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Debate, Part 1

I’m still studying the Dharma, I always will be a student, but at this point I certainly don’t see myself as a teacher. That being said, I have given a few talks here and there. In June, I gave my first talk at a Palyul lineage Buddhist center, namely Thubten Lekshey Ling Dharma Subhshita in Bengaluru (Bangalore). I promised at the talk that I would post a review of the main topics, so here is part one.
I explained the basics of debate as it is carried out in Tibetan Buddhism. We use logic to inquire about the Dharma. The Buddha says:
Monks and wise ones,
Just as you would burn, cut and burnish gold
Examine my teachings
Do not accept them out of faith.
Likewise Mipham Rinpoche has taught:
If the teachings of the Victor, which are logical,
Are extablished through logic,
And thus by the path of logic certainty is developed
The true result of the logical teachings will be seen.
So, logic is important. We begin our study of logic by learning the four points of relationship between things. Identical, seperate, three points, and four points. For example:
Identical: impermanent and caused are identical, they are different names for the same thing. Thus, whatever is impermanent is caused, whatever is caused is impermanent. Here identical means a singular entity. Not in the broader sense of identical objects, such as identical twins.
Seperate: permanent and impermanent are seperate. Whatever is permanent is not impermanent and vice versa. A pot and a pillar are seperate. Two identical twins would also be seperate, since there is nothing which is both of them.
3 Points: impermanent and knowable; All which is impermanent is knowable, not all which is knowable is impermanent. Thus we have something which is both: physical matter. Something which is knowable but not impermanent: space. Something which is neither: rabbit horns (not knowable because rabbits don’t have horns, nor impermanent because they do not exist.)
4 Points: wisdom and permanent. That which is both: the wisdom of a Buddha. That which is wisdom but not permanent: the wisdom of a bodhisattva on the path of learning. That which is permanent but not wisdom: space. That which is neither wisdom nor permanent: matter.
Here are some more approachable examples:
3 Points: A ring and a gold ring. That which is both: A gold ring. That which is gold but not a ring: A gold brick. That which is neither: a silver ring.
4 Points: A ring and gold: That which is both: a gold ring. That which is gold but not a ring: a gold brick. That which is a ring but not gold: a silver ring. That which is neither: a necklace.
3 Points: American and American president: He who is both: Barrak Obama. American but not president: Hillary Clinton. Neither: the Queen of England.
4 Points: American and president: both: Obama. American but not president Hillary. President but not American: The president of any other country (unless he or she holds American citizenship). Neither: the citizen of any other country who is not a president.
Thus, we can examine both mundane phenomena and philosophical terms as to wether they are the same, different, or intersect with three or four points.
For example, let’s debate on compassion:
Me: Are compassion and bodhicitta identical, seperate, three points or four points?
You: Three points.
Me: What are the three points?
You: All bodhichitta is compassionate, not all compassion is bodhichitta.
Me: What is that which is compassion but not bodhichitta?
You: Worldly compassion which is not embraced by the wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of others is not bodhichitta.
Me: So if compassion is not united with the wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of others it is not bodhichitta?
You: Yes, that is correct.

One thought on “Debate, Part 1

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