The Keys to the Treasury of the Dharma: Frameworks for Understanding the Essential Meaning
The goal of dharma study is deep understanding that can become a living experience. However, it is difficult to comprehend the vast, complex, and often contradictory teachings of the various Buddhist traditions. Contemplation is the bridge through which we sift and fully comprehend the many topics and views we have studied and incorporate it into our meditation. The Buddhist tradition provides both systematic topics and guidelines for contemplation and also innovative frameworks by which to understand those profound and vast teachings. These frameworks themselves have been an explicit subject of exploration from time of the Buddha himself.
In this course we will study both the topics for contemplation and the frameworks as presented primarily by the incomparable Jamgon Kongtrul (1813-1899) in his masterpiece, The Treasury of Knowledge. The second half of this ten volume encyclopedia covers the three prajnas--or wisdoms--of learning, contemplation, and meditation. Here, Kongtrul provides an extensive manual for contemplation as the bridge between learning the vast range of topics of knowledge to the entry into the stages of meditation upon the profound meaning. This is how to make the dharma into a living experience.
This seventh section of The Treasury first presents the traditional frameworks for approaching the teachings: the four sources of reliance and the four sources for valid understanding. It then analyzes the various ways to interpret the complexities and contradictions of the teachings: as being provisional or definitive, direct or indirect, or as belonging to one of the three turnings of the wheel of the dharma. Based upon those, it presents the main topics of contemplation including the two levels of truth, the two types of selflessness, the varieties of emptiness, interdependence, and the four reminders. We will end with Kongtrul’s famous presentation of the practices of shamatha and vipashyana, which is the first section of the next chapter, on meditation, and which is conveniently included in this volume. In addition to this main source, we will study presentations by Longchenpa, Mipham the Great, and other authors.
Please purchase a copy of the book, The Treasury of Knowledge, Book Seven and Book Eight, Parts One and Two: Foundations of Buddhist Study and Practice by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye, before the first class. Additionally, there will be a small sourcebook, primarily containing a translation of the root text.
- "The Buddha" from The Precious Treasury of Philosophical Systems
- Notes to "The Buddha" from The Precious Treasury of Philosophical Systems
- Notes from Treasury of Precious Qualities
- Table of Contents of The Treasury of Knowledge from The Autobiography of Jamgon Kongtrul