If you’ve ever been hiking in the mountains, you know that climbing a summit is demanding. But you also know that once you have reached the top, you never regret it—the pure air and new perspectives are a great reward for your efforts. I felt the same when reading The Wisdom Chapter: Jamgön Mipham’s Commentary on the Ninth Chapter of The Way of the Bodhisattva. This is one of the most precious commentaries written by the Nyingma philosopher Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche (1846–1912) on the view of the Middle Way-based teachings that he received from the influential teacher Patrul Rinpoche (1808–1887).

The Buddha’s views on existence were elaborated by great Indian masters of the Madhyamaka tradition, like Nagarjuna, Shantideva, and Shantarakshita. Shantideva’s ninth chapter explains in great detail the relationship between the conventional, relative truth of phenomena and the ultimate truth of the emptiness of existence as being inseparable—a concept that can be challenging to readers. In addition to providing luminous insight on the Middle Way, translator Wulstan Fletcher’s introduction also unravels in a fascinating way the history of the various interpretations of the Madhyamaka that emerged in Tibet.

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