June 14, 2006 at 6:41 am #14787
I recently found out by reading The Forge and the Crucible, by Mircea Eliade (a book recommended some time ago here by Michael Winn), that Nagarjuna was the author of many alchemical manuscripts… This confirmed my gut feelings about, my reading of, his maha-prajnaparamita-sastra, a book which is much different from the out-of-context logical arguments he published in response to his detractors, which he is mainly known for. Nagarjuna uses ’emptiness’, as a deconstructive conceptual technique, as a method for uncovering and tuning in to essence; he is very careful about repetitively pointing this out in the above book (which book I’ve quoted on this forum before). There are many variations on the deconstructive methods he uses; ‘informational’ methods for debugging the mindstream of its false attributions; but they are meant as aids in an alchemical operation, distilling of essence.
SimonJune 15, 2006 at 6:00 am #14788
Thanks for the link.
It would be great if someone translated those alchemy texts he wrote eh? Maybe they have; I’ll look around.
What you say about his use of the negative method sounds right on to me: escaping the surface language mind’s tendency to become identified with its own-cum-collective constructions. It is actually what he meant by the term ‘sunyata’–a conceptual system (‘prapanca’) for just that. The book Orderly Chaos: The Mandala Principle, by Chogyam Trungpa, is also about this, but differently approached–very skillfully so.
SimonJune 18, 2006 at 6:56 am #14790
Nagarjuna, of course, was not Tibetan.
His use of ‘sunyata’ was unique to him (though he was influenced by tradition, as are we all); later, it was elaborated upon, not just by Tibetans, but by Indians; therefore, the Tibetan idea of ‘sunyata’, is not necesarily the same as Nagarjuna’s original idea of same. Indeed, the very deceptiveness of ‘words’ was integral to his efforts (and of other early ‘buddhists’)–and to the efforts of ‘the buddha’ (a great trick of dogmatic movements I am very wary of, is to take the teachings of spiritual super-geeks/freaks and make it into ‘something else’–I am not implicating you in this at all though, please note! I’m just asserting my essentially defensive, cornered-animal, sceptical stance. Did not Sakyamuni and other weirdos advocate such?).
I feel there is an important difference between ‘meditative arts’, as they are developed within a given culture or community (which I hold as inestimably precious and worthy of devoted study and practice), and what a certain person himself or herself realised/attained, and meant by his or her terms of reference.
Was Nagarjuna a ‘buddhist’, for example? To wit: He was not a buddhist; not, not a buddhist; not both; not neither. Also, he could have been attributed to have been all of the preceding; as Nagarjuna detailed in the book mentioned in its translated title below, the positive to the oft-quoted fourfold negative, is also plausible… Of course things ‘exist’… But not as ‘fixed entities’… Yet, insofar as they are experienced as ‘fixed entities’, they do exist as such… And the universe DOES obey certain definite laws…which are maleable, and which, yet, are trumped by ‘the absolute’ (“(which) transcends all determinations, yet does not exclude anything determinate, and therefore is itself undeniable.”). Of course you know this.
I would refer you to the book I’ve quoted often on this forum: Nagarjuna’s Philosophy (a book which may or may not be one that is known by Tibetan teachers of buddhism–translated by Krishniah Venkata Ramanen, who was educated in India, England, and China–in that it was only available in a Chinese edition).
The mindstates you mentioned are natural to human experience, I would submit; different names can be given to them, but they are accesible to any person who has the gumption to explore his or her experience. And where does the impulse to explore come from (which then leads to classificatory systems)? Questions like this greatly intrigue and motivate me. At the same time I am a devotee of traditional classificatory systems, which I lean on, and find to be a tremendous boon.
SimonJune 19, 2006 at 9:15 am #14792
Apparently he influenced alchemy… (but no, the book doesn’t really say much about that, as I recall, though we know he made lots of people very uncomfortable/enlightened them).
I do highly recommend that book–I just bumbled across it in the library.
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