rob h wrote:
Alternatively, they could be equally wrong.
There is an advantage in looking at both as equally wrong. We would be less likely to be upset with arguments against our own position.
Anyway, I think a case can be made that both (or for that matter, any view) cannot be entirely correct from the ultimate point of view.
Agreed. At the end of the day I think the awareness we all have, that we're trying to release from attachments, can't be completely empty. You just can't think of it in a way that forms concepts, or you set up something false. The phenomena we experience while we're in our current state could be more or less empty, but not our actual awareness. We can't be just mindless drones with no essence at all, otherwise we're simply like programs, and where's the programmer if so? And does he or she have an essence? There's something (that's not "something" but the word is used to point out, I have to repeat this. The same goes for "essence" too.) there, otherwise the Buddha was wasting his time because there's nobody and/or nothing to teach or free from anything. He may as well have just been playing a computer game and we're the characters.
The idea of not having inherent, individual self though, that's grasping for conditioned phenomena, I can get that, that's fine. That's our ignorance and delusion. But I can't agree that there's just no type of self at all no matter what state you're in. Even the Buddha refused to answer this question on self/no-self, and I'm going to guess that it's because it's a yes and no thing. There's something there, but to say it's a self means that people set up concepts and attach. To say there's nothing would make people just go into nihilism. To describe it though would be impossible because it's beyond any type of definition. So the Madhyamikas refuse to affirm after negating and maybe that's what they refuse to affirm, and for good reason, that people set up false concepts to attach to and we just go back to square one with attaching, but I do think the negating can be over the top at times.
On the other hand I don't like the way you see "this exists" etc, in some Yogacara translations. I'd guess that maybe Asanga and/or Vasubandhu went a bit over the top in trying to counter the Madhyamaka stance, and maybe they should've avoided that. Either way, when I read that something "exists" it puts me off equally, because it's just going to the opposite end of the spectrum from where I think the imbalanced type of Madhyamaka can sometimes go to.
But yeah it's interesting that others have tried to make them work together in various ways, and nice quote in relation to that Tsongkhapafan. It seems like if you synthesize these two schools, or take out the extremes from both of them, then maybe there's something that can work very well.
Of course I don't think any of this is right, am just saying what I think the case might be. I'd prefer to think both schools are right and equal though, and that they're just very easy to twist into appearing to be wrong if you're opposed, and like Sherab said, maybe it's best to see them as also wrong in some way as well.