Although each main religion in the world has its own view and assertions, concerning the accuracy and practicality, it is hard to say that all of them can withstand the review of science. The ultimate reason is that none of them can establish the basic view of phenomena that has the nature of being interdependent and compounded therefore, they are elusively existent in the mind.

Some religions assert that the natural environment of the universe, physical bodies and all their feelings and faculties are either created by the Creator or by someone’s thought.

Obviously, all these views are not true.

However, Buddhism shows more and more of its profundity and true value. As it has the correct view which is based on the scientific observation of direct valid cognition, inferential valid cognition and true reality. In the 21st century, it is well-known that among all the religions, only Buddhism can keep pace with science.

Nevertheless, the only way to keep Buddhism flourishing is through correct investigation of its teaching rather than only reciting mantras.

To understand the basic teachings of Buddhism, it is essential to have suitable books for people to study.

For this reason Tsadong Rinpoche Ngawang Tenzin has written the book “A Commentary on

the Four Buddhist Tenets”, to help students to really lay a solid foundation for their further

investigation and practice. In this context, the term “tenet” can be defined as the ultimate

achievement of all these thinking systems.

There are four divisions of Buddhist tenets

  1. Vaibhashika – Particularist
  2. Sautrantika -Sutra
  3. Cittamatra – Mind only
  4. Madhyamika – Middle Way School

This Vaibashika tenet system, one of the four tenets, has been translated by students of the 13th Tsadong Rinpoche (Ngawang Tenzin) into English from Mandarin. Rinpoche wishes this will benefit English language Dharma Students in the West, who wish to study logic and reason.Over this year the last three tenet systems will be added as soon as they have been translated into English.


1. Definition

Definition of Vaibhashika: it is one of the four proponents of Buddhist tenets,

Propounding the Hinayana tenet, whose fundamental tenet lies in not asserting “valid cogitation of objects” and also not asserting the “self-knowing” cognition” either, but does assert external objects to be truly existent substantially.

 2. Divisions

There are three divisions in Vaibhashika: Kashmiris, Apparantakas, Magadhas.

This can also be divided into four primary groups and then further divided into eighteen.

The first group is the group of “propounded of the existence of the entire basis”.

The group’s preceptor is Prince Drachen Zin, who renounced the royal life for monkhood attained Arhatship and became the highest realizer amongst all the monks. His followers are known as “propounders” of the existence of the entire basis of Dharma protectors.

Altogether there are seven groups.

The reason that the name “propounders” (existence of the entire basis) was given to the followers, is because it is the basis of the entire proponent of “Vaibhashika”, they also propound that the three times are particulars of substance and also propound that “the five objects of knowledge” are also particulars of substances.

The five objects of knowledge are:

The basis of appearing form

The basis of the main mind

The basis of accompanying mental factors

The basis of non-associated compositional factor

The basis of uncompounded


Why it is called “Vaibhashika” is because it follows the tenet of “The Great Detailed Exposition”

(Mahavibhasha) that propounds that the three times are particulars of substance.

Ways of asserting objects

Definition of objects is that something can perform a certain function. Object existence and knowable entities are synonymous.

There are two types of objects, permanent and impermanent

Examples of the permanent objects are uncompounded space, analytical cessation and non analytical cessation.

Page 2

Examples of the impermanent objects are compounded phenomena, product, impermanent phenomena and created phenomena.

Base: Two Truths

2. Conventional Truth

Phenomena such as things that can be disassembled by a hammer or can be mentally separated into parts therefore, the mind no longer apprehends their original objects.

Illustrations of conventional truth, a bottle, water and a woolen cloth and so forth. Why is a bottle a conventional truth? because if it is smashed by a hammer, the mind which apprehends it as a bottle, is abandoned. When we analyze things, such as water into it’s eight elemental substances, we do not simply see it as water anymore. Likewise,if the woolen cloth is separated into it’s individual threads, the mind which apprehends it will be abandoned.

2. Ultimate Truth

Phenomena, such as objects that if disassembled or mentally separated into parts, the mind that apprehends the object will not be abandoned.

Examples of ultimate truth, non-directionally part-less particles of form, indivisible moments of consciousness and uncompounded phenomena.

There are two ways of disintegration, objects that can be physically broken down by a hammer and objects that can be mentally separated into parts by analysis.

It is mentioned in the text Abhidharma Kesha by Vasaubandu, if an object is physically destroyed or mentally broken down, the mental state that apprehends it no longer engages with it anymore.

For example a bottle and water exist seemingly, while what exists genuinely is something other.

Therefore Vaibhashikans assert that the three times are substantial entities and they maintain that the process of arising, abiding and cessation, is in this sequential order.

For example: The bottle exists, therefore it excited in the past and it exists at the time of the immediate future.

A women exists as the daughter of her own mother and also exists as the mother of her own children.

5. Ways of Asserting object possessor

They not only assert that the mere collection of the five aggregates is an illustration of pudgala, but also assert that mental consciousness is also an illustration of pudgala

Page 3

Presentation of cognitions

There are two types of cognitions: valid cognition and non-valid cognition.

With valid cognition, there are also two types: correct direct perception and correct inferential perception.

There are three types of correct direct perception

Mental direct perception, Yogic direct perception and sense direct perception.

Vaibhashika does not assert the self-knowing direct perception because of the belief

that, although all characterized phenomena’s do exist, however they do not appear in the consciousness. They also do not assert the wisdom of omniscience.

In the three types of direction, Vaibhashika does not assert that sense direct perception is consciousness itself. For example visual sense direct perception.

Yogic direct perception has two types

Yogic direct perception realizing selflessness

Yogic direct perception realizing subtle impermanence.

Within yogic direct perception realizing selflessness there also two types

The first type is Yogic direct perception, that realizes the selflessness of pudgala being empty of permanence, singularity and self-determination.

The second type is Yogic direct perception that realizes the selflessness of pudgala being empty of independent and inherent existence.

6. Ways of asserting selflessness

Although Vaibhashikas asserts that subtle selflessness and the subtle selflessness of pudgala are synonymous, they do not assert selflessness of phenomena.

Vatsiputriya, one of the sub schools of the Vaibhashika’s asserts selflessness of pudgala as being empty of permanence , singularity and self determination, but they do not assert selflessness of pudgala being empty of independence and inherence. The reason is they assert such a self, is that it is not made reference to either same entity or different entity from the aggregates, nor made reference to either the self is permanent or impermanent. They assert that self is independent and inherently existent. In the Madhyamakavatara, Arya Chandrakiti comments that they do not differentiate phenomena and do not focus on permanence or impermanence but assert that pudgala’s exist substantially.

Page 4

7. Presentation of the grounds and paths

The presentation of the path is illustrated in two aspects:

What needs to be abandoned and what path to adopt

What needs to be abandoned has two categories

Deluded obscuration

Non-deluded obscuration.

Deluded obscuration is the obstacle to the attainment of liberation, examples is the

consciousness apprehending self as independent and inherently existent, plus the three

poisons: greed, hatred and ignorance, also their seeds which arise consequently based on that consciousness. Non-deluded obscuration is the obstacle to the attainment of omniscience

Examples are: The four non-deluded obscurities in their sequence order are

Not knowing the limitless subtle and profound merits of Buddha

Not knowing due to a remote location

Not knowing due to a remote time

Not knowing the limitless classifications of all phenomena

Within the Sutras of Buddha, he asks Shariputra “Do you comprehend the limitless subtle and profound merits of the Thathagatas”? Shariputra replies “No”. This is the first obscurity mentioned above.

The example of the second type of obscurity: Mandgalyanaputra’s inability to know the fact his mother has reborn in the World of Light.

The example of the third type of obscurity is: Arya Shariputra’s inability to know that Shridatta had earlier generated merits to attain the path to liberation.

The example of the fourth type of obscurity is: not knowing all phenomena and their originations, e.g. not knowing the specific causes of the various colour’s of the eye-spot of a peacock’s feather.

Sthavira Dra-Chen once said “Even a single eyespot being on the tail of a peacock, is to understand all the aspects of it’s causes. Only a mind of omniscience can comprehend this.

Page 5

Presentation of paths and grounds.

The three distinctive families progress on the path differently. The Hearers families main practice, is based upon either the view that realizes the Four Noble Truths and the sixteen aspects or the view that realizes selflessness of pudgala being empty of independent and inherent existence, combining either of the practices together with the merit gained by the aspiring Hearers towards Liberation. Those with these sharp faculties can attain Nirvana in three life times.

There are five paths that lead to Hearers liberation

The Path of Accumulation,

The Path of Application

The Path of Seeing

The Path of Meditation,

The Path of No More Learning

It is said that the attainment of the fifth path and the attainment of becoming an Arhat is simultaneous.

Vaihbashikas assert that after entering the Five Paths, one progressively accumulates the merit needed to attain the state of an Arhat.  All the tenant systems assert that even after entering the paths, the practitioner will still take rebirth in samsara for one to fourteen lifetimes, but no more than fourteen lifetimes.

Solitary Realizers practices are based on the same views as Hearers. However they have to accumulate merit on the Hearer’s path for a hundred eons. With these two,

Solitary Realizers can attain an Arhat’s state.

The practitioners of a Solitary Realizer lineage can actualize the state of an Arhat by accumulating merit for a hundred great eons on the Path of Accumulation until they reach the final stage of the path and then in one consecutive session, they gain the attainments from the heat stage of the Path of Application and finally reach the Path of No More Learning.

Within the Hearer and Solitary Realizer families there are three types.

Superior linage that shows contentment with mere simple robes.

Superior lineage that shows contentment with a mere simple dwelling.

Superior linage that shows contentment with mere simple diet.

Included is the Superior Linage, that takes full delight in the realization of elimination.

This makes four types in the Hearer and Solitary Realizer families.

Page 6

The first three lineages practice on the path by applying antidotes to their attachments, thus they not only show the way to eliminate afflictions temporally, but also show the method for practicing on the path. The last lineage practices on the path is by applying antidotes of grasping at self and the grasping at their attachments, thus they show the way to eliminate afflictions permanently.

There is a reason for the linages to be called Superior Lineages. Through these practices they can become Noble clans.  This is mentioned in “The commentary of Abhidharmakosha”. They are named the four superior lineages, because from them “The Noble beings are born”.

This also is mentioned in the Abhidharmakosha, “The sons of noble beings who are not attached”. With the three practices and then the final one they can either temporarily or permanently eliminate self-grasping and attachments.

Vaibhashika and Sautrantika have the same assertion of “The lineages”. They both assert that Arahats of Hearer and Solitary Realizers attain Nirvana with residual before

they die and attain nivana without residual after they die. Why “with residual”? It is

because although they attain cessation, the aggregate body that is produced by karma and afflictions is still remaining.

They assert that the continuity of consciousness comes to an end when the Arhats attain Nirvana without residual, because the body that contains the consciousness disappears.

Sautrantika followers of scripture and Cittamatra followers of scripture support this assertion.

As for Bodhisattvas holding the same view as above, combined with great merit, they practice for three great eons to gather two types of meritorious accumulations, thenthey attain enlightenment.

Bodhisattvas practice the final stage on the Path of Accumulation then in one consecutive session they gain the attainment of “No more Learning” state from the heat stage of The Path of Application, however, it is the mental continuum of the Bodhisattvas on The Path of Application. This is asserted as “The Truth of Suffering” and not “Buddhahood”.

They also assert that the Bodhisattvas eliminated all causes of suffering without residual. Yet there are still imprints of the afflictions.

They eliminated the afflictions that are still in the mental continuum of other sentient beings, thus the afflictions do not appear in their own mental continuum. This tenet does not assert a “Complete Enjoyment Body”. They assert that “The Emanation Body” comes to an end when the Bodhisattvas attain Nirvana without residual.

Page 7

So, the Bodhisattvas who attained Enlightenment are actually not Buddha Jewels. The tenet asserts that the wisdom that extinguishes all afflictions in the mental continuum is A Buddha Jewel. The wisdom that is attained on the Path of Seeing and above is a Sangha Jewel. The true cessation in the mental continuum of the superior beings is the Dharma Jewel.

The assertion of the triple Jewels is the same in Sautantrika tenet. Vaibhashika and Sautrantika are the two tenets that assert true existence of objects and do not propound Mahayana teachings. But some followers of these tenets do assert the Prajnaparamita Sutra and also agree that the Sutra has interpretive meaning.

Rinpoche invites student’s comments and improvements to this text, if you wish to do so, please contact  Shantideva’s website.