Below is an excerpt from Karl Brunnhölzl’s A Compendium of the Mahāyāna: Asaṅga’s Mahāyānasaṃgraha and Its Indian and Tibetan Commentaries, winner of the 2019 KF Outstanding Translation Award.
In contrast to the typical Madhyamaka reluctance to speak about the specifics of relative reality, the Buddhist path of purifying the deluded mind, and the fruition of that process, classical Yogācāra not only presents sophisticated analyses of ultimate reality but also elaborates on how the deluded mind operates, how it can make the transition to the unmistaken nondual wisdom that sees this mind’s own ultimate nature, and what the characteristics and the fruitions of this wisdom are. In other words, Yogācāra not only investigates the definitive meaning of the scriptures in a nonreifying manner but also what happens experientially in the minds of those who study and practice this meaning. At the same time, Yogācāra masters provide broader contextualizing comments on the sutras and tantras and address typical misconceptions about emptiness, such as nihilism, which has been a common concern since Nagarjuna, even among Buddhists.
With such an approach, the Yogācāra movement considered itself as a continuation of all preceding developments in Buddhism and not as a radical departure from them or even as a distinct new school per se. The vast range of Yogācāra writings represents a digest of intricate abhidharma analyses, explorations of mind and its functions in both its ignorant and awakened modes, depictions of all the many levels of the paths within the three yānas, subtle descriptions of meditative processes, as well as presentations of epistemology and reasoning. In this way, the Yogācāra analyses of mental processes also have a great potential to significantly contribute to the modern cognitive sciences.
Given the rich variety of the sources and explanatory models of this Buddhist school, any linear or one-dimensional presentation of its view and its practices seems not only misguided but highly inconsiderate . . .
Therefore, Yogācāra is not only not inferior to Madhyamaka but actually exhibits a much more encompassing outlook on the human experience in general and the soteriological issues of the Buddhist path in particular than the rather unidimensional Madhyamaka approach of just relentlessly deconstructing everything through reasoning.
It is in this sense that the present volumes are called “Mind’s Treasure Map.” Their aim is to contribute to the resurrection of the depth and breadth of the original Yogācāra system, as well as its significance for Buddhist practitioners, as opposed to its shadow existence as just something to be refuted and surpassed in Madhyamaka-biased doxographies . . .
What is obvious from the Indian sources is that unlike in Tibet (especially since the time of Tsongkhapa), in India, Madhyamaka was never the commonly accepted pinnacle of all Buddhist philosophical schools in either the sūtrayāna or the vajrayāna. Rather, the Yogācāra School was highly influential in Indian Buddhism in the fields of both sūtra and tantra for more than a millennium and certainly never eclipsed or “defeated” by the Mādhyamikas. In this vein, Deleanu states that the fifth-century “systematization of the Yogācāra philosophy . . . sets the tone of the predominantly epistemological and logical trend, which is . . . to characterize the next seven or eight centuries of Buddhist doctrinal history in India.” Williams even declares that “Yogācāra was probably one way or another the most popular and influential of philosophical schools in India associated with Mahāyāna.”