18 hours ago
“‘How can I try to let go when trying is precisely not letting go?’ Stated in another way, to try not to grasp is the same thing as to grasp, since its motivation is the same....
Mahayana philosophy proposes a drastic but effective answer which is the theme of a class of literature called Prajna-paramita, or ‘wisdom crossing to the other shore,’ a literature closely associated with the work of Nagarjuna (c. A.D. 200), who ranks with Shankara as one of the greatest minds of India. Stated baldly, the answer is that all grasping, even for nirvana, is futile -- for there is nothing to be grasped. This is Nagarjuna's celebrated Sunyavada, his ‘Doctrine of the Void,’ otherwise known as the Madhyamika, the ‘middle way,’ because it refutes all metaphysical propositions by demonstrating their relativity. From the standpoint of academic philosophy, the Prajna-paramita and the doctrine of Nagarjuna are no doubt some form of nihilism or ‘absolute relativism.’ But this is not Nagarjuna's standpoint. The dialectic with which he demolishes every conception of reality is merely a device for breaking the vicious circle of grasping, and the terminus of his philosophy is not the abject despair of nihilism but the natural and uncontrived bliss (ananda) of liberation.
The Sunyavada takes its name from the term sunya, void, or sunyata, voidness, with which Nagarjuna described the nature of reality, or rather, of the *conceptions* of reality which the human mind can form. Conceptions here include not only metaphysical views but also ideals, religious beliefs, ultimate hopes and ambitions of every kind -- everything which the mind of man seeks and grasps for his physical or spiritual security. Not only does the Sunyavada demolish the beliefs which one consciously adopts; it also seeks out the hidden and unconscious premises of thought and action, and submits them to the same treatment until the very depths of the mind are reduced to a total silence. Even the idea of sunya is itself to be voided.
It cannot be called void or not void,
Or both or neither;
But in order to point it out,
It is called ‘the Void.’”~Alan Watts, The Way of Zen (1957)