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To: soc.religion.eastern
From: W.F. Wong.
Subj: Nagarjuna
Date: unknown

Quoting: |Richard Kucera (0000.ngrjuna.wfw) 

|Wasn't this all Nagarjuna's doing?  Don't scholars mostly agree that
|it was he who founded The Middle Way (Madyamika?) and then attributed it to
|Guatama the Buddha?

Not exactly. To begin with, what you have mentioned is but ONE of the many
views held by scholars and what not about what Nagarjuna did. Among others
I have heard are :

1. Sunyata is a concept which is also found in many places in Pali scriptures.
What Nagarjuna observed was that with this single one concept he can unify
the Three Marks of Reality, i.e. dukkha, impermanence and anatma (anatta).
So what he tried to put forward was a unification thing - all the
characteristics are unified just by this concept of sunyata. Sunyata is also
a generalization of the Law of Dependent-Origination - the central message of

2. Nagarjuna is basically interested in denying the existence of the
svabhava (self-being). Although clearly stated in the basic principles of
Buddhism, it needed much elaboration in order to be successful in debates
with the other atman schools - some of which were beginning to infiltrate
Buddhism. Through the years, the opponents have refined their theory and
debating skills and Buddhism needed to "keep up".

3. Nagarjuna was trying to show the futility of logic and conception by
employing dialectical means. (This was the central thesis of "The Central
Philosophy of Buddhism".)

4. (An even more radical version I heard recently ...)  and he was trying to establish that faith is the way.
Conception will lead to fruitless contradictions. He is supposed to have 
recommended recital of Buddhas' names as the 'easy' practice.

So we have at least 5 different views (including yours). Which is correct ?
Only the great saint himself will know. What is for sure is that he did not,
not even for a single moment, not identify himself as Buddhist. You may say
that he was wrong but it is clear that he did what he did in the name of
Buddhism (as he understood it).

with Metta,

W.F. Wong.

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