Nāgārjuna: ‘Not A Whit Of Difference…’

One of the earliest interpreters of the Prajñāpāramithā was Acharya Nāgārjuna [around 100 CE].

Along with Aryadeva and Chandrakirti, the school broke out of the old canards, the respectable cliches behind which other teacher-monks mystified their Teachings.

‘There is not a whit of difference between Nirvāṇa and Saṃsāra’, the Acharya famously declared.

And in case you find that ambiguous, he adds: ‘And there is not a whit of difference between Saṃsāra and Nirvāṇa‘.

Echoing the same idea 800 years later, here is Ch’ing-yüan Wei-hsin [circa 850 CE]

‘Before I had studied Zen for thirty years, I saw mountains as mountains, and waters as waters.

When I arrived at a more intimate knowledge, I came to the point where I saw that mountains are not mountains, and waters are not waters.

But now that I have got its very substance I am at rest. For it’s just that I see mountains once again as mountains, and waters once again as waters.


Elsewhere Nāgārjuna adds:

He who is in harmony with Sūnyathā is in harmony with all things. Beyond good and evil, profound and liberating, [it] has not been tasted by those who fear what is entirely groundless.

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