The Dalai Lama’s views on the Madhyamaka
It is based on the belief that all things are interconnected and interdependent, and that therefore no one thing can be considered in isolation.
Table of Contents
The Dalai Lama’s views on the “Middle Way”
This article discusses the Dalai Lama’s views on the Middle Way Approach, a philosophy which advocates for a balanced and moderate approach to life.
While addressing the congregation at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on September 15, 2022, the Dalai Lama explains that we suffer because of ignorance and that we need to get rid of all the “distorted views” and develop the “correct view”.
To do this, we need to study, think about what we learn, and meditate on what we understand.
The Dalai Lama believes that the middle way is an efficient way to find the sense of inner peace and contentment necessary to be happy and live a good life while helping other individuals reaching this stage.
Origin of the Middle Way Approach
As quantum physicists have observed, things do not exist as they appear. They have no objective existence whatsoever.
This has been interpreted in different ways by the various schools of Mahāyāna philosophy.
The Madhyamaka school defends a “middle way” position between the metaphysical view that things exist in some ultimate sense and the view that things do not exist at all.
Nagarjuna’s influential Mūlamadhyamakakārikā (MMK) famously contains a reference to the Kaccāyanagotta Sutta in its 15th chapter.
The 15th chapter focuses on deconstructing the ideas of existence, non-existence and intrinsic nature, essence, or inherent existence (svabhāva) and show how such ideas are incoherent and incompatible with causality and dependent origination.
The Middle Way Approach in daily life
The Dalai Lama discusses how the Middle Way Approach can be applied in our daily lives, in both our personal and professional lives.
Before going further it is important to precise that the Middle Way Approach is not a religion, but rather a philosophy that can be adopted by people of any faith.
According to the Dalai Lama, distorted views are not dispelled by saying mantras but by first developing understanding of the different sets of reasoning:
- the reasoning known as Diamond Slivers
- the reasoning refuting existent or non-existent effects
- the reasoning refuting the four permutations of arising
- the reasoning refuting existence as ‘neither one nor many’
- the great reasoning of dependent arising
To get started the Dalai Lama recommends the following commentarial literature:
- The Abhisamayālaṃkāra (Ornament for Clear Realization)
- The Madhyamakavatara (Entering into the Middle Way) by Chandrakirti
The Madhyamakavatara reveals the wisdom of understanding emptiness.
For instance the chapter 6 discloses the absurd consequences that would prevail if things were to exist objectively.
Later, masters like Nagarjuna examined what he taught in the light of logic and reasoning and made clear that things do not exist as they appear.
The benefits of following the Middle Way
The Middle Way Approach is not about achieving perfection, but rather about finding a balance in our lives.
According to the Dalai Lama compassion, love and affection are important because life is so much better if we cultivate these qualities.
He has seen changes in himself as a result of thinking of bodhichitta and emptiness first thing on waking in the morning for years and urges his listeners to do the same, to be happy, and to share their experience with others.
“Om Sarva Yoga Chitta Utpadaya”