The Five Great Treatises Program

"The Five Great Treatises" Program with Geshe Namgyal

Sunday, 10AM - Click here to view webcast​

Ananda Dharma Center is proud to offer you a new program, recommended by H. E. Choden Rinpoche during the 2013 Oral Transmission of these great topics.

This is the full description of the upcoming courses that will be offered at our center beginning in August. All topics will be taught as described below by Venerable Geshe Namgyal. You can read H.E. Choden Rinpoche's personal recommendations regarding Geshe-la here.


Video Recording of this series with Geshe Namgyal is available here.

Audio Recording of this series with Geshe Namgyal is available here.

Supplemental Reading:


“Five Great Treatises of Tibetan Buddhism” with Geshe Dangsong Namgyal / Translated by Ven. Tsondue by Ananda Dharma Center on Sunday, 10AM-12PM

More than 2000 years ago, the teachings of Buddha were studied and practiced by the great Indian pundits of the ancient Nalanda University, such as Arya Nagarjuna, Chandrakirti, Dharmakirti, Asanga, and Vasubhandu. These masters of Nalanda University wrote many commentaries on the entire collection of the teachings of the Buddha. These texts were later translated into the Tibetan language. It is in Tibet that these complete Nalanda teaching lineages were preserved as a living tradition of spiritual practice. Monastic universities in Tibet were created based on the model of the great University of Nalanda, and the area of study included content of the programs of the great Buddhist pundits of Nalanda. Part of this program are the “Five Great Treatises of Tibetan Buddhism”: Abhīsamayaalamkara or “The Treatise of Quintessential Instructions of the Perfection of Wisdom: Ornament for Clear Realization” by Maitreya; Pramāṇavārttika by Dharmakīrti; Madhyamakāvatāra by Candrakīrti; Abhidharmakośa by Vasubandhu and Vinayasūtra by Guṇaprabha. We are delighted to offer you all these great programs for the the next few years. Venerable Geshe Namgyal will begin a program of the First Two Treatises in August, 2013. We will begin our study with ”The Treatise of Quintessential Instructions of the Perfection of Wisdom: Ornament for Clear Realization” by Maitreya.

All humans who live on this earth as part of the human society are similar in not wishing suffering and wishing for happiness. This happiness is seen only fleetingly and is derived mainly from the attractive qualities of external objects. As such, it leads us astray.The inner happiness of the mind is a powerful and great endowment, yet we remain unsatisfied and there are people these days who are considering new methods for generating mental happiness. If we were able to fill our mind with compassion and wisdom, we would be happy for our entire life. In many places on earth we find ancient traditions and religious systems that fulfill a certain measure of human wishes, having become part of the human welfare and the sustenance of mind that comes along with that.

As we can see directly, both in the case of public and private [affairs], mistakes occur in terms of how we view ourselves, causing us problems. These problems are mainly created by the mind, and whether or now we will be able to remove them depends on the mind.

The most prominent element in Buddhism, among other religious systems, is compassion. When we infuse our practice with compassion we are able to broaden our mind from its currently limited scope. For this reason we should strive to acquire the strength of the mind that benefits others. This type of practice is a great method for eliminating suffering and problems from human society.

Humans possess intelligence and this intelligence is based on wisdom. The view of Buddhism is erected upon the wisdom of individual analysis and as our Teacher has said, it should be investigated rather than accepted through blind faith.

This powerful view that is in accordance with reality is known as dependent origination. Having reflected how this result follows from that condition there is dependent origination in terms of cause and result. There is also dependent origination in terms of imputing in dependence upon the mode of existence, and so forth. In any case, it is the ultimate view of the meaning that is gained after detailed examination of reality and these days it is also very popular with scientists as well.

The reason we study, disregarding many years of hardship, it to be able to practice through our own strength with this profound human wisdom that is hard to find. When we are able to explain the point that we understand while discussing them with close friends who have compatible views, the activities of ourselves and others become virtuous and highly beneficial. This is my firm belief. Below, I offer a brief explanation of the subject matter of various areas of study and invite you to read further, if your time allows it.

Topics schedule / Full Course description
(1) BUDDHA NATURE: How the Resultant State of Buddhahood is Certain to Arise from its Cause

“Generated mind, instructions, Four types of branches of definite discrimination, The nature of dharmadhatu That serves as the support of achievings”
~”The Treatise of Quintessential Instructions of the Perfection of Wisdom: Ornament for Clear Realization” by Maitreya VS 1.6

A seed can be referred to as “lineage” and in this sense the seed that is suitable to become a Buddha is known as the “Buddha nature”. If sentient beings did not possess such a seed in their mindstream it would be impossible to become buddhas. Buddhism asserts that the cause of becoming a buddha is present in all sentient beings. In other words, someone like ourselves might be full of faults at present, but in the future we can eliminate all such faults and acquire every positive quality. This is accepted from the perspective of possessing buddha lineage and for this reason it is necessary to study buddha lineage in order to understand that sentient beings possess the cause of Buddhahood. Unlike the human body that ages, the human mind does not age. At the time of death the physical elements lose their ability to function but the mind remains capable of function and cognition even gains further clarity. In accordance with this principle we can improve the part of our mind that is clear and knowing and in this way become enlightened. According to Buddhism, even ordinary beings like us can achieve qualities equaling those of the buddhas, if we rely on the teachings of our Teacher and practice diligently the various stages of the path.

(2) REVERSING THE MIND IN FOUR WAYS: Reflecting the Four Ways of Turning the Mind Away from Samsara

“Because of being indivisible in dharmadhatu, The lineages are not suitable to be different. By way of the particularities of the qualities supported, The divisions of that are fully described.”
~”The Treatise of Quintessential Instructions of the Perfection of Wisdom: Ornament for Clear Realization” by Maitreya VS 1.40

We obtain a path when we generate the uncontrived intention of renunciation to be liberated from samsara. To generate this intention we should gradually train the mind in four stages that are included in the two topics of abandoning craving for this life and abandoning craving for just the next life. The way to train is to reflect on (a) the rarity of finding a life with freedom and endowments; (b) the shortness of our life due to impermanence; (c) the infallibility of the experience of maturational results once karmic causes have been accumulated; and (d) the severity of samsaric suffering due to the maturation of negative karma. The way to meditate is to first induce certainty with regard to these four and then, once the mind has become familiar with these topics, to cultivate definite emergence, known as renunciation. When we generate such uncontrived renunciation we can say that a path of any of the three vehicles has been generated in our mindstream. This method for guiding disciples through the four ways of reversing the mind [from samsara], has its origin in the Kadampa masters of Tibet. Later on, it became very popular with all lineages and traditions to teach the stages of the path in this way and it is a standard preliminary presentation for entering Buddhism.

(3) REFUGE: How to go for Refuge to the Buddhist Objects of Refuge

“Forms and so forth lack entity; Their non-existence is the very entity. Those lack production and lack definite emergence, Purity, those are signless” VS.1.32

As Buddhist we seek protection from our objects of refuge. These objects of refuge are not simply the Buddha Jewel, but also the Dharma Jewel, and the Sangha Jewel as well. The Dharma Jewel is the most important amongst these three. This is because if we possess the Dharma Jewel in our mindstream we can represent the Sangha Jewel and if we develop this Dharma Jewel that exists in our mindstream to an ultimate degree we can achieve the Buddha Jewel. Therefore in Buddhism is not the case that we achieve the final result through pleasing the being that is a Jewel and receiving their blessings. Rather we must understand how to establish the relation between the three Jewels. This being the case we must first understand how the three Jewels are posited. As a result of that we will induce certainty with regard to how we can establish the state of Buddhahood.

(4) FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS: The Foundation of All our Practices

“Then, due to having absorbed into the meditative stabilization Of the loftily looking lion, He realizes the forward order and Reverse order of dependent-arising.” VS. 5.23

Our Teacher taught the Four Noble Truths during the first turning of the wheel of Dharma. They are known as “The Four Noble Truths” because they are the essence or the foundation of all buddhist practices. In effect they are a presentation of how we enter into and how we reverse away from samsara. The fact that all migrating beings experience various types of suffering is the actual Truth of Suffering. These various types of suffering are created in relation to self-cherishing and arise due to the ignorance of confused self-grasping. Therefore these are known as the cause, or Origin of samsara. Upon careful examination of the cause, we realize that it is possible to be separated from it. The attainment of separation that is freedom from them is known as the Truth of Cessation. To achieve this we need to train in True Paths that are methods for attaining such truth of cessation. This is only a brief presentation of the practice related to the four noble truths but this subject matter can be explained in great detail.

(5) TWELVE LINKS OF DEPENDENT ORIGINATION: How we Remain Cycling Within Samsara Through those Twelve Links

“Devoid; bearing the object of utilization that recollects The nature of the buddhas’ accumulation of merit; Together with means; signless; Rejoicing by the buddhas;” VS. 2.22

We repeatedly cycle within samsara due to karma we accumulate from the ignorance of self-grasping. The imprints of this karma are posited on our mindstream and this acts as the condition that brings about craving, taking, and existence. As coarse afflictions arise we proceed to take rebirth in a birth existence in samsara. The Buddha has taught both the way that we enter into and the way that we exit from samsara through the twelve links of dependent origination. He taught this by presenting samsara and explaining how we enter into it as well as presenting the qualities of liberation and explaining how we can exit from samsara.

(6) THE THREE TYPES OF TRAINING: How to Practice Buddhism by Combining the Three Types of Training

“Generosity, ethics, patience, joyous effort, Concentration, and wisdom – by their completion, By abandoning a mind of liking for learners and rhinoceroses and And of terror” VS. 1.58

Sentient beings wander in samsara experiencing suffering due to the confusion of self grasping. The antidote to that is to train in wisdom. This refers to the type of mind that has holds the object in a manner that is directly opposite to that of self-grasping. In the context of tantra training in wisdom refers to recognizing the nature of extremely subtle mind that is not polluted by stains. Such wisdom is developed through calm abiding that pacifies a nonpacified mind and once insight is attained, it gains the strength of concentration. This must be developed gradually and increased until we reach the ground of Buddhahood. To render our concentration stable we must abandon different types of attachment that cause the mind to be distracted to external objects, and this is possible through training in ethics. These three types of training are the main subject matter of Buddhism and the way they are interrelated is explained with the following example: to cut down the tree of confused self-grasping the training of wisdom is like the sharp axe; the training in concentration is similar to the stable arm that holds the axe; and the training in ethics can be likened to the person who firmly holds that axe. We will be discussing how to practice Buddhist Dharma in relation to these three types of training.

(7) CALM ABIDING AND INSIGHT: How to Establish Calm Abiding, the Foundation of all Types of Concentration, and Insight

“Mercy, the six, generosity and so forth, Calm-abiding together with special-insight, Those paths of union, Those skilful means, Exalted wisdom, merit, Paths, retentions, the ten grounds, and Antidotes; know that as the sequence of The achievings of accumulation.” VS. 1.47 and VS. 1.48

It is said that calm abiding is the corner stone of all types of placement meditation and it is also a practice that is common among Buddhists and non-Buddhists. In Buddhism, it is common to all Vehicles, as well as in sutra and tantra, and for this reason it is important to be certain about it, right from the beginning. Currently our mind escapes to external objects, such as forms, sounds and so forth, distracted to every part and aspect of desired objects. Like fast flowing water that is diverted in many smaller streams, its capacity is limited. However if all the streams could be gathered and directed in a single flow, the effect would be very powerful. Similarly, if our mind could abide calmly, it would gain great capacity and become suitable to act as the corner stone of our concentration. Here the stages of achieving calm abiding are enumerated as four, namely: (1) the characteristics of the location in which calm abiding is achieved, (2) the individual who will establish it, (3) the characteristics of the focal objects of meditation, (4) the gradual development of various mental placements through meditating on those focal objects. In addition to those four there is also (5) a presentation of how the actual calm abiding is achieved in dependence on these mental placements, and (6) how to practice insight in dependence of calm abiding.

(8) BODHICHITTA AND THE SIX PERFECTIONS: Bodhichitta, the Root of Compassion, and the Six Perfections

“The generated mind is desire for Perfect complete enlightenment for others’ welfare. That and that are, just as in the Sutra, Expressed briefly and extensively.” VS. 1.19 “Relying on possessing four conceptions, The small, middling and great – Are superior To that of the hearers along with the rhinoceros-like” VS. 1.27

In Buddhism, bodhichitta that is the root of compassion, is the essence of conduct, from among view and conduct. Cultivating familiarity over a long time with the noble mind that intents to benefit others, is an important cause for attaining the qualities of the final resultant state of the Form body. Mahayana practitioners says that all troublesome and unsatisfactory situations for all migrating beings arise due to self-cherishing, and this is true. The basis upon which all afflictions are generated is self-cherishing. Holy beings of the past have praised the mind that cherishes others as the root and the foundation of compassion. This praise is an alternative to praising the buddhas [directly]. Since it is one of the conditions that establishes Buddhahood, it is similar to one of the two winds that allows us to fly. The way to meditate on bodhichitta is to go through the gradual process of the sevenfold cause and result instruction as well as equalizing and exchanging self for others. We will explain the benefits of bodhichitta and offer a general presentation of the perfections and how to train in their practices, making effort according to our capacity.

(9) THE TWO TRUTHS: Recognizing the Principles of the Foundation

The presentation of the Two Truths is presentation of the view of an individual who has accepted [Buddhist] tenets. It is a presentation that allows us to recognize the nature of all functioning entities, and to know how they are established and remain existent. It is a view of philosophical reasoning. In Buddhism the attainment of a state where all faults are eliminated and all good qualities are acquired is possible. These faults or stains arise mainly from the ignorance of self-grasping and when we understand that we must train in cultivating its antidote that is the wisdom realizing selflessness. There are two types of objects for that wisdom realizing selflessness: conventional truths that are mere appearances, and ultimate truth that is the subsidence of dualistic appearance. Thus the Two Truths are presented. In terms of the presentation of the basis, the path, and the result, these are said to be ultimate or conventional depending on whether or not they are in accordance with reality. In particular here, the subject matter of the two truths will be explained as a commentary to detailed presentation of view and meditation of Khedrup Je who based his exposition on the teachings of Je Tsongkhapa.

(10) PRESENTATION OF GROUNDS AND PATHS: How to Become Enlightened by Progressing Along the Stages of the Grounds and Paths

“On the nine levels, the antidotes to the stains, The great of the great and so forth, The paths that are the small of the small and so forth, Are pure.” VS. 2.30 “The concentrations and formless absorptions, generosity and so forth, Paths, love and so forth, Possessing non-observability, The purity of the three spheres, 1.46 Objects of intent, six clairvoyances, An exalted knower of all aspects – The achievings that engage in that manner Are to be known as ascending in the Mahayana.” VS. 1.45-1.46

The fact that we experience unhappiness and that which is not wished for is traced back to the presence of afflicted causes and conditions in our mindstream. Therefore we must search for an antidote to these harmful states in order to remove afflictions. This antidote is called the path. The path possesses both the aspects of method and wisdom. As we progress along the path, we reach five benchmarks from the time we enter in the path and until its final point. These five stages are known as the five paths of accumulation, preparation, seeing, meditation, and no more learning. The five paths exist in both Vehicles of Hinayana and Mahayana. In the Mahayana we also find the presentation of the ten grounds that eliminate all afflictions and the imprints placed by them, explaining how we become enlightened.

(11) MIND AND COGNITION: Presentation of Mind and Cognition According to Logic

In the context of basis—from among the basis, the path, and the result—there are two types of phenomena: the obvious and the hidden. In dependence on that there are two types of valid awareness: direct valid awareness and inferential valid awareness. In accordance with the Buddhist teachings, if something cannot be assessed directly it must be assessed by correct cognition. As a result, the valid awareness that depends on cognition is inferential. There are many ways to enumerate different types of mind and cognition and to present their nature and divisions. In Buddhism we find a very extensive and detailed presentation that amazes even the scientists these days. Therefore it is important to understand this basic presentation. This subject matter was settled by [the six great scholars] of India known as the six ornaments, and in particular by masters Dignaga and Dharmakirti. Their work is similar to the sharpening of a blade. It is important that we understand in detail the great number of types of mind and cognition related to meditation and those related to the opposing states of mental sinking and excitation. In addition the entire presentation of grounds and paths must be posited upon mind and cognition. Therefore, since all Buddhist principles must be presented in dependence on mind and cognition, this is a very important subject.

These sessions are open to all.

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