Madhyamika – Sunyavada
The Madhyamika school is also known as Sunyavada, is one of the two main system of Mahayana Buddhism inIndia. The founder of this school was Nagarjuna, who was born in theSouth Indiaabout the second century A.D, whose masterpiece is Madhyamika-karika.
The doctrine of Sunyavada have been understood hiIndiaby non-Buddhist philosophers in general, that universe is totally devoid of reality, and that everything is Sunya or void. According to the Madhyamika view, everything is unreal. Hence it is that such a view came to be known as nihilism in Europe as well as inIndia.
The word “Sunya” is used by the Madhyamika themselves. “Sunya” means ordinarily void or empty. But when we study this philosophy more closely, we come to realize that the Madhyamika view is not really nihilism, as ordinarily supposed and it does not deny all reality, but only apparent phenomenal world perceived by us. Behind this phenomenal world, there is reality which is not describable by any characters, ‘mental or man’s mental, that we perceive. Being devoid of phenomenal characters, it is called Sunya.
Moreover, it is called Sunyavada because of its thought lays on the middle way. It deniles all extremes relating :
– Existence and non-existence,
– Permanence, and impermanence,
– Self and non-self.
In order to establish the middle way, this school put forward the theory of Pratitya Samutpada (Dependent Origination) as its starting point and the concept of Sunyavada.
Nagarjuna described Pratitya Samutpada by means of eight negatives: There are:
– Neither origination nor cessation
– Neither pennanence nor impermanence
– Neither unity nor diversity
– Neither coming in nor going out
Essentially, there is non-origination which is equated with Sunyata. Hence, Sunyata refers to non origination is in reality the middle way, which avoid two basic views of existence and non-existence.
The Madhyamika-karika further deals with two kinds of truths :
– Samvrti (empirical truth)
– Paramartha (transcendental truth)
The Samvrti refer to ignorance or delusion which gives a false impression and thus convers reality, while the paramarth is the realization that all things in phenomenal world are nothing but dependent origination existence.
However, the, Paramartha-satya (transcendental truth) can not be attain without relating to samvrti. The samvrti satya is only a means while paramartha is the end. .
Thus, view from the relative to standpoint Pratitya Samutpada explains worldly phenomena but looks at from the absolute standpoint; it means origination at aId times and is equated with Nirvana or sunyata
The truth of the order is only a stepping stone to the attainment of higher. The nature of Nirvana experience which takes one beyond ordinary experience can not be described it can only be suggested negatively with help of words, which describable common experience.
Nagarjuna described Nirvana with a series of negative; thus, that which not known not acquired a new, not destroyed, not etenlal, not suppresses, generated, called Nirvana.’
To sum up:
The Madhyakika school used dialectic of negation expound its view philosophy. It confirms the reality of all things to be as the Sunyata, free fr all extremes. And it also shows that the middle way is the only way leading freedom, Nirvana.