David Ross Komito
(Snow Lion)Nagarjuna as an abbot in a Buddhist monastery gave lectures to a large audience of seekers. Two of his students always smelled of sandalwood, and, it turned out, were not only sweet-smelling, but were water serpents. Only in Tibet.
Well, Nagarjuna went off with them to the octopus' garden under the sea to study the "Perfection of Wisdom" sutras, and then returned to teach these elements of perfection.
We have here seventy stanzas "Explaining How Phenomena Are Empty of Inherent Existence." The stanzas are presented in order, then are repeated with an exact translation in Tibetan, along with commentary by the author. This edition was done with the assistance of a master from the Sera Monastery in Tibet, Geshe Sonam Rinchen.
It's rough waters there in the oceans of what the translator refers to as "The Buddhist Psychology of Emptiness." It's not unlike trying to wade through Hume, Locke, Whitehead, et al., all at once. For example, Stanza 46 tells us:
If form depends upon the nature of the four inherently existing elements then it should be like the four elements, that is, it should have a fourfold nature. Alternatively, the four inherently existing elements would have to have a singular nature, like form. But because form doesn't have a fourfold nature like the elements, and because the elements do not have a singular nature like form, therefore, how could form arise from the four inherently existing elements as its cause? In fact, form exists conventionally through a dependent relationship with the four elements.
Get it? Neither did we. It puts us in mind of Byron's comments about Coleridge, who
has lately taken wing,
But like a hawk encumber'd with his hood, ---
Explaining metaphysics to the nation ---
I wish he would explain his Explanation.
If the exotics of Buddhism are your meat, so to speak, then you could easily spend the next ten years trying to understand these water dragon truths. Since, in Buddhist world, time doesn't exist --- perhaps one could do worse things with one's life. Please let us know if and when you figure them out. We are curious.--- A. W. Allworthy