nagarjuna basics?

General forum on the teachings of all schools of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. Topics specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
Kunzang
Posts: 180
Joined: Thu May 05, 2011 3:10 am

Re: nagarjuna basics?

Post by Kunzang » Mon Dec 18, 2017 3:58 pm

Thanks Malcolm. I haven't read Buton's history yet, I'll have to give it a go. As widespread as the legend is, I found it curious that Taranatha's history doesn't mention it.
Critics slap labels on you and then expect you to talk inside their terms. - Doris Lessing

Huseng
Posts: 6337
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm

Re: nagarjuna basics?

Post by Huseng » Mon Dec 18, 2017 4:35 pm

Also, bear in mind that Nāgārjuna's treatise (MMK) is refuting Hīnayāna, namely Sarvāstivādin, doctrines, so in order to understand what he wrote, you need to have a basic understanding of the prevailing Buddhist philosophy of his time. The Abhidharmakośa-bhāṣya is precious in this respect because it outlines Buddhist Philosophy 101 and moreover the big issues confronting Buddhist authors.

Nāgārjuna goes to great length refuting conceptual categories, demonstrating that they are conventionally useful, but ultimately empty, because in that age many Buddhists were treating said categories as ontologically absolute truths.

Mahāyāna, spearheaded by figures such as Nāgārjuna, broke from those conventions and critically drew out the implications of the Buddha's doctrine of emptiness, showing that it applied not only to self or ātman, but also to all dharmas (phenomena and phenomenal categories).

This point is crucial to bear in mind because the Mahāyāna project of bodhisattvahood, i.e., remaining active in saṃsāra for the benefit of other beings, is founded on the idea that neither self nor phenomena (nor the arbitrary divisions we draw around things and people) are inherently existent, the realization of which results in unconditional compassion for all beings. This is in stark contrast to Hīnayāna thinking in which realization of the emptiness of the self is regarded primarily as a prerequisite for attainment of arhatship and subsequent liberation from involuntary rebirth (but without any impulse toward the bodhisattva path).

In short, read Hīnayāna and Abhidharma before attempting to understand Nāgārjuna or Mahāyāna philosophy. You cannot understand the latter without a foundation of the former!

User avatar
CedarTree
Posts: 556
Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 10:13 pm

Re: nagarjuna basics?

Post by CedarTree » Mon Dec 18, 2017 7:51 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Mon Dec 18, 2017 4:35 pm
Also, bear in mind that Nāgārjuna's treatise (MMK) is refuting Hīnayāna, namely Sarvāstivādin, doctrines, so in order to understand what he wrote, you need to have a basic understanding of the prevailing Buddhist philosophy of his time. The Abhidharmakośa-bhāṣya is precious in this respect because it outlines Buddhist Philosophy 101 and moreover the big issues confronting Buddhist authors.

Nāgārjuna goes to great length refuting conceptual categories, demonstrating that they are conventionally useful, but ultimately empty, because in that age many Buddhists were treating said categories as ontologically absolute truths.

Mahāyāna, spearheaded by figures such as Nāgārjuna, broke from those conventions and critically drew out the implications of the Buddha's doctrine of emptiness, showing that it applied not only to self or ātman, but also to all dharmas (phenomena and phenomenal categories).

This point is crucial to bear in mind because the Mahāyāna project of bodhisattvahood, i.e., remaining active in saṃsāra for the benefit of other beings, is founded on the idea that neither self nor phenomena (nor the arbitrary divisions we draw around things and people) are inherently existent, the realization of which results in unconditional compassion for all beings. This is in stark contrast to Hīnayāna thinking in which realization of the emptiness of the self is regarded primarily as a prerequisite for attainment of arhatship and subsequent liberation from involuntary rebirth (but without any impulse toward the bodhisattva path).

In short, read Hīnayāna and Abhidharma before attempting to understand Nāgārjuna or Mahāyāna philosophy. You cannot understand the latter without a foundation of the former!
Welcome back Indra! Been a fan of yours for years hah

Tell us more about how you see Nagarjuna and some of the points he makes. I think your right on the money with your above presentation.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Huseng
Posts: 6337
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm

Re: nagarjuna basics?

Post by Huseng » Tue Dec 19, 2017 10:36 am

CedarTree wrote:
Mon Dec 18, 2017 7:51 pm
Welcome back Indra! Been a fan of yours for years hah

Tell us more about how you see Nagarjuna and some of the points he makes. I think your right on the money with your above presentation.
Hi!

I don't have much more to say off the top of my head.

I will say this.

If you want to read Buddhist philosophy, it is advisable to read running commentaries. In history, as is the case today, students of Buddhist philosophy generally read the primary sources alongside authoritative commentaries. Fortunately, there are several major commentaries on Nāgārjuna's MMK in different languages.

I admittedly haven't kept up with Madhyamaka Studies in recent years, since my efforts have been directed toward astrology and art history in Buddhist East Asia, but I'm sure if you look around or ask the right people, you can find translations of historical commentaries on the MMK. Tibetans have always seriously studied said text, and there are many Tibetan teachers who can discuss the subject matter. I remember meeting some Gelugpa monks in Delhi who could elegantly discuss Nāgārjuna in English.

I spent a few years reading commentaries on Madhyamaka in Chinese, but unfortunately the Sanlun school is less represented in English translation.

User avatar
CedarTree
Posts: 556
Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 10:13 pm

Re: nagarjuna basics?

Post by CedarTree » Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:59 pm

I miss your contributions here.
How has the professorship and all that stuff been working out? Hopefully good!



Indrajala wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 10:36 am
CedarTree wrote:
Mon Dec 18, 2017 7:51 pm
Welcome back Indra! Been a fan of yours for years hah

Tell us more about how you see Nagarjuna and some of the points he makes. I think your right on the money with your above presentation.
Hi!

I don't have much more to say off the top of my head.

I will say this.

If you want to read Buddhist philosophy, it is advisable to read running commentaries. In history, as is the case today, students of Buddhist philosophy generally read the primary sources alongside authoritative commentaries. Fortunately, there are several major commentaries on Nāgārjuna's MMK in different languages.

I admittedly haven't kept up with Madhyamaka Studies in recent years, since my efforts have been directed toward astrology and art history in Buddhist East Asia, but I'm sure if you look around or ask the right people, you can find translations of historical commentaries on the MMK. Tibetans have always seriously studied said text, and there are many Tibetan teachers who can discuss the subject matter. I remember meeting some Gelugpa monks in Delhi who could elegantly discuss Nāgārjuna in English.

I spent a few years reading commentaries on Madhyamaka in Chinese, but unfortunately the Sanlun school is less represented in English translation.
Last edited by Grigoris on Tue Dec 19, 2017 4:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Removed ad hom remark.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Huseng
Posts: 6337
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm

Re: nagarjuna basics?

Post by Huseng » Tue Dec 19, 2017 4:30 pm

I am doing well. Not a professor yet! Thank you for asking.

If you're interested in my recent research and activities, see the following:

http://huayanzang.blogspot.com/2017/09/ ... egree.html

Nikkolas
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:34 am

Re: nagarjuna basics?

Post by Nikkolas » Fri Dec 22, 2017 5:09 am

markatex wrote:
Wed Dec 06, 2017 7:39 pm
Is Nagarjuna in China the only English translation of Kumarajiva's translation of the Middle Way Treatise? I've seen it available online, but it's very expensive. Are Kumarajiva's translations of Nagarjuna's other works available in English?
viewtopic.php?t=5936

I found this link the other day that has several posts with links to helpful material online, including Nagarjuna in China.

Also thank you to the posters who suggested the helpful lectures and other reading material.

muni
Posts: 4530
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 6:59 am

Re: nagarjuna basics?

Post by muni » Sun Dec 24, 2017 1:01 pm

An inspiring teaching which was here given in New York; commentary by Nagarjuna on Bodhicitta, explained by H H Dalai Lama and translated by Thupten Jinpa.
“ Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek. ”
H H Dalai Lama

"Relax." nirvana-samsara do not stray from spaciousness.

User avatar
Rick
Posts: 1756
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:05 am

Re: nagarjuna basics?

Post by Rick » Sun Dec 24, 2017 2:08 pm

Great, Muni, thanks!
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

Bristollad
Posts: 366
Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2015 11:39 am

Re: nagarjuna basics?

Post by Bristollad » Sun Dec 24, 2017 6:38 pm

Nirveda wrote:
Mon Dec 18, 2017 4:40 am
I believe that Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso's Sun of Wisdom is by far the most approachable and understandable introduction to Nagarjuna. After reading that, you can make more sense out of other translations of the MMK. I like Garfield's the best.
Note: In the introduction to Ocean of Reasoning: A Great Commentary on Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika, Garfield himself says that his translation in The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way: Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika is incorrect in places.

haha
Posts: 192
Joined: Thu May 23, 2013 3:30 pm

Re: nagarjuna basics?

Post by haha » Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:41 am

nichiren-123 wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 2:02 pm
So I was hoping for a quick and dirty description of what nagarjuna taught?
Seventy verses on emptiness with audio commentary by nagarjuna is the best one.
There are some lectures online on Mulamadhyamakakarika. You can listen them if you have time.
This one is very good. The Root Wisdom of the Middle Way

In this world hatred never ceases with hatred
With non hatred it ceases, this is the ancient lore.

Upakilesasuttaṃ

User avatar
Wayfarer
Posts: 3943
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: nagarjuna basics?

Post by Wayfarer » Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:23 am

Indrajala wrote:If you're interested in my recent research and activities, see the following:
Hi, Indrajala! :hi: Glad to hear you're doing well and congratulations on completing the PhD. I have been looking in on your blog sites from time to time, always a source of fascinating arcana!

**
Incidentally, apropos of books on Nāgārjuna, one I have always liked as The Philosophy of Nāgārjuna, by K Venkata Ramanan, which is a commentary on the Chinese translation of the MMK (Amazon listing here.) I don't know how well-regarded it is in current Buddhist Studies but it's been a favourite of mine for many years.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

Post Reply

Return to “Mahāyāna Buddhism”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: bluegaruda and 39 guests