When the Superior Ananda Heard what this means, He attained the eye of doctrine And repeatedly spoke of it to monastics. As long as the aggregates are conceived, So long thereby does the conception of I exist. Further, when the conception of I exists, There is action, and from it there also is birth. With these three pathways mutually causing each other Without a beginning, a middle, or an end, This wheel of cyclic existence Turns like the wheel of a firebrand. Because this wheel is not obtained from self, other, Or from both, in the past, the present, or the future, The conception of I is overcome And thereby action and rebirth.
One who sees how cause and effect Are produced and destroyed Does not regard the world As really existent or really non-existent. One who has heard thus the doctrine extinguishing All suffering, but does not examine it And fears the fearless state Trembles due to ignorance. That all these will not exist in nirvana Does not frighten you.
Why does their non-existence Explained here cause you fright?
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In brief the view of nihilism Is that effects of actions do not exist. Without merit and leading to a bad state, It is regarded as a "wrong view.
Nagarjuna’s Precious Garland | Thubten Chodron
In brief the view of existence Is that effects of actions exist. Meritorious and conducive to happy transmigrations It is regarded as a "right view. Because existence and non-existence are extinguished by wisdom, There is a passage beyond meritorious and ill deeds. This, say the excellent, is liberation from Bad transmigrations and happy transmigrations. Seeing production as caused One passes beyond non-existence. Seeing cessation as caused One also does not assert existence.
Previously produced and simultaneously produced [causes] Are non-causes; [thus] there are no causes in fact, Because [such] production is not confirmed at all As [existing] conventionally or in reality.
When this is, that arises, Like short when there is long. Due to the production of this, that is produced, Like light from the production of a flame. When there is long, there is short. They do not exist through their own nature, Just as due to the non-production Of a flame, light also does not arise. Having thus seen that effects arise From causes, one asserts what appears In the conventions of the world And does not accept nihilism. One who asserts, just as it is, cessation That does not arise from conventions Does not pass into [a view of] existence.
Thereby one not relying on duality is liberated. A form seen from a distance Is seen clearly by those nearby. If a mirage were water, Why is water not seen by those nearby? The way this world is seen As real by those afar Is not so seen by those nearby For whom it is signless like a mirage. Just as a mirage is seemingly water But not water and does not in fact exist [as water], So the aggregates are seemingly a self But not a self and do not exist in fact.
Having thought a mirage to be water And then having gone there, Someone would just be stupid to surmise, "That water does not exist. One who conceives of the mirage-like world That it does or does not exist Is consequently ignorant. When there is ignorance, one is not liberated.
A follower of non-existence goes to bad transmigrations, And a follower of existence goes to happy transmigrations. Through correct and true knowledge One does not rely on dualism and becomes liberated. If through correct and true knowledge [Such wise persons] do not assert existence and non-existence And thereby [you think] that they follow non-existence, Why should they not be followers of existence? If from refuting existence Non-existence would accrue to them, Why from refuting non-existence Would existence not accrue to them?
They implicitly have no nihilistic thesis And also have no nihilistic behavior And due to relying on [the path to] enlightenment have no nihilistic thought. Hence how can they be regarded as nihilists? Ask the Samkhyas, the followers of Kanada, Nirgranthas, And the worldly proponents of a person and aggregates, Whether they propound What passes beyond "is" and "is not. Thereby know that the ambrosia Of the Buddhas' teaching is called profound, An exclusive doctrine passing Far beyond "is" and "is not.
How could the world exist in fact, With a nature passed beyond the three times, Not going when disintegrating, not coming, And not staying even for an instant? Because the coming, going, and staying Of the world and nirvana do not exist As [their own] reality, what difference Is there in fact between the two?
If, due to the non-existence of staying, Production and cessation do not exist as [their own] reality, How could production, staying, And ceasing exist in fact? If always changing, How are things non-momentary? If not changing, How can they be altered in fact? Do they become momentary Through partial or complete disintegration? Because an inequality is not apprehended, This momentariness cannot be admitted either way. If momentary, then it becomes entirely non-existent; Hence how could it be old? Also if non-momentary, it is constant; Hence how could it be old?
Just as a moment has an end, so a beginning And a middle must be considered. Thus due to this triple nature of a moment, There is no momentary abiding of the world. Also the beginning, middle, and end Are to be analyzed like a moment. Therefore beginning, middle, and end Are also not [produced]61 from self or other. Due to having many parts there is no unity, There is not anything without parts. Further, without one, there is not many.
Also, without existence there is no non-existence. If it is thought that through disintegration or an antidote An existent becomes non-existent, Then how without an existent Could there be disintegration or an antidote? Hence, in fact there is no disappearance Of the world through nirvana.
Asked whether the world has an end The Conqueror remained silent. Because he did not teach this profound doctrine To worldly beings who were not receptacles, The All-Knowing is therefore known By the wise to be omniscient. Thus the doctrine of definite goodness Was taught by the perfect Buddhas, The seers of reality, as profound, Unapprehendable, and baseless. Frightened by this baseless doctrine, Delighting in a base, not passing Beyond existence and non-existence, Unintelligent beings ruin themselves. O King, lest you be ruined I will explain through the scriptures The mode of the supramundane, just as it is, The reality not partaking of dualism.
This profundity endowed with meanings drawn [from scriptures] And beyond ill-deeds and meritorious deeds Has not been tasted by those who fear the baseless- The others-the Forders-and even by our own. A person is not earth, not water, Not fire, not wind, not space, Not consciousness, and not all of them. What person is there other than these?
Just as a person is not real Due to being a composite of six constituents, So each of the constituents also Is not real due to being a composite. The aggregates are not the self, they are not in it, It is not in them, without them it is not, It is not mixed with the aggregates like fire and fuel. Therefore how could the self exist?
The three elements' are not earth, they are not in it, It is not in them, without them it is not; Since this also applies to each, The elements, like the self, are false. Earth, water, fire, and wind Individually also do not inherently exist. When any three are absent, an individual one does not exist. When one is absent, the three also do not exist. If when three are absent, an individual one does not exist And if when one is absent, the three also do not exist, Then each itself does not exist.
How could a composite be produced? Otherwise, if each itself exists, Why without fuel is there no fire? Likewise why is there no water, wind, or earth Without motility, obstructiveness, or cohesion? If [it is answered that] fire is well known [not to exist without fuel but the other three elements exist by way of their own entities], How could your three exist in themselves Without the others?
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It is impossible for the three Not to accord with dependent-arising. How could those-that themselves Exist individually-be mutually dependent? How could those-that do not themselves Exist individually-be mutually dependent?
Nagarjuna (c. 150—c. 250)
If it is the case that they do not themselves exist individually, But where there is one, the other three exist, Then if unmixed, they are not in one place, And if mixed, they do not themselves exist individually. The elements do not themselves exist individually, So how could their own individual charactersexist?
What do not themselves individually exist cannot predominate. Their characters are regarded as conventionalities. Agent, object, and action, Number, possession, cause and effect, Time, short and long, and so forth, Name and name-bearer as well. Earth, water, fire, and wind, Long and short, subtle and coarse, As well as virtue and so forth are said by the Subduer To be ceased in the consciousness [of reality]. Earth, water, fire, and wind Do not have a chance In the face of that undemonstrable consciousness Complete lord over the limitless.
Here long and short, subtle and coarse, Virtue and non-virtue, And here names and forms All are ceased. All those that earlier appeared to consciousness Because of not knowing that [reality] Will later cease for consciousness in that way Because of knowing that [reality]. All these phenomena of beings Are seen as fuel for the fire of consciousness. They are pacified through being burned By the light of true discrimination.
The reality is later ascertained Of what was formerly imputed by ignorance.
When a thing is not found, How can there be a non-thing? Because the phenomena of forms Are only names, space too is only a name. Without the elements how could forms exist? Therefore even name-only does not exist. Feelings, discriminations, compositional factors, And consciousnesses are to be considered Like the elements and the self. Thereby the six constituents are selfless. Just as when a banana tree With all its parts is torn apart, there is nothing, So when a person having the [six] constituents Is divided, it is the same.