The course in Fundamental Buddhist Philosophy at Sarah is offered to a class of monks and lay people at intervals of two or three years. The course lasts for seven years, though only the preliminary texts are taught at CHTS, Sarah. After two or three years (depending on the accommodation available to the students), the entire class moves to the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in McLeod Ganj to complete the Prajnaparamita course, and should they continue, more advanced studies in Buddhist Philosophy.
The Fundamental Buddhist Philosophy course include the following subjects:
- Collected Topics (Tibetan: sDusGrva, pronounced “dü-dra”)
- Science of Mind or Consciousness (Tibetan: bLo Rig,pronounced “Lo-rig”)
- Science of Formal Logic (Tibetan: rTags Rigs, pronounced “Tak-rig”)
- Tenets of Philosophical Systems (Tibetan: Grub nTha, pronounced “drub-tha”)
The traditional practice of debate is the principal technique for studying and analyzing the different topics that are covered in these subjects. This method is indispensable for logically eliminating the misconceptions about reality and for repudiating false reasoning of philosophical schools. Debate profoundly helps the student to understand the real importance of these texts and prepares the student with the critical intellectual investigative skills needed for the advanced studies that follow. Because of its importance, past Tibetan Buddhist scholars and teachers have extolled the practice of debate and logic for constructive purposes.
The main text focus in this course is the Sautrantika philosophy. While studying these preliminary subjects the students follow their teacher, who leads them through the procedure of debate and logic. As the students continue in this way they pick up the rhythm of debate and set off to constructing their own problems for debate.
Candidates without a certificate of passing Class 10 or its equivalent must take an entrance examination. Foreign candidates are required to give a verbal test in Tibetan spoken language.