Verses from the Centre

by Nāgārjuna | 44,903 words

The Mūlamadhyamakakārikā ("Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way") is a key text of the Madhyamaka-school, written by Nagarjuna, one of the most important Buddhist philosophers. The Mulamadhyamakakarika is not only a grand commentary on the Buddha's discourse to Kaccayana, the only discourse cited by name, but also a detailed and careful ...

Chapter 12 - Investigation of Anguish

(anguish) - (sdug bsngal)

[Tib. has "Investigation of what is made by me and made by others" while Skt. has duhkha.]



1. kha cig sdug bsngal bdag gis byas/
gzhan gyis byas dang gnyi gas byas/
rgyu med pa* las 'byung bar 'dod/
de ni bya bar mi rung ngo//

[Lha. *par]

1. Some assert that anguish arises from being made by self, made by other, by both, without cause. To do that is not suitable.



2. gal te bdag gis byas gyur na/
de phyir brten nas 'byung mi 'gyur/
gang phyir phung po 'di dag la/
brten nas phung po de dag 'byung//

2. If it were made by self, therefore it would not be contingently arising, because those aggregates arise contingently on these aggregates.

[A difficulty with this entire chapter is to know what bdag (self) refers to in the context of the creation of anguish. Does it refer to "oneself", i.e. the person who suffers, or to anguish "itself?" In verse 2, the latter reading would seem to suggest itself, but then it would be at odds with the subsequent verses, where Nagarjuna explicitly introduces the ideas of svapudgala and parapudgala (one's own person and the other person) as the creators of anguish. Verse 10, with its comparison of anguish with external things, likewise would suggest the latter reading. I have chosen to translate the entire chapter (thus leaving v. 10 ambiguous) in the former sense. The crucial issue here, I feel, is the confusion around what it means to say "I cause myself pain."]



3. gal te 'di las de gzhan zhing/
gal te de las 'di gzhan na/
sdug bsngal gzhan gyis byas 'gyur zhing/
gzhan de dag gis de byas 'gyur//

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.

[ Ts. 244 is happy with the reading of lines c-d by Buddhapalita and Sherab Dronme: gzhan de dag gis 'di byas pas/sdug bsngal gzhan gyis byas par 'gyur -- which is equivalent to "...anguish would be made by others since those others made this."]



4. gal te gang zag bdag gis ni/
sdug bsngal byas na gang bdag gis/
sdug bsngal byas pa'i gang zag ni*/
sdug bsngal ma gtogs gang zhig yin//

[Lha. *de]

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?



5. gal te gang zag gzhan las ni/
sdug bsngal 'byung na gzhan zhig gis/
sdug bsngal de byas gang sbyin de/
sdug bsngal ma gtogs ji ltar rung//

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?



6. gal te gang zag gzhan sdug bsngal/
'byung na gang gis de byas nas/
gzhan la ster ba'i gang zag gzhan/
sdug bsngal ma gtogs gang zhig yin//

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?

[Ts. 246 points out that this verse is not found in Buddhapalita or Sherab Dronme, but is found in Chandrakirti.]



7. bdag gis byas par ma grub pas/
sdug bsngal gzhan gyis ga la byas/
gzhan gyis sdug bsngal gang byed pa/
de ni de yi bdag byas 'gyur//

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 self.



8. re zhig sdug bsngal bdag byas min/
de nyid kyis ni de ma byas/
gal te gzhan bdag ma byas na/
sdug bsngal gzhan byas ga la 'gyur//

8. Anguish is not made [by] self; that is not made by that itself. If it is not made by an other self, how can anguish be made by other?



9. gal te re res byas gyur na/
sdug bsngal gnyis kas byas par 'gyur/
bdag gis ma byas gzhan ma byas*/
sdug bsngal rgyu med ga la 'gyur//

[Lha. gzhan gyis ma byas bdag ma byas*]

9. If it is made by each, anguish would be made by both. Not made by self, not made by other, how can anguish have no cause?



10. sdug bsngal 'ba' zhig rnam pa bzhi/
yod ma yin par ma zad kyi/
phyi rol dngos po dag la yang/
rnam pa bzhi po yod ma yin//

10. Not only does anguish alone not have the four aspects, external things too do not have the four aspects.



bdag gis byas pa dang gzhan gyis byas pa brtag pa zhes bya ba ste rab tu byed pa bcu gnyis pa'o//


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