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A Commentary to Nagarjuna’s “Sixty Verses on Reasoning”

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A Commentary to Nagarjuna’s
“Sixty Verses on Reasoning”

by Gyaltsab Je, Darma Rinchen (1364-1432)

 

 

Translated by Nicholas Lashaw

with Geshe Michael Roach

 

 

Copyright ©2017 by Nicholas Lashaw. All rights reserved.
Sections may be reproduced with the author’s permission.
Please contact:

Volume 9 of the Classics of Middle Asia Series
Diamond Cutter Press
6490 Arizona Route 179A
Sedona, AZ 86351
USA

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A Commentary to Nagarjuna’s “Sixty Verses on Reasoning”

[1]

[folio 1a]

,RIGS PA DRUG CU PA’I t’IKKA BZHUGS SO,

 

Herein rests A Commentary to the “60 Verses on Reasoning”

 

 

[2]

[f. 1b]

,CHOS DBYINGS SPROS KUN NYE BAR ZHI BA’I MKHAR,

,GANG GI THUGS RJE’I DKYIL ‘KHOR SHAR BA YIS,

,BDAG BLO DAD PA’I MYU GU RGYAS GYUR PA’I,

,LAG PAD SPYI BOR ZUM BYED DE LA ‘DUD,

 

In the sky of the realm of reality,

All figments of our imagination

Have been put to their final rest.

As the disk of Your holy compassion

Rises above the horizon,

The faith in my heart blossoms and spreads,

Even as the lotus petals of my palms

Shut together atop my head—

And I bow myself to You.

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[3]

,GANG ZHIG SKAD CIG YID LA DRAN TZAM GYIS,

,RTAG CHAD MTHAR LTA’I RI BO RNAM ‘JOMS LA,

,BLA MED THEG MCHOG LAM LA BKRI BYED PA,

,MGON PO KLU SGRUB ZHABS LA PHYAG ‘TSAL LO,

 

When you think of this person

For even but a moment,

Then the mountain of extreme views—

The ideas that things could exist forever

Or not exist at all—

Crumbles and falls.

I bow to the one

Who leads me along the matchless path

Of the highest way;

I bow down to the feet

Of my protector, Nagarjuna.

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[4]

,THUB PA’I DBANG PO MYA NGAN ‘DAS GYUR NAS,

,DE YI BSTAN PA SNYIGS MAR GYUR PA NA,

,RTEN ‘BYUNG DE NYID STON PA’I SKYES GCIG PU,

,ZLA BA’I ZHABS LA’ANG ZOL MED SPYI BOS ‘DUD,

 

When the Lord of the Able Ones

Passed beyond this world,

His teachings descended to the dregs;

And there was only one

Who still taught dependence, suchness.

In devotion unfeigned

I bow my head

To the feet of Chandrakirti.

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[5]

,DE YI DGONGS DON MA NOR GSAL BAR STON,

,BLA MA MCHOG LA GUS PAS BTUD BYAS TE,

,RIGS PA’I DBANG PHYUG GANG GIS MDZAD PA YI,

,RIGS PA DRUG CU PA NI RNAM PAR DBYE,

 

With reverence I bow to my Lama supreme—

The teacher who made clear,

Without any error at all,

That master’s true intent.[1]

And so now I unravel for you

The Sixty Verses on Reasoning,

Composed by the Lord of Reasoning.

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[6]

,DE LA ‘DIR BDAG NYID CHEN PO ‘PHAGS PA KLU SGRUB KYIS MDZAD PA’I RIGS PA [f. 2a] DRUG CU PA NA {%NI} GANG BSHAD PAR BYA BA’I CHOS SO,,

 

The work that I will be commenting upon in this text is the Sixty Verses on Reasoning, composed by that great being, the realized one, Nagarjuna.

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[7]

DE YANG SPYIR BKA’ THAMS CAD KYI DGONGS PA MTHAR THUG DBU MA CHEN PO’I DON CAN DU BSTAN PAR BYA BA’I PHYIR, KHYAD PAR NYAN THOS SDE PA SKYE ‘JIG RANG BZHIN GYIS GRUB PAR ‘DOD PA DAG GI LOG RTOG DGAG PAR BYA BA’I PHYIR DE DAG LA YANG GRAGS PA’I NYAN THOS KYI SDE SNOD KYI LUNG DON RIGS PAS GTAN LA ‘BEBS PAR BYED PA YIN NO,,

 

My first, general goal is to demonstrate that the ultimate intent of everything which Lord Buddha ever taught was to express the ideas of the great Middle Way. More specifically, I will use logic to establish the meaning of the scriptures of the listener group[2]—something that even they recognize—in order to refute their mistaken position that things could start or stop on their own.

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[8]

‘DI LA, RTZOM PA’I SNGON ‘GRO MCHOD BRJOD DANG, BRTZAMS PAR BYA BA’I GZHUNG DNGOS, BRTZAMS PA’I DGE BA BSNGO BA’O,,

 

To meet these goals, we will proceed in three steps: explaining the offering of praise which Arya Nagarjuna makes as a preliminary to composing his text; the actual text that he has composed; and his dedication of the virtue created by this composition.

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[9]

DANG PO LA, DGOS PA’I DON, BSDUS DON, TSIG DON GSUM GYIS ‘CHAD PA NI,

 

There are three parts to the first of these: establishing the purpose of the offering; a summary of its content; and a discussion of the meaning of each word. We begin then with the first verse of Arya Nagarjuna’s text:

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[10]

(1)

 

{@insert Sanskrit here}

 

,GANG GIS SKYE DANG ‘JIG PA DAG ,

,TSUL ‘DI YIS NI SPANGS GYUR PA,

,RTEN CING ‘BYUNG BA GSUNG BA YI,

,THUB DBANG DE LA PHYAG ‘TSAL LO,

,ZHES PA’O,,

 

I bow down to that Lord of the Able Ones,

Who with this method rid himself of the idea

That anything could start or stop;

The one who said that things occur in dependence.

 

 

[11]

DE LA DGOS PA NI, RANG NYID YA RABS DAM PA’I SPYOD PA DANG MTHUN PAR BSTAN PA’I PHYIR DANG,

 

What is the purpose of this verse of praise? It is to demonstrate that Nagarjuna himself is acting in accordance with the holy actions of the honorable ones.

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[12]

BSTAN BCOS RTZOM PA’I BYA BA MTHAR PHYIN PAR BYA BA’I PHYIR YIN NO,,

 

It is also for the purpose of ensuring that he completes the composition of the work.[3]

 

 

[13]

PA TSAB KYI ZHAL NAS, ‘PHAGS PA YAB SRAS MCHOD BRJOD LA DGOS PA MI BZHED DE, DGOS PA ‘GA’ ZHIG LA DMIGS NAS, DE BLO YUL DU BYAS [f. 2b] NAS MCHOD BRJOD BYED PA MA YIN NO,,

 

Pa-tsab[4] says that he doesn’t accept the idea that the realized one and his spiritual son[5] had any particular goal in mind when they made their offerings of praise. They didn’t consider a number of possible goals and then bring some particular one to mind at that point.

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[14]

‘O NA JI ZHE NA, YUL KHYAD PAR CAN LA DAD PA DRAG PO SKYES NAS DAD PA KHA SHOR GYI PHYAG MDZAD PA YIN TE, DPER NA, DAD LDAN ‘GA’ ZHIG DGOS PA LA RTOG DPYOD MI BYED PAR GANG DU SKYABS ‘GRO THOL BYUNG DU ‘BYUNG BA BZHIN ZHES GSUNG SKAD,

 

And suppose you were to ask Pa-Tsab, “Well then, why did the master offer this prostration?” He would reply, “It was because he was suddenly overcome by fierce feelings of faith toward an extraordinary object of virtue, and spontaneously threw himself on the ground. It’s like, for example, when someone with a lot of faith suddenly decides to go for refuge, without considering any specific goal.”

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[15]

GTZANG PA SA RBOS NA RE, DE LTAR DGOS PA MI BZHED DE, BZHED NA ‘PHAGS PA YAB SRAS CHOS CAN, GANG ZAG DAM PA MA YIN PAR THAL,

 

Neither does Sabu of Tsang[6] accept that Nagarjuna had any particular goal in mind here. And if you were to assert that he did have such a goal, Sabu would reply with this argument:

 

Consider the realized one and his spiritual son,

 

Are you saying that they aren’t holy people?

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[16]

DGOS PA’I LAN LA RE BA DANG BCAS PA’I PHYIR, DPER NA TSONG PA BZHIN ZHES ‘KHOR GSUM KHAS BLANGS DANG DAM BCA’ LA LUNG DANG GRAGS PAS BSAL BA’I THAL ‘GYUR ‘GOD LA,

 

And if you replied, “Why do you say that?” he would answer you with the following sarcastic statement, meant to show how what you accept denies the very thing you seek to prove; and how your position contradicts both scripture and common knowledge:

 

Because, according to you, they are hoping for some reward

for themselves, by performing this prostration.

 

They thus become, for example, nothing more than traders.

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[17]

RMA BYA BYANG YES NA RE, DE LTAR DGOS PA MI BZHED DE, SA LA GNAS PA’I CHAGS BRAL GYI GNAS SKABS YIN PAS, BLANG DOR GYI DMIGS PA THAMS CAD BCOM NAS DGOS PA RTZIR MED PA’I PHYIR CES GZHAN LA GRAGS KYI GTAN TSIGS ‘GOD LA,

 

Jangchub Yeshe of Maja[7] doesn’t agree either that there is any special reason for Nagarjuna to bow down here. In support of this he uses the type of logical reason which is based on the opponent’s common knowledge, saying that by this point the Arya had already reached the level of a bodhisattva, and rid himself of desire. He had as well destroyed all appearances that some things should be taken up and some things should be avoided. As such, says Jangchub Yeshe, there is no use trying to determine what Nagarjuna’s goals might have been.

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[18]

ZHANG THANG SAG PAS KYANG, RIGS PA DRUG CU PA’I t’IKKAR DE DAG DANG MTHUN PAR BKOD MOD,

 

Shang Tangsakpa,[8] in his own commentary to the Sixty Verses, has as well put forth arguments that are in keeping with those of the three teachers mentioned above.

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[19]

‘THAD PA MA YIN TE,

 

All of these arguments however, are incorrect.

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[20]

DE LA RE SHIG PHYOGS DANG PO MI RIGS TE, THAR PA DON GNYER GYI BLO BCOS MA MA YIN PA BSKYED PA’I GANG ZAG DGOS PA LA MI BLTOS PAR ‘GYUR TE, DANG BA SKYES NAS CHOS BYED PA’I PHYIR, RIN PHRENG DU, DAD CAN NYID PHYIR CHOS LA BRTEN ZHES GSUNGS SO,,

 

Let’s briefly take a look at how the first position is wrong:

 

According to Pa-Tsab’s view, a person who has reached an uncontrived aspiration for freedom would have to never be acting for the purpose of reaching some goal, since they would be undertaking their practice solely out of intense feelings of faith. As the String of Jewels says, “They follow their practice for faith itself.”[9]

 

 

[21]

GNYIS PA’ANG MI RIGS TE, DAM PA BYA BA GANG BYED KYANG GZHAN DON LA ‘JUG PAR MTHONG BA’I PHYIR,

 

The second argument is wrong as well. We can see for ourselves that whatever it is that holy people do, they do it for the sake of benefitting others.

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[22]

GSUM PA’ANG MI RIGS TE, MNYAM GZHAG TU BCOM PA’I PHYIR ZER NA, KHYAB PA MA NGES SHING, RJES THOB TU BCOM PA MI ‘GRUB STE, BLANG BYA LEN ZHING DOR BYA ‘DOR BA’I PHYIR,

 

The third idea is also mistaken. If Jangchub Yeshe is saying that it’s during a state of deep meditation that one has destroyed all appearances, and thus Nagarjuna has no goal in mind, then we would say that it’s not necessarily the case. If he’s saying that they have been destroyed during the aftermath period, following such a meditation, then we would say he is simply wrong—since we do at this point undertake certain actions and avoid others.

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[23]

DES NA ‘PHAGS PA YAB SRAS CHOS CAN, RTOGS LDAN MIN PAR THAL, DGOS MED KYI BYA BA LA ‘JUG PA’I PHYIR, GANG ZAG RMONGS PA BZHIN,

 

Therefore I can offer the following debate:

 

Consider the realized one and his spiritual son.

Are you saying that they are not people of great understanding?

 

Why do you say that?

 

Because they perform actions that have no purpose.

They are, for example, like people who are very confused.

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[24]

THAL BA KHAS BLANGS DANG BSAL BA [f. 3a] STON TSUL ‘OG TU ‘CHAD PAS MA SPROS SO,,

 

You would accept the necessity of the conclusion here. As for how it is mistaken, I will not expand on that here, as we will be covering it below.

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[25]

BSDUS PA’I DON NI, BSTOD PHYAG GNYIS BSTOD PA LA RTEN ‘BYUNG GSUNG BA DANG, SKYE ‘JIG SPANGS PA DANG, DE TSUL JI LTAR SPANGS PA RNAMS KYIS BSTAN TO,,

 

As for our summary of this section, we can proceed in two steps of the words of praise; and then the prostration. The praise itself is expressed by saying that Lord Buddha gave the teachings on dependence and that he rid himself of the belief that things could start or stop; and by describing the way in which he overcame that belief.

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[26]

TSIG DON LA DNGOS DANG, RTZOD SPANG GNYIS SO, DANG PO LA, PHYED PHYI MA’I TSIG DON NI, PHYAG ‘TSAL LO,

 

Our discussion of the meaning of the words of praise will have two parts: first, the actual meaning of these words; and second, a defense against several objections that people might raise. Let’s begin by looking at the meaning of the first half-line of the verse, which says, “I bow down.”

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[27]

GANG LA NA, RTEN ‘BYUNG GSUNG BA KHO NAS THUB DBANG DU BZHAG CING, RTEN ‘BYUNG GSUNG BA’I THUB DBANG DE LA’O,,

 

And who is it that Nagarjuna is bowing down to? There is a being whom we establish as being the Lord of the Able Ones,[10] for no more reason than that he taught the concept of dependence; and it is to this one—the Lord of the Able who spoke dependence—that he bows.

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[28]

THUB DBANG NYID KYANG RTEN ‘BYUNG GSUNG BA’I ‘JOG BYED KYI RGYU YIN TE, GZHAN LA NUS PA MED PA’I PHYIR,

 

Deciding whether someone is the Lord of the Able Ones or not depends on whether that person has taught dependence. This is because no one else has that kind of ability.

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[29]

NYAN THOS DANG, RANG SANGS RGYAS DANG, BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ RNAMS KYANG THUB PA’I DBANG POS BSTAN PA NYID LAS RTAGS {%RTOGS} NUS PA YIN GYI, RANG DBANG DU NUS PA MED DO,,

 

Listeners, self-made buddhas, and bodhisattvas[11] are able to understand dependence from the teachings of the Lord of the Able Ones, but they don’t have the capacity to do so on their own.

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[30]

DE LTA NA THUB DBANG DU ‘GRUB PA RTEN ‘BYUNG GSUNG BA NGES PA LA BLTOS, DE YANG THUB DBANG DU NGES PA LA BLTOS PAS PHAN TSUN BLTOS PA’I PHYIR, GNYIS KA MI ‘GRUB BO ZHE NA,

 

Someone may come and raise the following objection,

 

Based on what you’ve said, deciding whether or not someone is a Lord of the Able Ones depends on determining whether or not they are teaching dependence. But that in itself depends on determining whether or not they are indeed a Lord of the Able Ones. Since proving one depends upon proving the other, neither can be proved!

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[31]

PHAN TSUN BLTOS PAS NGO BO NYID KYIS MI ‘GRUB PA ‘DOD LA, SPYIR MI ‘GRUB PAR THAL NA NI KHYAB PA MED DO,,

 

We can agree that the two depend upon each other, and so neither is proven in and by itself. To say though that it is therefore the case that they cannot, in general, be proven is not a necessary conclusion.

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[32]

YON TAN GZHAN GYIS MI BSTOD PAR RTEN ‘BYUNG GSUNG BA KHO NAS BSTOD PA CI ZHE NA,

 

Another question someone may ask is: “Why is it that Lord Buddha is being praised only because he has taught dependence? Why can we not praise him for his other good qualities?”

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[33]

BSTOD PA PO’I RANG BZHIN DANG, BSTOD PA’I RNAM PA DANG, BSTOD PA’I RGYU’O,,

 

In reply we can talk about the nature of the one who has made the praise; the form that the praise takes; and the reason for the praise.

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[34]

DANG PO NI, SLOB DPON RANG NYID DE KHO NA NYID RTOGS PAS DGYES PA’I KHYAD PAR BRNYES PA DANG, RTEN ‘BREL RTOGS PAS YON TAN THAMS CAD KYI ‘BYUNG GNAS SU GZIGS PA’O,,

 

First, the master has himself reached a certain kind of joy caused by perceiving suchness; and he has seen that understanding dependence is the source of all good qualities.

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[35]

GNYIS PA NI, GSUNG BYA RTEN ‘BYUNG RANG BZHIN GYIS MA SKYES PAS, MTHAR LTA’I DRI MA THAMS CAD DANG BRAL BA DE STON BYED DU GYUR PAS YON TAN GYI DBANG PHYUG TU GYUR PA’O,,

 

Second, the dependence that was taught didn’t start on its own. That is, it too is free of each and every stain of extreme views. The one who teaches this dependence, then, is the lord of every good quality.

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[36]

GSUM PA NI, SLOB DPON RTEN ‘BYUNG ‘CHAD PAR BZHED PA DANG, DE STON [f. 3b] PA PO DE BZHIN GSHEGS PA LA GUS PA BSKYED PA’O,,

 

Third, the Master intends to teach dependence in his own work, so it is proper that he should show respect to the one who first taught it—the One Gone Thus.

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[37]

PHYED PHYI MA’I TSIG DON NI, GANG GIS RTEN CING ‘BREL PAR ‘BYUNG BA RANG GI MTSAN NYID KYIS SKYE BA DANG ‘JIG PA TSUL ‘DI YIS SPANGS PAR GYUR PA’I THUB DBANG DE LA PHYAG ‘TSAL LO,

 

Now for the meaning of the rest of the verse: “I bow down to the Lord of the Able Ones, who was able to rid himself of the idea that things could start or stop through some nature of their own, by employing this method of understanding the meaning of dependence.”

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[38]

THUB PA NI LUS NGAG YID GSUM THUB PA’O,,

 

The literal meaning of “Able One” is that this person has been able to perfect the three of what they do; what they say; and what they think.

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[39]

DBANG LA PHYUG PA DANG, DBANG CHE BA GNYIS TE, TSOGS GNYIS BSAGS PA DANG NYAN THOS SOGS LA MNGA’ BSGYUR BAS SO,,

 

Our Buddha is the “lord” (wangpo) of these Able Ones in the sense that he is both rich in power (wang) and also of greater power (wang). This is because he has completed the two collections, and also because he holds dominion over the listeners and the rest.

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[40]

TSUL ‘DIS ZHES PA LA BSHAD TSUL BZHI STE, RGYU ‘BRAS PHAN TSUN BLTOS PA DANG, SNGA MA LA BRTEN NAS PHYI MA RIM BZHIN DU ‘BYUNG BA DANG, DE KHO NA NYID RTOGS TSUL GYI RIM PA DANG, ‘CHAD PAR ‘GYUR BA’I RIGS PA’I TSUL LO,,

 

The expression “with this method” can be explained in four different ways: (1) through understanding that causes and effects exhibit a mutual dependence; (2) through understanding that later effects occur, in succession, depending on earlier causes; (3) through the various stages of the method for perceiving suchness; and (4) through the method of logical reasoning that will be explained here.

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[41]

DE’I DBANG GIS GANG GIS LA YANG BZHI STE, RGYU GANG GIS DANG, GSUNG BA PO GANG GIS DANG, THUB DBANG DU ‘JOG PA’I RGYU GANG GIS DANG, ‘THAD PA GANG GIS ZHES SO,,

 

Four methods imply four factors: causes acting as factors; a teacher acting as a factor; the reason for deciding that someone is a Lord of the Able Ones, acting as a factor; and the veracity of an argument acting as a factor.

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[42]

RTEN ‘BYUNG GSUNG BAS THUB DBANG YIN PAR MA ZAD KYI, DNGOS PO RNAMS KYI RANG BZHIN GYIS SKYE BA DANG ‘JIG PA BKAG PA’I PHYIR YANG THUB DBANG NGO,,

 

Teaching dependence is not the only thing that can make one a Lord of the Able: we also give this name to someone who has denied that things which do something could either start or stop through some nature of their own.

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[43]

GANG GIS SPANGS NA, RGYU ‘BRAS PHAN TSUN BLTOS PA’I TSUL ‘DI YIS SO,,

 

What is it that enables us to rid ourselves of that wrong idea? It is the method where we realize that causes and effects exhibit a mutual dependence.

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[44]

‘BRAS BU ‘BRAS BUR ‘JOG PA RGYUS BSKYED PA DANG, RGYU RGYUR ‘JOG PA YANG ‘BRAS BU SKYE BA LA BLTOS PAS SO,,

 

This is because we can only say that a result is a result when a cause has produced it; and because we can only say that a cause is a cause once the result has grown.

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[45]

YANG SKYE BA DANG ‘JIG PA DAG SPANGS SO,

 

We can also say that one is a Lord of the Able when they have employed the method of ridding themselves of the idea of starting and stopping.

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[46]

GSUNG BA PO GANG GIS TSUL JI LTAR NA, SNGA MA LA BRTEN NAS PHYI MA ‘BYUNG BA’I TSUL ‘DI YIS SO,

 

What kind of method is involved when someone teaches? Here, it is where what comes later occurs in dependence upon what comes earlier.

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to be continued!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

  1. Works originally written in Sanskrit

 

S1

Nāgārjuna (Tib: Klu-sgrub), c. 200ad. Sixty Verses on Reasoning (Yuktiaṣṭhakā Kārikā [@check carving since Chandra repeats Yuktiaṣṭikā]) (Tib: Rigs-pa drug-cu-pa’i tsig-le’ur byas pa, Tibetan translation at ACIP digital text TD03825, ff. 20b-22b of Vol. 17 [Tza] in the Middle-Way Section [Madhyāmaka, dBu-ma] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition])

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S2

Nāgārjuna (Tib: Klu-sgrub), c. 200ad. The String of Precious Jewels, Words Offered to the King (Rāja Parikathā Ratna Mālī) (Tib: rGyal-po la gtam-bya-ba Rin-po-che’i phreng-ba, Tibetan translation at TD04158, ff. 107a-126a of Vol. 93 [Ge] in the Epistles Section [Lekha, sPring-yig] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

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S3

Maitreya (Tib: Byams-pa), as dictated to Asaṅga (Tib: Thogs-med), c. 350ad. The Jewel of Realizations, a Book of Advices upon the Perfection of Wisdom (Abhisamayālakāra Nāma Prajñāpāramitopadeśa Śāstra) (Tib: Shes-rab kyi pha-rol tu phyin-pa’i man-ngag gi bstan-bcos mNgon-par rtogs-pa’i rgyan, Tibetan translation at TD03786, ff. 1b-13a of Vol. 1 [Ka] in the Perfection of Wisdom Section [Prajñāpāramitā, Shes-phyin] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

 

  1. Works originally written in Tibetan

 

B1

rGyal-tsab rje (Dar-ma rin-chen) (1364-1432). A Commentary to the “60 Verses on Reasoning” (Rigs-pa drug-cu-pa’i ’ikka, ACIP digital text S05443), 33ff.

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B2

rGyal-tsab rje (Dar-ma rin-chen) (1364-1432), editor. Notes to a Teaching [by Je Tsongkapa] upon the “60 Verses on Reasoning (Rigs-pa drug-cu-pa’i zin-bris, S05403), 11ff.

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B3

‘Gos lo-tztsa-ba (gZhon-nu dpal) (1392-1481). The Blue Annals: The Stages in which Buddhist Teachings and Teachers Appeared in the Land of Tibet (Bod kyi yul du chos dang chos smra-ba ji-ltar byung-ba’i rim-pa Deb-ther sngon-po, S@), in 3 volumes. Also translated into English, by George Roerich (Kolkata: Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1949; reprint by Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, 1978), 1275pp.

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B4

(dGe-bshes Gro-lung-pa) Blo-gros ‘byung-gnas (c. 1100ad). An Explanation of the Steps to the Path for Entering into the Precious Teachings of Those Who Have Gone to Bliss (bDe-bar gshegs-pa’i bstan-pa rin-po-che la ‘jug-pa’i lam gyi rim-pa rnam-par bshad-pa) [popular title: The Great Book on the Steps to the Teaching (bsTan-rim chen-mo), S00070], in two volumes.

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B5

rGyal-tsab rje Dar-ma rin-chen (1364-1432). The Essence of an Ocean of Fine Explanation for Higher Knowledge: An Explication of the “Compendium of All the Teachings on Higher Knowledge” (mNgon-pa kun las btus-pa’i rnam-bshad Legs-par bshad-pa’i chos-mngon rgya-mtso’i snying-po, ACIP S05435), 215ff.

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[1] The teacher who made clear: Gyaltsab Je here bows to his own immediate teacher, Je Tsongkapa Lobsang Drakpa (1357-1419). The name “Gyaltsab Je” in fact means “Lord Regent,” indicating our author’s position as the direct successor of Tsongkapa in the lineage. The fact that Gyaltsab Je is continuing his own teacher’s commentarial tradition to Nagarjuna’s work is reflected by the lecture notes we have included at the conclusion of the present volume; they were taken by Gyaltsab Je himself when Je Tsongkapa taught the same text, and were preserved for the next six centuries.

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[2] Listener group: A reference to Buddhist practitioners who do not accept the Mahayana, or Greater Way, which is characterized by an advanced understanding of emptiness and a desire to reach enlightenment to assist all living beings.

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[3] Ensuring the completion: The idea being that the task of completing the composition of a major work requires a great deal of good karma; and this karma is most easily collected by bowing down to a holy being—in this case, Lord Buddha.

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[4] Pa-Tsab has said: Nyima Drak of Pa-Tsab (Pa-tsab Nyi-ma grags, aka sPa-tsab Nyi-ma grags), a master translator who is said in the Blue Annals of Gu Lo-tsawa to have prepared a translation of the Sixty Verses, and to have taught it to a master named Tunpa, and others, in the 1100’s (see p. 290 and p. 415 of Vol. 1; %B3, S@).

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[5] Realized one and his spiritual son: Referring to Nagarjuna and to his disciple, Aryadeva.

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[6] Sabu of Tsangpa: This master (whose name is spelled gTzang-pa Sa-rbos, or Sar-sbos) is mentioned briefly in the Blue Annals as having taught Middle-Way philosophy, around the late 1100’s; see p. 505 of Vol. 1 (%B3, S@).

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[7] Jangchub Yeshe of Maja: His name (rMa-bya Byang-chub ye-shes) is sometimes abbreviated to simply Jangye of Maja (rMa-bya Byang-ye). Said in the Blue Annals to have been, along with Tsangpa Sabu, one of the four major disciples of Pa-Tsab; and to have taught the Sixty Verses (p. 417 and p. 290, respectively, in %B3, S@).

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[8] Shang Tangsakpa: Referring to Yeshe Jungne (Ye-shes ‘byung-gnas), who again according to the Blue Annals was one of the four major disciples, and who founded Tangsak Monastery for the study of Middle-Way literature.

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[9] On faith alone: Gyaltsab Je creates a statement of consequence based upon Nagarjuna himself to prove his point; see f. 107a, %S2, TD04158.

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[10] Able Ones: A synonym for “Buddhas” which will be explained below. The corresponding Sanskrit is Muni, which also connotes spiritual silence.

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[11] Listeners, self-made buddhas, and bodhisattvas: As described above, “listeners” are practitioners who lack the motivation to reach full enlightenment for the sake of all living beings, although they do listen to teachings on this subject and can even pass those teachings on to others. See for example Geshe Drolungpa’s great classic, The Great Book on the Steps of the Teaching, f. 374b, Volume 2 (%B4, S00070-2).

“Self-made buddhas” are not real Buddhas, but rather people who can reach a lower nirvana without the aid of a teacher in this lifetime—although only because they have relied on countless mentors in their past lives. See f. 194a of Gyaltsab Je’s own commentary to Master Asanga’s Compendium of Higher Knowledge (%B@, S05435)

“Bodhisattvas” here refers to practitioners who do possess the high motivation to reach Buddhahood so that they can help all beings; but in the present context this is limited to those bodhisattvas who have yet to attain full enlightenment. See the classic definition of their state of mind in Lord Maitreya’s Jewel of Realizations, f. 2b, %S3, TD03786.

Source: http://texts.10000booksofwisdom.com/a-commentary-to-nagarjunas-sixty-verses-on-reasoning/