Knowing Reality: Nagarjuna’s Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way
with Geshe Tenzin Namdak and Prof. Georges Dreyfus
“May the Buddha’s teaching be upheld by countless masters
Who realize the truth of dependent origination,
Which comes from Nagarjuna, chief among all philosophers,
Who is the single eye through which one can view
The truth of reality as taught by the Buddha.”
–Tsongkhapa, Ocean of Reasoning
Scholars of Buddhism, from Chandrakirti to Tsongkhapa up to the present day, have marveled at the electrifying presentation of Madhyamaka philosophy in Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way (Mūlamadhyamakakārikā), composed by the Indian Buddhist master Nagarjuna around 150 CE. In its 27 chapters, this master work takes as its subject the Buddha’s teachings on dependent origination, and applies thorough analyses to an array of metaphysical topics to demonstrate the emptiness of inherent existence.
Gain clear understanding of the profound teachings on emptiness from two seasoned scholars, Geshe Tenzin Namdak, from Jamyang Buddhist Center, and Professor Georges Dreyfus, as they guide you through seven key chapters from this foundational text. This is a rare opportunity to study a treasured volume in the wisdom lineage with qualified teachers.
The complete series includes 7 sessions spanning seven chapters—the same ones taught by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Follow the entire trajectory, or drop in at any point. The chapters studied include:
Chapter 26 (6/20/21): The 12 Links of Dependent Origination (with Geshe Namdak)
Chapter 18 (7/18/21): Self and Entities (with Geshe Namdak)
Chapter 22 (9/19/21): The Tathagata (with Geshe Namdak)
Chapters 1 & 15 (9/21/21 & 9/28/21): Conditions & Essence (with Professor Dreyfus)
Chapter 24 (10/12/21): The Four Noble Truths (with Professor Dreyfus)
Chapter 13 (11/2/21): Compounded Phenomena (with Professor Dreyfus)
- Prayers at the Beginning of Teachings with Geshe Tenzin Namdak
- Dedications Prayers with Geshe Tenzin Namdak
Recommended Books for the Series:
- Ocean of Reasoning by Geshe Ngawang Samten and Jay Garfield
- The Middle Way: Faith Grounded in Reason by His Holiness the Dalai Lama (Author), Thupten Jinpa Ph.D.(Translator)
Geshe Tenzin Namdak sessions:
- Chapters 26-18-22 of the Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way; English translation by Geshe Dorji Damdul (Tibet House, New Delhi)
Prof. Georges Dreyfus sessions:
- Recommended text is Nagarjuna’s Middle Way: Mūlamadhyamakakārikā by Mark Siderits and Shoryu Katsura
- Buddhism in Translations by Henry Clarke Warren
Resources mentioned by Geshe Tenzin Namdak:
Venerable Geshe Tenzin Namdak
Prof. Georges Dreyfus
About the Teachers
Venerable Geshe Tenzin Namdak first worked as an environmental researcher having graduated in hydrology. He started studying Buddhism at Maitreya Institute in The Netherlands in 1993 and took ordination from His Holiness the Dalai Lama before engaging in his formal studies in Buddhist philosophy and psychology at Sera Jey Monastic University, South India, in 1997. He completed the entire twenty-year Geshe program at Sera Jey in 2017 and the traditional one year Vajrayana study program at Gyume Tantric College in January 2019, the first Westerner to do so.
Geshe Namdak has received a great number of teachings from His Holiness and many other highly respected teachers and lineage masters, has done many retreats and is an experienced teacher in practical and philosophical aspects of Buddhism, that he teaches with great clarity and a good sense of humour. Currently, he is the resident teacher at Jamyang Buddhist Centre, London, and teaches worldwide.
Georges Dreyfus left his native Switzerland for India in 1970, and soon began studying with Ven. Geshe Rabten, the great scholar-yogin whom H.H. the Dalai Lama had invited to teach the growing number of westerners arriving in Dharamsala. Within one year he took monastic ordination and embarked on the demanding training programme for the degree of Geshe (broadly equivalent to the Western ‘Doctor in Divinity’). As well as studying at the Buddhist School of Dialectics in Dharamsala, he also studied at all three of the great Geluk monasteries of Ganden, Sera and Drepung re-established in India.
During the fifteen years that his training lasted, Dreyfus studied the great treatises of the Indian Buddhist tradition in the light of their Tibetan commentaries. In 1985 he was awarded the degree of Lharampa Geshe, the highest academic qualification in the Geluk system – the first western student to be so honoured. He subsequently completed both M.A. and Ph.D degrees at the University of Virginia under Prof. Jeffrey Hopkins.
Very much inspired by the spirit of non-sectarianism, Dreyfus has studied extensively outside of the Geluk school where he received his basic training. He studied and practiced Theravada meditation techniques with Munindra and other qualified teachers. He also studied logic and epistemology as well as Madhyamaka philosophy with the Sagya Khenpo Migmar Tsering. He received teachings from both Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and Tulku Urgyen, and further studied Madhyamaka and some of the most important texts on Vajrayana practice within the Nyingma tradition with Khenpo Namdrol.
Georges Dreyfus is now the Jackson Professor of Religion at Williams College (MA) U.S.A where he has been teaching courses on Tibetan and Thai Buddhism, Indian philosophy, meditation and cognitive science, religion and science. One of his main areas of interest is the study of consciousness, an interest that he has developed through an association with the Mind and Life Institute. He has furthered this interest through teaching courses such as his “Mind and Persons in Indian Thought,” a course that focuses on Buddhist and Hindu views of the mind and the self, and “The Embodied Mind: Meditative Practices, Mind Sciences and the Philosophy of Mind.” This course brings together cognitive science, phenomenology and Buddhist ideas and practices.