Georges B. J. Dreyfus

in The Sound of Two Hands Clapping

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780520232594
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520928244 | DOI:

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In this book, the author reflects on the fifteen years that he spent among Tibetan monks and the education he received from them. He shares some of his experiences, explains the strength of the Tibetan intellectual culture, and communicates the edification that he received from studying among Tibetan monks. He examines Tibetan monastic education, focusing on its central practices: memorization, the reading of commentaries, and dialectical debate. He argues that understanding this education, which has formed many of the brilliant Tibetan teachers who have captured the modern imagination, is central to comprehending Tibetan Buddhism. By showing the importance of the life of the mind in this tradition, the author presents a picture of Buddhism that differs from standard representations. Instead of straining his ears to listen to the mystical sound of one hand clapping, he focuses on practices such as debate, where the sound of two hands clapping can literally be heard loud and clear. He also explores the role and nature of rationality in Tibetan monastic education, as well as the nature of Tibetan monasticism.

Keywords: Tibet; monks; monastic education; intellectual culture; memorization; dialectical debate; rationality; Buddhism; monasticism

Chapter.  5739 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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