Saturday, May 26, 2012

Buddhism :Madhyamika ->Emptiness (Origin to End )

Mādhyamika  refers primarily to a Mahayana Buddhist  school of philosophy founded by Nagarjuna . According to Madhyamaka all phenomena  are empty of "substance" or "essence" , it is because they are dependently co-arisen that they have no intrinsic, independent reality of their own.Every Substance originates from Shunya (Zero) and Devolves in Shunya (Zero).It is the main branch of Mahayana Buddhism .

The Legend of Nararjuan 

In the second or third century C.E., a young Brahmin named Nagarjuna mastered the Vedas and all of the existing Hindu sciences,including magic, while still a young boy. When he was a teenager he used his magical abilities to render himself and two of his friends invisible so that they might slip unnoticed into the royal harem of the local king’s palace. They took advantage of the situation and then made their escape. On attempting to leave, however, his friends neglected to make themselves sufficiently invisible and were caught and executed. Nagarjuna escaped, but this experience caused him to reevaluate the desires which had caused him to come so close to peril.Inspired by this episode, Nagarjuna entered a Buddhist monastery.In a mere ninety days he studied and mastered the whole of the Pali canon, the early writings of Buddhism. He left the monastery in searchof more advanced teachings of the Buddha that he felt sure must exist.One day he was expounding upon the doctrine of the Buddha to a group of listeners and noticed that, following the lecture, two members of theaudience disappeared into the ground. He followed them to what proved to be their home, the kingdom of the Nagas, a land inhabited by beneficent, half-divine, serpent- like beings. Here the Nagas presented Nagarjuna with occult teachings and with several volumes of sutras, canonical scriptures. These writings were the Prajnaparamitas, the “Perfection of Wisdom” sutras. The Buddha had delivered these sacred teachingscenturies before but had decided that they were too profound for his contemporaries.He arranged to have them hidden for safekeeping in the nether world until humankind had acquired the necessary sophisticationand spiritual development to allow them to appreciate these teachings of “perfect wisdom.”Now that the world was ready, Nagarjuna was permitted to spread the Buddha”s final teachings.
We don't know whether this story is true or not but one thing is certain that Nagarguna struggled much to discover the Theory of Madhyamika .

The base formulation of emptiness comes from Nagarjuna, and itis the concept for which he is most famous, so much so that the Madhyamika school was often referred to as the Sunyata-vada, the “Schoolof Emptiness.” In the “ Discourse on Emptiness,” the Buddha says that, in a hall where there are monks gathered but in which there are no elephants or cows,one can say that the hall is “empty” of elephants and cows. Likewise, when a monk is meditating in a solitary forest, the forest is “empty” of  villages and villagers. “When something does not exist there, the latter  is empty with regard to the former,” the Buddha defines. This meaning of a lack is extended to also mean a lack of disturbances for the meditating mind. Emptiness is both an object for contemplation and a method of quietism; one can “practice emptiness” both by meditating onthe emptiness of the self and by freeing oneself from disturbances.

 Emptiness is not really a thing any more than a thing is really empty, for reality cannot be pinned down in concepts This paradoxical, non-conceptual use of the notion of emptiness is reflected in the fact that certain of the Perfection of Wisdom writings used the notion without ever mentioning the term. The Diamond Sutra, for example,taught that the notion of emptiness was to be used like a hard diamond to “cut away all unnecessary conceptualization,”2 including the idea of emptiness itself.The discourse accomplished this by presenting a series of paradoxes that demonstrated emptiness without using the word. For example, the Buddha is made to say: “As many beings as there are in the universe of beings, …all these I must lead to nirvana, into that realm of nirvana which leaves nothing behind. And yet, although innumerable beings have thus been led to nirvana, no being at all has been led to nirvana.”

Nagarjuna adopted the Perfection of Wisdom teaching that the highest form of intuitive wisdom is insight into the emptiness of all things.His innovation was to clarify this insight and apply it to all philosophical concepts in a more systematic way than had his predecessors. 


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