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  1. Because the continuity of the aggregates is similar to the light of a lamp, therefore the very existence or non-existence of an end is unreasonable.

https://www.stephenbatchelor.org/index.php/en/verses-from-the-center

Is it because the action of the lamp is contained in light, so we cannot conceive of its end, and its end neither exists nor doesn't (same as a four sided triangle: it's a nonsense phrase).


Before his dedication (30), Nagarjuna concludes

  1. And because all things are empty, about what and in whom do views such as that of permanence spring forth?

Does that mean enlightenment is not a view, but the impossibility of a view about an end: rejecting the idea that things either end or do not.

If an end is inconceivable then so is 'permanence', so the opposite of an end is not "permanence" but buddha-nature.

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  • I am baffled because it seems what I've been saying all along may well be on point to everything the Karika says
    – user23322
    Feb 23, 2022 at 7:23
  • That's some intellectual babble. Reality is not a linear progression. Just practice meditation and you will see.
    – user23573
    Mar 19, 2022 at 1:03

2 Answers 2

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No. The light of a lamp is a well-known Buddhist metaphor for continuity of information-causation (what Nagarjuna refers to as "the divine"), since at least The Questions of King Milinda:

--“Can there be any rebirth where there is no transmigration?”
--“Yes there can, just as a man can light one oil-lamp from another but nothing moves from one lamp to the other; or as a pupil can learn a verse by heart from a teacher but the verse does not transmigrate from teacher to pupil.”

and

The king said: ‘He who is born, Nāgasena, does he remain the same or become another?’

[Nagasena:] ‘Neither the same nor another.’

[King:] ‘Give me an illustration.’

[N] ‘Now what do you think, O king? You were once a baby, a tender thing, and small in size, lying flat on your back. Was that the same as you who are now grown up?’

[K] ‘No. That child was one, I am another.’

[N] ‘If you are not that child, it will follow that you have had neither mother nor father, no! nor teacher. You cannot have been taught either learning, or behaviour, or wisdom. What, great king! is the mother of the embryo in the first stage different from the mother of the embryo in the second stage, or the third, or the fourth ? Is the mother of the baby a different person from the mother of the grown-up man? Is the person who goes to school one, and the same when he has finished his schooling another? Is it one who commits a crime, another who is punished by having his hands or feet cut off ?’

[K] ‘Certainly not. But what would you, Sir, say to that? ’

The Elder replied: ‘Neither I am what is now the grown up, nor was I what was the tender tiny baby, flat on its back. But all these are tied in one by means of this body.’

[K] ‘Give me an illustration.’

[N] ‘Suppose a man, O king, were to light a lamp, would it burn the night through?’

[K] ‘Yes, it might do so.’

[N] ‘Now, is it the same flame that burns in the first watch of the night, and in the second?’

[K] ‘No.’

[N] ‘Or the same that burns in the second watch and in the third?’

[K] ‘No.’

[N] ‘Then is there one lamp in the first watch, and another in the second, and another in the third?’

[K] ‘No Sir. But thanks to that lamp the light shined all the night through.’

[Nagasena:] ‘Just so, O king, does the continuity of dharmas connect. One emerges, another dissolves, connecting as it were without [a clear boundary between] the previous and the next, thus the former-consciousness and the next-consciousness cannot be categorized as either the same nor as different.’

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  • I've heard of that before. do you mean that the teaching of continuity being like a lamp has no end. that's a novel but bad reading imho
    – user23322
    Feb 23, 2022 at 14:46
  • In chapter 27 Nagarjuna muses about extreme views, such as a person existing - or not existing - after death. Please reread the chapter until you understand it.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Feb 23, 2022 at 14:49
  • 3
    ok I get it! he compares it to light because it can be passed on to another lamp. I'm not sure why you think that doesn't contain my interpretation tho. that's what confused me, you leading with "no"
    – user23322
    Feb 23, 2022 at 16:05
  • 3
    The conclusion you reach in your answer is correct, but the way you arrive there from the karika is wrong, this is why as any teacher I cannot give you a passing grade.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Feb 23, 2022 at 16:07
  • 3
    That's fine. At least we attained some semblance of understanding for once.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Feb 23, 2022 at 16:09
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To add to Andrei's answer, I quote this passage written by Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Zen master who recently passed away:

This body of mine will disintegrate, but my actions will continue me… If you think I am only this body, then you have not truly seen me. When you look at my friends, you see my continuation. When you see someone walking with mindfulness and compassion, you know he is my continuation. I don’t see why we have to say “I will die,” because I can already see myself in you, in other people, and in future generations.

Even when the cloud is not there, it continues as snow or rain. It is impossible for the cloud to die. It can become rain or ice, but it cannot become nothing. The cloud does not need to have a soul in order to continue. There’s no beginning and no end. I will never die. There will be a dissolution of this body, but that does not mean my death.

I will continue, always.

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  • I think any disagreement centres on how it's not clear what the relation of the conventional self to the world is. no-one thinks the world itself ends when we die except solipsists.
    – user23322
    Feb 24, 2022 at 2:18

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