The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

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The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Wed Jan 29, 2014 4:19 pm

This isn't an attempt to open a can of worms, it's an attempt to clear up confusion.

Madhyamaka says that nothing can be singled out as having its own type of existence, so all things are empty because they depend on other things.

Yogacara can be said (there seems to be many different forms.) to imply some type of existence when looking at the whole, because it's not trying to single anything out as having its own existence. It can instead be saying that all things when seen together and without division, have a collective type of 'something' that 'can be worded' as existence, purely because the non-dual neither exists or doesn't exist. To say it has no existence is nihilism, to say it has complete existence is a type of eternalism. So it also applies the middle way.

So is the confusion mainly based around the idea that Yogacara is attacked because people believe it's trying to assert that "individual parts" have their own existence instead of being empty? When instead it could be said that whenever you read of something having a type of existence, it's trying to point to what we could call an ultimate, or looking at the whole, or the bigger picture, the nondual, and so on.

So the idea is that Madyhamaka is correct, nothing has its own self nature, existence, etc, but Yogacara is also correct because it says that when looking at the whole and not individual parts, there's something there that can "be said" to have some type of existence, reality, substance, and so on, because there's actually something there ultimately when all things are seen without division. They can also "be said" to have some type of non-existence, non-reality, non-substance, etc, so that those ideas aren't grasped at, and so that it's also applying the middle way.

So if Yogacara is understood properly, let's say the best type of it, there's maybe no better or worse when it comes to both Madhyamaka or Yogacara. It just seems odd how Madhyamaka is often seen as better than Yogacara, when both can work equally. It also seems similar to several ideas of certain schools being higher or lower, superior and inferior, etc. Maybe they're simply the same, and it's all down to how a person is suited to whatever it is. Maybe the problem arrives when people see the "other" as a rival and something that should be attacked, instead of simply seen as not what's best suited to them.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby smcj » Wed Jan 29, 2014 4:49 pm

This isn't an attempt to open a can of worms, it's an attempt to clear up confusion.

Well that's certainly an optimistic endeavor!
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Malcolm » Wed Jan 29, 2014 5:07 pm

rob h wrote:Yogacara...says that when looking at the whole and not individual parts, there's something there that can "be said" to have some type of existence, reality, substance, and so on, because there's actually something there ultimately when all things are seen without division.


This is substantialist perspective and will inevitably collapse because of its internal contradictions.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Anders » Wed Jan 29, 2014 5:49 pm

rob h wrote:This isn't an attempt to open a can of worms, it's an attempt to clear up confusion.


:smile:

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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby smcj » Wed Jan 29, 2014 6:10 pm

:good:

:bow:
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Wed Jan 29, 2014 6:45 pm

Anders : good point!

Malcolm wrote:
rob h wrote:Yogacara...says that when looking at the whole and not individual parts, there's something there that can "be said" to have some type of existence, reality, substance, and so on, because there's actually something there ultimately when all things are seen without division.


This is substantialist perspective and will inevitably collapse because of its internal contradictions.


It isn't an attempt to be substantialist, it's meant to try to convey the idea that there is "something" there, instead of having imbalanced nothingness. It just can't be described, only pointed to. It's neither substance or not-substance, nor both, nor neither. I could just as easily say the Madhyamaka idea of emptiness is negating everything too much, but I don't want to do that. That's because the Madhyamikas seem to be accused of negating everything by opponents and the Yogacarins are accused of affirming something when they're just trying to point out and keep some type of balance, by the looks of it.

If it's all going to be taken literally though, doesn't this ring true also?

Since all finite concepts are negational, the concept of "middle" (madhya) is equally negated, and so one should not even try and abide in a Middle View (madhyamaka).


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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Malcolm » Wed Jan 29, 2014 7:43 pm

rob h wrote:
It isn't an attempt to be substantialist, it's meant to try to convey the idea that there is "something" there...


And that is the problem, nothing there is found.

If it's all going to be taken literally though, doesn't this ring true also?

Since all finite concepts are negational, the concept of "middle" (madhya) is equally negated, and so one should not even try and abide in a Middle View (madhyamaka).


Of course.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:16 pm

Malcolm wrote:
rob h wrote:
It isn't an attempt to be substantialist, it's meant to try to convey the idea that there is "something" there...


And that is the problem, nothing there is found.


This is difficult, because although I'm trying to point out that there is something there, because there can't possibly be nothing, at the same time you're also correct because no-thing is actually there. (as in there's nothing that is actually a thing.) So I suppose I'll just leave this because it can never really be resolved in words, or with concepts. :meditate:
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jan 30, 2014 1:11 am

rob h wrote:This is difficult, because although I'm trying to point out that there is something there, because there can't possibly be nothing


There can't be nothing since there never was something which could become nothing.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby dzogchungpa » Thu Jan 30, 2014 2:07 am

Malcolm wrote:
rob h wrote:This is difficult, because although I'm trying to point out that there is something there, because there can't possibly be nothing


There can't be nothing since there never was something which could become nothing.

Why, for there to be nothing, must there have been something to become nothing?
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby kirtu » Thu Jan 30, 2014 2:15 am

Equally correct? Both are correct, but equally? .... don't think so .....

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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Sherab » Thu Jan 30, 2014 2:39 am

Alternatively, they could be equally wrong.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Thu Jan 30, 2014 3:00 am

Malcolm wrote:
rob h wrote:This is difficult, because although I'm trying to point out that there is something there, because there can't possibly be nothing


There can't be nothing since there never was something which could become nothing.


You could say there's that which is beyond any type of definition. So empty or not can't possibly apply. This could probably just go around in circles though I suppose!

Kirtu : I think they can both work and that it's just down to what style suits people more.

Sherab wrote:Alternatively, they could be equally wrong.


Maybe. :mrgreen:
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby smcj » Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:46 am

With all due respect, if I may add...
Malcolm wrote:
rob h wrote:Yogacara...says that when looking at the whole and not individual parts, there's something there that can "be said" to have some type of existence, reality, substance, and so on, because there's actually something there ultimately when all things are seen without division.

This is substantialist perspective and will inevitably collapse because of its internal contradictions.

That is why it is said that when emptiness is approached intellectually, self-empty ( Prasangika Madhyamaka) view is best.

When emptiness is approached experientially, other-empty (Yogacara/Shentong) view is best. If someone has directly experienced uncontrived emptiness in their meditation, do you think you're going to argue them out of it?

And that is the problem, nothing there is found.

No matter how hard you try, your retina will never be able to find itself. That does not mean that you have no retina.

Alternatively, they could be equally wrong.

All Dharma is left behind at enlightenment, like getting out of the boat once you reach "the other shore". To me that means all views, as well as teachings, are provisional.
Last edited by smcj on Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:58 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Sherab » Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:53 am

rob h wrote:
Sherab wrote:Alternatively, they could be equally wrong.

Maybe. :mrgreen:

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.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby kirtu » Thu Jan 30, 2014 7:53 am

Sherab wrote:Alternatively, they could be equally wrong.


Equally wrong? Nope .... dualism sprouting all over the place.

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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Tsongkhapafan » Thu Jan 30, 2014 9:29 am

This all seems very intellectual!

The union of the Prasangika and Chittamatrin views was praised by Tsongkhapa as pre-eminent and is very important for Tantric meditation. It is expressed simply by Milarepa:

You should know that all phenomena are the nature of mind
And that mind is the nature of emptiness.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Thu Jan 30, 2014 1:12 pm

Sherab wrote:
rob h wrote:
Sherab wrote:Alternatively, they could be equally wrong.

Maybe. :mrgreen:

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.
Last edited by rob h on Thu Jan 30, 2014 1:27 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jan 30, 2014 1:14 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
rob h wrote:This is difficult, because although I'm trying to point out that there is something there, because there can't possibly be nothing


There can't be nothing since there never was something which could become nothing.

Why, for there to be nothing, must there have been something to become nothing?


Nothing always indicates the absence of something, in common language.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jan 30, 2014 1:22 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:This all seems very intellectual!

The union of the Prasangika and Chittamatrin views was praised by Tsongkhapa as pre-eminent and is very important for Tantric meditation.


Everyone in Tibetan practices Vajrayāna according to this view.

It is expressed simply by Milarepa:

You should know that all phenomena are the nature of mind
And that mind is the nature of emptiness.


I understand the above phrase is translated quite literally from Tibetan, but it really does not make sense in English. In English that literally reads:

The nature of the mind is phenomena,
the nature of emptiness is mind.

What is really should say:

"The nature of all phenomena is the mind,
The nature of the mind is emptiness."
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