400 verses | Āryadeva | 16


400 Verses on the Middle Path
by Āryadeva c. 3rd century

Part 16 | of 16

Indicating the Meditations for
How to Cause Teachers and Disciples
to Gain Certainty (about Voidness)

(1) All these chapters have been to refute individually any reasons (that may be given why), although (everything is) void (of true existence, others grasp at them) to be as if not devoid.

(2) When you (object) that it is improper to say that the author, subject matter, and likewise (the words of these chapters) are void (because they exist;

well then, since) whatever arises from depending on (something else) is (void of true existence, therefore) these three as well are not (truly) existent.

(3) If, by the faults (of everything being) void, it were to be established that (things) are not void,

then by (these very same) faults (that would arise from everything) not being void, (namely that nothing could exist or function,) why wouldn’t voidness be established?

(4) To counter another’s position and establish your own position, (you need to rely on reasoning).

If one faction (merely) took pleasure in criticizing (the other), why wouldn’t they (be happy) to establish (their own position based merely on opinion, but not on logic)?

(5) If a position becomes not (reasonable if), upon thorough analysis, (what it asserts is found) not to be (a validly knowable phenomenon),

then all 3 (assertions of things being truly existently) one (or many or beyond speech) and so on become untenable positions.

(6) (If you say that) anything seen by bare (sensory) cognition, (such as) a vase, has (true existence,

well) this (tradition that asserts the voidness of true existence) does not have (as part of its tenets such faulty) lines of reasoning coming from other (Mahāyāna Buddhist) traditions, (although) in other respects we have (assertions in common, such as the Bodhichitta aim).

(7) As what is not voidness, (namely a basis of voidness), does not have (true existence), from what could its voidness arise (as being truly existent)?

As one of them does not have (true existence, namely the basis of voidness, such as a vase), how could its opponent (namely its lack of true existence) come to arise (as truly existent)?

(8) If (the position of voidness) were a truly existent position, then what is not that position (namely true existence) would (also) become truly existent as a position.

(But since voidness is not truly existent,) what is not the position (of voidness) is not truly existent (either.

As truly existent phenomena do not exist at all,) what could come to constitute the counter-set (of things that are not void of true existence, which would be necessary for establishing as a truly existent set everything that is void)?

(9) If functional phenomena (in general) lack true existence, how could (a specific one, such as) the heat of a fire, become (truly existent)?

A hot fire, as well, has no true existence as was (established by) previous countering (arguments).

(10) If it can be countered that by (merely) seeing functional phenomena (you can validly know that) functional phenomena lack true existence,

then which of the 4 positions (asserting phenomena to be truly existently one, many, existent, or non-existent) could be seen as having abandoned (all) faults, (because truly existent phenomena would have to exist in one or another of those ways?

You need to refute true existence by relying on valid lines of reasoning.)

(11) (If) particles (existed as) truly existent functional phenomena, (they should be the object of valid cognition). But as they are not (the object) of any (valid cognition), how could they be (truly existent)?

As the Buddhas (testified that everything) is indeed non-truly existent, for that very reason you should adhere (to asserting non-true existence).

(12) If the absence of the dual (division of some things being truly existent and some being void applies) to everything, what else is there that can be a truly existent functional phenomenon?

If you dispute these lines of reasoning (already proven), what can (your views, which are) different (from that of voidness,) do (for you? They cannot bring you liberation.)

(13) As there are no (truly existent) phenomena among all phenomena, it is unreasonable to divide (phenomena into truly existent and non-truly existent ones.

The voidness) that is seen of all things cannot become a division (opposed to true existence, because everything is void).

(14) If (we Prāsaṅgika) were known as unanswerable to other positions because (we asserted the total) non-existence (of everything),

then why is it that your own position can be countered by the logic (of voidness) and not be established (by reason)?

(15) Even if you say (it is well known) in the world that lines of reasoning to undermine (voidness) are easy to find,

why is it that you are unable to state (any) faults in our position of what is other (than true existence, namely voidness, which can withstand the test of logic)?

(16) If by merely (your words) that (everything has) true existence, (everything) were to exist as truly existent phenomena,

then why wouldn’t (everything) become non-truly existent merely by (our words) that (they are) non-truly existent?

(17) And (if things) do not become (totally) non-existent because of their being labelled with the names “(conventionally) existing” and “obtaining,”

they do not (on the other hand) become (truly) existent because of their being given the name “(truly) existent,” (for this latter is a case of applying a misnomer).

(18) Suppose (you say that everything) in the world has true existence since everything can be spoken of (in words) by the world, (despite these words not having the same truly existent nature as their objects.

Well then,) how could any functional phenomenon that had ultimate existence become (an object of speech) of the world, (because words and referents truly existently different by nature could not be related)?

(19) Suppose (you claimed that) all functional phenomena would become totally non-existent because of their lack of (true) existence.

(Well then,) if that were so, then all those (who hold the Prāsaṅgika) position (would be asserting that what previously had been truly existent had become totally) non-existent phenomena.

(But this) is unreasonable (since, throughout beginningless time, everything has been non-truly existent).

(20) Because phenomena lack true existence, the non-phenomenon (of their voidness) cannot come to have true existence.

As phenomena have never had true existence, from what (basis) could the non-phenomenon (of the absence or voidness of their true existence) be established?

(21) Suppose (you said that) because voidness comes (to be established) from (truly existent) lines of reasoning, (voidness) cannot be void (of true existence.

Well then,) if the asserted (thesis) and the line of reasoning were (truly existently) different, (they would be unrelated, and the former could not be proven by the latter).

And if they were not (different, but truly existently one), then it would not be a (proper) line of reasoning, (since being identical with the thesis, the line of reasoning could not prove the thesis, as is the case in a tautology).

(22) And suppose (you said that) because there are truly existent examples (to prove) voidness, therefore (voidness) cannot be void of true existence.

(Well then,) can you say that (from the example) “just like a crow” (you can substantiate that) the “self” is likewise black?

(A truly existent example and thesis would be likewise irrelevant to each other.)

(23) If functional phenomena existed with truly established existence, what benefit would there be from seeing voidness, (because it would be incorrect)?

But since you are bound (with suffering in Saṁsāra existence from) seeing with misconceptions (everything as being truly existent), therefore (an implied object of this grasping for true existence) is to be refuted here.

(24) (Further), to say (like you Cittamātra) that the one (namely consciousness) has true existence, while the (other) one (namely external objects) does not exist (at all) is not so in terms of the facts of reality, (since both lack true existence).

Moreover, it is not so on the worldly level either, (since both are conventionally existent).

Therefore, you cannot say that this (namely consciousness, ultimately) has true existence and this (namely external objects, conventionally) has no existence (at all).

(25) (In short,) any position that (asserts either) true existence, total non-existence, both true existence and non-existence, (or neither) does not exist (as a valid one with the support of logic).

Even after a very long time, (proponents of) such (positions) will never have the ability to expound an answer (that could refute voidness, because voidness is irrefutable).

This concludes Four Hundred Verse Treatise on the Actions of a Bodhisattva’s Yoga, composed by the Learned Master Āryadeva, who was miraculously born from a lotus in Śrī Lanka.

Having crossed the ocean of his own and others’ tenets and divided the correct from the incorrect view, he completely clarified the Middle Path (view) of Madhyamaka and became the spiritual son of the Highly Realized Ārya Nāgārjuna.