Fundamentals of the Middle Way (Mulamadhyamaka-Karika), a 2nd Century text with 450 verses, offers a remarkable teaching.
The verses of Nagarjuna encourage us to meditate upon, reflect upon and memorise. The teachings point to the cessation of clinging to the production of views around issues and exploring ways to come to liberating insights.
If you face challenging situations, be as aware as you can of the tendency of the mind and any subsequent reactivity.
Explore steps to see clearly what is going on in your mind with interest to meditate on, reflect on and take the mental suffering out of the challenge.
Remember Four of Ten Words (in bold type)
Do you have any views in first and second set you hold onto which trigger all manner of reactivity.
What do you need to see clearly?
What does it mean to see the fact of a situation without blame or fear so you can response wisely to events.
Four Common Views around Suffering. Note the first word
- Self. I cause my own suffering. It’s my fault. I deserve it. I never get anything right.
- Other. He/she/they brought suffering upon me. It’s his/her/their fault.
- Both. He/she/they and I are to blame.
- Neither. These things happen. An accident. Karma. God’s will. Fate
Four Common Views for Suffering, at the time or later. Six words to remember
- This (whatever) caused me to suffer
- Supporting Conditions caused the suffering
- Leading Onto suffering
- Surrounding led to suffering
Example of Four Main Views of Conditions for What Arises
- This – a Primary Condition. A craving to strike a match to light a cigarette
- Supporting Conditions. It requires use of hands, matches/matchbox/lighter/flame
- Conditions leading onto craving for a cigarette (years of habit, boredom) and during, such as using match to rub on side of match box
- Surrounding Conditions such as state of mind/others smoking/environment/smoking area.
You apply the principles to any important situation to dissolve the mental suffering.
Nagarjuna challenges the range of conclusions and views. You will understand this statement of Nagarjuna when you have dissolved the suffering in a specific situation. You will see the emptiness of clinging to a view. Nagarjuna refers to experiences, consciousness, things, events, situations and the world. Here is another way to make clear.
- Suffering is self-caused. This means there is clinging to the view the effect is present in what arose
- Suffering is caused by another. This means the cause (other) and the effect (myself) are distinct entities
- A combination of both mentioned above. This means the cause is within myself and the cause is outside myself.
- Suffering arise without causes. This means there is no point in trying fix a cause.
There is NO fifth condition such as fate, chance, destiny, cosmic intervention, a mystery, accident, random, hand of God or a miracle. We easily rush to a metaphysic, such as an accident, fate, karma or God’s will when we cannot explain what arises. and the present or eventual suffering from smoking, such as ill-health/cancer.
What is your next step?
Realise the emptiness of clinging to views and the suffering that goes with it.
Share with others. Find the wisdom in the face of any challenge.
Do not engage in theoretical exploration or dream up an abstract analysis. It means you miss the point.
You know when you see with wisdom through no longer any suffering about it without blindly continuing the same problematic behaviour or attitude.
This text is not an easy nut to crack
Remember the 10 words. Self. Other. Both. Neither. This. Supporting Conditions. Leading onto. Surroundings.
Reflect on significance of all 10 words and your relationship with each one.
Be patient. It might take practice with time for the insights in the verses to go deep.
Once you have cracked open the nut, you have lifelong resources to explore, via experience and insight, this ‘world’ of ‘mind/body/environment.’
Know liberation from the prison of problematic views.