D.Dashpurev,  Dr/Sc.D/,  Prof

Abstract: Siddhartha Gautama formed Buddhism in India in the 5th century BC /563-483BC/. His main idea was salvation of human life from the suffering through enlightenment holistic meditation. This enlightenment and psychological Buddhist meditation can to help everyone following Buddhist philosophical teachings about the meaning of human life.

During several hundred years Buddhism slowly changed and had been separated into different philosophical schools, religious tendencies as well as the following:

As a religion, Buddhism has two kinds of tendency: Theravada or Hinayana (its other name is the small or lesser vehicle), and Mahayana (the other name being the large or greater vehicle). Generally, Buddhism has four philosophical schools such as Vashasika, Sautrantika, Yogcara and Madhyamaka.

  If we pay much attention accurately, we will be able to analyse and then see many philosophical ideas including Buddhism? that have rather similar coherent characteristics to other philosophical teachings. One of those concerns phenomenological concepts. I. Lambert considered phenomenology as a philosophical concept in his book “New organon”. Gerder Kant and G.V.F Gegel actively used this term /terminology[1]. In the XX century, Edmund Husserl founded phenomenology as a special philosophical tendency.

  During the 20th century, phenomenology developed intensively because it influenced other philosophical theories and also scholars began search its connection to other philosophical systems. One of the connections was between Buddhism and Phenomenology.

Introductory consideration. Some scholars published books and articles about Buddhist phenomenology or the connections between Buddhism and phenomenology. On the other hand, these scholars mainly wrote that Buddhism has its own phenomenology or phenomenological approaches because such approaches founded the Buddhist phenomenology.[2] But in this case we ask ourselves in general: what is Buddhism and what is phenomenology?

As a Buddhist legend says, Buddha Siddhartha Gautama decided to find out the right way to eliminate sufferings in human life. Mongolian Buddhists taught that once Buddha found the right way to salvage human beings from their lives’ sufferings with the help of Buddhist meditation. How Buddha identified the right path to salvation of human life from sufferings?

After several years of meditation, Buddha outlined his main teachings in four “noble truths”. The first and starting point for Buddhism is to agree with the reality of human suffering. It means that “the existence of suffering is the truth”. The second “noble truth” is that every human suffering has its concrete determinations or all human sufferings are the product of human acts, evil deeds, activities, etc. The third “noble truth” is a barrier, block or obstruction to increase human sufferings. It means that if somebody stops doing evil deeds step by step, then his sufferings must lessen. The last or fourth “noble truth” is “the paths to /Buddhist/ enlightenment”. Buddha taught that if somebody wants to do away with suffering of human life, he must believe the following teachings throughout the path, which Buddha told himself:

  • It is impossible to deny truths /or four noble truths/. Don’t deny the truths - it means there is no denying of the truths.
  • Buddha’s all teachings are only truths without any hesitation.
  • The highest Buddhist sublime enlightenment and deepest understanding about the supreme consciousness /or super consciousness/ on nothing-beings. It means, at least every individual has his or her only nonexistence after the absolute understanding of super consciousness or about nothing-existence which has just noting-essence.

On these foundations of “the noble truths”, Buddhism itself includes four Buddhist philosophical sections and every one of them is philosophically teaching individuals on beliefs about emptiness of the world as well as human life. Of course it is not easy to understand it because Buddhist philosophical doctrines are rising or going up step by step to a philosophically-hard, deep understanding of the emptiness. Of these Buddhist philosophical sections, Vaibhasika and Sautrantika explain the world, human life and human suffering of common people according to Mongolian buddhists understanding. Mongolian buddhist philosophers believe that only Madhyamaka and Yogacara sections especially/specifically consider super consciousness, thus, Mongolian Buddhists usually try to do it philosophically, logically and also psychologically. The theoretical attempt of Mongolian Buddhists was founded on the basis of philosophical doctrines from four sections of the Buddhist philosophy. During this teaching process Mongolian buddhists analyzed consciousness paying special attention. There were two important aspects.



First we must consider the buddhist philosophical analysis about consciousness. In this case, Mongolian Buddhism has some differences from the original Indian Buddhism. Because a new form of Buddhism spread to Mongolia from Tibet in the second half of the XVI century. It was the third spread/dissemination of Buddhism to Mongolia. The name of this new form was Lamainism, which Tibetan lama Zonkhov /1357-1419/ founded in Tibet. Lamaist Buddhism systemized four philosophical sections of Buddhism without any principal contradictions and united the four sections logically thereby shifting from down up to highest step as Vaibhasika-Sautrantika-Madhyamaka-Yogacara.

According to the Lamaist Buddhism, the Vaibhasika and Sautrantika philosophical sections are generally devoted for common people or for those who have just started to study for the first time. Then one can continue his or her study of the Lamaist buddhist philosophy of the highest step. The two upper steps of Lamaist buddhist philosophy are Madhyamaka and Yogacara. If one successfully finalizes his or her study through two primary steps – Vaibhasika and Sautrantika – then that person can study the Buddhist theory of emptiness in Madhaymaka on the basis of the methodology – buddhist dialectic theory of Sunyata.

The main ontological idea of the Madhyamaka section is that the world, all things, even human life, can be demonstrated to be nothing; it means everything’s existence as a result of an interaction or interrelation between other things. So everything is only a secondary existence because of emptiness itself. So reality is the emptiness in the human consciousness.

After real, deep understanding about it, a Lamaist buddhist scholar can start his or her study about consciousness within the frame of Lamaist buddhist Tantraism on the philosophical basis of the Lamaist Buddhist Yogachara /yogichara/ section. Generally, the Yogachara section philosophy explains the Buddhist theory of emptiness on the basic idea of their concept of consciousness. “Things” or existence of things, also human life and its sufferings are only appearances in human consciousness. If one does the “cutting” of his or her consciousness from outside circumstances, then his or her mind finds absolute freedom from everything, including any sufferers/sufferings. In this case, human sense must catch? up from the outside appearances. Then that person can think about only phenomenon, which is absolute reality in consciousness only. Here, Lamaist Yogachara buddhists use phenomenological ideas as methodology of their thinking about emptiness as it is only the absolute existence in human mind.

If we understand the phenomenology method as a method for studying knowledge or epistemological concept, then this phenomenological method is very useful for buddhist Yogachara /Yogichara/ thinkers as well as the dialectical method of thinking which is rather useful for Madhyamaka buddhists when they explain their theory of emptiness – Shuniyata.


The Founder of Buddhism strongly taught that human sufferings, difficulties of life, all angers and the whole/entire  human being depend on their consciousness. Everything exists in the mind at least. This is the absolute truth, but in the material world, whole physical beings dependently originated things, the causal flow. Things have to originate through causes and conditions in order to be empty. Because when we see, feel all our senses are only miracles. So these things in senses as a result of cognition are only the not absolute /or secondary/ truth. The content of this truth means that it is apparent, or it has a phenomenal character.

If any individual wants to find out the absolute truth, but not an apparent truth, then possibly it’s only discoverable or understandable with the help of consciousness. About these two truths of the Buddhist philosophy, which are called phenomenal /or apparent/ and transcendental /or absolute/ had been explained in the book of Mongolian Lamaist buddhist philosopher Tungalag Tsorj, Gavj Agvaanbaldan /1797-1864/. That book’s name is “Differences of the two truths in four buddhist philosophical sections” in Tibetan. This book was written and published in Mongolia’s then capital city “Ikh Khuree” in 1835.

Transcendental truth is emptiness of everything in the world because everyone must alienate from human life for being absolutely freeing without any suffering like existence at nirvana. Only in this situation human beings become free of sufferings. This possibility exists in human consciousness as a phenomenon. Being educated through buddhist teachings, one can at least successfully understand transcendental truth or emptiness as a result of Yogichara meditation. How it is going to work in reality?

When a psychical being moves under the ruling of consciousness, that being is just beginning process of “Yogi-tantraion realize during buddhist lama meditation”. This is just a result of more real understanding of emptiness and immanence of consciousness of Mongolian Buddhist lama meditation. He reaches this circumstance with the help of sometimes dialectical and sometimes phenomenological methods of thinking which is used for meditation of his mind and body. In this process his mind touches absolute transcendental truth of the essence of consciousness and until this case, his mind possibly touches only phenomenal truth but not the transcendental one.

This complex process is considered as Mongolian Lamaist Buddhism, especially by Yogicharians. They developed philosophizing of the Yogichara section from the XVI century until the beginning of the XX century in Mongolia. Among them were the next famous lamas – Yogicharions:

  • Agvaan Luvsanchoindon /1642-1714/
  • Luvsanvanchinbalbar /1705-1787/
  • Agvaankhaidav /1779-1838/
  • Tseveenjavtsog /1789-1845/ and so on.

Some Mongolian scholars wrote that the Mongolian Lamaist Buddhism founded and very actively developed the school of yoga meditation[3] of the Yogachara buddhist section in Khalh Mongolia. Mongolian Lamaist Yogi meditation started with the elimination of five basic bad senses: a/ anger, b/ stinginess, c/ sensuality, d/ jealousy, and e/ stupidity. These bad senses and habits exist in five human senses because you must dominate your own senses. After completely dominating your own senses, you will have five pleasant talents or components of intelligence. Each of these special intelligence or five talents have also their own air, or there are five air volumes which take these talents through human body. So during yogi meditation, you can slowly feel this air. Every air has its own name. The Yogichara philosophical section considers human consciousness as the sixth sense which itself includes all five senses.

Through all these steps of the Buddhist yogi meditation, it is possible to realize after a full study of the Madhyamaka philosophy and then successfully finish over ten to fifteen years of study in Yogichara–Tantra buddhism. This is a view of Mongolian Lamaist Buddhism and after finalization, this study of the Lamaist Buddhism achieved some parapsychological talent or capacity for super consciousness. This is a Yogachara Buddhism concept and it is the final result of Buddhist phenomenological thinking or approaches.



  What is the main idea of Buddhism from the perspective of phenomenology, briefly? Buddhism, especially Buddhist Lamaism says that human life is usually full of sufferings. But human individual can liberate him or herself from these sufferings. How can one to do that?

In human consciousness, many different wishes exist. Those wishes are the reasons of human suffering because an individual man must cut his wishes from the outside world. It means that a human individual can keep his consciousness and then he will separate from events occurring in the outside world. These human wishes are actually intentions in human consciousness. So everything exists in individual consciousness. If anyone or any individual really wants to live without sufferings then he or she must analyse or study his or her own consciousness. This idea looks very similar to the main idea of phenomenology, since the latter tells us that if we were to know the world as well as the possible right then we must analyse our own intentions in consciousness.

If we can correctly reduce our intentions in consciousness then we can understand transcendental phenomena. This is the way of knowledge according to the phenomenology thinking and Buddhist thinking “roads” crossing each other which thereafter go on their own path. That is the philosophical similarity.

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-Agvaanbaldan-Tungalag Tsorj /1797-1864/

 Interpretation about two truths on  four philosophical tendencies /sections/. 1835./ In Tibetan/

- Dandar-Agramba/1835-1916/  

Interpretation of the heart about shuniyati. XIX century.  /In Tibetan/

  • Jing Jing Li

Buddhist Phenomenology and the problems of essence. /Comparative Philosophy. 7.1 /2016/

  • Henk Barendregt

Buddhist Phenomenology. Proceedings of the Conference on Topics and Perspectives of Contemporary logic and Philosophy of Science. Vol.II. Cesena, Italy. 1987


[1] See. New Philosophical Encyclopedia. Moscow 2010. Vol. IV. pp. 175-178 (in Russian)

[2] Jing Jing Li. Buddhist phenomenology and the problem of essence. Comparative philosophy. 7. 1. /2016/

[3] B. Boldsaikhan. Buddhism and Bridging Science. Ulaanbaatar, 2003. pp. 178-186