A unique insider's account of day-to-day life inside a Tibetan monastery, The Sound of Two Hands Clapping reveals to Western audiences the fascinating details of monastic education. Georges B. J. Dreyfus, the first Westerner to complete the famous Ge-luk curriculum and achieve the distinguished title of geshe, weaves together eloquent and moving autobiographical reflections with a historical overview of Tibetan Buddhism and insights into its teachings.
List of Illustrations
Note on Translation and Transliteration
Part I. The Context
1. Tibetan Buddhism: A Brief Historical Overview
2. Tibetan Monasticism
3. Becoming a Monk: Teacher and Discipline
Part II. Tibetan Scholastic Practices
4. Literacy and Memorization
5. The General Structure of the Tibetan Curriculum
6. Two Curricular Models
7. Scholasticism and Orality: Myth and Reality
8. Commentary and Meditation
9. The Supplement: Hermeneutical or Deconstructive?
10. Debate as Practice
11. Debate in the Curriculum
12. Is Debate a Mode of Inquiry?
Part III. Reflections
13. Rationality and Spirit Cult
14. The Limits of the Inquiry
Conclusion: Past and Future Uncertainties
Georges B. J. Dreyfus is Professor of Religion at Williams College. He is author of The Svatantrika-Prasangika Distinction: What Difference Does a Difference Make? (coedited with Sara McClintock, 2002), Recognizing Reality: Dharmakirti's Philosophy and Its Tibetan Interpretations (1997), and A Recent Rediscovery: rGyal tshap's Rigs gter rnam bshad (in collaboration with S. Onoda, 1994).
“Impressive, not only for the quality of his scholarship, both Buddhist and Western, but also for the rigorous manner in which he confronts the idealized representations which have been the peculiar fate of Tibet....A very rich work. Dreyfus sheds new light on historical and philosophical issues relating to Tibetan Buddhism.”—Will Sweetman Times Literary Supplement (TLS)
“An important and wide-ranging contribution . . . the book is written in remarkably lucid prose, with clear exposition throughout. In all, Dreyfus succeeds admirably in his task of description and analysis.”—Christian K. Wedemeyer Journal Of American Academy Of Religion /Jaar
"A rich and fascinating study of Tibetan monastic life, from an author who is not only a leading scholar of Tibetan Buddhism, but who spent many years as a Buddhist monk."—Donald Lopez, author of Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West
"Georges Dreyfus, extraordinary person and writer, gives us crucial insights into the structure and practices of higher Tibetan education as well as his own fascinating journey leading to his becoming the first Westerner to achieve the highest rank in Tibetan education. This book both peals away myths and reveals the true depths of Tibetan techniques to train the mind."—Jeffrey Hopkins, author of Emptiness in the Mind-Only School of Buddhism
"A remarkable tour de force. Georges Dreyfus merges personal memoir and outstanding scholarship to draw us into the intellectual life of the Tibetan monastic college, and in so doing he transforms forever our understanding of education and the cultivation of reason in traditional and pre-modern societies. If you read no other book on Tibetan Buddhism, immerse yourself in this one and applaud."—Matthew T. Kapstein, author of The Tibetan Assimilation of Buddhism