Friday, June 3, 2011

Nagarjuna's Middle Way: Dependent Origination, Non-Self and Emptiness

Second only to the Buddha, himself, in terms of expounding the dharma, was the great Indian philosopher and teacher, Nagarjuna, teacher of "the Middle Way," or Madhyamaka school of Mahayana Buddhism. And central to Nagarjuna's teachings was 'sunyata' - "emptiness" - the realization that all phenomena are devoid of a self-essence and arise through the process of dependent origination, and are therefore devoid of any essential and abiding nature, a view of "reality" that is profoundly similar to the findings of modern physics.
"The ultimate nature of man," one commentator observed, "is the undivided being. . . . (M)an as a specific, determinate individual is not absolutely confined to his determinate nature. As an individual, man is essentially related to the rest of the world. He is also not apart from the indeterminate reality which is the ultimate ground of his very being. And in his ultimate nature man is himself the indeterminate, unconditioned reality, the undivided being.
[Ramanan, "Nagarjuna's Philosophy," p. 37]
Thus, Nagarjuna concludes, "Silence is the ultimate truth for the wise."
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The following video looks at the implication that Nagarjuna's teachings on "no-self" (anatman) and "emptiness" (sunyata) have for us:

Nagarjuna: "The indeterminability of the ultimate nature is really the inapplicability of the way of concepts."

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