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Blue Eyes' commentary on the Zhonglun, verse 1.1-1.2

Translated by Brian Christopher Bocking in his PhD thesis. Will add footnotes later. (The Zhonglun is Kumarajiva's translation of the Mulamadhyamakakarika of Nagarjuna, alongside Blue Eyes' (Qingmu) commentary.)

1.1 No arising and no ceasing

No permanence and no diference

No identity and no difference

No arriving and no departing

1.2 To the one who can expound this matter of causality

And completely extinguish all sophistries

I bow my head in reverence:

The Buddha, greatest of all teachers.

Question: Why was this treatise composed?

Reply: There are some who say that all things arise from the god 'Great Self-Being' [Maheshvara]. Some say that they arise from Visnu, some say that they arise from combination, some say that they arise from time, some say that they arise from the world-nature, some say that they arise from transformations, some say that they arise spontaneously and some say that they arise from atoms. Because they hold to these various errors they fall into false views such as that things have no cause, or some wrong cause, that they are permanent or that they are cut off, and so on. In various ways they expound 'I' and 'mine', but they do not know the true Dharma. The Buddha, desiring to terminate all such false views and to make known the Buddha-dharma, first taught the Twelve Causal Links in the Sravaka-dharma; but also, for the benefit of those who have already applied themselves, who have the great mind and who are capable of receiving the profound Dharma, he expounded in the Mahayana-dharma the characteristics of causality, namely that all dharmas neither arise nor cease, are not the same, do not differ and so on; they are utterly empty and devoid of anything which exists. As is stated in the Prajnaparamita Sutra, 'The Buddha told Subhuti: When a Bodhisattva is established in the seat of enlightenment, he views the twelve causal links as like the inexhustibility of empty space'.

After the Buddha's decease, in the second five hundred years of the patterned [i.e. Semblance] Dharma, men's faculties became dulled, they became deeply attached to all dharmas, and sought for settled, fixed characteristics in the twelve causal links, the five skandhas, the twelve avenues, the eighteen realms, and so on. They did not know the Buddha's intention and were merely attached to words and letters. Hearing utter emptiness taught in the Mahayana-dharma they did not know the reason for things being empty, and so conceived doubts and views, such as 'If all things are utterly empty how can you differentiate sin and merit, karmic recompense and so on? If this were so, there would be no worldly truth and no truth of the supreme meaning'. They seized hold of the characteristic of 'emptiness' and produced voracious attachments, generating all sorts of errors about utter emptiness. It was for such reasons as these that the Bodhisattva Nagarjuna composed this Middle Treatise.

submitted by /u/Temicco
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Blue Eyes' commentary on the Zhonglun, verse 1.1-1.2


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