Just an edit after 16 years of being a wikipedia editor. Well, it's got bigger. I'm pretty dormant as an editor nowadays.
The most common query about me is the name. It refers to the date that I registered, which is why some of my wikifriends nickname me March 2nd. I also appreciate the gender, race, and status neutrality that this name offers.
However, if you find it hard to speak in gender neutral terms, when referring to me please be welcome in using masculine terminology, rather than having to resort to she/he etc. Or you may like to try using fe/fem/fes as an alternative to he/him/his, or any other modern strategies you are familiar with.
I believe that the purpose of Nagarjuna and his followers was to deliver a non-philosophical - even anti-philosophical - explanation for anatta, albeit written in a language understood by philosophers of their time. Understanding the nature of Anatta is essential to the path of awakening.
If we examine the ending of suffering which is the teaching of Lord Buddha in accordance with the four noble truths then we see he taught us the path to the ending of suffering (the fourth noble truth). The path that he disclosed was, essentially, the eightfold path, which is often (especially in the Mahayana) categorised into the three higher trainings of Śīla, Samādhi, Paññā. Meditating on Paññā is, basically, developing insight into the three marks of existence (in the Pali canon, Buddha tells us: “All these aggregates are anicca, dukkha and anatta.”) which tie us to Samsara due to the twelve Nidānas of Pratitya-samutpada. Therefore Anatta, as one of the three marks of existence, is central to Buddhism, Buddha's teachings, and Buddhist practice. The problem that Nagarjuna faced in his day was that there were many followers of Buddha, and teachers of Buddha's path, whose views of Anatta fell into nihilism or positivism. What he wanted to do was to demonstrate that Buddha's word was truth, and that it was unambiguously true.
When we look at the path, specifically of meditating on, for instance, impermanence, it's important to know how to meditate on them in a manner that will make a difference. So, if we just sit there without thinking, we are not engaging with the object (impermanence); we need to think about our experience of impermanence, the ramifications of impermanence, the nature of impermanence, and the pervasiveness of impermanence. By familiarising ourselves with impermanence we are gradually able to overcome our engagement with the world as if things within it were permanent; there will be a direct effect; what starts off as an intellectual idea will become a part of our reality - especially if we strengthen the basis of our meditation through sila and samadhi. For me, there is no mystery, magic, philosophy, or complexity in that. But for it to be efficacious, it is imperative that we understand just exactly what impermanence means. If, for instance, we think that impermanence only implies change (such as a river changes) but no ending, then our view of impermanence is not complete. Likewise if we believe that impermanence only implies ending but no change, the our view of impermanence is also not complete. So it is important for us to understand what these things mean in a precise and very clear manner. We need to think about something and study it in order to understand it; we then need to continually familiarise ourselves with it in order to know it, or realise (make it real for us) it.
In the Pali canon Lord Buddha does not directly speak much about Anatta, but he speaks enough for us to understand what he means. What Nagarjuna and his followers did was to uncover the precise meaning of Anatta without falling into nihilism or positivism, using language to cut through language, using philosophy to cut through all philosophies without anxiety, confusion, or ambiguity. To accuse Nagarjuna of being a philosopher monk as opposed to, say, a meditator monk is to completely mistake him.
My interests are indicated by my contributions.
I wish to work on meeting the guidelines of the wikipedia project:
- That articles should be NPOV.
- That articles should not be involved in promoting a socio-political agenda.
I confess that I fail against my own criteria at times, but am always willing to be reminded of them. However I am convinced that many valuable wikipedians have a lot to understand about what a neutral POV is. I consider it to be well-defined as:
NPOV articles describe debates fairly rather than advocating any side of the debate.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reliable_source_examples#Religious_sources Secondary sources are not necessarily from recent years – or even centuries. The sacred or original text(s) of the religion will always be primary sources, but any other acceptable source may be a secondary source in some articles. For example, the works of Thomas Aquinas are secondary sources for a Roman Catholic perspective on many topics, but are primary sources for Thomas Aquinas or Summa Theologica.