OL TSTD 103: Root Verses of the Middle Way (Mūlamadhyamakakārikā) Part One

The Root Verses of the Middle Way (Mūlamadhyamakakārikā) by Nāgārjuna is a classic Buddhist text that uses logic to challenge our assumptions about the nature of reality. Nāgārjuna analyzes various phenomena we generally assume to be real, such as motion, cause and effect and the sense faculties. He also analyzes doctrines accepted by the tradition, such as the four Noble Truths. In each case, he shows that their reality is illusory, fabricated by our deluded minds. Studying this text as a philosophical treatise is an adventure in itself, but for those who practice meditation, it is the perfect complement to practice.

This text is taught over the span of two semesters: Part One covers the first half of the text up to chapter 12, verse 10 and Part Two, which requires separate registration, completes the text. The methodology of our online courses combines traditional Tibetan monastic word-for-word text commentary with a Western-style academic contextualization. This approach mirrors the courses offered in our on-site classrooms in Kathmandu.

While there is no prerequisite for study in this course, this is a philosophically challenging text. Students should expect to average 10 to 12 hours of listening and studying per week. Course content is presented as video lectures given by Khenpo Jampa Donden and translated by Catherine Dalton into English (also available in Tibetan for those who prefer). Supplementary materials include visual lectures created from MS PowerPoint© by Joanne Larson.

Students will navigate the course material via Moodle, an open source e-learning environment. Internet access is required for studying this course. Students will have access to this course in Moodle for one year from the date of their registration.

Price: $250

Applications for the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā courses are accepted starting September 15.  
Students may register and begin courses in the self-study plus format at any time; however, access to the moderator is limited to September 15 – June 15.

Once registration is complete, students have access to the courses for one year.

Resources for this course format include video and audio lectures in Tibetan with translation to English, plus English-only and Tibetan-only audio versions of the lectures. The courses also include supplementary review classes created by a Western instructor to help contextualize the lectures, written transcripts of the lectures, and the root text in Tibetan and English as PDF files.


  • Moderator available
  • Video and audio
  • PDF lecture transcriptions (in English)
  • Review Classes

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