Five major structural themes

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As regards the five major structural themes (Tib. ཆིངས་ཆེན་པོ་ལྔ་, ching chenpo nga, Wyl. chings chen po lnga) used when teaching or explaining a text, Vasubandhu said in his Well Explained Reasoning:

Those who wish to teach the meaning of the sutras,
Should be given a few words of practical advice.
The practical instruction I refer to is as follows:
Relate the teaching’s purpose and its basic theme,
The meaning of the words and how its parts fit together,
And offer a response to any possible objections.

As this states, every section of the teaching should be understood 1) in terms of its purpose, showing the reason why it is presented in a certain way, and also 2) by means of a synopsis, which is a summary of the most important points. It should also be understood 3) through an accurate explanation of the words of the text, including their grammatical features, as well as 4) its sequence, showing how the various earlier and later sections of the text fit together, and 5) by addressing any points of controversy or sources of doubt with a response to possible objections.[1]


  1. Patrul Rinpoche, Preliminary Points to be Explained when Teaching the Buddha's Word or the Treatises

Alternative translations

  • Five great key points (Andreas Kretschmar)

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