Nagarjuna’s MulamadhyamakaKarikas & Vigrahavyavartani Translation by Stephen Batchelor

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Nagarjuna’s MulamadhyamakaKarikas & Vigrahavyavartani
"Fundamental of the Middle Way" & "Averting the Arguments"
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Translation by Stephen Batchelor

 

[NAGARJUNA’S HOMAGE]
1 – investigation of conditions (conditions)
2 – investigation of coming and going (walking)
3 – investigation of the sense organs (seeing)
4 – investigation of the aggregates (body)
5 – investigation of the elements (space)
6 – investigation of desire and the desirous one (addiction)
7 – investigation of birth, abiding and perishing[skt. title is “investigation of the compounded – samskrta”] (birth)
8 – investigation of act and actor (actors)
9 – investigation of the presence of something prior (already)
10 – investigation of fire and firewood (fire)
11 – investigation of extremes of before and after (before)
12 – investigation of anguish (anguish)
13 – investigation of samskaras (change)
14 – investigation of connections (connection)
15 – investigation of essences (essence)
16 – investigation of bondage and freedom (life)
17 – investigation of actions and fruits (acts)
18 – investigation of self and things (self)
19 – investigation of time (time)
20 – investigation of combination (combination)
21 – investigation of rising and passing (disappearance)
22 – investigation of the tathagata (buddhanature)
23 – investigation of error (confusion)
24 – investigation of the ennobling truths (awakening)
25 – investigation of nirvana (nirvana)
26 – analysis of the twelve links of becoming (contingency)
27 – investigation of views (opinion)
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L2: [ [Nagarjuna’s homage]]
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I bow down to the most sublime of speakers, the completely awakened one who taught contingency (no cessation, no birth, no annihilation, no permanence, no coming, no going, no difference, no identity) to ease fixations.
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L2: [1 – Investigation of Conditions (Conditions)]
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1. No thing anywhere is ever born from itself, from something else, from both or without a cause.
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2. There are four conditions:Causes, objects, immediate and dominant. There is no fifth.
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3. The essence of things does not exist in conditions and so on. If an own thing does not exist, an other thing does not exist.
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4. There is no activity which has conditions. There is no activity which does not have conditions. There are no conditions which do not have activity, and none which do have activity.
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5. Since something is born in dependence upon them, then they are known as “conditions”. As long as it is not born, why are they not non-conditions?
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6. It is impossible for something that either exists or not to have conditions. If it were non-existent, of what would they be the conditions? If it were existent, why would it need conditions?
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7. When things cannot be established as either existent, non-existent or both, how can one speak of an “establishing cause.” Such would be impossible.
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8. An existent phenomenon is clearly said to have no object at all. If the phenomenon has no object, where can the object exist?
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9. If phenomena are not born, it is invalid for there to be cessation. Therefore, an immediate [condition] is unreasonable. What, having ceased, can also be a condition?
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10. Because the existence of essence-less things does not exist, it is incorrect to say:“When this exists, that arises.”
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11. There is no effect at all in the conditions individually or together. How can that which is not in the conditions itself be born from conditions?
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12. If, although the effect is not there, it is born from those conditions, why is an effect not born from what are not its conditions?
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13. Effects [are of] the nature of conditions. Conditions do not have own nature. How can those effects of what does not have own nature [be of] the nature of conditions?
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14. Therefore, [it does] not have the nature of conditions, nor is there an effect with the nature of non-conditions. Since there is no effect, what could [be its] non-conditions or conditions?
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L2: [2 – Investigation of Coming and Going (Walking)]
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1. Then there is no going in what has gone; there is no going also in what has not [yet] gone. Motion is unknowable apart from what has gone and not [yet] gone.
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2. Where there is moving, there there is going. Furthermore, because moving is within motion — and is neither gone nor not [yet] gone, therefore, there is going within motion.
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3. How can going be possible within motion? Because motion that is not going is impossible.
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Or, following the structure and wording of v. 10: “To claim that there is going within motion implies that there could be no going within motion, because it is asserted there is going within motion.”
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5. If there were going within motion, it would follow that going would be twofold: that by which one becomes someone in motion [in a place] and [that by which one] goes in that [place].
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6. If going were twofold, the goer also would be twofold, because going is impossible without a goer.
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7. If there were no goer, going would be impossible. If there were no going, where could a goer be existent?
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8. When a goer does not go, a non-goer cannot go; what third one other than a goer and a non-goer could go? [cf. v. 15]
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9. When a goer* is impossible without going, then how is it possible to say: “a goer goes”?
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10. To claim that a goer goes implies that there could be a goer who does not go, because it is asserted that a goer goes. [cf. v. 4]
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11. If the goer goes, it would follow that going would be twofold: that which reveals* the goer and that which goes once [he] has become a goer.
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12. If a beginning of going does not exist in what has gone, [if] a beginning of going does not exist also in what has not [yet] gone [and if] there does not exist a beginning within motion, wherein is a beginning of going made?
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13. Before a beginning of going, there is not any motion or anything which has gone wherein going could begin. How can going exist in what has not [yet] gone?
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14. If a beginning of going is simply not apparent in any way, examine: what has gone? what is motion? what has not [yet] gone?
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15. When a goer does not stay, a non-goer cannot stay; what third one other than a goer and a non-goer could stay? [cf. v. 8]
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16. When a goer is not possible without going, how then is it possible [to say]: “a goer stays.”
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17. There is no reversal of motion*, nor also of what has gone [and] what has not [yet] gone. [Reversal of] going, engagement [to stay] and reversal [of staying] are similar to going.
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18. It is inappropriate to say: “going and a goer are the same.” It is inappropriate to say: “going and a goer are different.”
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19. If whatever is going were a goer, it would follow that the actor and the act would be the same too.
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20. If going and a goer were conceived as different, there could be going without a goer and a goer without going.
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21. If things are not established as the same and as different, how can they be established?
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22. That very going by which a goer is made evident does not [enable a goer to] go. Because there is no [goer] before going, who would be going where?
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23. [A going] which is other than the going by which a goer is made evident does not [enable a goer to] go. Because it is impossible for going to be twofold within a single goer.
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24. One who is a goer does not go in the three aspects of going. Also one who is not [a goer] does not go in the three aspects of going.
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25. One who is and is not [a goer] also does not go in the three aspects of going. Therefore, going and a goer and also that which is gone over do not exist.
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L2: [3 – Investigation of the Sense Organs (Seeing)]
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1. Seeing and hearing and smelling and tasting and touching, mind are the six sense organs; their experienced objects are what-is-seen and so forth.
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2. Seeing does not see itself. How can what does not see itself see anything else?
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3. The example of fire is not able to fully establish seeing. It, along with seeing, has been refuted by “gone”, “not gone” and “going.”
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4. When not seeing the slightest thing, there is no act of seeing. How can it [then] be reasonable to say: “seeing sees”?
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5. Seeing does not see; non-seeing does not see. It should be understood that seeing explains the seer too.
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6. Without letting go of [seeing] a seer does not exist; in letting go of seeing, there is also [no seer]. If there is no seer, where can there be what-is-seen and seeing?
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7. Just as it is said that a child emerges in dependence on a father and a mother, likewise it is said that consciousness emerges in dependence upon an eye and a visual form.
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8. Because there is no what-is-seen and no seeing, the four such as consciousness do not exist. How can clinging etc. exist?
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9. It should be understood that seeing explains hearing and smelling and tasting and touching, mind, hearer, what is heard, etc.
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L2: [4 – Investigation of the Aggregates (Body)]
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1. Apart from the cause of form, form is not perceived. Apart from “form”, the cause of form also does not appear.
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2. If there were form apart from the cause of form, it would follow that form is without cause; there is no object at all that is without cause.
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3. If a cause of form existed apart from form, it would exist as a cause without fruit; causes without fruit do not exist.
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4. If form existed, a cause of form would be untenable; if form did not exist, a cause of form would be untenable.
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5. Forms which do not have a cause are not at all tenable. Therefore, do not conceive the concept of form at all.
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6. It is untenable to say, “the fruit is like the cause.” It is also untenable to say, “the fruit is unlike the cause.”
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7. Feeling and perception, impulses and mind and all things are comparable in every aspect, at every stage with form.
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8. When having argued by means of emptiness, everything of that one who objects is not an objection; it is similar to what is to be established .
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9. When having explained by means of emptiness, everything of that one who finds fault is not a fault; it is similar to what is to be established.
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L2: [5 – Investigation of the Elements (Space)]
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1. Not the slightest bit of space exists prior to the characteristics of space. If [space] existed prior to its characteristics, it would follow that it would be without characteristics.
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2. A thing without characteristics does not exist anywhere at all. If a thing without characteristics does not exist, to what do characteristics extend?
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3. Characteristics do not extend to that which has no characteristics; nor to what possesses characteristics. They also cannot extend to something other than what either possesses or does not have characteristics.
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4. If characteristics do not extend [to something] , something characterized would be impossible. If something characterized is impossible, characteristics too would not exist.
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5. Therefore, something characterized does not exist and characteristics do not exist. There also does not exist a thing which is apart from being something characterized or a characteristic.
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6. If there is not a thing, of what can there be a non-thing? By whom are the opposites thing and non-thing known [as] a thing and a non-thing?
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7. Therefore, space is not a thing; it is not a non-thing; it is not something characterized; it is not a characteristic. The other five elements too are similar to space.
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8. Those of small minds see things as existent and non-existent. They do not behold the utter pacification of what is seen.
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L2: [6 – Investigation of Desire and the Desirous One (Addiction)]
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1. If a desirous one without desire exists before desire, desire would exist dependent on that [desirous one]. [When] a desirous one exists, desire exists.
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2. If there were no desirous one, how could there be desire? The same follows for the desirous one too: [it depends on] whether desire exists or not.
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3. It is not reasonable for desire and the desirous one to arise as co-existent. In this way desire and the desirous one would not be mutually contingent.
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4. Identity has no co-existence: something cannot be co-existent with itself. If there were difference, how could there be co-existence?
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5. If the identical were co-existent, [co-existence] would also occur between the unrelated; if the different were co-existent, [co-existence] would also occur between the unrelated.
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6. If the different were co-existent, how would desire and the desirous one be established as different or, if that were so, [how would] those two be co-existent?
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7. If desire and the desirous were established as different, because of what could one understand them as co-existent?
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8. If one asserts them to be co-existent because they are not established as different, then because they would be very much established as co-existent, would one not also have to assert them to be different?
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9. Since different things are not established, co-existent things are not established. If there existed any different things, one could assert them as co-existent things.
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10. In that way, desire and the desirous one are not established as co-existent or not co-existent. Like desire, all phenomena are not established as co-existent or not co-existent.
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L2: [7 – Investigation of Birth, Abiding and Perishing[Skt. title is “investigation of the compounded – samskrta”] (Birth)]
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1. If birth were compounded, it would possess the three characteristics [of a compound]. If birth were uncompounded, how would it be a characteristic of a compound?
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2. The three such as birth cannot individually be that which characterises compounds. How is it possible for one at one time to be compounded [of all three]?
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3. If birth, abiding and perishing had an other characteristic of being compounded, this would be endless. If not, they would not be compounded.
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4. The birth of birth gives birth to the root birth alone. The root birth also is that which gives birth to the birth of birth.
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5. If your birth of birth gives birth to the root birth, how does that which is not yet born from your root give birth to that [root birth]?
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6. If that which is born from your root birth gives birth to the root, how does that root which is born from that give birth to that [from which it is born]?
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7. If that which has not been born is able to give birth to that, that of yours which is being born should be able to give birth to that.
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8. Just as lamplight illuminates itself and others, likewise birth too gives birth to both itself and the thing of others.
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9. Wherever lamplight is present there is no darkness. What does lamplight illuminate? It illuminates by dispelling darkness.
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10. If, when lamplight is being generated, it does not encounter darkness, how does the generation of lamplight dispel darkness?
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11. If darkness is dispelled even though it does not encounter lamplight, this [lamplight] dwelling here would eliminate the darkness that dwells in all the worlds.
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12. If lamplight illuminated itself and the thing of others, darkness too would without doubt obscure itself and the thing of others.
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13. How can unborn birth give birth to itself? If the born gives birth, when it has been born, what would be born?
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14. The born and the unborn, the being born do not in any way give birth. That has been explained by the gone, not gone and going.
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15. When being born does not arise in what is born, then how can one say “[it is] being born in dependence on the born”?
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16. Whatever is dependently arising, that is by nature pacified. Therefore, being born and what is born too are pacified.
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17. If any unborn thing existed anywhere, on being born that [unborn] thing would not exist. If so, what would be born?
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18. If that which has been born gives birth to what is being born, what [other thing] that has been born would be giving birth to that which has been born?
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19. If another [thing] that has been born gives birth [to it], this would be endless. If it is born without [another] which has been born [OR if it is born without being born], everything would be born like that [i.e. causelessly].
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20. Thus it is not reasonable for what exists or does not exist to be born. It has been shown above that there is no existent or non-existent.
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21. It is not tenable for a thing that is perishing to be born. It is not tenable for that which is not perishing to be a thing.
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22. A thing that has remained does not remain. A thing that has not [yet] remained does not remain. That which is remaining also does not remain. What unborn [thing] can remain?
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23. It is not possible for a thing that is perishing to remain. It is not possible for that which is not perishing to be a thing.
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24. If all things at all times are aging and dying phenomena, what things are there which could remain without aging and dying?
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25. It is not reasonable for what remains to remain due to something else that remains or due to itself. This is like how what has been born is not given birth to by itself or another. [cf. v.18-19]
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26. What has ceased does not cease. What has not ceased also does not cease. Likewise what is ceasing also does not. What unborn [thing] can cease? [cf. v. 22]
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27. It is not possible for a thing which has remained to cease. It is also not possible for a thing which has not remained to cease.
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28. A particular state [of something] does not cause that particular state itself to cease. Moreover, another particular state does not cause that particular state to cease.
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29. When the birth of all phenomena is not possible, then the cessation of all phenomena is not possible.
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30. Cessation is not possible in an existent thing. Thingness and nothingness are not possible in one.
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31. Cessation is not possible also in what is not a thing. This is similar to how there is no cutting off a second head. [i.e. a person cannot be beheaded twice]
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32. Cessation does not exist by its own self, nor does cessation [exist] by something else. This is like how what has been born is not given birth to by itself or another [cf. 25]
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33. Because birth and remaining and perishing are not established, there is no conditioned. Because the conditioned is utterly unestablished, how can the unconditioned be established?
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34. Like a dream, like a magician’s illusion, like a city of gandharvas, likewise birth and likewise remaining, likewise perishing are taught.
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L2: [8 – Investigation of Act and Actor (Actors)]
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1. One who exists as an actor does not do that which exists as an act. One who does not exist as an actor also does not do that which does not exist as an act.
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2. One who exists has no activity; [something] would also exist as an act without an actor. One who exists has no activity; [something] would also exist as an actor without an act.
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3. If one who does not exist as an actor did that which does not exist as an act, the act would have no cause; the actor too would have no cause.
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4. If there were no cause, effect and cause would not be evident. If they were non-existent, activity and agent and doing would not be evident.
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5. If activity etc. did not appear, dharma and adharma would not be evident. If dharma and adharma did not exist, there would be no fruit that comes from them.
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6. If there were no fruit, the path of liberation and higher states would not be appropriate. Also it would follow that all activities are meaningless.
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7. One who exists and does not exist as an actor does not do what exists and does not exist [as an act]. Since existence and non-existence are mutually contradictory in one [thing], where can they exist?
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8. One who exists as an actor does not do an act which is not existent. One who does not exist [as an actor] also does not do what exists [as an act]. Here too faults will follow for one.
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9. One who exists as an actor does not do what does not exist as an act and what neither exists or not [as an act], because of what was demonstrated by the proof above.
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10. One who does not exist as an actor does not do what exists as an act and what neither exists or not [as an act], because of what was demonstrated by the proof above.
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11. One who neither exists nor does not exist as an actor does not do that which exists and does not exist as an act. Here too this is to be known through the proof demonstrated above.
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12. An actor depends on acts and acts too occur in dependence on an actor. Apart from this, one does not see a cause which is established.
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13. Likewise, one should understand clinging, because act and actor are dispelled. Remaining things too should be understood by means of actor and act.
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L2: [9 – Investigation of the Presence of Something Prior (Already)]
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1. Some say that whatever is involved in seeing, hearing etc. and feeling etc. exists prior to them.
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2. If [that] thing is not evident, how can there be seeing etc? Therefore, the presence [of that] thing [must] exist before them.
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3. What configures/makes known that thing which is present before seeing and hearing etc. and feeling etc.?
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4. If it were present even without seeing etc., there would be no doubt that they would exist even without it.
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5. It is illuminated by them; they are illuminated by it. How could it exist without them? How could they exist without it?
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6. It is not evident prior to the totality of seeing etc. From among seeing etc. a different one illuminates [it] at different times.
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7. If it is not evident prior to the totality of seeing etc., how can it be evident prior to [each of them] seeing etc. individually?
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8. If the seer itself [were] the hearer and the feeler [were] it too, if it existed prior to each, in that way it would not make sense.
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9. If the seer were different, the hearer different, the feeler different, at the time the seer exists, there would be a hearer. Many selves would come about.
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10. Also it is not evident in the elements from which seeing and hearing etc. and feeling etc. occur.
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11. If that to which seeing and hearing etc. and feeling etc. belong is not evident, they too could not be evident.
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12. Reject the concepts “it exists,” “it doesn’t exist” about that which is not evident prior to, now or after seeing etc.
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L2: [10 – Investigation of Fire and Firewood (Fire)]
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1. If firewood were fire, actor and act would be one. If fire were other than wood, it would occur even without wood.
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2. [Fire] would burn permanently and would not arise from causes for burning. Starting [a fire] would be meaningless. If it were like that, there would also be no act.
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3. Because [fire] does not depend on anything else, it would not arise from causes for burning. If it burned permanently, starting it would be meaningless.
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4. Concerning this, if one thinks that while burning it is firewood, if it is such only at that time, by what could that firewood be ignited?
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5. Because [fire] is other, it would not connect; if it did not connect, it would not ignite; if it did not ignite, it would not die; if it did not die, it would also remain in possession of its own characteristic.
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6. Just as a woman connects with a man and a man too with a woman, although fire is other than wood, it is fit to connect with wood.
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7. If fire and wood eliminated each other, even though fire is something other than wood, it would have to connect with wood.
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8. If fire were dependent on wood and wood were dependent on fire, of what becomes fire and wood dependently, which would be established first?
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9. If fire were dependent on wood, [already] established fire would be established [again]. Firewood also would be [such] even without fire.
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10. If a thing (A) is established dependently (on B), [but] if what it depends upon (B) is established also in dependence on that very thing (A), what would be established in dependence on what?
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11. How can a thing (A) which is established dependently (on B) be dependent (on B) when it (A) is not established? If one asks, “how can establishment be dependent?” It is not reasonable for it (A) to be dependent.
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12. There is no fire that is dependent on wood; there is also no fire that is not dependent on wood. There is no wood that is dependent on fire; there is also no wood that is not dependent on fire.
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13. Fire does not come from something else; fire also does not exist in wood. Likewise, the remainder of wood has been shown by gone, not-gone and going.
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14. Wood itself is not fire; fire is also not something other than wood. Fire does not possess wood; wood does not exist in fire; that (fire) does not exist in it.
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15. Through fire and wood is explained without exception all the stages of self and the grasped and at the same time jugs, cloth and so on.
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16. I do not think those who teach the identity or difference of self and things are wise in the meaning of the teaching.
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L2: [11 – Investigation of Extremes of Before and After (Before)]
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1. When asked, “is a before-extreme evident?” the great Muni said, “it is not.” Samsara has no beginning, no end; it has no before, no after.
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2. For that without beginning [and] end, where can a middle be in that? Therefore, it is not possible for it to have before, after, and simultaneous phases.
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3. If birth were before and aging/death after, there would be birth without aging/death and also without dying one would be born.
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4. If birth were after and aging/death before, how could there be an uncaused aging/death which has no birth?
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5. It is not suitable for birth and aging/death to be simultaneous; that which is being born would be dying and both would be without cause.
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6. Why fixate on that birth, that aging/dying, for which the phases of before, after, simultaneity are impossible?
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7. It is not just samsara alone that has no before-extreme, cause and fruit themselves, and characteristics and the basis for characteristics themselves,
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8. feeling and the feeler, whatever is suitable to bear meaning, also all things have no before-extreme.
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L2: [12 – Investigation of Anguish (Anguish)]
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1. Some assert that anguish arises from being made by self, made by other, by both, without cause. To do that is not suitable.
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2. If it were made by self, therefore it would not be contingently arising, because those aggregates arise contingently on these aggregates.
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3. If that were other than this and if this were other than that, anguish would be made by other and that would be made by those others.
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4. If anguish were made by one’s own person, who would that person be who has made anguish by himself, but is not included in the anguish?
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5. If anguish arose from another person, how could it be suitable for there to be [someone] not included in the anguish, who has been given it by another who made the anguish?
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6. If anguish arose [from] another person, who would that other person be who, having made it, gives it to someone else, but is not included in the anguish?
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7. Since it is not established as made by self, how can anguish have been made by other? [For] whatever anguish is made by other, that has been made by his s