Showing posts with label Nagarjuna. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nagarjuna. Show all posts

I would like to thank Cao Khan and Vu Huy Le for offering to help with the translation and ammendments of the Thusness Seven Stages of Enlightenment article in Vietnamese and On Anatta (No-Self), Emptiness, Maha and Ordinariness, and Spontaneous Perfection article in Vietnamese. Cao Khanh had a breakthrough shortly after helping with the translation while reading the book that Yin Ling and I recommended: Cracking the Walnut: Understanding the Dialectics of Nagarjuna by Thich Nhat Hanh

I recommend the book by Thich Nhat Hanh above as an introduction to Nagarjuna's teaching and found it quite accessible for beginners.

Another good beginner book to Madhyamaka is How to See Yourself As You Really Are by the Dalai Lama:


If those whose lord is Death himself,
Ruler of the three worlds, without a master,
Sleep like true vanquishers,
What could be more improper?
~ Aryadeva
Without sleep the night is long,
Without rest the journey is long,
Without knowledge of the best dharma,
For those children, existence is long.
~ Gendun Chopel
Meditate again and again
until you have turned your mind away
from the activities of this life,
which are like adorning yourself
while being led to the execution ground.
~ Tsongkhapa
To liberate myself alone
will bring no benefit,
For sentient beings of the three realms
are all my fathers and mothers.
How disgusting to leave my parents
in the thick of suffering,
While wishing and seeking
for just my happiness alone!
So may the suffering
of all the three realms ripen on me,
May my merits be taken
by sentient beings,
And through the blessings
of the merit of this,
May all beings attain buddhahood!
~ Jetsun Drakpa Gyaltsen
I prostrate to the perfect Buddha,
The supreme teacher, who taught
That dependent origination
Is without ceasing and without arising,
Without extinction and without permanence,
Without coming and without going,
Not different and not one.
It is the peace in which discursiveness
is completely still.
~ Nagarjuna
When there is an “I”, there is a perception of other,
And from the ideas of self and other
come attachment and aversion.
As a result of getting wrapped up in these,
All possible faults come into being.
~ Dharmakirti
All beings consist of causes and effects,
In which there is no ‘sentient being’ at all.
From phenomena
which are exclusively empty,
There arise only empty phenomena.
All things are devoid of any ‘I’ or ‘mine’.
Like a recitation, a candle,
a mirror, a seal,
A magnifying glass, a seed,
sourness, or a sound,
So also with the continuation
of the aggregates—
The wise should know
they are not transferred.
If the self were the aggregates,
It would have arising and ceasing
(as properties).
If it were different from the aggregates,
It would not have
the characteristics of the aggregates.
Neither the aggregates,
nor different from the aggregates,
The aggregates are not in him,
nor is he in the aggregates.
The Tathagata does not possess
the aggregates.
What is the Tathagata?
~ Nagarjuna
The entities that our and other schools affirm,
Since they exist inherently in neither singular nor plural,
In ultimate reality are without intrinsic being;
They are like reflections.
~ Shantarakshita
Not from itself, not from another,
not from both, nor without cause:
Never in any way is there any
existing thing that has arisen.
Like an illusion, like a dream,
like the city of the gandharvas,
so origination, duration, and cessation
are declared to be.
Since origination, duration,
and cessation are not established,
there is nothing that is conditioned.
And in the absence
of the establishment of the conditioned,
What unconditioned thing will be established?
Whatever is dependently co-arisen
That is explained to be emptiness.
That, being a dependent designation
Is itself the Middle Way.
Something that is not dependently arisen
Such a thing does not exist.
Therefore a non-empty thing
Does not exist.
~ Nagarjuna
The practice of all the bodhisattvas
is never to entertain concepts,
Which revolve around dualistic notions
of perceiver and perceived,
In the knowledge that all these
appearances are but the mind itself,
Whilst mind’s own nature is forever
beyond the limitations of ideas.
~ Gyalse Thogme Zangpo
Through the perception of mind-only
One achieves the nonperception of objects;
Through the nonperception of objects
There is also the nonperception of mind.
~ Vasubandhu
When scrutinized with insight,
Neither the imaginary, nor the dependent,
Nor the perfect [nature] exists.
So how could insight conceive of an entity?
~ The Sutra of the Arrival in Lanka
Consider all dharmas as dreamlike:
As this indicates,
the whole environment
and the beings within it,
which we perceive as objects,
are dreamlike.
They appear as they do
because our own minds are deluded
and not as a result
of even the slightest factor
aside from mind.
We must therefore put a stop
to our projections.
We might then wonder
whether the mind itself is real,
so the root text says:
Examine the nature
of unborn awareness:
Mind itself is empty of the three stages
of arising, remaining and ceasing.
It has no colour, no shape, and so on.
It does not abide outside
or within the body.
It has no fixed character at all
and cannot therefore
be apprehended in any way.
Rest in an experience beyond thought.
If any thought of an antidote
—such as considering that body
and mind are empty—
should arise, then as the root text says:
Let even the antidote
be freed in its own place:
We look into the essence
of the antidote itself,
and when we realize
that it has no true nature,
we rest with that experience.
As for how to rest, the root text says:
Rest in the ālaya,
the essence of the path:
Avoiding all the projection
and absorption associated
with the other seven types of consciousness,
we must settle with lucid clarity
in an experience that is beyond thought.
We must not mentally fixate in any way
on what has no fixed character at all.
~ Gyalse Thogme Zangpo
Physical phenomena
are assemblages of subtle particles.
When one analyzes these particles
by splitting them into their own sections,
not even the smallest part is left.
Not even the tiniest appearance remains.
The nonphysical refers to mind.
The mind of the past
has ceased and dissolved.
The mind of the future
has not arisen or come into being.
The mind of the present
is extremely difficult to identify:
it has no color or shape; it is like space.
Therefore it is not established.
Furthermore, it is beyond
being one or many things,
it has never arisen,
and it is luminous by nature.
We use these and other forms
of the sword of reasoning
to investigate and analyze phenomena.
Through this, we realize
that they do not inherently exist.
Since both physical
and nonphysical phenomena
are not established as any entity
and do not exist,
the prajñā of discriminating investigation
also does not exist.
Once all specifically
and generally characterized phenomena
have been established as nonexistent,
the prajñā no longer appears;
it is luminous,
not existing in any manner whatsoever.
~ Atisha
Without referring to an imputed entity,
One cannot apprehend the lack of this entity
Therefore, the lack of a delusive entity
Is clearly delusive [too].
Thus, when one’s son dies in a dream,
The conception “He does not exist”
Removes the thought that he does exist,
But it is also delusive.
Once neither entities nor nonentities
Remain before the mind,
There is no other mental flux.
Therefore, it is utter nonreferential peace.
~ Shantideva
The world would be unproduced,
unceased, and unchangeable,
it would be devoid of its manifold appearances,
if there were intrinsic nature.
If there is no entitihood,
What changes?
If there were entity,
How could it be correct
that something changes?
If there is no essence,
What could become other?
If there is essence,
What could become other?
~ Nagarjuna
Any thought such as miserliness and so on
Is held to be an afflictive obscuration.
Any thought of ‘subject’, ‘object’ and ‘action’
Is held to be a cognitive obscuration.
~ Maitreya
To say “existence” is the clinging to permanence.
To say “nonexistence” is the view of extinction.
Therefore, the learned should not dwell
In either existence or non-existence.
If you grasp at existence,
there is no liberation;
If you grasp at non-existence,
there are no higher rebirths;
If you grasp at both,
you are just ignorant,
So do the best you can,
to remain in non-duality!
The nature of appearances
is like a magical illusion,
And the way they arise
is through interdependence:
That’s the way things are,
which cannot be expressed in words,
So do the best you can, to dwell
in a state which is inexpressible!
~ Jetsun Drakpa Gyaltsen
In this, there is not a thing to be removed,
Nor the slightest thing to be added.
It is looking perfectly into reality itself,
And when reality is seen, complete liberation.
~ Nagarjuna / Maitreya
The true nature of things
is naturally free of conceptual projections.
It does not exist, since even
the victorious ones do not see it.
Yet neither is it non-existent,
as it is the ground of all samsara and nirvana.
There is no contradiction here,
for it lies beyond the realm of expression.
~ From the Longchen Nyingthig
All compounded phenomena,
as arising and ceasing things,
Are not bound and not released.
For this reason a sentient being
Is not bound, not released.
The nature of things is to be, like nirvāṇa,
without origination or cessation.
In terms of its imaginary aspect,
this very other-dependent nature is samsara.
In terms of its perfect aspect,
it is nirvāṇa
There is no distinction whatsoever
between saṃsāra and nirvāṇa.
There is no distinction whatsoever
between nirvāṇa and saṃsāra.
What is the limit of nirvāṇa,
that is the limit of saṃsāra.
There is not even the finest gap
to be found between the two.
What is the nature of the thus-gone one,
that is the nature of the world.
The thus-gone one is devoid of nature;
the world is devoid of nature.
Those who develop mental fabrications
with regard to the Buddha,
Who has gone beyond all fabrications,
As a consequence of those cognitive fabrications,
Fail to see the Tathagata.
By taking any standpoint whatsoever,
You will be snatched by
the cunning snakes of the afflictions.
Those whose minds have no standpoint
Will not be caught.
The victorious ones have said
That emptiness is the relinquishing of all views.
For whomever emptiness is a view,
That one has achieved nothing.
In order to relinquish all imagination,
You taught the nectar of emptiness.
However, those who cling to it
Are also blamed by you.
~ Nagarjuna
Therefore, there is no such thing
That ultimately can be proved to be.
And thus the Tathagatas all have taught
That all phenomena are unproduced.
Since with the ultimate this is attuned,
It is referred to as the ultimate.
And yet the actual ultimate is free
From constructs and elaborations.
Production and the rest have no reality,
Thus nonproduction and the rest
are equally impossible.
In and of themselves, both are disproved,
And therefore names cannot express them.
Where there are no objects,
There can be no arguments refuting them.
Even “nonproduction,” entertained conceptually,
Is relative and is not ultimate.
~ Shantarakshita
Since the negation of arising and so on
Concords with actuality, we accept it.
Since there is nothing to be negated,
It is clear that, actually, there is no negation.
How should the negation of an imputation’s
Own nature not be an imputation?
Hence, seemingly, this is
The meaning of actuality, but not actuality [itself].
In actuality, neither exists.
This is the lack of discursiveness:
Mañjuśrī asked about actuality,
And the son of the Victors [Vimalakirti] remained silent.
~ Jnanagarbha
The ultimate is freedom from discursiveness.
Being empty of all discursiveness
Is to be understood
As the nonnominal ultimate.
Its character is neither existent, nor nonexistent,
Nor [both] existent and nonexistent, nor neither.
Centrists should know true reality
That is free from these four possibilities
The purpose of emptiness
is its characteristic of all discursiveness
being at utter peace.
~ Bhavaviveka
Since this lack of arising
is concordant with realizing the ultimate,
it is called “the ultimate.”
Since there is no object of negation,
such as arising, that is established,
[its] lack [cannot really] be
related to this non-existent object.
Therefore, to apprehend
the lack of arising and such
is nothing but a reference point...
Ultimately, true reality
cannot be expressed
as the lack of arising and such.
Therefore, Noble Mañjuśrī
asked about true reality
and Noble Vimalakirti said nothing.
~ Kamalashila
Engagement with the idea
that form is empty,
or that it is not empty,
is still engagement with marks.
It is not engagement with transcendent insight.
When there is no engagement
with anything at all,
it is the engagement with transcendent insight.
~ The Mother of the Victorious Ones [Sutra]:
Kāśyapa, I say that
the one who observes emptiness,
and thus conceives of emptiness,
has failed, failed entirely,
with respect to these teachings.
Having a belief in personal existence
that is as solid as the King of Mountains
is a minor problem compared
to the arrogant view of emptiness.
Why is that? Because emptiness
is a deliverance from all views.
Hence, I say that if the view
is exclusively emptiness,
then there is no cure.
~ The Noble Jewel Mound [Sutra]
Perfectly discerned
by self-cognizing primordial wisdom alone,
this is an ineffable experience
beyond thought and word,
a state of equality like the very center of space.
This is what the ultimate nature is like,
and therefore it is said that
if the Bodhisattvas understand and proclaim
that “the aggregates are empty,”
they are still caught up in characteristics.
They have no faith in the unborn nature.
~ Mipham Rinpoche
The pacification of all objectification
And the pacification of illusion:
No Dharma was taught by the Buddha
At any time, in any place, to any person.
~ Nagarjuna
I salute Gautama, who,
based on compassion,
taught the true Dharma
for the abandonment of all views.
~ Nagarjuna
Through whatever merit
has here been gained,
may all beings generate sublime bodhicitta,
both relative and absolute,
and through this,
come to equal Lord Avalokiteśvara,
transcending the extremes
of existence and quiescence.
~ Gyaltse Thogme Zangpo
May the Dharma, suffering’s only cure,
And the source of all real happiness,
Always be valued and respected,
And remain long into the future!
~ Shantideva


    The more I read Nargajuna’s Middle Way (MMK- mulamadhyamakakarika), the more I find the usual way of perceiving the world seem so weird and strange.
    Concepts which are taken for granted to be true like :
    Arising and dissolution
    Cause and effect
    Characteristics of things
    .. Are only fictional. If one investigate just a lil bit, they don’t even make any sense, ludicrous even.
    Nargajuna is truly masterful. For us modern ppl who didn’t go through the middle way school standard training, I find it slightly easier to read MMK after insight of anatta and some direct experience into emptiness, even with that it takes up a lot of brain juice. Not easy but easier with repeated reads.


    Jayson MPaul
    Yes all those concepts yielded great results when continuously seen through in practice.
    Arising seen through is non-arisen insight
    Cause and effect can lead to conditionaly/DO
    Movement deconstructs identity over space
    Characteristics was instrumental in second-fold emptiness
    Actions can lead to total exertion glimpses (at least so far)

  • Sumit Kumar
    What is second fold emptiness and total exertion?

  • Yin Ling
    Sumit Kumar second fold emptiness is emptiness of all phenomenas (first fold is emptiness of the personal self)
    And total exertion basically is
    What is Total Exertion?
    What is Total Exertion?
    What is Total Exertion?

  • Sumit Kumar
    That's wonderful
    Total exertion very interesting.
    I tried to observe the conditions of the current experience, then I came back to thinking. And it felt like "me" doing is stressful and the whole experience supported by the conditions felt relaxing.
    Though now I am not very sure

  • Sumit Kumar
    But what Jayson meant when he said "Actions can lead to total exertion"…
    See more

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  • Yin Ling
    Sumit Kumar will let Jayson MPaul explain his insight 🙂

  • Jayson MPaul
    Sumit Kumar i meant the deconstruction of action after anatta can lead to total exertion glimpses. MMK is great for working through all your cognitive obscurations and blindspots

  • Sredharan Ramakrishna
    When reading a book, how long the ideas stay in yr awareness?

    Yin Ling
    Sredharan Ramakrishna I don’t get what you mean? Sorry

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  • Sredharan Ramakrishna
    Yin Ling i used to read books thinking they provide answers, now my view is just books provide mind entertainment.

  • Yin Ling
    Sredharan Ramakrishna depends on what you read. And how you read 🙂

  • Sumit Kumar
    Isn't arising and dissolution, movement, cause and effect are experiential?
    Isn't fictional only applies to conceptual understanding of above truths?

    Yin Ling
    Sumit Kumar hehe need to read MMK to understand 🙂

  • Mark Lackey
    Hi Yin! Would you mind sharing which particular translation you are reading?

    Yin Ling
    Mark Lackey I use mark siderits 🙂

  • Mark Lackey
    Thank you 🙏

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