Nagarjuna's Wisdom: A Practitioner's Guide to the Middle Way (Paperback)

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Explore the Mulamadhyamakakarika the way the Dalai Lama teaches it.

Nagarjuna’s Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way, or as it’s known in Tibetan, Root Wisdom, is a definitive presentation of the doctrines of emptiness and dependent arising, and a foundational text of Mahayana Buddhism.

In this book, Barry Kerzin, personal physician to the Dalai Lama, presents this fundamental work in a digestible way, using a method favored by His Holiness: focusing on five key chapters, presented in a specific order.
  • First we explore the twelve links of dependent origination, in Nagarjuna’s chapter 26, to learn why and how we cycle through samsara.
  • Then we examine the self that cycles to discover that, in fact, there is no inherently existent self, based on Nagarjuna's chapter 18.
  • We then enter an analysis of the four noble truths, based on chapter 24, to understand how conventional reality is understood.
  • Next, an investigation of the Tathagata shows the reader that even emptiness is empty in chapter 22.
  • Finally, Nagarjuna re-emphasizes the pervasiveness of emptiness in his first chapter.

Thus, Dr. Kerzin walks us through Nagarjuna’s masterwork and lets the great teacher introduce us to Buddhist philosophy, step by step—deepening our understanding, enhancing the way we practice.


About the Author

Barry Kerzin is an affiliate professor at the University of Washington Tacoma, a visiting professor at Central University of Tibetan Studies in Varanasi, India, an honorary professor at the University of Hong Kong, and a former assistant professor of medicine at the University of Washington. Barry is also a fellow at the Mind and Life Institute and consults for the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig on compassion training. He is the founder and president of the Altruism in Medicine Institute and the founder and chairman of the Human Values Institute in Japan. He was ordained as a monk by the Dalai Lama, and for twenty-nine years he has been providing free medical care to everyone from the poor up to the highest lamas—including the Dalai Lama. After completing many meditation retreats, his brain was studied to assess structural and functional changes.

He has written No Fear No Death: The Transformative Power of Compassion and, in Japanese, Tibetan Buddhist Prescription for Happiness, and with the Dalai Lama and Professor Tonagawa, Mind and Matter: Dialogue between Two Nobel Laureates in Japanese.

Praise For…

“Nagarjuna’s Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way, the basis of Madhyamaka thought, is a profound but difficult philosophical text.  One can work so hard to understand the ideas that the relevance to practice may not be apparent. Nonetheless, this text is indispensable to Mahayana Buddhist practice. In this volume, Barry Kerzin offers a discussion that precise but highly readable, one that reflects Dr. Kerzin’s years of study with great Tibetan masters.”


— Jay Garfield, Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities, Smith College and the Harvard Divinity School

Product Details
ISBN: 9781614294993
ISBN-10: 1614294992
Publisher: Wisdom Publications
Publication Date: August 13th, 2019
Pages: 232
Language: English