grasps at the very emptiness of truth, just as, for example, one riding a horse may not fall off on the right side, but falls off on the left side.
In the same way, if one has not gone beyond falling into the extreme of nihilism, that view must also be refuted.
Therefore, since grasping at things as both empty and nonempty, and neither empty nor nonempty must also be refuted, no object of grasping whatsoever is found in the four extremes.
This non-grasping is called “the realization of the Madhyamaka view.”
But, if one grasps to any one extreme and says, “this is the Madhyamaka view,” then, since one has not gone beyond grasping at extremes, conceiving things as empty, non-empty, and so on, this is not the Madhyamaka view.

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