A while ago I was working on the nirvana chapter in Nagarjuna's MMK - I've pasted in a paragraph or two. Not complete, no diacritics etc, but may of help. Just to flag to avoid the inevitable two truths debate, yes
, this is a Tsong Khapian interpretation......
So where does that leave the reality of samsara and nirvana, and the relationship between them?
This is given most succinctly in verses 9 & 10:
That which comes and goes
Is dependent and changing.
That, when it is not dependent and changing,
Is taught to be nirvana.
The teacher has spoken of relinquishing
Becoming and dissolution.
Therefore, it makes sense that
Nirvana is neither existent nor nonexistent.
Verse 9 articulates the reality of nirvana as contextually dependent on ‘that which comes and goes’: nirvana is that which does not come and go. This contextual relationship is precisely the relation which inheres between the two truths – the conventional reality of a given phenomena is its coming and going (its dependent and changing nature) and the ultimate reality is its emptiness. Whilst the emptiness of the phenomena does not come and go – that is why it is the phenomena’s ultimate reality – this emptiness is nonetheless dependent upon their being a conventional phenomena. That is, emptiness is not something unto itself (because it is also empty) - it is a way of apprehending something which conventionally exists. Nagarjuna is thus making the argument that samsara is associated with the dependent and changing nature of conventional reality, and nirvana with the emptiness which characterises ultimate reality – and that both inhere as two epistemic standpoints of the one ontological reality. Relinquishing the reification of conventional reality is what grants nirvana. Nirvana is thus an experience – a particular way of being-in-the-world – which depends upon their being a conventionally existing world.
The implication is that the distinction between samsara and nirvana is not an ontological one – they cannot be distinct ontological realities (for example, of the material-immaterial kind I referred to earlier). They are rather two distinct but interrelated epistemic or phenomenological standpoints of the one ontological reality. In this respect, nirvana is simply the correct apprehension of the emptiness of phenomena, and samsara is simply the reification of phenomena to be intrinsically existent. In A4 I made the argument that samvrti-satya has two senses – one a strongly reificationist sense where intrinsic existence is wrongly attributed to dependently existing entities, and the other a conventionally true sense where entities are seen as mutually dependent and contingent. With respect to the question of samsara, the distinction is still important, but both are clearly perspectives of samsara: Nagarjuna clearly asserts that so long as an entity is seen as a conventional entity (i.e. even in its dependent co-arising) it cannot be the perspective of nirvana. The experience of nirvana entails the experience or apprehension of the emptiness of the phenomena, not the phenomena as it conventionally exists.