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Verses from the Center: A Buddhist Vision of the Sublime

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  114 ratings  ·  9 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 1st 2001 by Riverhead Books
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Barnaby Thieme
There is much about Stephen Batchelor's new translation of Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika which is extremely useful, although the work is also highly problematic. Batchelor has chosen to render Nagarjuna's verses in a very free fashion, communicating what he discerns to be the real message at the heart of the Karikas. He has felt free to omit material, paraphrase, summarize, and reword entire sections with enormous liberty. On the one hand this has freed the text from much of its cryptic ...more
All energy for actually writing a review expended on typing up selections below, which I hope actually shed light on the text. In short, Batchelor always writes so accessibly about Buddhism and writes both a long intro to put Nāgārjuna and the text in context, as well as translating the verses with the intent of keeping their spirit current.

“One can become fixated on emptiness as easily as on anything else. In doing so, what is intended to stop fixations becomes an insidious
Oct 06, 2014 rated it did not like it
Disappointing. This is not a translation of Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika. It is an oddly framed up 80 page widely ranging introduction with 50 pages of poems that Batchelor drafted. I don't think his Zen koan approach works for this text.
See: The philosophy of the middle way (Mulamadhyamakakarika) by Nagarjuna, English translation and annotation by David Kalupahana.
Philippe Desaulniers
3.5, actually. Very interesting intro by the author. Then the verses themselves sort of disappointed. Too repetitive, and they didn't feel as rich as the explanation that was done of them in the intro.

Maybe it's a translation problem. Maybe I just didn't get it.
May 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
besides the actual verses by nagarjuna, which one can (and should) spend the rest of one's life pondering, the other half of this book is a superb (remarkably clear) primer on the basic precepts of buddhism, i.e. emptiness and contingency. much food for the soul.
Tyrone Martin
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
very good book on the philosophy of emptiness
Jeffrey Bumiller
Dec 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Buddhist poetry with an existential tinge. Emptiness and contingency are the main subjects here. Contains a very lengthy and interesting introduction by Stephen Batchelor.
Andrew Furst
May 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A delightful read. One of Stephen's best
Aaron Wood
Feb 03, 2010 is currently reading it
I am always reading this book over and over....
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Acharya Nāgārjuna (Telugu: నాగారజున) (c. 150 - 250 CE) was an Indian philosopher and the founder of the Madhyamaka school of Mahāyāna Buddhism.

His writings are the basis for the formation of the Madhyamaka school, which was transmitted to China under the name of the Three Treatise (Sanlun) School. He is credited with developing the philosophy of the Prajnaparamita sutras, and was closely