Approaching Nagarjuna and the Mulamadhyamakakarika...

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Re: Approaching Nagarjuna and the Mulamadhyamakakarika...

Postby Indrajala » Wed Apr 06, 2011 4:19 pm

Namdrol wrote:
dumb bonbu wrote:hi folks, in a couple of weeks or thereabouts i'm going to be picking Garfield's translation of 'The Fundamental Wisdom..' up off the shelf....or perhaps not lol! because firstly (aware that many find it a notoriously difficult text) i want to prep myself as much as is possible so i have a few questions -



It is not all that hard if you have studied Abhidharma first.


This is true.

In fact it pretty much requires knowledge of Abhidharma categories and classifications for it to make any sense. The traditional commentaries will also assume the reader has this background knowledge already. However, this is not the case with Garfield's commentary. I read his first before I learned sufficient Chinese to read Kumarajiva's translation and running commentary. I found the latter more useful in the end.

If you understand the opponent in mind, the text's purpose and context becomes clear.
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Re: Approaching Nagarjuna and the Mulamadhyamakakarika...

Postby Anders » Wed Apr 06, 2011 4:46 pm

Huseng wrote:I read his first before I learned sufficient Chinese to read Kumarajiva's translation and running commentary. I found the latter more useful in the end.


Image
Strange that this hasn't been translated to English yet, considering the umpteen number of commentary from Tibetan authors out there. Especially considering that it's, well... Kumarajiva! He's one of the most distinguished Madhyamikans (actually Mahayanikas in general) in the history of Buddhism, probably the singlemost influential monk in east-asian Mahayana yet he is glossed over in favour of yet another attempt at Candrakirti's interpretation (this time it's poetic! and now with 20% less Tibetan influence. etc).

rant over.
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Re: Approaching Nagarjuna and the Mulamadhyamakakarika...

Postby Will » Wed Apr 06, 2011 5:06 pm

Anders Honore wrote:
Huseng wrote:I read his first before I learned sufficient Chinese to read Kumarajiva's translation and running commentary. I found the latter more useful in the end.


Image
Strange that this hasn't been translated to English yet, considering the umpteen number of commentary from Tibetan authors out there. Especially considering that it's, well... Kumarajiva! He's one of the most distinguished Madhyamikans (actually Mahayanikas in general) in the history of Buddhism, probably the singlemost influential monk in east-asian Mahayana yet he is glossed over in favour of yet another attempt at Candrakirti's interpretation (this time it's poetic! and now with 20% less Tibetan influence. etc).

rant over.


This is off-topic somewhat, but I was surprised to learn that Kumarajiva was more than a translator. He wrote a meditation manual that is in English now, I think. Now you say he has his own commentary on the Mula - wow. How much more of his own writings are out there?
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Re: Approaching Nagarjuna and the Mulamadhyamakakarika...

Postby dharmapravicaya » Wed Apr 06, 2011 5:41 pm

It has been mentioned that it is a pity, and it may be strange, that Kumārajīva’s commentary hasn’t been translated – considering that at least two major Tibetan commentaries to the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā have.

I personally agree: also, I’d like to notice that not even one of the Indian commentaries has been translated in its entirety. There are a few:

The Akutobhaya, which is concise and ascribed to Nāgārjuna himself by some traditions; even if one does not accept it as an auto-commentary, it remains the oldest available commentary on the text;

Buddhapālita’s commentary;

Bhāvaviveka’s commentary;

Candrakīrti’s commentary.

If I am not mistaken, there is also a commentary by Sthiramati, the great Yogācāra commentator.

Hopefully in the next years some of these crucial commentaries will be translated. I am familiar with only one of them, Candrakīrti’s own, and I can say it is truly remarkable in pointing out the connections between the MMK and a very broad literature, spanning from non-Mahaayaana Suutras, to different schools of Abhidharma, and so forth. I trust that most traditional commentary share the same familiarity with the broader context of the root text.
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Re: Approaching Nagarjuna and the Mulamadhyamakakarika...

Postby Malcolm » Wed Apr 06, 2011 5:45 pm

dharmapravicaya wrote:It has been mentioned that it is a pity, and it may be strange, that Kumārajīva’s commentary hasn’t been translated – considering that at least two major Tibetan commentaries to the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā have.

I personally agree: also, I’d like to notice that not even one of the Indian commentaries has been translated in its entirety. There are a few:

The Akutobhaya, which is concise and ascribed to Nāgārjuna himself by some traditions; even if one does not accept it as an auto-commentary, it remains the oldest available commentary on the text;

Buddhapālita’s commentary;

Bhāvaviveka’s commentary;

Candrakīrti’s commentary.

If I am not mistaken, there is also a commentary by Sthiramati, the great Yogācāra commentator.

Hopefully in the next years some of these crucial commentaries will be translated. I am familiar with only one of them, Candrakīrti’s own, and I can say it is truly remarkable in pointing out the connections between the MMK and a very broad literature, spanning from non-Mahaayaana Suutras, to different schools of Abhidharma, and so forth. I trust that most traditional commentary share the same familiarity with the broader context of the root text.


Prasannapada is being done by John Dunne and Sarah Mclintock, or so I understand.

Brian Bocking translated Kumarajiva's translations of the Pingalo commentary.
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Re: Approaching Nagarjuna and the Mulamadhyamakakarika...

Postby dharmapravicaya » Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:33 pm

That's true - I wasn't thinking about Bocking's translation. Thank you for mentioning it: I haven't read it - if you have, may I ask you, what was your impression? It's translated from the Chinese rather than from the Tibetan version, if I am not mistaken. If it's a good translation, perhaps that could be a viable starting point for reading the MMK.

I also heard about John Dunne's project, which has been going on for several years, but so far I don't know whether he has completed it or not. It is something to look forward to!
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Re: Approaching Nagarjuna and the Mulamadhyamakakarika...

Postby Malcolm » Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:39 pm

dharmapravicaya wrote:That's true - I wasn't thinking about Bocking's translation. Thank you for mentioning it: I haven't read it - if you have, may I ask you, what was your impression? It's translated from the Chinese rather than from the Tibetan version, if I am not mistaken. If it's a good translation, perhaps that could be a viable starting point for reading the MMK.

I also heard about John Dunne's project, which has been going on for several years, but so far I don't know whether he has completed it or not. It is something to look forward to!



Bocking considers this to be largely the work of Kumarajiva -- but it definitely comes from the same milieu as the Buddhapalita vritti -- the main difference is the presence of Mahayāna citations.

There is no Tibetan version of this commentary. But is close to Buddhapalita.

N
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Re: Approaching Nagarjuna and the Mulamadhyamakakarika...

Postby dharmapravicaya » Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:53 pm

Thank you, you are helping me to clarify a basic confusion: from what you say, I gather that Pingalo's commentary is *not* the Chinese version of the Akutobhaya. For some reason, I was under that (wrong) impression.

However, if it is close to the Bv., it means it must be relatively concise and to the point: maybe Bocking's book may indeed be a very good first step in reading the MMK? (Going back to the initial topic of the post).
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Re: Approaching Nagarjuna and the Mulamadhyamakakarika...

Postby Malcolm » Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:56 pm

dharmapravicaya wrote:Thank you, you are helping me to clarify a basic confusion: from what you say, I gather that Pingalo's commentary is *not* the Chinese version of the Akutobhaya. For some reason, I was under that (wrong) impression.

However, if it is close to the Bv., it means it must be relatively concise and to the point: maybe Bocking's book may indeed be a very good first step in reading the MMK? (Going back to the initial topic of the post).



I've never really looked at Akutobhya -- but I have read significant portions of the Buddhapalita -- both P and B parse the MMK as a dialogue between Nag and an opponent who is gradually lead to understanding the real meaning of the Buddha's teaching.

It is fairly, and a good job, I think.
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Re: Approaching Nagarjuna and the Mulamadhyamakakarika...

Postby Will » Wed Apr 06, 2011 7:32 pm

This must be what you chaps are talking about - rather pricey:

http://www.bookfinder.com/search/?ac=sl ... %2520china
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Re: Approaching Nagarjuna and the Mulamadhyamakakarika...

Postby dharmapravicaya » Wed Apr 06, 2011 8:50 pm

Yes, that’s the book (and yes...it’s expensive).

Here’s some more free material, though, including sections of Bhāvaviveka’s commentary to the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā (Ames’ translation):


http://www.shin-ibs.edu/academics/_jbl/

http://www.shin-ibs.edu/academics/_jbl/1999v1.php

http://www.shin-ibs.edu/academics/_jbl/2000v2.php
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Re: Approaching Nagarjuna and the Mulamadhyamakakarika...

Postby Indrajala » Thu Apr 07, 2011 5:59 am

Will wrote:This must be what you chaps are talking about - rather pricey:

http://www.bookfinder.com/search/?ac=sl ... %2520china


In the realm of academic works, that one is actually not too expensive.

Well worth the investment, however, if you're genuinely interested.
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Re: Approaching Nagarjuna and the Mulamadhyamakakarika...

Postby Will » Thu Apr 07, 2011 5:26 pm

Huseng wrote:
Will wrote:This must be what you chaps are talking about - rather pricey:

http://www.bookfinder.com/search/?ac=sl ... %2520china


In the realm of academic works, that one is actually not too expensive.

Well worth the investment, however, if you're genuinely interested.


I am, so I bought a $85 paperback copy.

Bhikshu Dharmamitra hopes, after the huge 10 grounds Vibhasa of Nagarjuna, to include his own translation of the Kumarajiva/Nagarjuna Mula in the Kalavinka corpus.
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Re: Approaching Nagarjuna and the Mulamadhyamakakarika...

Postby plwk » Thu Apr 07, 2011 5:59 pm

Sometimes I wonder Will, by the time one is done with all these mind bending stuff, would one lifespan suffice?
I remember the story of the scholar monk and Pure Land Patriarch Tán Luán at one time was trying out Taoism to extend his life as he felt his pursuit of Buddhist studies would not match his lifespan until he met the Indian Master Bodhiruci who gave him the 'Contemplation on Amitayus Sutra'....
法門無量誓願學 fǎ mén wú liàng shì yuàn xué Dharma Doors Are Innumerable, Yet I Vow To Learn Them All
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Re: Approaching Nagarjuna and the Mulamadhyamakakarika...

Postby Will » Thu Apr 07, 2011 6:40 pm

plwk wrote:Sometimes I wonder Will, by the time one is done with all these mind bending stuff, would one lifespan suffice?
I remember the story of the scholar monk and Pure Land Patriarch Tán Luán at one time was trying out Taoism to extend his life as he felt his pursuit of Buddhist studies would not match his lifespan until he met the Indian Master Bodhiruci who gave him the 'Contemplation on Amitayus Sutra'....
法門無量誓願學 fǎ mén wú liàng shì yuàn xué Dharma Doors Are Innumerable, Yet I Vow To Learn Them All


No, one life will not suffice. But I do not study all this "mind bending stuff" in order to master it all now, intellectually or otherwise. It is mainly to deepen the connection to the buddhadharma, so some of its ideas & practices can be found again in future lives.
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Re: Approaching Nagarjuna and the Mulamadhyamakakarika...

Postby Indrajala » Fri Apr 08, 2011 4:39 am

Will wrote:
plwk wrote:Sometimes I wonder Will, by the time one is done with all these mind bending stuff, would one lifespan suffice?
I remember the story of the scholar monk and Pure Land Patriarch Tán Luán at one time was trying out Taoism to extend his life as he felt his pursuit of Buddhist studies would not match his lifespan until he met the Indian Master Bodhiruci who gave him the 'Contemplation on Amitayus Sutra'....
法門無量誓願學 fǎ mén wú liàng shì yuàn xué Dharma Doors Are Innumerable, Yet I Vow To Learn Them All


No, one life will not suffice. But I do not study all this "mind bending stuff" in order to master it all now, intellectually or otherwise. It is mainly to deepen the connection to the buddhadharma, so some of its ideas & practices can be found again in future lives.


I think this is a good approach to take.

If you cultivate the roots in this life by studying the texts and commentaries then in future lives you will find it easier to comprehend. I think you will also become attracted to it.

Some say that if you read Nāgārjuna for the first time and the hair on the back of your neck stands up, then you have a connection to it from past lives.

I had an interesting experience like this. I was at the library one day looking through the books on Buddhism and came across Garfield's translation of Nāgārjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā or The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way. I honestly struggled with it and the commentary, which was written for western philosophers, likewise baffled me what with words like "ontological" and so on. But for some reason I could not put it down. I felt so profoundly interested in the work that I reread it several times with the help of a dictionary. It was interesting to just come across this book in the university library and then feel such a strong connection to it. Actually when I was eighteen or nineteen and started studying Buddhism I would spend the whole afternoon in that little corner of the university library looking through all the books on Buddhism. I found myself so deeply interested in everything and anything related to Buddhism.

This is still the case... even took it to the graduate level. :rolleye:
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Re: Approaching Nagarjuna and the Mulamadhyamakakarika...

Postby Nirveda » Sun Apr 17, 2011 2:16 am

Dazzle wrote:.

I recommend the following book for anyone wishing to study the Mulamadhyamakakarika.

'The Sun of Wisdom' by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamptso

http://www.wisdom-books.com/ProductDetail.asp?PID=11031


I have read this too and found it to be extremely helpful. It's not a stanza-by-stanza commentary, but rather picks a few sections and elaborates on them. I also realize that any one teacher's interpretation is not the be-all, end-all interpretation. So I encouraging continuing to read translations and interpretations by various scholars. The MMK is worth it.
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