But this “emptiness” itself is also “empty”: it does not have an existence on its own, thich nhat hanh poetry pdf does it refer to a transcendental reality beyond or above phenomenal reality. Thus, the Tathāgata teaches the Dharma by a middle path avoiding both these extremes. Note that in both words the stress is on the first syllable.

At a conventional level, “things” do exist, but ultimately they are “empty” of inherent existence. Nagarjuna follows his own logic to its end, wondering what the subsequent consequences are of his propositions. Since all “things” are dependently arisen, how then can a non-existing “thing” cause another “thing” to come into being? In chapter 15 of the Mulamadhyamakakarika, “Nagarjuna is playing on the word ‘thing'”. When one reads Nagarjuna’s argument in Sanskrit, it is not immediately obvious that the argument has taken advantage of an ambiguity in the key term. But when one tries to translate his argument into some other language, such as English or Tibetan, one finds that it is almost impossible to translate his argument in a way that makes sense in translation. This is because the terms in the language of translation do not have precisely the same range of ambiguities as the words in the original Sanskrit.

In English, we are forced to disambiguate, and in disambiguating, we end up spoiling the apparent integrity of the argument. The rejection of inherent existence does not imply that there is no existence at all. What Nagarjuna is saying is that no being has a fixed and permanent nature. What the abhidarmikas maintained was that every thing has features that distinguish it from other things. Ultimately, we realize that all phenomena are sunyata, empty of concrete existence.

Yet, this perceived reality is an experiential reality, not an ontological reality with substantial or independent existence. According to Hayes, the two truths may also refer to two different goals in life: the highest goal of nirvana, and the lower goal of “commercial good”. Conceiving of concrete and unchanging objects leads to clinging and suffering. What is the reality of things just as it is? It is the absence of essence.

Unskilled persons whose eye of intelligence is obscured by the darkness of delusion conceive of an essence of things and then generate attachment and hostility with regard to them. Ultimate truth also does not refer to “absolute truth,” some absolute reality above or beyond the “relative reality. Ultimate truth does not point to a transcendent reality, but to the transcendence of deception. It is critical to emphasize that the ultimate truth of emptiness is a negational truth. In looking for inherently existent phenomena it is revealed that it cannot be found. This absence is not findable because it is not an entity, just as a room without an elephant in it does not contain an elephantless substance.

Even conventionally, elephantlessness does not exist. Ultimate truth or emptiness does not point to an essence or nature, however subtle, that everything is made of. Nagarjuna argues that we naively and innately perceive things as substantial, and it is this predisposition which is the root delusion that lies at the basis of all suffering. Madhyamaka uses language to make clear the limits of our concepts. Ultimately, reality cannot be depicted by concepts. This dynamic philosophical tension—a tension between the Madhyamika accounts of the limits of what can be coherently said and its analytical ostension of what cannot be said without paradox but must be understood—must constantly be borne in mind in reading the text.

It is not an incoherent mysticism, but it is a logical tightrope act at the very limits of language and metaphysics. The name of the school is perhaps related to its close adherence to Nāgārjuna’s main work, the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā. Madhyamaka-thought had a major influence on the subsequent development of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, although often in interaction with, and also in opposition to, the other two major streams of Mahayana Buddhist thought, namely Yogacara and Buddha-nature. Gelugpa tradition, in opposition to Jonangpa’s “Mahā-Mādhyamaka”. Contemporary western Buddhism is less acquainted with Madhyamaka thought, although some implications have been recognized by western teachers. Tillman Vetter, although agreeing overall with Gomez’s observations, suggests some refinements on historical and doctrinal grounds. First, he notes that neither of these short collections of suttas are homogeneous and hence are not all amenable to Gomez’ proposals.