Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Nagarjuna ; skeptic of reality


  Nagarjuna (150 – 250 CE) is considered one of the most important philosopher in Buddhist traditions. Perhaps only second to Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha). He is also consider the founder of the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism as his writings were very influential.

“sarvaṃ ca yujyate tasya śūnyatā yasya yujyate
sarvaṃ na yujyate tasya śūnyaṃ yasya na yujyate”
“All is possible when emptiness is possible.
Nothing is possible when emptiness is impossible”

This philosopher’s ideology closely fits with my thinking about reality at this point of time. His idea of reality and his statements about beings are “self-less”, in fact according to Nagarjuna, all phenomenon is empty of essence and “inherent existence”. This is the idea of Sunyata, I briefly explained this topic in my first post and it is the master work of Nagarjuna. In his writings, he brings together the idea of

Dependent origination ( Pratityasamutpada) ;


… all physical and mental manifestations which constitute individual appearances are interdependent and condition or affect one another, in a constant process of arising and ceasing.

And the Two truths ; ( Check out here for more on Nagarjuna’s philosophy)

In Nagarjuna’s own words:

8. The teaching by the Buddhas of the dharma has recourse to two truths:

The world-ensconced truth and the truth which is the highest sense.
9. Those who do not know the distribution (vibhagam) of the two kinds of truth
Do not know the profound “point” (tattva) in the teaching of the Buddha.
10. The highest sense of the truth is not taught apart from practical behavior,
And without having understood the highest sense one cannot understand nirvana

For Nagarjuna, the architect of Madhyamaka philosophy, interdependence was synonymous with emptiness (sunyata).The true nature of reality (paramarthasatya) can be termed as the “emptiness of own-being” (svabhava-sunyata) and “interdependency” (pratitya-samutpada). Nagarjuna and the Madhyamaka’s taught that neither an individual nor dharma have an own-being that exists by its own right. These two concepts are the basis of Nagarjuna’s philosophy. He draws these concepts from the Buddha’s original teaching in the heart sutra but it is commonly accepted that Nagarjuna took Buddhist teachings to a whole new level introducing metaphysical way of thinking. This enabled Buddhist doctrines not to be only about suffering but also about metaphysical insight to nature of the reality.


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