kātyāyanāvavāde cāstīti nāstīti cobhayam |
pratiṣiddhaṃ bhagavatā bhāvābhāva-vibhāvinā ||MMK15.7||
In The Instructing of Kātyāyana, both “It exists” and “It does not exist” are denied by the Glorious One who clarified the existence of existence and non-existence.
In MMK chap. 15, Nāgārjuna thus makes explicit reference to the teaching which is recorded in Pali in Kaccāyana-gotta-suttaṁ (Saṁyutta Nikāya, 12.15), The Discourse to the One from the Kaccāyana Clan.
A comparison of existing translations can be found here.
My version follows:
Kaccāyana-gotta-suttaṁ (SN 12.15)
Evam me suttam.
Thus have I heard:
ekaṁ samayaṁ Bhagavā Sāvatthiyaṁ viharati, Jetavane Anāthapiṇḍikassa ārāme. At one time the Glorious One was dwelling near Sāvatthī, in Jeta's Wood, at Anāthapiṇḍika's monastery.
Atha kho āyasmā kaccāyanagotto yena bhagavā tenupasaṅkami,
At that time, there where the Glorious One was, in that direction approached the venerable life-possessor [=Skt. āyuṣmat] of the Kaccāyana Clan.
upasaṅkamitvā bhagavantaṁ abhivādetvā, ekamantaṁ nisīdi.
After approaching and respecfully saluting the Glorious One, he sat to one side.
ekamantaṁ nisinno kho āyasmā kaccāyanagotto bhagavantaṁ etad avoca:
While sitting to one side, the venerable life-possessor from the Kaccāyana Clan said this to the Glorious One:
“ ‘sammādiṭṭhi sammādiṭṭhī’ ti, bhante, vuccati.
In what way, Venerable Sir, is there seeing straight?”
to It-exists-ness, and to It-does-not-exist-ness.
Loka-samudayaṁ kho, Kaccāyana, yathābhūtaṁ sammappaññāya passato, yā loke natthitā sā na hoti.
Whatever It-does-not-exist-ness there is in regard to the world, Kaccāyana, does not occur to one who, with nothing but wisdom, sees the arising of the world as it really is.
Loka-nirodhaṁ kho, Kaccāyana, yathābhūtaṁ sammappaññāya passato, yā loke atthitā sā na hoti.
Whatever It-exists-ness there is in regard to the world, Kaccāyana, does not occur to one who, with nothing but wisdom, sees the arising of the world as it really is.
For the most part, Kaccāyana, this world is bound by joining in, by becoming attached and by identifying.
Tañ-cāyaṁ upayupādānaṁ cetaso adhiṭṭhānaṁ abhinivesānusayaṁ na upeti na upādiyati nādhiṭṭhāti: ‘Attā me’ ti.
But this one [who sees straight] does not tend to join in and become attached, does not tend mentally to take a position, does not tend to identify and unconsciously go along with; he neither attaches to [the view], nor takes as a position, that “I have a self.”
dukkhaṁ nirujjhamānaṁ nirujjhatī,’ ti
that suffering when ceasing is ceasing;
he does not doubt, is not uncertain;
aparapaccayā ñāṇam-evassa ettha hoti.
his knowing in this is not dependent on others.
ettāvatā kho, Kaccāyana, sammādiṭṭhi hoti.
‘sabbaṁ atthī,’ ti kho, Kaccāyana, ayam-eko anto.
‘sabbaṁ natthī’ ti ayaṁ dutiyo anto.
Not approaching either of these two extremes, Kaccāyana,
majjhena tathāgato dhammaṁ deseti:
the Tathāgata teaches the Dharma by way of the middle:
Avijjā-paccayā bhikkhave saṅkhārā,
With ignorance as their causal grounds, monks, there are habitual doings;
with habitual doings as its causal grounds – divided consciousness;
with divided consciousness as its causal grounds – psycho-physicality;
with psycho-physicality as causal grounds – six senses;
with six senses as causal grounds – contact;
with contact as its causal grounds – feeling;
with feeling as its causal grounds – thirsting;
with thirsting as its causal grounds – taking hold;
with taking hold as its causal grounds – becoming;
with becoming as its causal grounds – birth;
jāti-paccayā jarā-maraṇaṁ soka-parideva-dukkha-domanassupāyāsā sambhavanti,
with birth as causal grounds there come into being old age and death, grief, lamentations, pain, downheartedness, and despair;
evam-etassa kevalassa dukkha-kkhandhassa samudayo hoti.
and so there is an arising of this whole mass of suffering.
Avijjāya tv eva asesa-virāga-nirodhā saṅkhāra-nirodho,
But from the complete fading away and cessation of ignorance, there is the cessation of habitual doings;
from the cessation of habitual doings – the cessation of divided consciousness;
from the cessation of divided consciousness – the cessation of pyscho-physicality;
from the cessation of pyscho-physicality – the cessation of six senses;
from the cessation of six senses – the cessation of contact;
from the cessation of contact – the cessation of feeling;
from the cessation of feeling – the cessation of thirsting;
from the cessation of thirsting – the cessation of taking hold;
from the cessation of taking hold – the cessation of becoming;
from the cessation of becoming – the cessation of birth;
jātinirodhā jarāmaraṇaṁ soka-parideva-dukkha-domanassupāyāsā nirujjhanti,
from the cessation of birth cease old age and death, grief, lamentations, pain, sorrow, and despair;
evam-etassa kevalassa dukkha-kkhandhassa nirodho hotī” ti.
and so there is a cessation of this whole mass of suffering.”
Atthitā: -tā is the feminine abstract noun suffix ("-ness"). So atthi ("[it] exists") + tā means something like "it-exists-ness" -- that is, the view or the attitude or (as Gudo Nishijima would have said) the state [of the autonomic nervous system], in which things like an action, or karma produced by action, or the world, have real independent existence as things unto themselves. Because such things are immune to dependent arising and ceasing, this extreme is also called "eternalism" (sassatavāda / sassatadiṭṭhi; [Skt] śāśvata-dṛṣṭi).
Natthitā: "it-does-not-exist-ness." Sanskrit equivalent: nāstitva. Also called "annihilationism" (Pali: ucchedavāda; or [Skt] uccheda-dṛṣṭi). The Buddha's teaching of dependent arising negates the separate existence of things but affirms, in the middle way, that things do exist through dependent arising. Natthitā, in contrast, is the extreme nihilistic view (or attitude or state) which, ideals having been shattered and disillusionment having set in, asks the rhetorical question: "Since everything is empty, what is the point of anything?" Nāgārjuna will respond by clarifying that all movement in the right direction is possible only because everything is empty. What the nihilist means by "all is empty" is "all is futile," or "nothing has meaning." What Nāgārjuna means by "all is empty" is that every thing is dependently arisen, and therefore empty of separate existence as a thing unto itself. And precisely because all is empty in this sense, our efforts to get to the bottom of the four noble truths can be meaningful.
Upaya = Sanskrit upāya: coming near, approach, arrival; joining in or accompanying (in singing). Bhikkhu Bodhi: engagement.
Upādāna: attachment, taking hold, clinging – as per link no. 9 in the 12-fold dependent arising of suffering. Bhikkhu Bodhi: clinging.
Abhinivesa = Skt. abhi-niveśa: application, intentness, affection, devotion; determination (to effect a purpose or attain an object), tenacity, adherence to; from abhi-ni-√viś: to enter ; to disembogue (as a river) into; to devote one's self entirely to. Bhikkhu Bodhi: adherence.
Adhiṭṭhāna = Skt. adhi-ṣṭhāna: standing by; position; (with Buddhists) steadfast resolution (one of the 6 or 10 pāramitās). Bhikkhu Bodhi: standpoint. Thanissaro Bhikkhu: fixations [of awareness].
Anusaya = Skt. anuśaya: close connection as with a consequence, close attachment to any object; from anu- √śī: to sleep with, lie along or close, adhere closely to. Bhikkhu Bodhi: underlying tendency. Thanissaro Bhikkhu: latent tendencies.
Saṅkhārā = Skt. saṁskārāḥ. Thanissaro Bhikkhu: fabrications. Maurice Walshe: the formations. Bhikkhu Bodhi: volitional formations. Ānandajoti Bhikkhu: [volitional] processes. But cf. Nāgārjuna's usage in MMK chap. 26, where saṁskārāḥ are described as what the person engulfed in ignorance contrives to do. See also the traditional depiction of the 2nd link as a potter manufacturing pots. Cf. also the standard Chinese translation as 行, which means to act, but originally (as represented by the track-like pictograph) in the sense of going along established tracks. Hence I translate "habitual doings" or "doings." So far nobody recognizes that translation. But one day everybody will, because "habitual doings," I strongly believe, is the real meaning.