Four philosophical schools of Buddhist thought are taught in the Nalandabodhi Study Curriculum (Vaibhashika, Sautrāntika, Chittamātra and Mādhyamaka). In this talk, Mitra Karl Brunnholzl clarifies the reasons for studying these schools by explaining the two approaches to presenting the Buddhist philosophical schools. One approach presents the historical schools of thought in India. A second approach presents the schools as a progression of meditative insight from clinging to everything as real to not clinging to anything as real. Expanding on this distinction, MItra Karl discusses not only the four schools listed above, but also two Mādhyamaka sub-schools (Svāntantrika and Prasangika) as well as Shentong. He explains the essence of each of these with an emphasis on how they help our practice, how they relate to letting go of our coarse and subtle clinging, and how this letting go is an essential prerequisite to experiencing Shentong or awakening. In response to questions, Mitra Karl provides practical guidance on applying the practice of letting go of attachment in the context of pain and illness. He also talks about the philosophical schools from a historical perspective, clarifying the relationship between the Yogachara, Mādhyamaka and Shentong and responds to a variety of questions with clarity and insight.
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