kartik at ENG.AUBURN.EDU
Wed Jun 12 12:42:06 CDT 1996
> This is a sharp contrast between advaita and madhyamaka buddhism. For
> nAgArjuna, who is also a non-dualist in some sense, no view is right,
> because every view entails an absolutist position, which is an extreme
> to be avoided by the Buddhist middle path.
That's not completely correct. Nagarjuna rejects ALL views, even an absolutist
view. It's not as if that's an "extremist" viewpoint. Nagarjuna does not
reject any view simply saying,"That's an extremist view and Buddha said
extremism is to be avoided". Rather, he rejects views because they are
"not evident" (na vidyate). Nagarjuna would never entertain the advaitic notion
In the book,"Empty Logic", Cheng makes it clear that, "Madhyamika philosophy
is not absolutism. For Nagarjuna, all concepts, including the term shunyata,
are incomplete symbols or provisionary names. They do not stand for entities
...he (Nagarjuna) warned,"...He who holds that there is an emptiness will be
called incurable by all Buddhas"."
I believe S.Radhakrishnan and others have understood the complete negation
of Nagarjuna to be a parallel to the advaitic "neti, neti". But Cheng says,
"But perhaps Nagarjuna's negation is quite different from Upanishadic negation.
The latter assumes the existence of an inexpressible essential substratum, and
the main aim is to describe, by negation, an absolute which cannot be expressed.
The Madhyamika negations do not assume an inexpressible essential substratum,
nor is their purpose to describe, by negation, this reality, rather to deny
that there can be such a reality."
Nagarjuna is the "negator par excellence" :-). He's not merely an agnostic.
He rejects theism, atheism and agnosticism!
> For gauDapAda, every view is
> partially right, precisely because an absolutist position is always implied.
Of course, there's always the problem of how there can be any knowledge of
such an absolute. For the knowledge itself must be eternal, in which case we
must either have that knowledge eternally or not at all...
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