Based on the Treatise on the Distinction between Consciousness and Wisdom, by the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje (1284-1339), Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen will first discuss how our mind is both the cause of delusion as well as the basis for freedom from delusion. We we will then receive instruction on how to discover the wisdom within.

The Third Karmapa was a great commentator on Yogacara, and the Treatise on the Distinction between Consciousness and Wisdom is one of his most renowned texts. It includes his most detailed presentation on how the eight types of consciousness are transformed into the four (or five) wisdoms and the three kayas, and also explains why the nature of mind is ultimate wisdom.

Some exceptional features of this remarkable text:

  • It extracts the essence of the vast tradition of Yogacara scholarship.
  • The Treatise on the Distinction between Consciousness and Wisdom presents the Yogacara tradition as not being in opposition to Madhyamaka.
  • This brief treatise, consisting of just 179 lines, is very workable in today’s busy and fast-paced lifestyle.
  • This is an original composition in the Tibetan tradition, whereas masters typically write commentaries on Indian shastras.
  • This treatise serves as a key link between the sutra tradition and Mahamudra practice.

With his discussion of external objects as appearances in one’s “own mind,” Rangjung Dorje emphasizes the luminous empty mind of Buddha nature. Later Tibetan masters may describe his view as a creative synthesis of rangtong (empty of self) and shentong (empty of other), though these terms do not appear in Rangjung Dorje’s works.

The Union of Study and Practice

If your interests lean more towards study, you will not only enjoy a scholarly text but will also discover a window into Mahamudra practice. Those of you who are more inclined towards meditation practice will benefit from this encounter with the theory on which your Mahamudra practice is based.

About Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen

Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen studied together with Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche at Karma Shri Nalanda Institute at Rumtek under some of the greatest living masters in the Kagyü lineage. Acharya lived in Boulder, Colorado for many years and served as a faculty member of the Religious Studies Department at Naropa University, where he taught Nitartha Institute-based graduate courses.

Acharya works closely with Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche in all aspects of leadership for Nitartha Institute, particularly in the design of our curriculum. He teaches worldwide, and is also one of the main teachers for Nalandabodhi International.

He is known for his profound instructions on analytical meditation and his great sense of humor. His use of examples from everyday life makes even the most advanced teachings accessible to western students.