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THL Title Text
Tibetan Monastic Education
by Georges Dreyfus
January 1, 2001
Section 7 of 7


[1] The passages in this section are taken from Georges B. J. Dreyfus, The Sound of Two Hands Clapping: The Education of a Tibetan Buddhist Monk (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 85-93, 106-109, 112-18, 211-21, and 246-60.
[2] A few individuals become monks at an advanced age (after forty or fifty). Such people, who are called genchörgan chos (i.e., “[those who practice] dharma in their old age”), are considered second-class monks and are not expected to memorize very much; often they are accepted in monasteries only if they can provide for themselves.
[3] Traditional Tibetan books are not bound; the loose pages contain five to seven long lines, printed from wood blocks. TsongkhapaTsong kha pa is said to have been able to memorize up to seventeen folios a day. See Cha har dge bshes blo bzang tshul khrims, Rje thams cad mkhyen pa tsong kha pa chen po’i rnam thar go sla bar brjod pa bde legs kun kyi byung gnas in The Collected Works (gsung ’bum) of cha har dge bshes lo bzang tshul khrims, vol. 2 (Kha) (New Delhi: Chatrin Jangsar Tenzin, 1971), 104.
[4] A basic premise in Indian and Tibetan cultures is that a mantra is fully effective if, and only if, it is pronounced exactly right. This requirement, which goes back to Vedic culture, is viewed by Tibetans with some flexibility and even humor. They know that they do not read mantras in the same way that Indians do. Nevertheless, they have kept the old injunction requiring precise pronunciation. On the general theory of mantra, see H. Alper, ed., Mantra (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989).
[5] To be sure, the memorizers look at a page, thereby introducing a visual dimension. Changes in the appearance of that page (e.g., in a different edition) can disturb the process, a sign that visual patterns contribute to memorization. But a completely memorized text becomes fully sonic. Sometimes the memorizer relies solely on the spoken words of the teacher, a practice that eliminates any visual dimension. It is less common, however, for it is time-consuming.
[6] Anne Klein, comp., trans., and ed., Path to the Middle: Oral Madhyamika Philosophy in Tibet (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994), 6.
[7] Geshe Rabten, The Life and Teaching of Geshé Rabten: A Tibetan Lama’s Search for Truth, trans. and ed. B. A. Wallace (London: Allen and Unwin, 1980), 81.
[8] The example of the Indian master Sthiramati (fifth century C.E.) is often cited to demonstrate the value of recitation. He was a dove when he listened with reverence to Vasubandhu’s melodious recitation. As a result he was reborn as a human being and shortly after his birth he started to inquire about Vasubandhu’s whereabouts. See Tāranātha’s History of Buddhism in India, trans. Lama Chimpa and A. Chattopadhyaya, ed. D. Chattopadhyaya (1970; reprint, Calcutta: Bagchi, 1980), 179-80.
[9] José Cabezón, “The Regulations of a Monastery,” in Religions of Tibet in Practice, ed. Donald Lopez (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), 351.
[10] R. G. Crowder, Principles of Learning and Memory (Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum, 1976), 9.
[11] For a distinction between accessibility and availability, see Crowder, Principles of Learning and Memory, 11.
[12] Rabten, The Life and Teaching, 53. A Sanskrit proverb puts it this way: “As for knowledge that is in books, it is like money placed in another’s hand: When the time has come to use it, there is no knowledge, there is no money.” (quoted in W. A. Graham, Beyond the Written Word: Oral Aspects of Scripture in the History of Religion, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987, 74).
[13] Graham, Beyond the Written Word, 160.
[14] J.-C. Schmitt, “Religion populaire et culture folklorique,” Annales: Economies, sociétés, civilizations 31 (1976): 946; quoted in Bernard Faure, The Rhetoric of Immediacy: A Cultural Critique of Chan/Zen Buddhism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), 89.
[15] Maitreya, Abhisamayālaṃkāra-​nāma-​prajñāpāramitopadeśa-​śāstra-​kārikā (Shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa’i man ngag gi bstan bcos mngon par rtogs pa’i rgyan zhes bya ba tshig le’ur byas pa, D: 3786, P: 5184); Nāgārjuna, Prajñā-​nāma-​mūlamadhyamakakārikā (Dbu ma rtsa ba’i tshig le’ur byas pa shes rab, D: 3824, P: 5224); Candrakīrti, Madhyamakāvatāra (Dbu ma la ’jug pa, D: 3861, P: 5262).
[16] L. Gomez, “Buddhist Literature: Exegesis and Hermeneutics,” in Encyclopedia of Religion (New York: Macmillan, 1987), 2:529-40, esp. 532. A brief examination of the Tibetan catalogs of the TengyurBstan ’gyur suggests that the Tibetan translation of the Sanskrit terms is far from systematic: shepabshad pa appears as the translation of vyākhyā as well as bhāṣya (see P: 5555, 5565).
[17] Candrakīrti, Mūlamadhyamakavṛttiprasannapadā (Dbu ma’i rtsa ba’i ’grel pa tshig gsal ba, D: 3860); Buddhapālita, Buddhapālitamūlamadhyamakavṛtti (Dbu ma’i rtsa ba’i ’grel pa shes rab buddha pā li ta, D: 3842); Bhavya, Prajñāpradīpamūlamadhyamakavṛtti (Dbu ma’i rtsa ba’i ’grel pa shes rab sgron ma, D: 3853); Sāntarakṣita, Madhyamakālaṃkārakārikā (Dbu ma rgyan gyi tshig le’ur byas pa, D: 3884).
[18] The distinction between these commentaries and root texts is not rigid. For example, Candrakīrti’s Introduction is a commentary on Nāgārjuna’s Treatise and fits into this second category of Indian commentaries. Yet it is often used as a root text, particularly in the GelukDge lugs institutions; indeed, there it often replaces Nāgārjuna’s Treatise as the central text of madhyamaka studies. In Tibetan education, these Indian commentaries (when used at all) play a role similar to that of the root texts. Hence, I group them with the root texts in the first textual layer of authoritative Indian works.
[19] Tsong kha pa, Dbu ma la ’jug pa’i rgya cher bshad pa dgongs pa rab gsal (Varanasi: Pleasure of Elegant Sayings Press, 1973); Go rams pa, Rgyal ba thams cad kyi thugs kyi dgongs pa zab mo’i de kho na nyid spyi’i ngag gis ston pa nges don rab gsal, in Complete Works of the Great Masters of the Sa sKya Sect (Tokyo: Tokyo Bunko, 1968), 14: 1.1.1-167.3.3 (Ca, 1.a-209.a).
[20] Mi pham, Dbu ma rgyan gyi rnam bshad ’jam dbyangs bla ma bgyes pa’i zhal lung (New Delhi: Karmapa Chodhey, 1976); Śāntideva, Bodhicaryāvatāra (Byang chub sems dpa’i spyod pa la ’jug pa, D: 3871, P: 5272); trans. by S. Batchelor as A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 1979). Mi pham’s commentary is Shes rab le’u’i tshig don go sla bar rnam par bshad pa nor bu ke ta ka (Varanasi: n.p., n.d.).
[21] Mikyö DorjéMi bskyod rdo rje’s texts are also used for the study of the Prajñāpāramitā literature, the Vinaya and the Abhidharma, thus providing the core of the KagyüBka’ brgyud curriculum, which is completed by the masterful synthesis of Buddhist logic and epistemology by the Seventh Karma pa Chödrak GyatsoChos grags rgya mtsho (1454-1506).
[22] Here again, I am drawing boundaries that are in fact not entirely rigid. Main Tibetan commentaries are sometimes called manuals. For example, members of the SakyaSa skya tradition often describe GorampaGo rams pa’s commentary on madhyamaka as their manual. This shift in terminology corresponds to the increasing importance of manuals (particularly in the GelukDge lugs tradition), a topic to which I will return. But it should be clear that not all manuals are debate manuals, as some scholars imply; e.g., see G. Newland, “Debate Manuals (yig cha) in dGe-lugs Colleges,” in Tibetan Literature: Studies in Genre, ed. J. Cabezón and R. Jackson (Ithaca: Snow Lion, 1996) 202.
[23] Haribhadra, Abhisamayālaṃkāranāmaprajñāpāramitopadeśaśāstravṛtti (Shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa’i man ngag gi bstan bcos mngon par rtogs pa’i rgyan zhes bya ba ’grel ba, D: 3793, P: 5191).
[24] Rgyal tshab, Rnam bshad snying po rgyan (Varanasi: Pleasure of Elegant Sayings Press, 1980); Tsong kha pa, Bstan bcos mngon rtogs rgyan ’grel pa dang bcas pa’i rgya cher bshad pa legs bshad gser gyi phreng ba (Kokonor: Tsho sngon mi rigs spe skrun khang, 1986)
[25] Monks who have already received some training are often allowed to cover these preliminary classes in one year.
[26] Hence, the Collected Topics (Bsdus sgrwa) are often called the Magical Key to the Path of Reasoning (Rigs lam ’phrul gyi lde mig). See, for example the Sera JéSe ra byes Collected Topics: Phur bu lcog ’jam pa rgya mtsho, Tshad ma’i gzhung don ’byed pa’i bsdus grwa rnam par bshad pa rigs lam ’phrul gyi lde mig las rigs lam chung ba rtags rigs kyi skor (Palampur, India: Library of bkra shis ljongs, n.d.). This text is often known as The Collected Topics of the Tutor (Yongs ’dzin bsdus grwa), because its author was the tutor of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama.
[27] Maitreya, Abhisamayālaṃkāra-​nāma-​prajñāpāramitopadeśa-​śāstra-​kārikā (Shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa’i man ngag gi bstan bcos mngon par rtogs pa’i rgyan zhes bya ba tshig le’ur byas pa, D: 3786, P: 5184); Dharmakīrti, Pramāṇa-​vārttika-​kārikā (Tshad ma rnam ’grel gyi tshig le’ur byas pa, D: 4210, P: 5709); Candrakīrti, Madhyamakāvatāra (Dbu ma la ’jug pa, D: 3861, P: 5262).
[28] Vasubandhu, Abhidharmakośakārikā (Chö Ngönpé DzöChos mngon pa’i mdzod, D: 4089, P: 5590); Guṇaprabha, Vinaya-​sūtra (’Dul ba’i mdo rtsa ba, D: 4117, P: 5619).
[29] sdom pa yod dus ’dul ba med / ’dul ba yod dus sdom pa med.” Because they do not belong fully to Tibetan society, Mongolians have the reputation of being unusually outspoken and candid; comments critical of the establishment are often attributed to them.
[30] A Tibetan proverb captures this loss of monastic zeal: “New monks drink filtered water. Elder monks delight in gulping down alcohol.” The monastic code prescribes that monks strain water before drinking it, to avoid killing small insects; the jaded monks may be tempted to ignore not only this minor rule but even the absolute ban on alcohol.
[31] See G. Dreyfus, “Meditation as Ethical Activity,” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 2 (1995): 28-45, and C. Hallisey, “Ethical Particularism in Theravada Tradition,” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 3 (1996): 32-43; both articles are available online at Journal of Buddhist Ethics (accessed February 2002).
[32] This point about the role of authoritative statement is made well by J.N. Mohanty, Reason and Tradition in Indian Thought (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), 256.
[33] Tsho na pa shes rab bzang po, ’Dul ba mdo rtsa ba’i rnam bshad nyi ma ’od zer legs bshad lung gi rgya mtsho (n.d.).
[34] Tsho na pa shes rab bzang po, ’Dul tig nyi ma’i ’od zer legs bshad lung gi rgya mtsho (Beijing: Tibetan Culture Institute, 1993); Gendün DrupDge ’dun grub, Dam pa’i chos ’dul ba mtha’ dag gi snying po’i don legs par bshad rin po che’i phreng ba, in Collected Works, vol. 2 (Kha).
[35] Chos mngon pa mdzod kyi tshig le’ur byas pa’i ’grel pa mngon pa’i rgyan (Zi ling: Krun go’i bod kyi shes rig dpe skrun khang, 1989). The authorship of this work is not well-established. The book is attributed to a member of the Mchims clan. Though there are several possible candidates, the most likely is Chim Jampeyang Mchims ’Jam pa’i dbyangs (Chim Jampelyang Mchims ’Jam dpal dbyangs, early fourteenth century). See Ngag dbang chos grags, Mkhan chen ngag dbang chos grags kyi pod chen drug gi ’grel pa phyogs sgrigs (Rimbick Bazar, Dist. Darjeeling: Sakya Choepheling Monastery, 2000), 44.a.
[36] Dge ’dun grub, Mdzod tik thar lam gsal byed (Varanasi: Ge-luk Press, 1973).
[37] Perdue, Debate in Tibetan Buddhism, 28.
[38] So Perdue puts it: “dhīḥ! The subject, in just the way [mañjuśrī debated]” (Debate in Tibetan Buddhism, 103).
[39] See D. S. Ruegg, Buddha-nature, Mind, and the Problem of Gradualism in a Comparative Perspective: On the Transmission and Reception of Buddhism in India and Tibet (London: School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 1989).
[40] SapenSapaṇ differentiates three phases in debate: a preparation (jorwasbyor ba) in which the two proponents seek a common basis, the main part (ngözhidngos gzhi) of the debate, and the conclusion (jukmjug) during which the witness summarizes the argument and establishes the winner (C. Beckwith, “The Medieval Scholastic Method in Tibet and in the West,” in Reflections on Tibetan Culture: Essays in Memory of Turrell V. Wylie, ed. L. Epstein and R. Sherburne [Lewiston, N.Y.: Mellon Press, 1990], 307-13). In actual Tibetan debates, the third element is absent since there is no witness.
[41] The three answers concern complete statements containing three terms (subject, pseudo-predicate, and reason). In the GelukDge lugs tradition, an incomplete consequence is allowable. Consider this statement: “It follows that the subject, a mountain, lasts only for a short instant.” Such a statement has only two parts, but is nonetheless considered well-formed since it allows a straightforward answer. An incomplete statement can be answered in two ways: either by accepting (’dod; lit., “[I] accept”) or by refusing (ci’i phyirci’i phyir; lit., “why”) it. In our example, these answers mean: I accept that the mountain lasts only for a short instant; or, I do not accept that the mountain lasts only for a short instant. If the latter answer is given, the rigs lams pa can immediately state the incomplete consequence: “It follows that the subject, the mountain, does not last only for a short instant.” The only possible answer to such a consequence is positive; any other is considered a breach of rules of rational discourse. Because other traditions have reconstituted their practice of debate by imitating GelukDge lugs practices, they follow this usage. Shākya ChokdenShākya mchog ldan seems to disagree with this practice, however, arguing that only three-part consequences should be used.
[42] David P. Jackson, Entrance Gate for the Wise (Section III) (Wien: Arbeitskreis für tibetische und buddhistische Studien Universität Wien, 1987), 361.
[43] Perdue, Debate in Tibetan Buddhism, 275.
[44] The defender is in a difficult position in this debate. Non-GelukDge lugs scholars would answer such a claim, which is often presented by GelukDge lugs scholars as a refutation of their views, by making a quasi-Humean distinction between the domain of reality, where duration does not exist, and the conceptual domain, where duration is necessary. In reality, there is no duration—only a succession of similar moments that create the false but useful impression that things last. True to their moderate realism, the GelukDge lugs tradition understands momentariness in a more commonsensical way. For them, a phenomenon is momentary not because it lasts only a moment but because it is composed of temporal parts and hence is in constant transformation. On these differences in the understanding of the concepts of impermanence and momentariness, see Dreyfus, Recognizing Reality, 63-65, 106-16.
[45] The exact meaning of the statement o tsaro’ tshar is not easy to establish. I have it as “Oh, it’s finished,” where oo’ is taken as an interjection. It could also be taken as directed at the opponent
[46] For a description of the symbolism of monastic gestures, see Geshe Rabten, The Life and Teaching of Geshé Rabten: A Tibetan Lama’s Search for Truth, trans. and ed. B. A. Wallace (London: Allen and Unwin, 1980), 12-24.
[47] The “three circles” refer to three conditions that the consequence must satisfy to checkmate the respondent. In the example “It follows that the subject, the sound, is not produced since it is permanent,” such a consequence is appropriate only to a person who fulfills three conditions: he admits that the sound is permanent, holds that whatever is permanent is not produced, and holds that the sound is produced. Such a person has completed the three circles and hence cannot give a correct answer without contradicting himself. In practice, the expression is used to signal any mistake in the respondent’s answer and not just the ones that satisfy these three criteria.
[48] Rules govern how the respondent wears his hat. When the topic is introduced, the respondent takes his hat off out of respect for the debater, holding it until the basis for the debate has been laid out. He then puts the hat on again, a sign that he has mastered the topic and is ready to answer. Should he lose, however, the respondent has to take his hat off, admitting his defeat. If he does not do so, the questioner may grab the hat himself.
[49] R.A. Stein, Tibetan Civilization, trans. by J.E. Stapleton Driver (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1972), 161.
[50] Sierskma, F., “rTsod pa: The Monachal Disputation in Tibet,” Indo-Iranian Journal 8 (1964), 141.
[51] Sierskma, “rTsod pa,” 140. Unfortunately, Sierskma does not take his informants’ comments seriously; he elaborates his own far-fetched theory of debate as a non-Buddhist element in Tibetan culture, ignoring the rich Indian dialectical tradition.
[52] One hesitates to call the motives of debaters “pure.” Monks, like most people, act for complex reasons. Serious intellectual and religious interests do not exclude personal dislikes and ambitions. Knowing this, teachers do not object to ambition as long as it does not become a student’s main preoccupation.
[53] Sierskma, “rTsod pa,” 139-41.
[54] Motivation is obviously important, but it is also highly individual and volatile. Some students remain driven throughout their studies by personal ambitions. This was particularly common in Tibet, where a title of geshédge bshes could lead to considerable power. Others lose such worldly ambitions during their studies, while still others acquire them at the monastery. Lati RinpochéBla ti rin po che used to comment on how the exile changed the perspective of many. Some who were good scholars lost interest in studying, perhaps realizing that their ambitions had become unattainable or perhaps becoming interested in the new possibilities of the modern world. Conversely, others became much better scholars in exile, realizing the fragilities of worldly goods. In any case, we must recognize both the importance and the complexity of motivation.
[55] Sierskma, “rTsod pa,” 140. Sierskma is here quoting an informant, not expressing his own opinion.
[56] Lozang GyatsoBlo bzang rgya mtsho gives the following yearly schedule (in Tibetan dates) for LosellingBlo gsal gling (Gyatso, Memoirs of a Tibetan Lama, trans. and ed. G. Sparham [Ithaca: Snow Lion, 1998], 84):
1.1-1.4 New Year
1.5-1.25 Great Prayer
1.26-1.30 Break
2.1-2.15 Debate
2.16-2.20 Break
2.21-2.30 Small Prayer (TsokchöTshogs chos)
3.1-3.30 Break and Great Spring Debate Session (Chichö ChenmoDpyid chos chen mo)
4.1-4.10 Break
4.11-4.30 Debate
5.1-5.15 Break
5.16-6.15 Great Summer Debate Session (Yarchö ChenmoDbyar chos chen mo)
6.16-8.1 Summer Retreat
8.2-9.1 Fall Debate Session (TönchöSton chos)
9.2-9.15 Break
9.16-9.30 Debate
10.1-10.15 Break
10.16-10.30 Debate
11.1-11.15 Break
11.16-12.15 Winter Debate at Jang (Jang Dünchö’Jang gdun chos)
12.22-12.30 Maitreya Prayer (JamchöByams mchod)

This is only, however, the skeleton in which many other events were integrated. For example, the Great Summer Debate Session at Sera JéSe ra byes would last from 5.16 to 6.15. During this time, many events took place:

5.16-17 Formal debates during the period of wood begging (shinglongshing slong; i.e., the period during which monks would have been allowed to leave the monastery to beg for wood and other necessities)
5.20-21 Examination for geshédge bsheslingségling bsre
5.22-23 Examination for geshédge bshesrikramrigs rams
5.24 Recitation of the Constitution (Tsoktam Chenmotshogs gtam chen mo)
5.25 Reading of the Canon in the morning
5.30 Special Ritual Day
6.2-3 Ceremonial Recitation
6.15 Special Ritual Day
6.16 End of the Summer Session and Beginning of Break

As one can see, monks kept quite busy! See Byang chub lam rim chen mo dang ’brel ba’i ser byes mkhas

[57] For example, Welmang Könchok GyeltsenDbal mang dkon mchog rgyal mtshan explains the schedule of his monastery, Amchok Ganden Chönkhor LingA mchog dga’ ldan chos ’khor gling, in Dga’ ldan chos ’khor gling gi mtshan nyid grwa tshad (tshang?) thos bsam gling gi rtsod pa byed tshul legs par bshad pa, in Collected Works (Delhi: Gyaltan Gelek Namgyal, 1974), 7: 586: “At first, one studies the Prajñā pāramitā literature in this way: During the winter session of the first year one achieves the Homage [of the Ornament] and begins [the chapter on] the Charioteers. During the first spring session one finishes [the chapter on] the Charioteers. During the second spring session one finishes [the presentation of] of the inferior and middling persons.”
thog mar phar phyin la slob gnyer byed tshul ni lo dang po’i dgun chos la mchod brjod rdzogs nas shing rta’i srol byed tshugs dpyid chos dang po la shing rta’i srol byed rdzogs dpyid chos gnyis pa la skyes bu chung ’bring rdzogs
[58] Rabten, The Life and Teaching, 50.
[59] Buddhist monks are not supposed to eat in the evening, but most Tibetan monks ignore this rule.
[60] Gen Lozang GyatsoRgan Blo bzang rgya mtsho suggests this schedule for LosellingBlo gsal gling (Memoirs of a Tibetan Lama, 70-72):
6:00-8:00 General Assembly
8:00-8:45 Morning monastery assembly
9:00-11:00 Regional house assembly where at least tea would be provided
11:00-13:00 Pause for study in one’s room or with teacher
13:00-16:00 Afternoon debate
16:00-17:00 Evening assembly
17:00-18:00 Break for study in one’s room or with teacher
18:00-20:00 Evening prayer
20:00-23:00 Night debate or recitation for younger monks not yet allowed to debate
[61] The four classes on the Ornament are beginning and advanced treatises (zhung sarnyinggzhung gsar rnying), and beginning and advanced separate topics (zurkö sarnyingzur bkod gsar rnying). See Rabten, The Life and Teaching, 38, and Chatrim ChenmoBca’ khrims chen mo, 83-84.
[62] The name “reciting leader” comes from the function of this class leader during the recitations (tsipzhakrtsib bzhag): the abbot recites by heart the appropriate passages from the monastery’s manuals, and the reciting leader must then repeat each passage. This recitation is nowadays purely ceremonial, a reminder of the times when the manuals were not codified and the abbot would give his own commentary. Then, the reciting leader would have received this teaching and shared it with his classmates.
[63] Gyatso, Memoirs of a Tibetan Lama, 88.
[64] The second class devoted to the Ornament is called zhungnyinggzhung rnying (lit., “Old Treatise”).
[65] Blo gros, ’Bras spungs chos ’byung, 245.
[66] The state of monasticism in contemporary Tibet clearly demonstrates the importance of cross-generational transmission. After 1959, monasteries were closed down, and monks were shipped to concentration camps where most died. When the monasteries reopened in the early 1980s, a few older monks came back to train students once again. However, there was a large gap between them and this new generation. As a result, the young monks have found it difficult to find their bearings and to become socialized in ways that make possible the renewal of their institution.
[67] L. Lhalungpa, trans., The Life of Milarepa (1977; reprint, Boston: Shambhala, 1985), 158.
[68] T. Tarab, A Brief History of Tibetan Academic Degrees in Buddhist Philosophy (Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 2000), 18. At Sera JéSe ra byes, the four degrees of geshédge bshes are the rikramrigs rams, lingségling bsre, tsokramtshogs rams, and lharamlha rams (Geshe Sopa, Lectures on Tibetan Religious Culture [Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 1983], 43).
[69] The name geshédge bshes lingségling bsre may suggest that he is examined by more than one monastery. But this name seems to reflect more the past practices of SangpuGsang phu where the candidate was examined by both monasteries (i.e., the Upper Community and the Lower Community), than the present practices of the three monastic seats. An old title thus appears to have been integrated into a new system.
[70] Following my preference for logic and epistemology, I chose Gendün DrupDge ’dun grub, Tshad ma’i bstan bcos chen po rigs pa’i rgyan (Ornament of Reasoning: A Great Treatise on Valid Cognition) (Mundgod: Loling Press, 1985).
[71] In Byes, as in Sera MéSe ra smad, Drepung Gomang’Bras spungs sgo mang, and dga’ ldan byangs rtse, Abhidharma is the final subject. In the other three monasteries, Vinaya is last.
[72] Rato Khyongla Nawang Losang, My Life and Lives: The Story of a Tibetan Incarnation, ed. J. Campbell (New York: Dutton, 1977), 151.
[73] Geshé Rabten spent only two years in this class because of the events in Tibet and the subsequent exile. Normally, he would have had to spend nine years (Rabten, The Life and Teachings, 103).
[74] Blo gros, ’Bras spungs chos ’byung, 278-86.
[75] For a description of these difficult and tense exams, see Rato Khyongla, My Life and Lives, 111.
[76] Gendün ChömpelDge ’dun chos ’phel was famous for his sharp repartee. In one famous encounter he was answering when a Mongolian geshédge bshes tried to make fun of him by saying, “It appears that you think that all knowables are flat.” Gendün ChömpelDge ’dun chos ’phel instantly replied, “The only things I hold to be always flat are the heads of Mongols” (Rdo rje rgyal, ’Dzam gling rig pa’i dpa’ bo dge ’dun chos phel gyi byung ba brjod pa bden gtam ’na ba’i bcud len [Kansu: Kansu People’s Press, 1997], 27).
[77] See H. Richardson, Ceremonies of the Lhasa Year, ed. M. Aris (London: Serindia, 1993).
[78] For an example of such a “stirred-up” debate, see Blo gros, ’Bras spungs chos ’byung, 254.
[79] GandenDga’ ldan and Drepung’Bras spungs usually hold the festival in Mundgod, while SeraSe ra holds it in Bylakuppe.
[80] See P. Bourdieu, Le sens pratique (Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 1980), 191-208.
Tibetan Monastic Education, by Georges Dreyfus