HOW STUDENTS STUDY THE MAJOR BUDDHIST TEXTS IN LOSELING COLLEGE

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Practically, the students use six different methods to study the major Buddhist texts: memorization, instruction, debate, recitation, reading and discussion. They also study other subsidiary subjects.
From the very beginning, students start memorizing the following root texts: Maitreya's Ornament for Clear Realization (Abhisamayalamkara) and Chandrakirti's Introduction to the Middle Way (Madhyamakavatara) along with Collected Topics (Duedra) of Knowledge and Awareness (Lorig). After receiving teachings from their respective tutors on the Collected Topics, the students start learning the art of debate on the debate courtyard. After about a year, they must deliver a debate exam before the Khenpo.


Those students who are trained in the path of reasoning are promoted to the Logic and Reasoning (Tagrig) class. The Khenpo appoints the best student in the art of debate as the class-monitor (kyorpon) and makes a list of all the students in accordance with their marks in the debate. The students of the Tagrig class receive teachings from their respective tutors, memorize as much as possible of Geshe Tsultrim Namgyal’s text on Tagrig, Dharmakirti's Pramanaverttika, and its commentary authored by Panchen Sonam Dakpa entitled Illuminating the Thought of Pramanavartikakarika, and attend debates to enhance their debating skills. All those who pass the annual exam are promoted to the Freshers’ class (the first year of the Perfection of Wisdom, Prajnaparamita) and study it for the next seven years.
During these seven years, the students study and debate on these texts: Lord Maitreya’s five treatises, Acharya Asanga’s seven treatises, Acharya Haribhadra's commentary to Ornament for Clear Realization entitled Clear Meaning and other commentaries of the Indian masters, Lama Tsongkhapa’s Golden Rosary of Good Explanation, Commentary on Difficult Points on the Universal Base Consciousness and Staircase for the Novice, Gyaltsab Je’s Ornament of Correct Explanation, Khedrup Je’s Illumination for Difficult Points, Panchen Sonam Dakpa’s General Meaning of Prajnaparamita and Final Analysis of Prajnaparamita, Prajnaparamita Root Text Commentary and Commentary on the Difficult Points of Abhidharmasamuccaya. The students memorize General Meaning of Prajnaparamita. After seven years of rigorous training and successfully completing these courses, the students receive the Master of Prajnaparamita Degree.
Then the students spend the next three years studying Middle Way philosophy (Madhyamika). For the Madhyamika, the students study many treatises on the Middle Way philosophy authored by Indian masters such as Acharya Chandrakirti's Introduction to the Middle Way and its auto-commentary, Acharya Nagarjuna's Fundamental Treatise on the Middle Way (Prajnamula) and his five other treatises on the Middle Way philosophy, Acharya Chandrakirti's commentary on Prajnamula entitled Prasannapada, Acharya Buddhapalita’s commentary on Prajnamula entitled Buddhapali and Shantarakshita’s Ornament of the Middle Way. They especially study Lama Tsongkhapa’s Illumination of the Thought of Madhyamika, Commentary of Prajnamula, Essence of the Good Explanations and the last chapters of the Detailed and Middling Stages of the Path to Enlightenment which explains in great length the philosophical views. They also study Gyaltsab Je’s Recollections on Madhyamika and other notes and Khedrup Je’s Essential Exposition of Madhyamika. The students also study Pachen Sonam Dakpa’s General Meaning of Madhyamika and Final Analysis of Madhyamika. They must memorize Prajnamula, Introduction to the Middle Way and General Meaning of Madhyamika, receive teachings from their respective teachers and debate on the debate courtyard. After three years of training and successfully completing these courses they receive the Master of Madhyamika Degree.
Then the students spend four more years studying Monastic Discipline (Vinaya). Based on Buddha Shakyamuni’s Four Sets of Vinaya Scriptures, the students study many Vinaya texts authored by Indian masters such as Acharya Gunaprabha’s Basic Vinaya Sutra, One Hundred Formal Procedures (Karmashatam) and Acharya Dharmamitra’s Extensive Commentary on Vinaya. They also study Vinaya commentaries authored by Tibetan masters such as Kunkhen Tsonawa’s Rays of the Sun: Quotations and Reasoning, Omniscient Gedun Drupa’s Precious Garland, Panchen Sonam Dakpa’s Final Analysis of Vinaya and Geshe Lobsang Tsultrim’s Summarization of the Quintessence of Vinaya: Dispelling the Darkness of Those Wishing to be Liberated. The students must memorize the Basic Vinaya Sutra and Geshe Lobsang Tsultrim’s text, receive teachings on Vinaya from their respective teachers and debate on the debate courtyard. After four years of training and successfully completing these courses they are awarded with the Master of Vinaya Degree.
For two more years, the students study the Higher Knowledge (Abhidharma). They study Acharya Vasubandhu’s Abhidharmakosha along with its auto-commentary, Chim Jampelyang’s commentary on Abhidharmakosha, entitled Ornament of Abhidharma, Omniscient Gedun Drupa’s commentary entitled Clarifying the Path to Liberation and Panchen Sonam Dakpa’s commentary on Abhidharmakosha entitled Illuminating the Knowledge. Students must memorize the Abhidharmakosha text, receive teachings from their teachers and debate in the debate courtyard.
During these academic years, each year the students need to study the Epistemology and Logic (Pramana) during the fifteenth-day debate session and during Jang Gunchoe (Winter Religious Gathering at Jangphu Monastery in Tibet before 1959). They study from the treatises authored by Indian masters such as Dignaga's Compendium of Valid Cognition (Pramanasamucchaya) along with its auto-commentary, Acharya Dharmakirti’s Seven Treatises on Logic along with the auto-commentary of the first two chapters of Commentary on Valid Cognition (Pramanavartikakarika) and commentaries of Acharya Devendrabuddhi and Shakyabuddhi. They also study from the treatises authored by Tibetan masters such as Gyaltsab Je’s commentary entitled Clarifying the Path to Liberation and Detailed Commentary on (Dharmakirti's) Ascertainment of Valid Cognition, Khedrup Je’s Detailed Commentary: Ocean of Reasoning and Illuminating the Darkness on the Seven Treatises on Logic, Omniscient Gedun Drupa’s Logical Ornament of Pramana and Panchen Sonam Dakpa’s Illuminating the Thought of Pramanavartikakarika. The students need to memorize the Pramanavartikakarika and all the related and debatable topics from the treatises mentioned above, receive teachings from their respective teachers and then debate one by one with their fellow classmates and in groups on the debate courtyard. Debates are also held between senior and junior classes. Many students from the same class are assembled and hold discussions. When they are in the Abhidharma classes, many scholars are invited and help to resolve the students' doubts. When there are no debate sessions the students read as many treatises as they can and repeatedly recite those memorized treatises individually or in groups.
The subsidiary subjects are: Tibetan history, religious history, and Tibetan grammar and poetry. Sometimes they attend science workshops. Some students learn foreign languages according to their needs.

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