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Buddhadharma : Winter 2015
winter 2 0 1 5 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 27 It Will Never Add Up nagarjuna’s four propositions prove that our ordinary calculations will always fall short. Judy roitman explains the math of the Middle way. IMAge source / alamy there is only one thing from the very beginning, infinitely bright and mysterious in nature. It was never born and never dies. It cannot be described or given a name. But originally there is no thing, no light, no dark, no birth, no death, nothing to be named and no one to name it. Yet0=0,1 =1,2 =2,indaytimeitislight,atnightitisdark, my name is Judy, my husband’s name is Stan. Formal dharma speeches in the Korean tradition often begin with three introductory comments; the above three lines are from a talk I gave last year. These comments generally fit into a form that can be traced back to the early first-millennium Buddhist sage from India, Nagarjuna, who deeply influenced all of north Asian Buddhism—Mahayana and Tibetan—with his relentless and meticulous philosophical exploration of shunyata, empti- ness, and pratityasamutpada, or codependent origination. His arguments, rich with ethical implications, point us to a freedom beyond categories. Nagarjuna’s method of liberation is threefold: to look carefully at language and thinking, completely deconstructing them so that nothing is left; to point to our original mind by exhausting the contradictions of our ordinary, thinking mind; and to reveal the