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NAGARJUNA'S

MULAMADHYAMAKAKARIKA - CHAPTER XVII

KARMA-PHALA-PARIKSHA (THE ANALYSIS OF ACTION AND RESULT)

(SOME TRANSLATIONS COMPARED)

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MMK 17.1

Self-restraint, kindness towards others, and benevolence are the ways of the dharma [i.e. the truth of the nature of things]. They are the seeds which bear fruit in this as well as the next realm of life. (Kenneth K. Inada)

Self-restraint as well as benefitting others - this is the friendly way and it constitutes the seed that bears fruit here as well as in the next life. (David J. Kalupahana)

Self-restraint and benefiting others
With a compassionate mind is the Dharma.
This is the seed for
Fruits in this and future lives. (Jay L. Garfield)

Restraining oneself well and loving thoughts that benefit others are the Dharma which is the seed of fruits here and elsewhere. (Stephen Batchelor)

Which state of mind [leads to being] self-restraining and benefiting others [and] friendly, that [is] dharma. It [is] a seed for a result both after passing away and in this world. (Ulrich Timme Kragh)

A mind of self-restraint, benevolent and kind toward others, this is the teaching, this is the seed that bears fruits after death as well as in this life. (Erik Hoogcarspel)

Self-control, being thoughtful of others, and friendliness - these states of mind are meritorious and the seeds of fruit both hereafter and here. (Mark Siderits and Shoryu Katsura)

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MMK 17.2

The Great Sage has said that karman is [in the nature of] thought as well as thought in action, and that there are many distinct varieties of karman. (Inada)

The Supreme Ascetic has said that action is volition as well as volitional. Many distinct varieties of that action have also been expounded. (Kalupahana)

The Unsurpassed Sage has said
That actions are either intention or intentional.
The varieties of these actions
Has been announced in many ways. (Garfield)

The great sage has taught all actions to be intention and what is intended. The specifics of those actions are well known to be of many kinds. (Batchelor)

Action was taught as intention and [action] following intention by the highest seer. A manifold division of that action is made known. (Kragh)

The Greatest Seer of all seers has said that karma consists of the will and the consequences of the will. He has explained in different ways this dictinction of karma. (Hoogcarspel)

Action was said by the Supreme Sage to be volition and what is brought about by volition.
He has proclaimed there to be many distinct varieties of action. (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.3

The karman which has been described as thought [cetana] indicates the mental and volitional aspects and that which has been described as thought in action [cetayitva] refers to the bodily and verbal aspects. (Inada)

Herein, what is called volition is remisced as mental action. Whatever is called volitional consists of the bodily and verbal. (Kalupahana)

Of these, what is called "intention"
Is mental desire.
What is called "intentional"
Comprises the physical and verbal. (Garfield)

In this respect action spoken of as “intention” is regarded as being that of mind. That spoken of as “what is intended” is regarded as being that of body and speech. (Batchelor)

Among these, which action was called intention, that is traditionally taught as mental and which, on the other hand, was called following intention, that [is traditionally taught] oppositely as bodily and verbal. (Kragh)

The karma that is called "will" here, is remembered by the mind. The karma that is called "consequence of the will" is physical and verbal. (Hoogcarspel)

Of these, that which is called "volition" is known as mental action.
And that which is called "what is brought about by volition" is bodily and verbal action.

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MMK 17.4-5

Words, actions, the indescribable non-abandonment as well as what is asserted to be another form of indescribable abandonment,
virtuous and non-virtuous elements associated with enjoyment of being [paribhoga], and thought itself, these are the seven dharmas which give rise to karman. (Inada)

Whatever words and deeds that are associated with delight and designated as non-intimation, and also those others remisced as non-intimation, but are associated with non-delight, similarly, merit as well as demerit consequent upon enjoyment, and finally, volition - these are remisced as the seven things that are productive of action. (Kalupahana)

Speech and action and all
Kinds of unabandoned and abandoned actions
And resolve
As well as
Virtuous and nonvirtuous actions
Derived from pleasure,
As well as intention and morality:
These seven are the kinds of action. (Garfield)

Whatever [1] speech and [2] movements and [3] “unconscious not-letting-go,” [4] other kinds of unconscious letting-go are also regarded like that. [5] Goodness that arises from enjoyment/use and in the same manner [6] what is not goodness, [and 7] intention. These seven dharmas are clearly regarded as action. (Batchelor)

Speech, motion and those without abstinence, which [are] designated non-intimation, those others [involving] abstinence, [which] likewise are taught [to be] just non-intimation,
beneficence that is an issue of utilization and non-beneficence of a similar kind, and intention - these seven phenomena are taught as having action as their mark. (Kragh)

The seven elements that are known to cause the process of karma are: words and movements that are not consciously recognized and without discipline, the same, but then with discipline, fruition of karma, which may be favorable or unfavorable, and the will. (Hoogcarspel)

Speech, gesture, what is known as the unmanifest unrestrained, likewise the other unmanifest called the restrained,
Merit connected with utilization, demerit connected with utilization,
and volition - these seven dharmas are said to be types of action. (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.6

If karman endures at any time in the maturing process, then it will be of the nature of permanent endurance. But if it ceases to be, how could anything ceased [or spent] give rise to an effect? (Inada)

If it is assumed that action remains during the time it is maturing, then it will approach permanence. If it assumed to have ceased, then having ceased, how can it produce a fruit? (Kalupahana)

If until the time of ripening
Action had to remain in place, it would have to be permanent.
If it has ceased, then having ceased,
How will a fruit arise? (Garfield)

If the action remained until the time of ripening, it would become permanent. If it stopped, by having stopped, how could a fruit be born? (Batchelor)

If the action remains until the time of ripening, it would continue eternally. If [it has] ceased, [then,] having ceased, how could [it] produce the result? (Kragh)

If karma is dormant until the time of ripening, it will remain obstructed eternally. How could it produce an effect when it is obstructed? (Hoogcarspel)

If the action endures to the time of maturation, then it would be permanent.
If it is destroyed, then being destroyed, what fruit will it produce? (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.7

A continuity which begins in a sprout, etc., comes forth from a seed and thereby takes on the nature of an effect, but separated from the seed the continuity could never arise. (Inada)

Whatever series that begins with a sprout proceeds from a seed, and then produces a fruit. However, without a seed, such [a series] would not proceed. (Kalupahana)

As for a continuum, such as the sprout,
It comes from a seed.
From that arises the fruit. Without a seed,
It would not come into being. (Garfield)

The continuum of sprouts and so on clearly emerges from seeds, and from that fruits. If there were no seeds, they too would not emerge. (Batchelor)

Which series, beginning with a shoot, evolves from a seed, thence [evolves] the fruit; but without the seed it does not evolve. (Kragh)

When a sprout develops from a seed, it grows. Afterwards the fruit exists apart from the seed, and consquently does not develop anymore. (Hoogcarspel)

A series starting with the sprout proceeds from a seed,
a fruit proceeds from that series and without the seed the series does not come forth. (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.8

Since continuity comes forth from seed and effect from continuity, there is always a seed prior to the effect. Therefore, there is no interruption and also no constancy. (Inada)

Since a series arises from a seed and a fruit arises from a series, a fruit that is preceded by a seed is, therefore, neither interrupted nor eternal. (Kalupahana)

Since from the seed comes the continuum,
And from the continuum comes the fruit,
The seed precedes the fruit.
Therefore there is neither nonexistence nor permanence. (Garfield)

Because continuums are from seeds and fruits emerge from continuums and seeds precede fruits, therefore, there is no annihilation and no permanence. (Batchelor)

Both since the series [arises] from the seed and [since there is] arising of the fruit from the series, [and] the fruit [is thus] preceded by the seed, therefore [the seed] is neither cut off nor eternal. (Kragh)

The result is the former seed, because from the seed comes growth and from the growth arises the result, therefore this is neither momentary nor eternal. (Hoogcarspel)

Since the series is from the seed, and the fruit is arisen from the series,
the fruit has the seed as its predecessor; thus it [the seed]is neither annihilated nor eternal. (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.9

Thereupon, thought continuity comes forth from the existence of mind and in consequence the effect. Without the mind, continuity cannot arise. (Inada)

Therefore, whatever thought-series there is, that proceeds from a thought and from that fruit. That thought-series would not proceed without a thought. (Kalupahana)

So, in a mental continuum,
From a preceding intention
A consequent mental state arises.
Without this, it would not arise. (Garfield)

The continuum of mind clearly emerges from mind, and from that fruits. If there were no mind, they too would not emerge. (Batchelor)

Which mind-series evolves from that state of mind, thence [evolves] the result; but without the mind it does not evolve. (Kragh)

Because the stream of consciousness is an effect which develops from thought, afterwards it exists apart from the mind and does not develop. (Hoogcarspel)

Likewise a mental series proceeds from a mental element,
a fruit proceeds from that series, and without the mental element, the series does not come forth. (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.10

Since continuity comes forth from the mind and the effect from continuity, there is karman [of the mind] prior to the effect. Therefore, there is no interruption and also no constancy. (Inada)

Since a continuous series arises from thought and from the continuous series the uprising of a fruit, the fruit that is preceded by action is neither interrupted nor eternal. (Kalupahana)

Since from the intention comes the continuum,
And from the continuum the fruit arises,
Action precedes the fruit.
Therefore there is neither nonexistence nor permanence. (Garfield)

Because continuums are from minds and fruits emerge from continuums and actions precede fruits, therefore, there is no annihilation and no permanence. (Batchelor)

Both since the series [arises] from the mind and [since there is] arising of the result from the series, [and] the result [is thus] preceded by the action, therefore [the action] is neither cut off nor eternal. (Kragh)

Because the effect arises from the stream of consciousness and the stream of consciousness is produced by the mind, therefore the consequences, which are the karma of the past, are neither destroyed nor eternal. (Hoogcarspel)

Since the series is from the mental element, and the fruit is arisen from the series,
the fruit has the action as its predecessor; this the action is neither aanihilated nor eternal. (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.11

The ten paths of pure action are the means of realizing the dharma. The effects [i.e. fruit] of the dharma of this as well as the next realm of life are the five sensual enjoyments. (Inada)

The ten pure paths of action are the means of achieving good. The five strands of sense pleasure represent the fruit of good, here as well as in the next life. (Kalupahana)

The ten pure paths of action
Are the method of realizing the Dharma.
These fruits of the Dharma in this and other lives
Are the five pleasures. (Garfield)

The ten paths of white action are the means of practising Dharma. Here and elsewhere, the fruits of Dharma are the five kinds of sensual qualities. (Batchelor)

Ten white courses of action [are] the means for the accomplishment of dharma. The fruit of dharma [is] the five kinds of sensual pleasure both after passing away and in this world. (Kragh)

The means to realize the teaching are the ten ways of pure action. The result of the teaching are the qualities of desire in this life and afterwards. (Hoogcarspel)

There are ten pure paths of action that are means for establishing the meritorious.
The fruit of the meritorious is the objects of the five senses, both hereafter and here. (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.12

If conceptualizations are permitted there will arise many as well as great errors. Therefore, they are not permissible (or possible) here. (Inada)

If there were to be such a thought, there would be many a great error. Therefore, such a thought is not appropriate here. (Kalupahana)

If such an analysis were advanced,
There would be many great errors.
Therefore, this analysis
Is not tenable here. (Garfield)

If it were as that investigation, many great mistakes would occur. Therefore, that investigation is not valid here. (Batchelor)

The faults would be both many and great, if this idea would be [the case]. Therefore, this idea does not at all obtain here. (Kragh)

If this would be the right representation, many small and big misunderstandings would follow. Therefore this representation is not possible here. (Hoogcarspel)

[Objection:] There would be many gross errors on this hypothesis of yours, so this hypothesis [of a seed-generated series] does not hold here. (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.13-14

I will here relate about certain appropriate conceptualizations which have been praised (i.e. sanctioned) by the Buddhas, Pratyekabuddhas and Sravakas.
An imperishable continuing action is like a document (i.e. in constant force) and a karman is like an obligation (i.e. a discharge of duty). The imperishable continuing action is four-fold from the standpoint of the realms of action (dhatu) and is indeterminate from the standpoint of primal substance (prakrti). (Inada)

Moreover, I shall expound the following thought which is appropriate and which has been extolled by the Buddhas, the self-enlightened ones and the disciples.
Like an imperishable promissory note, so is debt as well as action. It is fourfold in terms of realms and indeterminate in terms of primal nature. (Kalupahana)

I will then explain what is tenable here:
The analysis propounded by all
Buddhas, self-conquerors
And disciples according to which ….
Action is like an uncancelled promissory note
And like a debt.
Of the realms it is fourfold.
Moreover, its nature is neutral. (Garfield)

I will fully declare the investigation which is taught by the Buddhas, Pratyekabuddhas and Sravakas, which is valid here.
Just like a contract, irrevocable action is like a debt. In terms of realms, there are four types. Moreover, its nature is unspecified. (Batchelor)

I will instead explain the following idea, which [can be] applied in this case [and which is] taught by the awakened ones, the self-awakened ones and the listeners.
As a promissory note, so [is] the non-perishing, and the action [is] like a debt. It [is] fourfold in terms of world-sphere and it [is] indeterminate by nature. (Kragh)

I, however, will explain a theory, which fits the real practice. It is followed by Buddhas, Pratyekabuddhas and Hearers.
Karma is indestructible, like a promissory note. It consists of the four elements and it is neutral by nature. (Hoogcarspel)

I, however, shall here propose the following hypothesis that is suitable
and that has been expounded by buddhas, pratyekabuddhas, and sravakas.
The unperishing is like the pledge pen, the action is like the debt.
It is fourfold with respect to sphere, and it is by nature indeterminate.(Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.15

It (i.e. the imperishable continuing action) is not abandoned by simple abandonment but by the virtuous practical actions. Therefore, the fruits of karman come forth from the imperishable continuing action (Inada)

That [i.e. the imperishable karma] would not be relinquished by simple relinquishing. It is to be relinquished only through cultivation. Thus, through the imperishable arises the fruit of action. (Kalupahana)

By abandoning, that is not abandoned.
Abandonment occurs through meditation.
Therefore, through the nonexpired,
The fruit of action arises. (Garfield)

It is not let go of by letting go, but only let go of by cultivation. Therefore through irrevocability are the fruits of acts produced. (Batchelor)

[It] is not something to be abandoned through abandonment; [it is] just something to be abandoned by cultivation or [otherwise]. Therefore, the result of actions is produced due to the non-perishing. (Kragh)

It does not persih by abandoning it, but only by collecting efforts. Therefore, not having perished, karma produces its effect. (Hoogcarspel)

It is not to be relinquished by abandonment; it is to be avoided only by meditation or otherwise.
Thus the fruit of actions is produced by the unperishing. (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.16

If it is abandoned by simple abandonment or by the transformation of the karman, then there necessarily follows such errors as the denial of karman, etc. (Inada)

If it is be relinquished through simple relinquishing or through the transformation of action, then there would follow a variey of errors such as the destruction of actions. (Kalupahana)

If abandonment occurred through abandoning,
And if action were destroyed through transformation,
The destruction of action, etc.,
And other errors would arise. (Garfield)

If it perished through being let go of by letting go and the transcendence of the action, then faults would follow such as the perishing of actions. (Batchelor)

If [it] would be something to be abandoned through abandonment or by transition of the action, in that case faults beginning with the annihilation of action, would ensue. (Kragh)

If it would disappear after having been abandoned or after rebirth, then many misunderstandings would follow like the disappearance of karma etc. (Hoogcarspel)

If it were to be relinquished by abandonment or by transference of the action,
various difficulties would result, including the disappearance of the [past] action. (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.17

When all the similar and dissimilar karmans come together in a realm, there will arise only one imperishable continuing action. (Inada)

Of all these actions, whether dissimilar or similar, belonging to certain realms, only one would arise at the moment of birth [of a being]. (Kalupahana)

From all these actions in a realm,
Whether similar or dissimilar,
At the moment of birth
Only one will arise. (Garfield)

The very [irrevocability] of all actions in similar or dissimilar realms, that one alone is born when crossing the boundary [i.e. reborn]. (Batchelor)

Now, at transition it arises as [just] a single one for all the dissimilar and similar actions belonging to the same world-sphere. (Kragh)

Then, only one kind of karma would be the result, since all equal and unequal karmas would merge in the same element. (Hoogcarspel)

At the moment of rebirth there occurs a single [unperishing] with respect to all actions of the same spehere, both dissimilar and similar. (Siderits and Katsure)

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MMK 17.18

The imperishable continuing action will arise in the present, correspondingly with respect to all the two-fold nature [i.e. similar and dissimilar] of the karmans. It will also endure in its maturing state. (Inada)

That [imperishable] arises in the present life, corresponding to all the actions having dual natures [similar and dissimilar, good and bad, etc.] and stays so even when matured. (Kalupahana)

In this visible world,
All actions of the two kinds,
Each comprising action and the unexpired separately,
Will remain while ripening. (Garfield)

In the visible world there are two kinds. Actions of all [types] and that [irrevocability] of actions are produced as different things and remain [so?] even on ripening. (Batchelor)

But in the present life it is produced of every single action, which are of two kinds, and remains even when having ripened. (Kragh)

According to this theory only this one phenomenon would be the result of all different kinds of karma and it would stay, even when both kinds of karma have ripened. (Hoogcarspel)

It arises with respect to all the individual actions of the two different sorts in this world, and even though the fruit ripened, it persists. (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.19

The imperishable continuing action ceases to be when it has gone beyond [i.e. exhausted] the effects or met with death. Here a distinction must be made between wordly attachments [sasrava] and supra-wordly non-attachments [anasrava]. (Inada)

That [imperishable] ceases as result of the interruption of the fruit or as a result of death. Herein, a distinction between one with influxes and the one without influxes is to be signified. (Kalupahana)

That fruit, if extinction or death
Occurs, ceases.
Regarding this, a distinction between the stainless
And the stained is drawn. (Garfield)

When the fruit is transcendent and when one dies, that ceases. One should know its divisions to be without-corruption and with-corruption. (Batchelor)

It ceases either because of transcending to the result or because of death. In that case, [one] should characterise [its] division as with and without negative influence. (Kragh)

It would disappear through transcendence of the consequences or by death. And there would not be a difference between karma with and without influx of wordly desire. (Hoogcarspel)

It is destroyed either by going beyond the fruit or by death.
In the latter case it shows itself as the distinct states of pure and impure. (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.20

The imperishable continuing action spoken of by the Buddha is shunyata and not uccheda [interruption], samsara and not shashvata [constancy]. (Inada)

Emptiness, however, is not annihilation; life-process is also not eternal; the imperishability is of action - such is the doctrine taught by the Buddha. (Kalupahana)

Emptiness and nonannihilation;
Cyclic existence and nonpermanence:
That action is nonexpiring
Is taught by the Buddha. (Garfield)

Emptiness is not annihilation and samsara is not permanent. The dharma of the irrevocability of actions is taught by the Buddha. (Batchelor)

[That there is,] on the one hand, emptiness but no cutting off; [that there is,] on the other hand, the succession of births but no eternality; [that there is] also non-perishing of action, [this is] the Dharma taught by the Awakened One. (Kragh)

The doctrine that has been taught by the Buddha is the emptiness and not the end of the cycle of rebirth, eternity or the disappearance of karma. (Hoogcarspel)

There is emptiness but there is no annihilation; there is samsara but there is no eternity.
And the unperishing dharma of action was taught by the Buddha. (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.21

The reason why karman does not arise is that it is without a self-nature [nihsvabhava]. As it does not arise there is no perishing. (Inada)

Why does action not arise? Because it is without self-nature. Since it is non-arisen, it does not perish. (Kalupahana)

Because action does not arise,
It is seen to be without essence.
Because it is not arisen,
It follows that it is nonexpiring. (Garfield)

Because actions are not born, in this way they have no nature. Therefore, because they are not born, therefore they are irrevocable. (Batchelor)

Why does action not arise? Since [it is] without own-being, therefore [it does not arise]. And since it [is] non-arisen, therefore [it] does not perish. (Kragh)

Since karma is without substance, it is not produced by anyone. And since it is not produced, it will not perish. (Hoogcarspel)

Why is an action not arisen? Because it is without intrinsic nature.
And since it is unrisen, it does not perish. (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.22

If karman has self-nature then undoubtedly it will have the nature of constancy and will also be uncreated. However, anything characterized by constancy does not create. (Inada)

If it is assumed that action comes to be from self-nature, it certainly will be eternal, and action would also be uncaused, for that which is eternal is, indeed, not caused. (Kalupahana)

If action had an essence,
It would, without doubt, be eternal.
Action would be uncreated,
Because there can be no creation of what is eternal. (Garfield)

If actions existed [by] nature, without doubt they would be permanent. Actions would not be done [by an agent] because what is permanent cannot be done. (Batchelor)

If action would exist from an own-being, [it] would doubtlessly be eternal, and action would turn out to be unmade, for the eternal is not made. (Kragh)

If karma would be some substance, it would undoubtedly exist forever and it wouldn't be caused, because what is caused does not exist forever. (Hoogcarspel)

If the action were something with intrinsic nature, then it would doubtless be eternal.
And the action would be undone, for the eternal is not something that is done. (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.23

If an uncreated karman exists then there will be apprehensive [acts] without any creation. And a fallacy would result in which there will be no dwelling upon [i.e. carrying on] the ways of the Brahman. (Inada)

If an action were not performed [by the individual], then there would be fear of being confronted by something not performed [by him]. An ignoble life as well as error would follow from this. (Kalupahana)

If an action were uncreated,
Fear would arise of encountering something not done.
And the error of not preserving
One's vows would arise. (Garfield)

If actions were not done [by anyone], one would fear meeting what [one] has not done. Also the fault would follow for that [person] of not dwelling in the pure life. (Batchelor)

There would be danger of encountering something unmade, if action [would be] unmade, and, in that case, the fault of not remaining in ascetic purity is incurred. (Kragh)

If someone who has not produced any karma would be at risk to acquire karma not caused by himself, the consequence would be violations (of the rules of the order) and life without a vow of chastity. (Hoogcarspel)

If the action were not done [by the agent], then there is the concern that there would be a result of what was not done [by the agent],
and there then follows thr fault of incontinence. (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.24

All common practices would, no doubt, be destroyed for it follows that no distinction between the virtuous and evil doers could be made. (Inada)

Undoubtedly, all conventions would then be contradicted. The distinction between the performance of merit and evil will also not be proper. (Kalupahana)

All conventions would then
Be contradicted, without doubt.
It would be impossible to draw a distinction
Between virtue and evil. (Garfield)

All conventions also without doubt would be contradictory. Also the distinction between doing good and evil would not be valid. (Batchelor)

There is no doubt that indeed all daily affairs are contradicted, and the division of those, who do beneficial and misfortunate actions is not at all possible. (Kragh)

All common sense notions will be flatly contradicted, and the difference between doing good and bad deeds, and also the accumulation of merit becomes nonsense. (Hoogcarspel)

Without doubt this would contradict all worldly conduct.
And it would not be correct to distinguish between those who have done the meritorious and those who have done wrong. (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.25

If karman is a fixed thing [i.e. enduring] because of its self-nature, then a maturity that is already matured will again seek maturity. (Inada)

If action were to be determined, because it possesses self-nature, then a maturity that has matured will again mature. (Kalupahana)

Whatever is mature would mature
Time and time again.
If there were essence, this would follow,
Because action would remain in place. (Garfield)

[When] the ripening of that [action] has ripened it would ripen again and again, because if it existed [by] nature, it would [always] remain. (Batchelor)

And that, whose ripening has fully ripened, will ripen once again. Since the action remains if it possesses an own-being, therefore [faults are incurred]. (Kragh)

If karma would actually be some substance, the effect, even if ripened, would ripen again.
[Note: Causing consequences would be an essential property of karma, which would always be manifest.] (Hoogcarspel)

And that action that has already ripened will produce a fruit yet again
if it follows from the action's being determinate that it endowed with an intrinsic nature. (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.26

This karman will have the nature of defilements [kleshas] and these, in turn, will not be in the nature of truth [tattva]. But if the defilements are not in the nature of truth, how could karman be in the nature of truth? (Inada)

If this action is associated with defilements, these defilements, in turn, are not found in themselves. If defilements are not in themselves, how could there be an action in itself? (Kalupahana)

While this action has affliction as its nature
This affliction is not real in itself.
If affliction is not in itself,
How can action be real in itself? (Garfield)

This action has the character of affliction and afflictions are not real. If affliction is not real, how can action be real? (Batchelor)

[Since] on the one hand, this action has defilements as its nature, and on the other hand, these defilements do not really [exist]. If these defilements do not really [exist], how could action really exist? (Kragh)

Karma consists essentially of the mental torments.But this karma and these mental torments do not really exist. How could karma really exist, if the mental torments do not really exist? (Hoogcarspel)

You hold that action is by nature defiled and the defilements are not ultimately real.
If for you the defilements are not real, how would action be ultimately real? (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.27

It is said that karman and defilements are a co-operating conditionality of differing bodies. But if karman and defilements are of the nature of shunya [i.e. thusness or 'void'], what could be said of these bodies? (Inada)

Action and defilements are specified as the conditions of the [different] bodies. However, if these actions and defilements are empty, what could be said about the bodies? (Kalupahana)

Action and affliction
Are taught to be conditions that produce bodies.
If action and affliction are empty,
What would one say about bodies? (Garfield)

Actions and afflictions are taught to be the conditions for bodies. If actions and afflictions are empty, how can one speak of bodies? (Batchelor)

Action and defilements [are] taught as the bodies' conditions. If these actions[s] and defilements [are] empty, how much more can be said about the bodies? (Kragh)

Karma and the mental torments are called the fundamental conditions for a body (in a next life). If karma and mental torments are empty, what about the body? (Hoogcarspel)

Action and the defilements are described as conditions for the arising of the body.
If action and the defilements are empty, then what is to be said of the body? (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.28

The sentient being beclouded by ignorance is a bundle of cravings. He is the percipient [i.e. experiencer of karmic effects]. He is neither identical to nor different from the doer. (Inada)

A sentient being, beclouded by ignorance, is also fettered by craving. As an experiencer, he is neither identical with nor different from the agent. (Kalupahana)

Obstructed by ignorance,
And consumed by passion, the experiencer
Is neither different from the agent
Nor identical with it. (Garfield)

People who are obscured by ignorance, those with craving, are the consumers [of the fruits of action]. They are not other than those who do the action and they are also not those very ones. (Batchelor)

The creature, who [is] enveloped by ignorance and whose fetter is craving, he [is] the consumer. And he is neither different from the doer nor is he the same. (Kragh)

The one subject to karma is a being who is composed of desires and is under the spell of ignorance. He is neither different nor the same as the one who did produce this karma. (Hoogcarspel)

[Objection:] The person who is enclosed in ignorance and bound by thirst,
that person is the enjoyer; but that one is neither someone other than the agent nor someone identical to the agent. (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.29

Since karman does not arise by means of relational or non-relational conditionality, there is also no doer. (Inada)

Since this action does not exist as arisen from a condition nor as issuing forth from a non-condition, even an agent does not exist. (Kalupahana)

Since this action
Is not arisen from a condition,
Nor arisen causelessly,
It follows that there is not agent. (Garfield)

Because the action does not emerge from conditions and does not emerge from non-conditions, therefore, the agent too does not exist. (Batchelor)

Since this action is neither arisen due to conditions nor arisen without conditions, therefore it follows that also the doer does not exist. (Kragh)

Since this karma has not arisen either dependently or independently, its agent hasn't either. (Hoogcarspel)

[Reply:] Since the action does not exist dependent on conditions and does not exist having sprung up without dependence on conditions, therefore the agent also does not exist. (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.30

If there is neither karman nor doer, where could the effect arising from the karman be? Where there is no effect, how could there be any percipient [i.e. experiencer]? (Inada)

If both action and agent are non-existent, where could there be the fruit born of action? When there is no fruit, where can there be an experience? (Kalupahana)

If there is no action and agent
Where could the fruit of action be?
Without a fruit,
Where is there an experience? (Garfield)

If neither the action nor the agent exists, where can there be a fruit of the action? If the fruit does not exist, where can the consumer exist? (Batchelor)

If action and the doer do not exist, how could the result born of action exist? Further, when the result does not exist, how indeed could the consumer come to exist? (Kragh)

There is no agent if karma does not exist. In that case how could there be an effect caused by karma? And if there is no effect, how could there still be someone subject to karma? (Hoogcarspel)

If there is neither action nor agent, how would there be the fruit born of the action/
Moreover if the fruit does not exist, how will there be its enjoyer? (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.31-32

It is as if a master, by his supernatural powers, were to form a figure and this figure, in turn, were to form another figure.
In exactly the same way, the doer is like the formed figure and his action [karman] is like the other figure formed by the first. (Inada)

Just as a teacher, through psycho-kinetic power, were to create a figure, and this created figure were to create another, that in turn would be a created.
In the same way, an agent is like a created form and his action is like his creation. It is like the created form created by another who is created. (Kalupahana)

Just as the teacher, by magic,
Makes a magical illusion, and
By that illusion
Another illusion is created,
In that way are an agent and his action:
The agent is like the illusion.
The action
Is like the illusion's illusion. (Garfield)

Just as a teacher creates a creation by a wealth of magical powers, and just as if that creation too created, again another would be created,
Like this, whatever action too done by that agent [is] also like the aspect of a creation. It is just like, for example, a creation creating another creation. (Batchelor)

Just like the teacher by [his] perfection of magical powers could conjure up a conjuration, and that conjuration, after having been conjured up, would in turn conjure up another [conjuration],
in the same way, the agent has the likeness of a conjuration [and] which action has been done by him, that is similar to how the other conjuration was conjured up by the [first] conjuration. (Kragh)

The agent who causes this karma is like a master, a master magician, conjuring up a magical apparition. And this apparition is again conjuring up other apparitions. He is like a magical apparition conjuring up other magical apparitions. (Hoogcarspel)

Just as the Teacher by his supernatural power fabricates a magical being
that in turn fabricates yet another magical being,
so with regard to the agent, which has the form of a magical being, and the action that is done by it,
it is like the case where a second magical being is fabricated by a magical being. (Siderits and Katsura)

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MMK 17.33

Defilements, karmans, bodily entities, doers and effects are all similar to the nature of an imaginary city in the sky, a mirage, and a dream. (Inada)

Defilements, actions and bodies, agents as well as fruits, all these are similar to the cities of the gandharvas, are comparable to mirages and dreams. (Kalupahana)

Afflictions, actions, bodies,
Agents, and fruits are
Like a city of Gandharvas and
Like a mirage or a dream. (Garfield)

Afflictions, actions and bodies and agents and fruits are like a city of gandharvas, a mirage, a dream. (Batchelor)

The defilements, actions and bodies, the doers and the results [have] the likeness of a fatamorgana-city [and] the resemblance of mirages and dreams. (Kragh)

Mental torments, karmas, bodies, agents, and consequences are like a city of ghosts, a mirage, or a dream. (Hoogcarspel)

Defilements, actions, and bodies, agents, and fruits,
are similar to the city of the gandharvas; they are like a mirage, a dream. (Siderits and Katsura)

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(last modified 7 January 2015)

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