On his first visit to Germany, invited by the Buddhakaya group Berlin, Rinpoche gives a weekend of teachings about Relative and Ultimate Truth, encouraging Questions and emphasising looking for the relevance for our own life.
He gives explanations about the different philosophical schools: Vaibasika, Sautrantika, Cittamatra, Madyamika (Rangtong and Shentong).
For more information about the schools see: http://www.khandro.net/doctrine_philo_views.htm
“One System, Four Stages
In a rimay or ecumenical spirit, there is a tendency to view these 4 rather distinct views as one system with four stages. That is because, as Todd Fenner says, “the definition of ‘selflessness’ becomes subtler and subtler and so the schools serve as a bridge or a ladder. The notion of doing it this way is reinforced by the Hevajra Tantra which explicitly advises one to progress in this fashion.” If we entertain that idea, then 1 and 2 below correspond to the Hinayana, and 3 and 4 to the Mahayana.
1. Vaibhasika has been called “direct realism.” It is similar to the first few of the Indian views that see the World of Experience as composed of various physical elements that interact with the components of beings.
2. Sautrantika considers that awareness is merely representational.
These first two schools consider that there are two kinds of interactors: Physical aspects, ie. skandhas of which one, rupa comprises the traditional elements, and the Mental aspects including consciousness (vijnana), sensation (vedana) which contributes to pain/pleasure, cognition (sanjna) and the impressions derived from experience (samskara.)
Chittamatra is often given as the 3rd, and a variant of it is:
3. Yogachara [older spelling: yogacara] sometimes referred to as the Knowledge Way or Vijnanavada. It has also been called Subjective Realism, acknowledging that individual factors including karma contribute to an experience of reality that must be different for everyone. It mentions the idea of “Buddha nature.” Vasubandha and Asanga finally adopted this position.
4. Madhyamika basically holds that there is no ultimate reality in the sense that something exists apart from the experiencer, but that does not mean there is nothing at all. It turns around the definition of Shunyata and therefore has been called Sunyatavada or “voidism.” Nagarjuna and Aryadeva are the main proponents. Chandrakirti expounds upon Nagarjuna.
Sometimes people do not see the views as organized in that distinct way. For example, Prasangika, Yogacharya and Svatantrika have been considered kinds of Madhyamaka.
In any case, the Madhya- or Middle Approach has given rise to the two main interpretations: Rangtong (Tibetan for Other-Empty) and Shentong (or, Zhentong — Self-Empty.) Rangtong-ism uses a positive or pragmatic approach, teaching that we can do something, and provides clear step-by-step instructions on how to attain the Objective. Shentong-ism, which speaks of Buddha-nature, is more concerned with not striving, with dropping or not repeating, so that one’s intuition, which is beyond concept and elaboration, can do its work. “