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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Blo gsal grub mtha' MacDonald, Anne Elizabeth

Abstract

This thesis presents the translation and study of the twelfth section of Bio gsal grub mtha', an early fourteenth century Tibetan text composed by the bKa' gdams pa scholar, dBus pa bio gsal. Bio gsal grub mtha' as a whole represents a distinct sort of scholarly literature known as Grub mtha' that finds its roots in Indian siddhānta literature. Tibetan Grub mtha' texts set forth, as the name in translation reveals, the "established tenets" of various Indian, Tibetan, and occasionally Chinese philosophical schools. The section of Bio gsal grub mtha' translated here presents the tenets of the Mādhyamika school of Tibetan Buddhism in general, and their fourteenth century bKa' gdams pa manifestation in particular. The central tenet of Mādhyarnika philosophy is that all phenomena are empty of self-nature. Even that which is discovered to be the ultimate emptiness (stong pa nyid, śunyatā) - is also said to be devoid of any real self-nature. All phenomena are dependent-arisings, lacking reality, existing like dreams and magical illusions. These assertions are discussed in detail in the translation and in the second part of the introduction. Of special interest to scholars of both Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, however, is dBus pa bio gsal's classification of the Mādhyamika subschools. The early Tibetan Buddhist scholars took upon themselves the task of categorizing and inventing names for the various Mādhyamika "schools", and dBus pa bio gsal's classification represents the development of such thought to the fourteenth century. The introduction elucidates both dBus pa bio gsal's divisions of the Mādhyamika sub-schools and elaborates on earlier and later classifications set forth by Tibetan scholars. The investigation provides insight into both the tenets of the Mādhyamika school and the attempts of the Tibetans to arrange the previously unclassified Mādhyamika subschools in a manner that would render them more logical and accessible to themselves and to future generations of scholars.

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