Ocean of Reason by Mabja Bodhisattva

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Nicholas Weeks
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Ocean of Reason by Mabja Bodhisattva

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Fri Jan 26, 2018 1:14 am

This is a new translation, from Snow Lion, of Nagarjuna's Root of the Middle Way with an extensive (over 500pp) commentary by Mabja Jangchub Tsondru (died 1185). The main translator is Thomas Doctor, part of the Dharmachakra Translation Committee. The root text stands alone, and later each verse or line is commented on.

I am only 100pp or so into it, so these first impressions may change. It is an excellent, very clear and helpful commentary. Mabja's detailed outline is included, but not displayed in the usual indented lines, with italics and oodles of 2.2.A.b.x stuff. The outline has little boxes with text connected by lines; sounds primitive, but much easier to use.

The only small quibbles I have are the translation of almost every term. This would be fine if there were a glossary or the index had the Sanskrit equivalent next to the translated word - but neither is in this book.
Glorious one, creator of all goodness, Mañjuśrī, his glorious eminence!
Manjushri-namasamgiti

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Nicholas Weeks
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Re: Ocean of Reason by Mabja Bodhisattva

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Tue Jun 04, 2019 8:16 pm

Still impressed with Mabja Bodhisattva's (d. 1185) commentary, here is how he begins:
PRELIMINARY DISCUSSION
Generally speaking, those who teach the sūtras and treatises should precede their explanation with a
consideration of three main topics: (1) an identification of the Dharma that is being taught and listened to,
(2) how to teach and listen to this Dharma, and (3) the result of teaching and listening in this manner.

THE DHARMA
The first of these topics includes three further topics: (1) the various uses of the word “dharma,” (2) an
explanation of this term, and (3) an identification of the dharma that is relevant in the present context.

USES OF THE TERM “DHARMA”
Regarding the first topic, it is taught:

Dharma can mean object of cognition, path,
Transcendence of suffering, object of the mind,
Merit, life, excellent discourse, what will happen,
That which is certain, and spiritual tradition.

As indicated here, each occurrence of the word “dharma” found in the sūtras and the treatises should be
understood with reference to this set of ten meanings.

EXPLANATION OF THE TERM “DHARMA”
Second, the term “dharma” derives from the Sanskrit word dharaṅa, which means to hold. This can be
understood to mean the holding of specific characteristics and also holding in the sense of protecting from
a fall. In the first case, the word “dharma” is used to denote that all defiling and undefiling objects of
cognition hold their own characteristics. An example of this usage would be the sentence “all dharmas are
devoid of self.”

In the second case, holding has the specific meaning of protecting one from falling into the lower
realms, and, more generally, of keeping one from falling into the cyclic existence of the five classes of
wandering beings. An example of the first usage is found in the following verses:

The one who practices Dharma rests at ease,
Both in this world and beyond.

As indicated here, the word “dharma” may refer to the practice of the ten forms of virtue. Such virtuous
activity may be instigated by the faith of conviction in karmic action and its effects, or based on the
authentic views of worldly beings (which may also be found among certain non-Buddhists). This usage
can also refer to mundane forms of concentration, such as the cultivation of the meditative absorptions
associated with the formless realms.

The second sense of holding can be illustrated by statements such as, “I go for refuge in the Dharma,
supreme among all that is free from attachment.” Here, the reference is to the unique Dharma in which
Buddhists take refuge. This refers to the Dharma of realization (the two truths of complete purification)
and the Dharma of scripture that applies to this realization. As is taught:

The sacred Dharma of the Teacher is twofold:
It is of the nature of scripture and realization.
Last edited by Nicholas Weeks on Tue Jun 04, 2019 8:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Glorious one, creator of all goodness, Mañjuśrī, his glorious eminence!
Manjushri-namasamgiti

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Thomas Amundsen
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Re: Ocean of Reason by Mabja Bodhisattva

Post by Thomas Amundsen » Tue Jun 04, 2019 8:18 pm

Yep this one's great. It was the recommended translation in my sangha when we went over Madhyamaka.

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Nicholas Weeks
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Re: Ocean of Reason by Mabja Bodhisattva

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Wed Jun 05, 2019 6:31 pm

As I am reading again, the use of 'wakefulness' for the adequate and clearer to my mind 'jñāna' or simply 'wisdom' puzzles me.

Some translations prefer innovation I guess.
Glorious one, creator of all goodness, Mañjuśrī, his glorious eminence!
Manjushri-namasamgiti

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