gaudapaada and buddha (was Re: brahman by ...)

Kim Poulsen poulsen at DK-ONLINE.DK
Wed Dec 4 20:12:36 CST 1996

>If we are to examine the views of Nagarjuna, we have to stick to the
>mUla-madhyamaka kArikA and other compositions of Nagarjuna himself,
>without bringing in later Tibetan conceptions. The Tibetan school of
>Buddhism is, by its own admission, a mixture of the yogAcAra school and
>the madhyamaka school. If you read Nagarjuna and his faithful commentator,
>Candrakirti carefully, they find fault with the yogAcAra school for
>affirming an absolute.

Both schools find faults with each other, having struggled over paramaartha
for generations. The quote however IS Nagarjuna's (according to my
Christian Lindtner, a leading Nagarjuna scholar) -

 bodhicittavivaraNa  28. "The three natures, viz. the imagined
(parikalpita), the dependant (paratantra) and the parinishhpanna have only
nature of their own: emptiness. They are the imaginations (kalpanaa) of
mind (citta)".

This work is never quoted by Candrakirti, I understand. He may have liked
never-ending argument. This concept brings Nagarjuna very close to
and AsaN^ga - and to the sruti.

>Nagarjuna is quite clear that what he means by SUnyatA is that all
>entities are empty in that they have no "own-nature". It is not his
>intention to set this "emptiness" as an absolute itself.

You seem to base your opinion solely on the muulamadhyamakakaarikaa.
May I direct you to Achinstyava 41-. Here you will find the four divisions

A) 43a shhuunyataa
B) 43b-44a paratantra
C) 44b-45a paramaartha - svabhaava prakriti - sat - etc, etc.
D) 45b kalpita

  >This is not Nagarjuna's contention, but that of the vijnAnavAda school.
>The vijnAna of the vijnAnavAda school can be interpreted as being an
>absolute, but equating SUnyatA to an absolute does not do justice to
>Nagarjuna's position, in my opinion.

  Now if Nagarjunas 4 states are related to the 4 states of the
ManNDuukya it follows that they are states of consciousness, including
the void. (Maybe Gaudapda decided to reconcile not only Advaita and
Buddhism, but Yogacharya and Madhyamika?)
 It is sometimes stated that this view of all-consciousness is not the
absolute truth but gives a very good impression of it.

   It is not very difficult to analyse the close connection between this
philosophy and bot the sruti anf the gita.

paratantra, the conditioned corresponds to the karmically condtioned
existences and to vaisvanara (all men.)

parikalpita, the imagined, to "my state at the time of death" and to
taijasa "whose sphere of action is the dream state."

svabhaava prakriti/paramaartha/parinishpanna to praajna.

"The soundless", the fourth is the shhuunyataa, the
mahaakasha (where sound is the sole attribute of the
lesser akasha.)

I'm certain that further investigation along these line will yield
further correspondences, not differences. I'm beginning to
understand also what Gaudapada was comparing.

In the vajrAyana school, yes, SUnyatA is an absolute. But I beg to differ
as regards the madhyamaka. Now, the question remains, "Does gauDapAda
interpret the SUnyatA of the madhyamaka as an absolute?" I think not.
Nowhere in the GK does he equate SUnyatA with the Atman, nor does he say
that the Atman is SUnya. Also, I feel that if he did equate the SUnyatA to
an absolute, something of this acceptance would have filtered down to his
grand-disciple, Sankara. I find it difficult to believe that Sankara would
refuse to accept that the SUnyatA of the madhyamaka is a higher reality,
if gauDapAda had accepted it to be so.


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