The Two Truths in Indian Buddhism

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“Sonam Thakchoe's presentation of the two truths presents a rare blend of deep familiarity with the Indo-Tibetan scholastic tradition and sophisticated philosophical analysis. His exposition, which follows the traditional Tibetan model of presenting a problem from the perspective of different Buddhist schools, provides readers with a conceptual map for tracing their way through the complex network of discussions of the nature of the two truths, arguably the most fascinating and most perplexing topic in Buddhist philosophy. The Two Truths in Indian Buddhism provides a clear, systematic, and authoritative framework for investigating the two truths, which any student of the Buddhist intellectual tradition will find extremely helpful.”—Jan Westerhoff, University of Oxford

“Sonam Thakchoe has given us a wonderful gift. This study of Indian Buddhist accounts of the two truths is comprehensive and erudite, grounded in meticulous scholarship and careful attention to a vast array of important Indian Buddhist texts, with the relevant passages translated with great precision in lucid English. The accounts of each of the major movements in Buddhist India are philosophically profound, and the clear, beautifully written narrative that emerges demonstrates their historical and conceptual relations to one another, presenting a compelling account of philosophical progress and a window into some of the most profound philosophical reflection in any tradition. This will become the standard reference for future study of the Buddhist doctrine of the two truths as it developed in classical India.”—Jay L. Garfield, Smith College, Harvard Divinity School, and the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies

“I am grateful to Professor Thakchoe for this systematic and very clear exposition of the range of philosophical notions about the conventional and the ultimate in the Indian Buddhist tradition.”—Guy Newland, Central Michigan University


Reality, Knowledge, and Freedom

Sonam Thakchoe

In this clear and exemplary approach to one of the core philosophical subjects of the Buddhist tradition, Sonam Thakchoe guides readers through the range of Indian Buddhist philosophical schools and how each approaches the two truths: ultimate truth and conventional truth. In this presentation of philosophical systems, the detailed argumentations and analyses of each school’s approach to the two truths are presented to weave together the unique contributions each school brings to supporting and strengthening a Buddhist practitioner’s understanding of reality. The insights of the great scholars of Indian Buddhist history—such as Vasubandhu, Bhāvaviveka, Kamalaśīla, Dharmakīrti, Nāgārjuna, and Candrakīrti—are illuminated in this volume, with profound implications to the practice and views of modern practitioners and scholars.

The Vaibhāṣika, Saūtrāntika, Yogācāra, and Madhyamaka schools provide a framework for a continuum of philosophical debate that is far more interrelated, and internally complex, than one may presume. Yet we see how the schools build upon the findings of one another, leading from a belief in the realism of external phenomena to the relinquishment of any commitment to realism of either external or internal realities. This fascinating movement through philosophical approaches leads us to see how the conventional and ultimate—dependent arising and emptiness—are twin aspects of a single reality.

book information
  • Paperback
  • 328 pages, 6 x 9 inches
  • $34.95
  • ISBN 9781614297468
  • ebook
  • 328 pages
  • $25.99
  • ISBN 9781614297611
about the author
The Two Truths in Indian Buddhism

Sonam Thakchoe is a former Tibetan monk trained in Tibetan Buddhist tradition for fifteen years. He obtained his PhD (2002) from the University of Tasmania, Shastri (BA, 1995) and Acharya (MA, 1997) with double majors on the history of Indo-Tibetan philosophy and religious studies from Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, India. He has taught Buddhist philosophy at the University of Tasmania for the past eight years and is now a full-time lecturer in Asian and comparative philosophy.

Other books by Sonam Thakchoe:
The Two Truths Debate

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