Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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aflatun
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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by aflatun » Wed Jan 11, 2017 5:56 pm

Here's another:
Needless to say, there are many passages in all of Nāgārjuna’s main philosophical texts that suggest that phenomena are similar to illusions, dreams, gandharva cities, and the like. Furthermore, in my personal brand of Māyopamavāda, one more important thing can be said about what it means for reality to be “similar to an illusion”: conventionally speaking, reality is related to, or even nondistinct from, consciousness. Reality is nothing more than ignorant understanding. I have elsewhere discussed numerous verses from the MMK, YṢ and the ŚS that support this understanding.36 Other verses that fit this statement well are RĀ 1.93–9537:

1.93 Earth, water, fire, wind,
long and short, subtle and coarse, virtue and so forth
are taught by the Sage to cease in consciousness.
1.94 In this limitless consciousness that cannot be
taught, the lord of all,
earth, water, fire and wind find no footing.
1.95 Here, long and short, subtle and coarse,
virtue and non-virtue, here name and form as well,
fully cease


These verses resonate with YṢ 34 and are a synopsis of the Buddha’s words in the Kevaddha-sutta of the Dīgha Nikāya. They suggest that material reality is fully dependant on consciousness. Another example would be Lokātitastava 19:

Hence, you have understood that this world arises from
conceptuality (parikalpa). Unreal, unarisen, it is not
destroyed.
Eviatar Shulman, Nāgārjuna the Yogācārin? Vasubandhu the Mādhyamika? on the middle-way between realism and antirealism
Last edited by aflatun on Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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SDC
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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by SDC » Wed Jan 11, 2017 5:58 pm

aflatun wrote:(As far as Ñāṇavīra and one's "cup of tea" I am attracted to his writings, partly because I have a philosophy background/interest, and feel that he has something very deep to convey, however I find his writing style often bordering on incomprehensible and needlessly vague, which often leaves me frustrated and ready to throw in the towel :toilet: Perhaps I should post specific questions in the Modern Interpretations forum when they come up? )
Definitely do so. If it makes you feel any better, it took me several passes, over a period of years, before Notes on Dhamma began to gel.

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aflatun
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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by aflatun » Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:07 pm

SDC wrote:
aflatun wrote:(As far as Ñāṇavīra and one's "cup of tea" I am attracted to his writings, partly because I have a philosophy background/interest, and feel that he has something very deep to convey, however I find his writing style often bordering on incomprehensible and needlessly vague, which often leaves me frustrated and ready to throw in the towel :toilet: Perhaps I should post specific questions in the Modern Interpretations forum when they come up? )
Definitely do so. If it makes you feel any better, it took me several passes, over a period of years, before Notes on Dhamma began to gel.
That does make me feel better, and I will do so my friend!
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

Bakmoon
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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by Bakmoon » Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:24 pm

CecilN wrote:This thread is about Nāgārjuna & I am pointing to what is practical versus creating a dogma. The Buddha practically taught the physical body is impermanent because it is something the mind attaches to as 'self', which creates suffering. But once we enter into dogmatic views such as the element of earth has 'no inherent existence', we come to problems such as proving the element of earth ceases to have the sabhava of 'earthiness'. Earth will always be earthy, just as consciousness will always cognise, just as Nibbana will always be peaceful. These inherent qualities of these things is their 'sabhava' (own nature). The element of earth can only have no inherent existence when it loses its earthiness or ceases without remainder; just as the illusory 'self' concept can cease without remainder. But the element of earth, unlike the hallucinatory self-concept, cannot cease without remainder. The earth element appears to always exist as earth element, regardless of its transformation into food, trees, flesh, sand, dust, atoms, etc.
Madhyamaka most certainly does not deny that phenomena have attributes and can be distinguished by these attributed. Madhyamaka denies the idea though that the qualities or attributes of phenomena form any sort of ontological core or essence of these phenomena. Water is wet, fire is hot, earth is earthy, etc... but wetness is not a substance that pervades water.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by Coëmgenu » Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:54 pm

aflatun wrote:Here's another:
Needless to say, there are many passages in all of Nāgārjuna’s main philosophical texts that suggest that phenomena are similar to illusions, dreams, gandharva cities, and the like. Furthermore, in my personal brand of Māyopamavāda, one more important thing can be said about what it means for reality to be “similar to an illusion”: conventionally speaking, reality is related to, or even nondistinct from, consciousness. Reality is nothing more than ignorant understanding. I have elsewhere discussed numerous verses from the MMK, YṢ and the ŚS that support this understanding.36 Other verses that fit this statement well are RĀ 1.93–9537:

1.93 Earth, water, fire, wind,
long and short, subtle and coarse, virtue and so forth
are taught by the Sage to cease in consciousness.
1.94 In this limitless consciousness that cannot be
taught, the lord of all,
earth, water, fire and wind find no footing.
1.95 Here, long and short, subtle and coarse,
virtue and non-virtue, here name and form as well,
fully cease


These verses resonate with YṢ 34 and are a synopsis of the Buddha’s words in the Kevaddha-sutta of the Dīgha Nikāya. They suggest that material reality is fully dependant on consciousness. Another example would be Lokātitastava 19:

Hence, you have understood that this world arises from
conceptuality (parikalpa). Unreal, unarisen, it is not
destroyed.
Eviatar Shulman, Nāgārjuna the Yogācārin? Vasubandhu the Mādhyamika? on the middle-way between realism and antirealism
When dealing with Nágárjuna, it's important to keep the historical figure, an early Madhyamika writer from South India, and the mythological 1200 year old Tibetan alchemist named Nágárjuna, a mind-only Yogácára theorist, seperate, despite the mythology of Tibetan Buddhism claiming these two figures are one-and-the-same. :spy:

I'm not saying you are necessarily confusing the earlier Nágárjuna and the latter Nágárjuna (often called Áryanágárjuna), but calling Nágárjuna a Yogácárin usually comes from Tibetan mythology.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

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aflatun
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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by aflatun » Wed Jan 11, 2017 7:56 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
aflatun wrote:Here's another:
Needless to say, there are many passages in all of Nāgārjuna’s main philosophical texts that suggest that phenomena are similar to illusions, dreams, gandharva cities, and the like. Furthermore, in my personal brand of Māyopamavāda, one more important thing can be said about what it means for reality to be “similar to an illusion”: conventionally speaking, reality is related to, or even nondistinct from, consciousness. Reality is nothing more than ignorant understanding. I have elsewhere discussed numerous verses from the MMK, YṢ and the ŚS that support this understanding.36 Other verses that fit this statement well are RĀ 1.93–9537:

1.93 Earth, water, fire, wind,
long and short, subtle and coarse, virtue and so forth
are taught by the Sage to cease in consciousness.
1.94 In this limitless consciousness that cannot be
taught, the lord of all,
earth, water, fire and wind find no footing.
1.95 Here, long and short, subtle and coarse,
virtue and non-virtue, here name and form as well,
fully cease


These verses resonate with YṢ 34 and are a synopsis of the Buddha’s words in the Kevaddha-sutta of the Dīgha Nikāya. They suggest that material reality is fully dependant on consciousness. Another example would be Lokātitastava 19:

Hence, you have understood that this world arises from
conceptuality (parikalpa). Unreal, unarisen, it is not
destroyed.
Eviatar Shulman, Nāgārjuna the Yogācārin? Vasubandhu the Mādhyamika? on the middle-way between realism and antirealism
When dealing with Nágárjuna, it's important to keep the historical figure, an early Madhyamika writer from South India, and the mythological 1200 year old Tibetan alchemist named Nágárjuna, a mind-only Yogácára theorist, seperate, despite the mythology of Tibetan Buddhism claiming these two figures are one-and-the-same. :spy:

I'm not saying you are necessarily confusing the earlier Nágárjuna and the latter Nágárjuna (often called Áryanágárjuna), but calling Nágárjuna a Yogácárin usually comes from Tibetan mythology.

Duly noted, however I (and the passage) are referring to the former figure no doubt.

A considerable amount of Shulman's focus is on separating Nagarjuna from his latter commentators (meaning *all* of them) and showing some points of convergence with Vasubandhu. I am no expert in these matters by any stretch of the imagination but I find his interpretations compelling thus far!
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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Aloka
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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by Aloka » Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:19 pm

Deleted.
Last edited by Aloka on Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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aflatun
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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by aflatun » Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:33 pm

aflatun wrote:I'm personally a huge fan and find him quite consistent with the views of Ven. Ñāṇananda (also a huge fan :) ) and others, and the Pali Texts.

As an aside I've been reading a great deal by Eviatar Shulman lately and he has an avid interest in Nagarjuna, especially as compared to Yogacara. I'll post some links later if anyone is interested.

Edited to add something from the Heretic Sage (Ñāṇananda):
“I didn’t quote from the Mahāyāna texts in the Nib­bāna ser­mons,” he says, “because there was no need. All that was needed was already found in the Sut­tas. Teach­ers like Nāgār­juna brought to light what was already there but was hid­den from view. Unfor­tu­nately his later fol­low­ers turned it in to a vāda.”

He goes on to quote two of his favourite verses from Ven. Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamād­hya­makakārikā (as usual, from memory):

Śūnyatā sarva-dṛṣtīnaṃ proktā niḥsaranaṃ jinaiḥ,
yeṣāṃ śūnyatā-dṛṣtis tān asād­hyān babhāṣire [MK 13.8]

The Vic­to­ri­ous Ones have declared that empti­ness is the relin­quish­ing of all views. Those who are pos­sessed of the view of empti­ness are said to be incorrigible.

Sarva-dṛṣti-prahāṇāya yaḥ sad­dhar­mam adeśayat,
anukam­pam upādāya taṃ namasyāmi gau­tamaṃ [MK 26.30]

I rev­er­ently bow to Gau­tama who, out of com­pas­sion, has taught the doc­trine in order to relin­quish all views.

Bhante doesn’t bother trans­lat­ing the verses; the ones pro­vided above are by David Kalupahana.

“When I first read the Kārikā I too was doubt­ing Ven. Nāgārjuna’s san­ity” he laughs. “But the work needs to be under­stood in the con­text. He was tak­ing a jab at the Sarvās­tivādins. To be hon­est, even the oth­ers deserve the rebuke, although they now try to get away by using Sarvās­tivāda as an excuse. How skilled Ven. Nāgār­juna must have been, to com­pose those verses so ele­gantly and fill­ing them with so much mean­ing, like the Dhamma­pada verses. It’s quite amaz­ing...If there is no sub­stance in any­thing, what is left is empti­ness. But many peo­ple are afraid of words. Like śūnyatā. They want to pro­tect their four.” With that ‘irrev­er­ent’ com­ment about the four para­mattha dhamma–s of the Abhid­hamma, Bhante Ñāṇananda breaks into amused laughter.
http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... ge,_Part_2
Just bumping my post to ask if anyone is aware of other "Theravada" (loosely speaking) opinions on Nagarjuna or points of convergence besides Nanananda, Nanavira, Kalupahana, and the opinions of posters already seen?

I recall an audio recording of Sujato teaching a bit from Nagarjuna's writings where he offered a positive appraisal of his ideas, I think it may have been one of these:


http://www.dhammanet.org/history-nagarjuna-part-1
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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srivijaya
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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by srivijaya » Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:15 pm

CecilN wrote:But how far can an atom of earth element be broken down until it ceases without remainder?
Not saying it's your view but I encountered a similar one many years ago whilst studying the tenet systems. It reminds me of the Vaibhasika school. One which accepts truly existent external objects. The basis being partless particles - the smallest sub-atomic division. Interesting parallels.
:anjali:

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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by CecilN » Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:19 pm

chownah wrote:The element of earth is a concept and it can cease without remainder just like the self concept can cease without remainder.
MN 62 does not sound like a "concept".
And what is the earth property? The earth property can be either internal or external. What is the internal earth property?} Anything internal, within oneself, that's hard, solid, & sustained: head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, membranes, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, contents of the stomach, feces, or anything else internal, within oneself, that's hard, solid and sustained [by nutriment]...

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SDC
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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by SDC » Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:49 pm

Discussion about the DN and propaganda now here: http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=28634

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SDC
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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by SDC » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:09 am

Let us all keep the OP in mind as we go forward as many of us have wandered a bit off topic.

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Mkoll
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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by Mkoll » Thu Jan 12, 2017 4:27 am

:offtopic:
CecilN wrote:Unlike craving, earth element cannot vanish. Its destruction cannot be observed.
SN 35.245 wrote:“When, friend, a bhikkhu understands as they really are the origin and the passing away of the four great elements, in this way his vision is well purified.”
:focus:
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

CecilN
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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by CecilN » Thu Jan 12, 2017 5:10 am

Mkoll wrote:
CecilN wrote:Unlike craving, earth element cannot vanish. Its destruction cannot be observed.
SN 35.245 wrote:“When, friend, a bhikkhu understands as they really are the origin and the passing away of the four great elements, in this way his vision is well purified.”
Its on-topic because the topic is Nagarjuna's idea about "no inherent existence".

Now, the Pali quoted in SN 35.245, which is a view of a certain monk, is as follows:
“Yato kho, āvuso, bhikkhu pañcannaṃ upādā­nak­khan­dhā­naṃ samudayañca atthaṅgamañca yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti, ettāvatā kho, āvuso, bhikkhuno dassanaṃ suvisuddhaṃ hotī”ti
'Atthaṅgama' refers to a temporary cessation, such as each day & night are subject to atthaṅgama. It does not mean 'nirodha' nor does it mean 'final destruction'. It is found in the vipassana teachings, such as:
There is the case where a monk remains focused on arising & falling away with reference to the five clinging-aggregates: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its passing away (atthaṅgamo). Such is feeling, such its origination, such its passing away. Such is perception, such its origination, such its passing away. Such are fabrications, such their origination, such their passing away. Such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.' AN 4.41
The Lord Buddha himself ends SN 35.245 as follows:
‘The city’: this is a designation for this body consisting of the four great elements, originating from mother and father, built up out of boiled rice and gruel, subject to impermanence, to being worn and rubbed away, to breaking apart and dispersal.
Nothing in SN 35.235 refers to the four great elements ceasing without remainder or destroyed. Only impermanence, change, decay, deformation, transformation, etc. Basic Pali. :roll:
“And why, bhikkhus, do you call it form? ‘It is deformed,’ bhikkhus, therefore it is called form. Deformed by what? Deformed by cold, deformed by heat, deformed by hunger, deformed by thirst, deformed by contact with flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, and serpents. ‘It is deformed,’ bhikkhus, therefore it is called form. SN 22.79
Then a certain monk went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One: "'The world, the world' it is said. In what respect does the word 'world' apply?

"Insofar as it disintegrates, monk, it is called the 'world.' Now what disintegrates?..The body disintegrates...

SN 35.82

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Mkoll
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Re: Theravāda & Nāgārjuna

Post by Mkoll » Thu Jan 12, 2017 5:47 am

Your conception of the elements and your understanding of what the passage is saying is different from mine. I should have expected that and if I had, I wouldn't have responded, knowing how it would turn out.

Also, the "view of a certain monk" you're referring to as at least a stream-enterer.

And the definition of atthaṅgama is annihilation, disappearance (Cone's Pali dictionary).
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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