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Asian Philosophy

Vol. 19, No. 1, March 2009, pp. 5162

Dynamic and Syncretic Dimensions to

a ntaraks
itas Presentation of the
Two Truths
James Blumenthal
It is common for philosophers from the Madhyamaka school of Indian Buddhist thought
to offer a presentation of the two truths, ultimate truth (paramarthasatya) and
conventional truth (sam
tisatya), as a vehicle for presenting their views on the
ontological status of entities. Though there is some degree of variance, generally ultimate
truths are described as objects known by an awareness of knowing things as they are.
Conventional truths are objects as conceived by a mistaken awareness, one that
superimposes a mode of existence onto objects that is not actually there. These two truths
are contrasted (one is accurate; one is not) and used as a vehicle for understanding the
ontological status of phenomena and the means by which they are known. S

(725788 CE) was among the most important Madhyamaka thinkers in Indian
Buddhist history, yet his presentation of the two truths has several features that signal its
uniqueness. This paper will discuss two particular unique dimensions to S

views on the two truths: his integration of aspects of Cittamatra/Yogacara thinking,
including the rejection of external objects, into his presentation of conventional truths,
and the dynamic way in which conventional truths are not merely presented as objects
of a mistaken awareness, but rather as an important soteriological step in the process
of realizing the ultimate. This syncretic and dynamic integration of Yogacara thought,
where its ideas are fully engaged and incorporated into an over-arching Madhyamaka
philosophical system is a key component to the thought of one of the most important,
influential, and innovative figures in the late period of Indian Madhyamaka, and one
which has yet to be fully acknowledged in secondary literature.

ita (725788) was one of the key figures in the development of Indian
Mahayana Buddhist thought as well as in the transmission of that thought to Tibet
and the establishment of the Buddhist philosophical tradition in that country.
Correspondence to: James Blumenthal, Oregon State University, Dept. of Philosophy, 102-A Hovland Hall,
Corvallis, OR 97331, USA. Email: James.Blumenthal@oregonstate.edu
ISSN 0955-2367 print/ISSN 1469-2961 online/09/010051-12 2009 Taylor & Francis
DOI: 10.1080/09552360802673898
He spent most of the last 15 years of his life teaching in Tibet, where he served as the
abbot of its first monastery, Samye, and ordained the first seven Tibetan monks.
What is most striking about his contributions to Buddhist philosophical
development in the beginning of the late period of Indian Buddhism was his
integration of three major developments in Indian Mahayana thought into one
integrated and syncretic system, those three being: Madhyamaka, Yogacara, and
the logico-epistemological
thought of Dignaga and Dharmak rti. This paper will
investigate one particularly unique aspect of that integration that found in

itas presentation of the two truths, and its implications for followers of
his view.
It is common for philosophers from the Madhyamaka school of Indian Buddhist
thought to offer a presentation of the two truths, ultimate truth (paramarthasatya,
don dam bden pa) and conventional truth (sam
tisatya, kun dzob bden pa), as a
vehicle for presenting their views on the ontological status of entities. One finds
varying descriptions of the two truths in the writings of virtually all of the major
Indian Madhyamaka thinkers. At the risk of being overly simplistic, it is common for
Madhyamikas to describe ultimate truths as objects known by an awareness knowing
objects as they are, and conventional truths as objects known by some sort of
mistaken awareness. Of course the details get much more complex when one
investigates the particularities of each thinkers positions, but this basic distinction is
common. What is uncommon, in my analysis, is for Madhyamikas to utilize their
presentation of the two truths in a manner that goes beyond simply describing the
ontological status of objects of awareness and the means by which they are known.

ita is one such Madhyamaka thinker. He does utilize the forum of a two
truths presentation for a discussion of the ontological status of entities and the means
by which they are known, but he also uses it as a vehicle for a much more dynamic
philosophical enterprise. This takes place when he famously integrates aspects of
Yogacara thought into his presentation of conventional truths. The dynamic nature
of S

itas presentation of the two truths (and his larger philosophical
enterprise) is signaled not merely by the use of Yogacara ideas in an over-arching
Madhyamaka philosophical project, though that is certainly part of it. More
importantly, the dynamic dimension comes forth in the ways in which he utilizes
these ideas and encourages his followers to engage with them and utilize them as well.
His creative integration of, and engagement with competing philosophical ideas as
a dynamic dimension to his own philosophical system was utterly unique when
compared with they way any of his Madhyamaka predecessors in Indian utilized the
two truths. He does not simply describe conventional truths as objects known falsely
by a mistaken consciousness. His description of conventional truths mirrored
Yogacara descriptions of the ultimate, but also described the conventional as a sort of
stepping stone to a Madhyamaka perspective on the ultimate. No longer was the
conventional merely a description of erroneous conceptualizations for those afflicted
by ignorance. It was now a perspective that had great soteriological and teleological
value of its own and one whose engagement would be encouraged for his readers as a
partial or provisional philosophical stepping stone to the ultimate. Thus, in a sense,
52 J. Blumenthal
being a Yogacara becomes a dimension of being a Madhyamika for S

He is putting forth a syncretic system. I will begin this paper by discussing some of
the more common ways S

ita presents the two truthsthat is to say, the way
he uses the forum to discuss the ontological status of entities. In the second half of
the paper I will elaborate on how the more dynamic dimensions are integrated into
his discussion of the two truths.
Common Dimensions to S

itas Presentation of the Two Truths

itas presentation of the two truths is found in his famous treatise,
kara (dbU ma rgyan, The Ornament of the Middle Way, hereafter,
MA) and its auto-commentary, Madhyamakalam
tti (dbU ma rgyan gyi rang
grel, The Auto-commentary on The Ornament of the Middle Way, hereafter, MAV).
The text as a whole is a philosophically dynamic one in that multiple layers of
presentations of ideas, sliding scales of analysis
of those ideas, and encouraged
engagement with this multiplicity of ideas are present throughout the text. We know
that MA was among the last of S

itas philosophical writings, not only because
he borrows stanzas from his own earlier compositions, but also because he mentions
two of them, Tattvasam
graha (De kho na nyid bsdus pa i tshig le ur byed pa,
Compendium on Reality) and Paramarthaviniscaya (Don dam pa gtan la dbab pa,
Investigation of the Ultimate) explicitly in his MAV.
I mention this only because I will
be focusing on his presentation in MA and not the Satyadvayavibhan
gapanjika (bDen
pa gnyis rnam par byed pa i dka grel, Commentary on [Jnanagarbhas] Distinction
Between the Two Truths) that is attributed to S

ita and the other potential
source on the topic for S

ita. The attribution of that text to S

ita has
been contested since the time of Tsongkhapa (13571419)
and there is still not
a scholarly consensus on the attribution to this day, though there is a growing
acceptance that it was an early composition of S

itas. Given the discrepancies
between that text and the views expressed in MA and our knowledge of the late
composition of MA in the scheme of S

itas life, I think it is reasonable to
conclude that, at a minimum, his presentation on the two truths in MA would
represent his more mature thinking on the topic. With this said, let us proceed to a
discussion of S

itas presentation of the two truths in MA and its auto-
commentary, MAV (hereafter, MA/V when considered together).
MA is comprised of 97 stanzas, the first 62 of which make up his version of the
neither-one-nor-many argument. This is a classic Buddhist argument, known to have
been used with slight variances by other Indian Madhyamaka thinkers including

Aryadeva, S

rigupta, Jnanagarbha and Atisa,

among others,
to demonstrate with
reasoned analysis that all phenomena are empty of any absolute nature or essence.
Thus, S

ita is not unique in using this argument to establish the view of
emptiness (sunyata) with reasoning or to use it to describe his presentation of the
ontological status of ultimate truths. His rendition, which is probably both the most
well-known version and most comprehensive in its application throughout the text
Asian Philosophy 53
to the current philosophical views at his time reads in its condensed form from the
first stanza of MA as follows:
These entities, as asserted by our own [Buddhist schools] and other [non-Buddhist
schools], have no inherent nature (svabhava, rang bzhin) at all because in reality
they have neither a singular nor manifold inherent nature, like a reflected image.

ita begins his description of ultimate truths with this rendition of
the neither-one-nor-many argument, an analysis searching for an inherent nature
or svahava in entities. The argument posits that there can be no ultimate nature
or essence in entities because nothing has a fundamentally unitary or manifold
nature or essence. In other words, since anything that has a nature must
have either an ultimately unitary or manifold naturethe two being inclusive of
all possible alternatives for things with a natureand since nothing has a
unitary or manifold nature, therefore, phenomena must not have any nature at
all. An ultimate truth would thus be an objects emptiness of any inherent
nature, thereby describing the ontological status of ultimate truths. Such
objects are further described as those known by an awareness knowing objects
as they are.
The argument is structured in MA around its application to a host of positions
posited by S

itas philosophical rivals.
In each case, S

ita must
establish that those entities posited by his opponents have neither a singular nor
manifold nature. For each opponent position, S

ita begins with an analysis
searching for an inherently singular nature in the opponent-posited entity. When
the reasoned analysis comes up empty and the proposition that there is an
inherently singular nature in the entity proposed to have such a nature by the
first opponent is shown to be absurd, he moves on to the next opponents
position. He then applies similar reasoned analysissearching for an inherently
singular natureto those phenomena posited to have a nature in their view.

ita methodically makes his way through a host of philosophical claims
and shows each of them to be flawed either in reasoning or by their contradicting
experience, or both. This examination for an ultimately singular nature in entities
makes up the first 60 stanzas of the text as it is applied to assertions by
khyas, Lokayatas, Vedantas, Vaibhas
ikas, several brands of Sautrantikas, and
several brands of Yogacaras, etc. in this section.
After making his way through all the entities asserted by his philosophical
opponents to have an inherent nature and discovering upon analysis that they have
no singular nature, he proceeds, in the second part of the neither-one-nor-many
reasoning, to examine the possibility of their having an inherently manifold nature.
This is taken up in a single stanza and commentary on it, the 61st stanza of MA and
his commentary on that stanza in MAV.
We have found with analysis that no entity whatsoever has a singular nature. Those
that have no singular nature also must not have a manifold nature.
When permanence and impermanence, pervasiveness and its opposite, particles
and gross objects, consciousness and its objects, and the like, which are accepted by
54 J. Blumenthal
followers of Buddhist and non-Buddhist views are distinctly analyzed with regard
to their singularity, there is no amount of perseverance which can endure the heavy
burden of such analysis.
Since it would be incorrect to consider anything as being of a singular nature,
accepting a manifold nature must also be unreasonable since many-ness is
characterized by the accumulation of singularities. If there is nothing which
is single, there must also be nothing which is the [accumulation of singularities].
It is like if there are no trees and so forth, there will also be no forest. Therefore it
says [in

Aryadevas Catuh
sataka], When we analyze any phenomena, there is
nothing singular [found]. For those for which nothing singular exists, there
is nothing manifold either.

ita determines since inherently existent singular natures have been
refuted, no entity could possibly have an inherently manifold nature since a
manifold nature would depend upon the aggregation of true singularities. Just as
there can be no forest without trees, there can be no multiplicity without
Thus, S

ita concludes the neither-one-nor-many argument in stanza 62
with a summation indicating, as his opening stanza proclaimed, that no entity could
possibly have an inherently existent nature because none have either a singular or
manifold naturethe two choices being inclusive of all possibilities for entities with
a nature. He writes:
The existence of an entity belonging to a class other than that which has a single or
manifold [nature] does not make sense because the two are exhaustive of all
possible alternatives.
For S

ita, the emptiness or lack of an inherent nature in entities is an
ultimate truth, as exhaustively demonstrated via the neither-one-nor-many
He goes on in the following stanzas, the 63rd and 64th, after concluding the
neither-one-nor-many argument, to begin his description of conventional truths.
He writes:
Therefore, these entities are characterized only by conventionality. If someone
accepts them as the ultimate, what can I do for them?
Those phenomena that are only agreeable when not put to the test of [ultimate]
analysis, those phenomena that are generated and disintegrate, and those that have
the ability to function are known to be of a conventional nature.

ita further elaborates in his auto-commentary by explaining that a
conventional truth is known by conceptual thought or designated with worldly
conventions. To this point, there seems to be nothing particularly remarkable about

itas presentation of the two truths from a Madhyamaka perspective.
An ultimate truth is an objects emptiness of an inherent nature and a conventional
truth is an impermanent, functional entity which is acceptable only when not put
under the scrutiny of ultimate analysisthat analysis which searches for an inherent
nature in things. He is using this common Madhyamaka framework for discussing
the ontological status of entities.
Asian Philosophy 55
Dynamic Aspects of S

itas Presentation of the Two Truths
When we begin to look a bit further, however, we find some rather unique ideas for
a Madhyamika. S

ita is famous for his YogacaraMadhyamaka synthesis.
In fact, in the early period of the dissemination of Buddhism in Tibet, he was
classified as YogacaraMadhyamika (rnal byor spyod pa i dbu ma pa) and later, after
the translation and dissemination of Candrak rtis works in Tibet, he was classified as
a YogacaraSvatantrikaMadhyamika (rnal byor spyod pa i dbu ma rang rgyud pa).
His integration of Yogacara ideas into an over-arching Madhyamaka framework
introduced several notions that were unique among Indian Madhyamikas and
signaled a key unique characteristic of his thought to Tibetan doxographers.
Of particular note for us in this paper is his integration of some Yogacara ideas into
his presentation of conventional truths. We find this, for example, in the 91st stanza
of MA, when he writes,
That which is cause and result is mere consciousness-only. Whatever is established
by itself is that which abides in consciousness.
Having previously described conventional truths as impermanent and functional,
etc., his equation here with such phenomena as being mere consciousness-only is an
overt ascent to aspects of a Yogacara frame of description and analysis. This is where
I find he starts to get more interesting in that he is integrating aspects of an ultimate
Yogacara framework into a Madhyamaka description of conventional truths,
we still must ask, What is so dynamic about this presentation? Madhyamaka
predecessors like S

rigupta and

Aryavimuktisena also integrated Yogacara ideas into
their Madhyamaka frameworks (Ruegg, 1981, p. 87).
The dynamism of S

itas presentation comes in when we look at the way
in which he encouraged his readers to engage with Yogacara thought. For
example, in the course of presenting the neither-one-nor many argument, there
comes a point where he begins to argue from a Yogacara perspective to such a
degree that he seems to feign acceptance of Yogacara tenets.
Specifically, this
takes place in his criticism of various Sautrantika positions, most prominently the
Sautrantikas simultaneous acceptance of self-cognizing cognition (svasam
rang rig) and acceptance of external objects, tenets which are considered to be
incompatible for a Yogacara. For a Yogacara, acceptance of self-cognizing
cognition is vitally important, but only makes sense if consciousness and its
objects are of a non-dual nature.
When he completes that criticism of Sautrantika views, all carried out as if
he were a Yogacara, he moves on to begin his critical analysis of Yogacara tenets.
At the outset of this section, S

ita makes extensive and decidedly affirming
comments regarding the virtues of Yogacara before getting to describing what he
sees as their flaws and criticizing Yogacara tenets, but before launching into his
criticism, he begins this section of MA/V with praise. This is the beginning of
what I am describing as a dynamic engagement in his two truths presentation in
that it recognizes the value of what will later be revealed as a critical part of his
56 J. Blumenthal
presentation of conventional truths. By praising their views, he makes room for
the encouragement of his readers to embrace Yogacara tenets at other points in
the text when discussing his own perspective on conventional truths and to see
their utility, just as he seems to have demonstrated when he criticized Sautrantika
tenets from this perspective. S

itas vision of Yogacara utility in his two
truths presentation is not merely for describing a flawed conventional
perspectiverather, it is for their integration into an ascent to realization of
ultimate truths. This use of conventional truths as something embraced as an
integral dimension to realization of the ultimate is part of the dynamism I am
attempting to highlight, but I am getting a bit ahead of myself. In praise of
Yogacara tenets just before criticism, he writes:
Although their [view is virtuous], we should think about whether such things [as
the images known by consciousness] according to them (i.e. Yogacara proponents)
actually exist or if they are something contentedly accepted only when left
Since this [Yogacara] system is known by means of valid knowledge (praman
tshad ma) and very clear scriptures, and since it is also an antidote to the negative
exaggerated grasping of extremists, it should be considered to be very pure.
Likewise, [this system is virtuous] because it rejects existents such as subtle partless
particles and, with the valid knowledge previously explained, shows the
contradictions [present in the Sautrantika position which distinguishes between]
the characteristics of the experiencer and the object of experience. This system is
also backed by scriptural quotations.
Following a quotation from the Lan
kavatarasutra to provide evidence for the claim
that the Yogacara system is backed by scripture,

ita continues with his
praise of the system in MAV before his critical examination.
By relying on this system, scholars clear away the impurities of erroneous
dichotomous concepts such as I and mine and object and apprehender [of

itas words of praise for Yogacara tenets before his criticism is a flattery he
does not extend to any of the many other philosophers or views he criticizes in MA.
He seems to want to point out the important value of this particular philosophical
view, not only because they are his Buddhist kin, so-to-speak (he offers no words of
praise for Vaibhas
ikas or Sautrantikas), but because later he will want his readers to
embrace many aspects of the Yogacara positions and integrate those in his syncretic
and dynamic presentation of the two truths. This precedes his overt two truths
presentation of definitions of ultimate and conventional truths, but anticipates a
process where conventional truths and the perspective which properly engages them
will be utilized as a sort of teleological and soteriological stepping stone to the
realization of the ultimate.
This process of integrating Yogacara tenets more fully into his position was
first seen when he described causally efficacious entities as being mere conscious-
ness-only in the 91st stanza. He follows that in the 92nd stanza of MA with an
exposition of the importance of an explicit dynamic engagement with this
Asian Philosophy 57
philosophical system as an integral part of the ascent to a description and finally
a realization of the ultimate. He writes:
By relying on the Mind-Only (Cittamatra, sems tsam pa) system, know that
external entities do not exist. And by relying on this [Madhyamaka] system, know
that no self at all exists, even in that [mind].

ita finds an overt utility to the Yogacara analysis that finds objects to be
empty of a distinct nature from the consciousness perceiving them. Unlike virtually
all of his Madhyamaka predecessors, S

ita uses his presentation of the two
truths, not merely as a way of describing objects as perceived by accurately knowing
subjects and mistaken subjects. In his presentation of the two truths, readers are
encouraged to engage fully with the two Mahayana philosophical systems, with one
being a stepping stone to the otherone being aligned with conventionalities and
one with the ultimate. Knowing conventional truths as not external, or not utterly
distinct from the consciousness perceiving them represents a partial ascent to an
accurate understanding of reality. He integrates Yogacara into his actual system,
making its insights a dimension of his own Madhyamaka system. Thus, when

ita praises the Yogacara view earlier in the text, before criticizing aspects of
it, he seems to do so with the explicit purpose of indicating its actual utility for
followers of his system, even given its faults. For in the end, a Madhyamaka analysis
of the mind that finds it too is empty of any inherent nature will clear away any
misconceptions. The full integration of both Mahayana philosophical systems (along
with the logico-epistemological tradition of Dharmak rti
) is succinctly summarized
in the famous 93rd stanza of MA, when he writes:
Therefore, due to holding the reigns of logic as one rides the chariots of the two
systems (i.e. Yogacara and Madhyamaka), one will attain the [path of] an actual

itas dynamic syncretism becomes quite clear here. Each of the three major
developments in Indian Buddhist thought are incorporated into a syncretic, dynamic,
and internally consistent system that his followers could fully engage with each being
aspects of an overarching or totaling Madhyamaka system.

ita seems to me to be unique among Indian Madhyamikas up to his
in the way he utilizes conventional truths. He describes them not merely a
description of inaccuracy, but for S

ita, proper engagement with conventional
truths represents an important part of a soteriological step towards realization of the
ultimate. Realization of the ultimate is, of course, indispensable in attaining the
spiritual goals of ridding oneself of disturbing emotion obstacles (klesavaran
a, nyon
sgrib) and knowledge obstacles (jneyavaran
a, shes sgrib), the key hindrances to
liberation from samsara and the achievement of Buddhahood. By encouraging the
embrace and integration of a philosophical system that will ultimately be largely
superceded, S

ita has created a philosophical syncretism that can aptly be
described as a dynamic philosophical enterprise. There is not merely a philosophical
or conceptual description of reality but an encouraged movement and ascent through
provisional systems. Here I have focused on his presentation of the two truths, but
58 J. Blumenthal
throughout the neither-one-nor-many argument, we find this sort of movement
through ascending scales of analysis beginning with Sautrantika perspectives.
This dynamic inclusiveness of competing views
and Buddhist philosophical
syncretism marks an important and innovative quality to S

itas philosophical
thinking, and one worthy of note and further exploration.
[1] This line of thinking is often referred to by the Sanskrit neologism, praman
[2] Here I borrow a phrase employed by Georges Dreyfus (1997) in his study of Tibetan
interpretations of Dharmak rtis epistemological thought. McClintock (2003) and
Blumenthal (2004) have also employed the notion in relation to the writings of

ita and his disciple, Kamalas la, not only in relation to issues concerning the
two truths, but also to logic and employment of the neither-one-nor-many reasoning.
[3] Unfortunately S

itas text Paramarthaviniscaya (Don dam pa gtan la dbab pa,
Investigation of the Ultimate) is no longer extant in any language and as such is a great loss to
those interested in the thought of S

ita. We can only speculate as to what it might
have told us about his ideas concerning the two truths. We know of this text due to its
mention in the commentary on stanza 96 in MAV.
[4] See Tsongkhapas (1997) Drang ba dang nges pa i don rnam par bhye ba i bstan bcos legs
bshad snying po, pp. 141142. See also Eckel (1987), Funayama (1995) and Blumenthal
(2004) for further discussions on the topic.
[5] For discussions of various uses of the argument including other versions of it, see Tillemans
(1982, 1983, 1984), Eckel (1987) and Blumenthal (2004).
[6] One finds a rendition of the argument in the Buddhist logician, Dharmak rtis famous
treatise, Praman
avarttika. Sara McClintock (2003, p. 75) argues that S

ita and
Kamalas la hold that the neither-one-nor-many reasoning, even in Dharmak rtis writing, as
ineluctably leading to a Madhyamaka perspective, although she does not maintain that
they see Dharmak rti as a Madhyamika.
[7] S

ita. MA 1 (1985a). bdag dang gzhan smra i dngos di dag/yang dag tu na cig pa
dangdu ma i rang bzhin bral ba i phyir/rang bzhin med de gzugs brnyan bzhin// The Sanskrit
of this stanza exists as found in Bodhicaryavatarapanjika by Prajnakaramati (cited in Ichig o,
1985, p. 22): nin
svabhava am bhavas tattvatan
/ekanekasvabhavena viyogat pratibimbavat//.
English translation in Blumenthal (2009, 52).
[8] On occasion, S

ita explicitly names his opponents. At others, we surmise the
opponent either by the views put forth as theirs, or by the attestation of Kamalas la in his
karapanjika, or both.
[9] S

ita. MA 61 (1985a). dngos po gang gang rnam dpyad pa/de dang de la gcig nyid med/
gang la gcig nyid yod min pa/de la du ma nyid kyang med//. English translation in Blumenthal
(2009, 60).
[10] S

ita. MAV 61 (1985b). pha rol dang bdag gi lta ba i rjes su brang ba dag gis khas
blangs pa rtag pa dang/mi rtag pa dang/mi rtag pa dang/khyab pa dang/cig shos pa i dngos po
gang la gcig pur brtags na de la de ltar brtags pa de i tshe/brtag pa i khur lce ba bzod pa phra
rab tsam yang med do//gang gcig pa i rang bzhin du mi thad pa de du ma i bdag nyid du khas
blangs pa na rigs pa ma yin pa nyid de/ di ltar du ma nig cig bsags pa i mtshan nyid do//gcig
med na de yang med de//shing la logs pa med na nags tshal la sogs pa med pa bzhin no//de i
phyir dngos po gang dang gang brtags pa//de dang de la gcig pa med//gang la gcig nyid yod min
pa/de la du ma ng med pa yin//zhes gsungs so//Masamichi Ichig o, ed.
Asian Philosophy 59
[11] S

ita. MA 62 (1985a). gcig dang du ma ma gtogs par/rnam pa gzhan dang ldan pa
yi/dngos po mi rung di gnyis ni/phan tshun spangs te gnas phyir ro//.
[12] S

ita. MAV 6364 (1985b). de phyir dngos po di dag ni/kun rdzob kho na i mtshan
nyid dzin/gal te di bdag don dod na/de la bdag gis ci zhig bya//ma brtags gcig pun yams dga
zhing/skye dang jig pa i chos can pa/don byed pa dag nus rnams kyis/rang bzhin dun dzob pa
yin rtogs//. English translation in Blumenthal (2004, 242).
[13] S

ita. MA 91 (1985a). rgyud dang bras bur gyur pa yang/shes pa ba zhig kho na ste/
rang gis grub pa gang yin pa/de ni shes par gnas pa yin//. English translation in Blumenthal
(2004, 245).
[14] Interestingly, he also accepts self-cognizing cognition (svasam
vedana, rang rig) convention-
ally, another Yogacara tenet that was widely rejected by other Madhyamikas.
[15] Georges Dreyfus (1997) noted a similar phenomenon of shifting philosophical perspectives
in the writings of Dharmak rti which he described as sliding scales of analysis. Sara
McClintock (2003) and James Blumenthal (2004) have also discussed this in greater detail
with regards to the writings of S

ita and Kamalas la.
[16] Ibid., 45. de dag on kyang de dag gi/dngos de yang dag nyid dam ci/on te ma brtags gcig pu na/
dga bar khas lendi bsam mo//.
[17] S

ita. MAV 6061 (1985b). lugs di ni tshad ma dang lung shin tu gsal bas shes par bya
ba dang/dmigs pa can mtha yas pa dag gi mngon par zhen pa ngan pa i gnyen po yang yin pas
shin tu dkar ba ste di ltar rdul phra rab la sogs pa yod pa dag dgag par byed pa dang tshor bar
bya ba dang tshor ba po i mtshan nyiddang gal ba yang ston pa sngar bshad pa i tshad ma ni
tshus di rab tu gsal bar byed pa o/tshul di ni lung dang ldan pa yang yin te//.
[18] Given that some Madhyamikas, such as Bhavaviveka (490570) denied that the Yogacara
system was based on the speech of the Buddha, this was important not only for defense of
the Yogacara system in general, but also, and perhaps more importantly, for his own
dynamic engagement with it and inclusion in his totaling, syncretic system.
[19] S

ita. MAV 6162 (1985b). mkhas pa dag tshul di la brten nas bdag dang bdag gi dang
gzung ba dang dzin pa rab tu dbye ba dang bcas pa rnams la phyin ci log tu gyur pa rnams sel
[20] S

ita. MA 92 (1985a). Sems tsam la na brten nas su/phyi rol dngos med shes par bya/
tshus dir brten nas de la yang/shin tu bdag med shes par bya//. English translation in
Blumenthal (2004, 245).
[21] Although Bhavaviveka and others integrated aspect of Dignaga and Dharmak rtis
a thought, S

ita was the first Madhyamika to comment directly on their
writings and was the first to really be considered a proponent of both systems. As such, his
integration of Madhyamaka with praman
a thought ought to be seen as a major development
in late Indian Buddhist thought. The impact of this integration on the philosophical
landscape of Tibet can hardly be overstated! Though the integration of this thought also into
his philosophical system is another key component to its syncretic nature, the details of that
aspect lie outside the scope of the present article. See McClintock (2000, 2002), Blumenthal
(2004, 2008), etc. for a discussion of aspects of S

itas integration of praman
thought into his Madhyamaka project.
[22] S

ita. MA 93 (1985a). Tshul gnyis shing rta zhon nas su/rigs pa i srab skyogs ju byed
pa/de dag di phyir ji bzhin don/theg pa chen po pa nyid thob//. English translation in
Blumenthal (2004, 245).
[23] A potential interesting avenue of research would be to investigate the extent to which Dol po
pa shes rab rgyal mtshan (12921361) and his Other-Emptinesss (gzhan stong) interpreters
utilize a dynamic approach to the two truths as well where a self-emptiness (rang stong)
perspective is used to describe conventional truths and another-emptiness for the ultimate.
In Dolpopas system the self-emptiness perspective seems to have some utility in affecting
a realization of the ultimate in that it quiets the mind and temporarily subdues disturbing
emotions such that one can progress toward realization of the ultimate. There are clear and
60 J. Blumenthal
obvious differences with S

itas project, but similarities in their employment of
philosophical syncretism are present. See Hopkins (2006).
[24] I would argue Tibetan use of doxographies is partially related to this dynamism that

ita introduced to Tibetan philosophical inquiry. I am currently working on an
article on S

itas impact on Tibetan philosophical culture that will include a further
discussion of this topic. See also Blumenthal (2004).
Blumenthal, James. (2004). The ornament of the Middle Way: A study of the Madhyamaka thought of

ita. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications.
Blumenthal, James. (2008). S

ita. In Edward N. Zalta (Ed.). The Stanford encyclopedia of
philosophy. Retrieved December 2008, from: http://plato.stanford.edu/. Stanford, CA: Stanford
Blumenthal, James. (2009). The neither-one-nor-many argument of S

ita: A classical
Buddhist argument on the ontological status of phenomena. In J. Garfield & W. Edelglass
(Eds.), Buddhist philosophy: Selected primary texts. New York: Oxford University Press.
Dreyfus, Georges. (1997). Recognizing reality: Dharmakrtis philosophy and its Tibetan
interpretations. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Eckel, Malcolm David. (1987). Jnanagarbhas commentary on the distinction between the two truths.
Albany: State University of New York Press.
Funayama, Toru. (1995). Arcat
a, S

ita, Jinendrabuddhi, and Kamalas la on the aim of
a treatise (prayojana). Wiener Zeitschrift fur die Kunde Sudasiens, 39, 181201.
Hopkins, Jeffrey. (2006). Mountain doctrine: Tibets fundamental treatise on other-emptiness and the
Buddha matrix. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications.
Ichig o, Masamichi. (Ed., critical edition). (1985). Madhyamakalam
kara of S

ita with
his own commentary or Vr
tti and with the subcommentary or Panjika of Kamalasla. Kyota:
Kamalas la. (1985). Madhyamakalam
karapanjika, dbU ma rgyan gyi dka grel. Peking edition,
P5286. In Masamichi Ichig o (Ed., critical edition), Madhyamakalam
kara of S

ita with
his own commentary or Vr
tti and with the subcommentary or Panjika of Kamalasla. Kyota:
McClintock, Sara Louise. (2000). Knowing all through knowing one: Mystical communion or
logical trick in the Tattvasam
graha and Tattvasam
grahapanjika. Unpublished doctoral
dissertation, Harvard University.
McClintock, Sara Louise. (2003). The role of the given in the classification of S

ita and
Kamalas la as Svatantrika-Madhyamikas. In G. Dreyfus & S. McClintock (Eds.), The
SvatantrikaPrasa_ ngika distinction: What difference does a difference make? (pp. 125171).
Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications.
Ruegg, David Seyfort. (1981). The literature of the Madhyamaka School of Philosophy in India.
Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.

ita. (1926). Tattvasam
graha. De kho na nyid bsdus pa i tshig le ur byas pa. Peking edition,
P5764. In Embar Krishnamacharya (Ed.), Tattvasam
graha of S

ita with the
commentary of Kamalasla (2 vols). GOS 3031. Baroda: Central Library (reprinted Baroda,
1984, 1988).

ita. (1956). Satyadvayavibhasgapanjika, bDen pa gnyis rnam par byed pa i dka grel.
Peking edition, P5283.

ita. (1985a). Madhyamakalam
karakarika, dbU ma rgyan gyi tshig le ur byas pa. Peking
edition, P5284. In Masamichi Ichig o (Ed., critical edition), Madhyamakalam
kara of

ita with his own commentary or Vr
tti and with the subcommentary or Panjika of
Kamalasla. Kyota: Buneido.
Asian Philosophy 61

ita. (1985b). Madhyamakalam
tti, dbU ma rgyan gyi rang grel pa. Peking edition,
P5285. In Masamichi Ichig o (Ed., critical edition), Madhyamakalam
kara of S

ita with
his own commentary or Vr
tti and with the subcommentary or Panjika of Kamalasla. Kyota:
Tillemans, Tom J. F. (1982). The neither one nor many argument for sunyata and its Tibetan
interpretations: Background information and source materials. E

tudes de Lettres. Lausanne:

University of Lausanne.
Tillemans, Tom J. F. (1983). The neither one nor many argument for sunyata and its Tibetan
interpretations. In E. Steinkellner & H. Tauscher (Eds.), Contributions on Tibetan and Buddhist
religion and philosophy (WSTB 11) (pp. 305320). Vienna: Arbeitskreis fur Tibetische und
Buddhistische Studien, Universitat Wien.
Tillemans, Tom J. F. (1984). Two Tibetan texts on the neither one nor many argument for
sunyata. Journal of Indian Philosophy, 12, 134169.
Tsongkhapa. (1997 ed.). Drang ba dang nges pa i don rnam par bye bai bstan bcos legs bshad snying
po. Bylakuppee: Sera-Mey Computer Project Center (SMCPC Books).
62 J. Blumenthal