Verses from the Center: A Buddhist Vision of the Sublime

Overview

The understanding of the nature of reality is the insight upon which the Buddha was able to achieve his own enlightenment. This vision of the sublime is the source of all that is enigmatic and paradoxical about Buddhism. In Verses from the Center, Stephen Batchelor explores the history of this concept and provides readers with translations of the most important poems ever written on the subject, the poems of 2nd century philosopher Nagarjuna.

Author Biography: Stephen Batchelor,...

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Verses from the Center: A Buddhist Vision of the Sublime

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Overview

The understanding of the nature of reality is the insight upon which the Buddha was able to achieve his own enlightenment. This vision of the sublime is the source of all that is enigmatic and paradoxical about Buddhism. In Verses from the Center, Stephen Batchelor explores the history of this concept and provides readers with translations of the most important poems ever written on the subject, the poems of 2nd century philosopher Nagarjuna.

Author Biography: Stephen Batchelor, a former monk in the Tibetan and Zen traditions, is the author of Buddhism Without Beliefs; The Tibet Guide (winner of the Thomas Cook Award); The Awakening of the West (a joint winner of the 1994 Tricycle Award), and other books on Buddhism. World-renowned for his translations, he is also a contributing editor of Tricycle, a guiding teacher at Gaia House Retreat Centre, and Director of Studies at Sharpham College for Buddhist Studies and Contemporary Inquiry in Devon, England.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Batchelor (Buddhism Without Beliefs) here translates and extensively comments upon Nagarjuna's 2nd-century masterpiece, Verses from the Center. Nagarjuna, the Indian philosopher-monk, is often revered for his deeds as a founder of the compassion-driven wing of Buddhism called Mahayana, but his writings have been unsung and largely untranslated (Batchelor's translation is the first nonacademic, idiomatic English version of the text). If Nagarjuna's teachings have been neglected, it may be because they are frustratingly difficult; Batchelor notes that while Nagarjuna was immersed in Indian traditions, elements of the Verses may be best understood as Zen koans. Indeed, Nagarjuna's dialectic poetry does contain the kind of maddeningly paradoxical statements that characterize classic koans. The Verses are preoccupied with the question of emptiness, which Nagarjuna sees not as an absence of meaning but as "a way to realize liberation of the mind." Emptiness, according to Nagarjuna, is the famed Middle Way of Buddhism and the closest vehicle to the sublime, though emptiness is slippery to attain. To illustrate the concept, Nagarjuna relies on a barrage of pairs of opposites, all the while expressing awareness that language and metaphors based on personal experience only inadequately reveal the true nature of emptiness. Although this bracing, abstruse text has been lovingly translated for accessibility, it remains a demanding philosophical treatise geared for the serious student of Buddhism, not the dilettante. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
The close here refers to a sacred place and the religious community that occupies it. In this memoir, Breyer (founder of the community-activist publication Who Cares) takes us to her close, the General Theological Seminary in New York City, a world of spiritual and intellectual training in which she immerses herself. In a personal, confessional style, she narrates her daily frustrations and struggles over the course of a year, as she adopts a lifestyle of prescribed daily prayer and rigid ritual while responding and ministering to the diseased and disenfranchised. Her work as a chaplain at Bellevue Hospital is especially poignant. There are no epiphanies or miraculous calls, no special incidents that yank her out of the secular and into the religious. Instead, she quietly explains in this meditation on faith how she is responding to the call for the spiritual life. Of interest to anyone concerned with spiritual issues, this book will be especially useful for those thinking of entering a life among the contemplative and socially active. Recommended for public libraries. Glenn Masuchika, Chaminade Univ. Lib., Honolulu Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Tricycle Magazine
A playful and provocative tone runs through his text. The verses embody the movement of a supple but disquieting intelligence, which constantly has to sidestep the logical traps of the language Nagarjuna cannot help but utter. His awareness ... is expressed in a voice that is quixotic and inquisitive, dramatic and tentative, always poised to surprise. Each poem is an attempt to disclose emptiness through the play of language. For poetry works not by describing its subject with detached objectivity from without, but by imaginatively entering inside its subject so as to disclose it from within. As a poet, Nagarjuna gives voice to the freedom of emptiness from within. He is not interested in confirming what is safe and familiar but in exploring what is unsettling and strange. For the letting go of fixed opinions about oneself and the world can be frightening and compelling. Although such emptiness may seem an intolerable affront to one's sense of identity and security, it may simultaneously be felt as an irresistible lure into a life that is awesome and mysterious.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781573221627
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/24/2000
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.27 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Batchelor is a former monk in the Tibetan and Zen traditions and the author of the national bestseller Buddhism Without Beliefs. He lectures and conducts meditation retreats worldwide, and is a contributing editor for Tricycle.

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Table of Contents

Preface xv
Intuitions of the Sublime 1
Verses from the Center 81
Walking 84
Seeing 86
Body 88
Space 90
Addiction 91
Birth 92
Actors 94
Already 96
Fire 98
Before 100
Anguish 101
Change 103
Connection 104
Essence 106
Life 108
Acts 110
Self 114
Time 117
Disappearance 118
Buddhanature 121
Awakening 123
Nirvana 128
Contingency 131
Opinion 133
Afterword 137
Appendix 143
Notes 153
Glossary 173
Bibliography 175
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2001

    Interesting

    This book is divided into two parts, Batchelor's 80-page meditation on Nagarjuna's second century 'Verses from the Center,' followed by Batchelor's translation of that work. Nagarjuna's poetry, Batchelor writes, offers insights for 'anyone concerned with the questions of what it means to live a free and awake life today.' This book is difficult, but there are enough insightful gems along the way to make it worthwhile reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2000

    Your library journal quote is a mistake

    The review from Library Journal is for a different book...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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