The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby JamyangTashi » Sun Feb 23, 2014 2:41 am

rob h wrote:
jeeprs wrote:I stumbled on it doing some research on the topic of prapañca (conceptual proliferation) which accounts for a large proportion of what is regarded as both 'science' and 'philosophy' nowadays in my opinion. :smile:


Haha, yeah have often thought that too. Just to add : thanks for mentioning prapañca. Had seen a page not so long back (Madhupindika Sutta I think.) but had forgot about it. Have just gone back to it now and will make sure to research further. (might be related to the vasanas in Yogacara by the looks of it as well.)

edit - link for anyone else interested : http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


There's a free book entirely about prapañca available online at Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought which discusses the Madhupindika Sutta and many other sources.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Sun Feb 23, 2014 7:38 am

JamyangTashi wrote:There's a free book entirely about prapañca available online at Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought which discusses the Madhupindika Sutta and many other sources.


Awesome, thanks for the link!
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Mon Feb 24, 2014 5:06 pm

The problems I had with this are beginning to seem basically comical now. Once you realize/remember that both of these systems are simply designed to be added to a raft that's eventually to be discarded, they both make so much more sense. If you look at mind-only (or whichever variant way of putting it.) as something to be discarded ultimately, and then don't posit anything after it, Yogacara seems to be fine. On the same token, if you're concerned with any overemphasis on "emptiness" with Madhyamaka, simply realizing that you can let any idea of emptiness go when it comes to anything you're not attached to, it seems to be equally fine.

My personal problem was attaching to emptiness and seeing it as nihilistic, but hopefully that's been solved now. Things we're attached to are good to be seen as empty of inherent self/nature/existence, but if we're not attached to them and can start to see them for what they are, there's no need to carry on thinking of emptiness so much. A quote that seems to sum this type of problem up, from Essentials of Mahamudra by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, when speaking about the Six Points of Tilopa :

The fourth point, "Do not meditate", means that you simply sustain the awareness of mind without trying to manufacture something else. For example, do not meditate on emptiness because, by doing so, you will manufacture emptiness on which to meditate. Similarly, do not meditate upon luminosity and thereby fabricate some luminosity upon which to meditate.


On the same note, you could say do not meditate on mind-only, because again there'll just be a manufactured version of that too. Concepts like emptiness, luminosity, mind-only, consciousness-only, representation-only, etc, etc, are just parts of a raft to help us understand things better. There's no need to attach to or side with either view, and at the end of the day there's really nothing final to be conceptualized and/or described.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby smcj » Mon Feb 24, 2014 5:27 pm

rob h wrote:The problems I had with this are beginning to seem basically comical now. Once you realize/remember that both of these systems are simply designed to be added to a raft that's eventually to be discarded, they both make so much more sense. If you look at mind-only (or whichever variant way of putting it.) as something to be discarded ultimately, and then don't posit anything after it, Yogacara seems to be fine. On the same token, if you're concerned with any overemphasis on "emptiness" with Madhyamaka, simply realizing that you can let any idea of emptiness go when it comes to anything you're not attached to, it seems to be equally fine.

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

Postby rob h » Mon Feb 24, 2014 6:42 pm

smcj wrote: :good:


Thanks, it's been a struggle for a while, but have hopefully got this pretty much resolved now. :D
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Sun Mar 02, 2014 12:15 pm

Am going to post an extract from Asanga-Maitreya and then point out where I have an issue as an example. There's another issue I have with Nagarjuna but will probably save that until later. Another thing before I get into it though is a reminder that even though I see problems with Yogacara and Madhyamaka, I still think they're amazing for the most part. The point is that I think there has to be a middle way with both of them : I don't take everything should be taken too literally, because then there's for example, the attempt to justify mistakes as being correct in some way or ways if there's too much attachment, but on the other hand, rejecting one or more of them outright because of their (possible.) faults seems equally wrong, because then everything good about them is lost as well.

Ok, here goes, this should be fun to write out. :geek: (apologies in advance for any mistakes, and will post back to clarify if I see them after I can no longer edit.)

Also : am adding the notes, etc, also for anyone that wants to get a glimpse of what this book is like, which seems good actually. It's from Maitreya's Distinguishing the Middle from the Extremes (Madhyantavibhaga.) Along with Vasubandhu's Commentary (Madhyantavibhaga-bhasya.) A Study and Annotated Translation, by Mario D'Amato.

Parts that start with brackets (the numbering.) are Asanga-Maitreya from the Madhyantavibhaga, (D'Amato refers to this as the "MAV" in the notes.) parts that don't are Vasubandhu from the Madhyantavibhaga-bhasya. (MAVBh in the notes.) Brackets in the actual writing are additions from D'Amato.

Chapter 1

Definitions

Section 1.A:Unreal Imagination

Section 1.A.1: Unreal Imagination's Definition in Terms of Existence and Non-Existence

Beginning with definitions [the verse-text] states:

[1.1] There is unreal imagination.(1) Duality does not exist there, but emptiness does. That [unreal imagination] exists in this [emptiness] as well.(2)

"Unreal imagination" means the conceptual discrimination between subject and object.(3) "Duality" means subject and object. And "emptiness" means leaving behind the positing of subject and object in unreal imagination. "That exists in this as well" means that unreal imagination [exists in emptiness]. Thus one perceives things as they really are: "This is empty of what does not exist here";(4) one knows things as they really are: "But what remains here, that does exist here."(5) This is how one arrives at a correct definition of emptiness.

[1.2] Therefore everything is established as neither empty nor non-empty, due to existence, non-existence, and existence. Indeed this is the middle way.

"Not empty" is with respect to emptiness and unreal imagination.(6) "Not non-empty" is with respect to the duality of subject and object. "Everything" means the conditioned-i.e., unreal imagination - as well as the unconditioned - i.e., emptiness. And it is established - it is specified - [that things are neither empty nor non-empty] because of the existence of unreal imagination, the non-existence of duality, and the existence of emptiness in unreal imagination, as well as of unreal imagination in [emptiness]. This is indeed the middle way: that everything is neither exclusively empty nor exclusively non-empty. This, therefore, is in accordance with texts such as the Prajnaparamita [sutras] which state, "All this is neither empty nor non-empty."

Notes :

1 Note that the term "unreal imagination" (abhuta-parikalpa) should not be understood to mean that imagination is itself unreal, but rather that it imagines something which is unreal; I intend the phrase to resonate with the more common English phrases "literary imagination" or "fictional imagination" - the capacity to imagine fictitious characters in literature. Alternate translations would be "imagination of the unreal" or "imagination of that which is unreal". Sthiramati states that "unreal imagination" means "that in which, or that by which, the unreal duality is imagined" (Yamaguchi 1934: 13: abhutam asmin dvayam parikalpyate 'nena vety abhuta-parikalpah/; cf. Bhattacharya and Tucci 1932: 12).

2 The referents of the demonstrative pronouns are clear from their respective genders in the Sanskrit, and from the MAVBh.

3 Here, as in most contexts, I translate grahaka and grahya as "subject" and "object", respectively. A more literal translation would be "grasper" and "grasped", which I also use in certain contexts. I would emphasize that by using the terms "subject" and "object", I do not not wish to imply that the text understands objects as external to consciousness; rather, the sense of "object" here is "object of consciousness". Considering a single episode of consciousness, for example, by "subject" we understand the representing, subjective aspect of the mental event; and by "object" the represented, objective aspect. As Sthiramati points out, "subject" refers to "the appearance of self and representations" (atma-vijnapti-pratibhasam), while "object" refers to "consciousness that has the appearance of [referential] objects and sentient beings" (artha-sattva-pratibhasam vijnanam) (Yamaguchi 1934: 14; cf. Bhattacharya and Tucci 1932: 12; also see MAV 1.3.).

4 Sthiramati's MAVT indicates that "what does not exist here" means the duality that does not exist in unreal imagination (Yamaguchi 1934: 14: abhuta-parikalpe dvayam/; cf. Bhattacharya and Tucci 1932: 12).

5 Nagao (1978: 69-70) points out that this quotation is quite close to a passage repeated in the Culasunnata-sutta ("Shorter Discourse on Emptiness"; Majjhima-nikaya iii.104-109), which states, "Thus he regards it as empty of what is not there, but as to what remains there he understands that which is present thus: 'This is present'" (adapted from the translation on Nanamoli and Bodhi 1995: 966, etc.).

6 Here the sense of "not empty" is "not empty of existence", as can be seen in the further commentary to this verse.



Ok, so the bit I'm getting at is my main issue with Yogacara in general, but it doesn't mean that I dislike Yogacara because of it. Am just pointing this out because I think it's an issue. If anyone else can help me clear it up if I've got it wrong, thanks. If not, no problem. All I do is skip past these parts and carry on reading/learning, then come back to them later to see if there's any further insight really. If not, still no big issue, I don't expect to agree with everything in Yogacara or Madhyamaka, but there's still by far the most of both that I think contain a lot of useful things to learn from.

So Asanga-Maitreya state :

That [unreal imagination] exists in this [emptiness] as well.


Vasubandhu (and by the way, there's doubts about if the real Vasubandhu is actually the author of one or more bhasya's. Will have to check a page to see if this one is included.) follows this up with :

"That exists in this as well" means that unreal imagination [exists in emptiness]. Thus one perceives things as they really are: "This is empty of what does not exist here"; one knows things as they really are: "But what remains here, that does exist here." This is how one arrives at a correct definition of emptiness.


D'Amato then notes this :

5 Nagao (1978: 69-70) points out that this quotation is quite close to a passage repeated in the Culasunnata-sutta ("Shorter Discourse on Emptiness"; Majjhima-nikaya iii.104-109), which states, "Thus he regards it as empty of what is not there, but as to what remains there he understands that which is present thus: 'This is present'" (adapted from the translation on Nanamoli and Bodhi 1995: 966,etc.).


So to quote from the Culasunnata-sutra, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu :

Theme-Less Concentration

"Further, Ananda, the monk — not attending to the perception of the dimension of nothingness, not attending to the perception of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception — attends to the singleness based on the theme-less concentration of awareness. His mind takes pleasure, finds satisfaction, settles, & indulges in its theme-less concentration of awareness.

"He discerns that 'Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the perception of the dimension of nothingness are not present. Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the perception of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, are not present. And there is only this modicum of disturbance: that connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.' He discerns that 'This mode of perception is empty of the perception of the dimension of nothingness. This mode of perception is empty of the perception of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception. There is only this non-emptiness: that connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.' Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: 'There is this.' And so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, & pure.

Release

"Further, Ananda, the monk — not attending to the perception of the dimension of nothingness, not attending to the perception of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception — attends to the singleness based on the theme-less concentration of awareness. His mind takes pleasure, finds satisfaction, settles, & indulges in its theme-less concentration of awareness.

"He discerns that 'This theme-less concentration of awareness is fabricated & mentally fashioned.' And he discerns that 'Whatever is fabricated & mentally fashioned is inconstant & subject to cessation.' For him — thus knowing, thus seeing — the mind is released from the effluent of sensuality, the effluent of becoming, the effluent of ignorance. With release, there is the knowledge, 'Released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'


This sutra is regularly discarding things. They include : "The Perception of Village", "The Perception of Human Being", "The Perception of Wilderness", "The Perception of Earth", and then the four arupajhanas; Infinitude of Space, Infinitude of Consciousness, Nothingness, and Neither Perception nor Non-Perception. It then arrives where the quote starts : Theme-Less Concentration.

What I think is important here, to finally get to the point, is this : if Asanga-Maitreya and Vasubandhu are actually, like Nagao supposes, basing this concept of something remaining as "existing", it seems to face problems when actually looking at the sutra. Each time we get to the part "There is this" or as the note translates "This is present", whatever it is, is then discarded, step by step, until we arrive at :

And there is just this non-emptiness: that connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.


So if that's the part actually used to back up this idea that something remains as actually existing, and everything that's referred to as "There is this", or "This is present", apart from that connected with the six sensory spheres, is discarded, then does it really work? The spheres are of the five aggregates, so it obviously doesn't seem to stand up. You could say that "that connected with" is pointing towards an awareness that can't be conceptualized being present, and using those sensory spheres, and the body, as instruments, but it still doesn't mean that it's being said to "exist".

So the problem is that when saying, or trying to point out that something remains as "existing", it really doesn't seem to make sense, and I still find it as confusing as I did when I first took issue with it. Something always remains when looking at the Culasunnata, but almost every time it's just discarded and something else takes its place. Nothing is actually said to be actually "existing". Disturbances are worded in that sutra to 'exist', but surely that's just being used as a figure of speech. Those disturbances look like being the pointers that there's something to be discarded, that it's a fabricated experience.

Anyway, it's just my main issue with Yogacara, and seeing as I just got the book by D'Amato and this is the very first part, (of the MAV+MAVBh section.) thought I'd go into it a bit. The book does seem good though, and as well as the translation, has a big first part that goes into Yogacara in general. Will probably post back with another extract that's decent to balance things out at some point. Later on will briefly post about a problem I have with a part of the Mulamadhyamakakarika though, and maybe someone can help clear that up, but if not, like I said in reference to Yogacara : no worries, I won't be discarding everything because of one issue.

Have actually nicknamed Nagarjuna "The Destroyer" too, because he seems that good at taking apart delusional concepts. :mrgreen: So there's no siding with Yogacara, etc, Nagarjuna does seem to be a genius with a lot of what he's written in the karika.


edit : just made about 10+ edits. If there's still mistakes, apologies, but at least there's a lot less than at the start.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Sun Mar 02, 2014 7:38 pm

Ok, to balance things out (with what's possibly just nitpicking, am aware of that.) here's the part of the Mulamadhyamakakarika that I find problematic.

From Chapter 22 - Examination of the Tathagata :

16. Whatever is the essence of the Tathagata,
That is the essence of the world.
The Tathagata has no essence.
The world is without essence.



It looks like from this part alone, it can be seen to some extent why Madhyamaka is often charged with nihilism! That's not actually my issue though, or maybe it is slightly, but the main part is the reference to the Tathagata.

Firstly it's said that the essence of the Tathagata is the same as the essence of the world, (as in no inherent essence being there at all.) but this seems misleading. Yes you could say that the aggregates that the Tathagata is using in the incarnation are without essence, but does that sum up the Tathagata completely?

Which leads to the main problem being "The Tathagata has no essence." I can see what is being implied here, that because the Tathagata appears to be dependent on the world to awaken in, he's must also be fully dependent as an actual Tathagata, and therefore without essence. The problem is simply that by saying this there's an attempt to (even partly) pin down what defines the Tathagata by using logic, and I don't think it should be done.

To try and back this up with an extract from the Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutra (translated again by Thanissaro.) :

I will now put some questions to you. Answer as you see fit. What do you think, Vaccha: If a fire were burning in front of you, would you know that, 'This fire is burning in front of me'?"

"...yes..."

"And suppose someone were to ask you, Vaccha, 'This fire burning in front of you, dependent on what is it burning?' Thus asked, how would you reply?"

"...I would reply, 'This fire burning in front of me is burning dependent on grass & timber as its sustenance.'"

"If the fire burning in front of you were to go out, would you know that, 'This fire burning in front of me has gone out'?"

"...yes..."

"And suppose someone were to ask you, 'This fire that has gone out in front of you, in which direction from here has it gone? East? West? North? Or south?' Thus asked, how would you reply?"

"That doesn't apply, Master Gotama. Any fire burning dependent on a sustenance of grass and timber, being unnourished — from having consumed that sustenance and not being offered any other — is classified simply as 'out' (unbound)."

"Even so, Vaccha, any physical form by which one describing the Tathagata would describe him: That the Tathagata has abandoned, its root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. Freed from the classification of form, Vaccha, the Tathagata is deep, boundless, hard to fathom, like the sea. 'Reappears' doesn't apply. 'Does not reappear' doesn't apply. 'Both does & does not reappear' doesn't apply. 'Neither reappears nor does not reappear' doesn't apply.

"Any feeling... Any perception... Any fabrication...

"Any consciousness by which one describing the Tathagata would describe him: That the Tathagata has abandoned, its root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. Freed from the classification of consciousness, Vaccha, the Tathagata is deep, boundless, hard to fathom, like the sea. 'Reappears' doesn't apply. 'Does not reappear' doesn't apply. 'Both does & does not reappear' doesn't apply. 'Neither reappears nor does not reappear' doesn't apply."


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


So whatever is actually said about a Tathagata using logic, seems to be trying to pin down something which simply can't be defined because no statement at all that posits any type of duality whatsoever would apply. So "no essence" in this case might not apply at all, in the exact same way as someone saying that a Tathagata actually had an "essence" wouldn't. It just seems that Nagarjuna could've done better here by avoiding speaking about the Tathagata completely, unless it was to point this out. Or by simply applying the tetralemma/fourfold negation : neither has an essence, nor doesn't, nor both, nor neither.

So when you have something being posited as existing in the previous post by Yogacara, and the Tathagata having no essence here in Madhyamaka, it might give a glimpse to whatever extent possible of the problem of Yogacarins being perceived as positing something as existing, and the Madhyamikas being perceived as overly negating things.

There's also the understanding that this could all be wrong, and that it is actually just nitpicking, lack of insight, and/or delusion. Just saying, because it might help one or more people be aware of the problem of hoping for perfection in Yogacara or Madhyamaka if they are actually issues.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Wayfarer » Mon Mar 03, 2014 2:39 am

I think that whole issue revolves around the meaning of 'essence'. Actually in English, it is not hard to see the relationship between 'essence' and 'esse' which is derived from 'est', meaning 'to be'. In Western metaphysics, the notion of 'essence' is 'what remains the same when the "accidental properties" change'. So a distinction is drawn between what 'really is', as 'esse', and what merely appears to be, which are the 'accidental changes' to 'what really is'. Hence the age-old distinction between 'appearance' and 'reality' which is especially pronounced in Western metaphysics. (The Sanskrit equivalent of 'est' is 'sat'.)

But Buddhism doesn't accept that schemata. This is why it is said that Buddhism 'rejects metaphysics'. My interpretation of that is like this: that the idea of anything that exists 'as itself' or 'eternally' is inherently problematical. And after all, science has never been able to demonstrate anything that is real in that sense. The atom was supposed to be like that, but it has been found to be composite - and, sure enough, Buddhists have always rejected the notion of 'the atom' as something self-existent or eternally existing, on the same basis. The Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra says:

Personal identity, continuum, groups, causal conditions, atoms,
primordial matter, and God the creator are regarded as mere ideas.


(quoted by Richard P. Hayes Principled Atheism in the Buddhist Scholastic Traditions.)

This is one of the meanings of Śūnyatā: that things are without essence or own-being or svabhava. But that doesn't mean 'non-existent' which would be nihilism.

So going back to 'essence' or 'satya' - the 'substantialist' ontologies of both Western and Hindu schools would both be inclined to say that 'esse' is 'that which really exists'. Such arguments as the cosmological argument want to show that you can infer a causal relationship between the phenomenal realm and the so-called 'first cause' or 'prime-mover' (or the 'ultimate esse', if you like).

I think the Buddhist response is pragmatic: if such a thing or being exists, show it to me! Well, the problem is, you obviously can't. (This point is made abundantly clear in the Tevijja Sutta.)

So I think the Buddha was critical of those who attempted to characterise or specify something which really can't be named or known. It is like he is saying to those such as Yājñavalkya - 'this great being of which you say "nothing can be spoken": what do you say of it?' And they answered in detail. This is also related to the criticism of the view that 'the self' was 'something that would be reborn in perpetuity' - that is the basis of the idea of 'eternalism' which is one of the main categories of 'wrong views'.

So all of these types of 'wrong views' revolve around the notion that there is 'something that really exists', that is, an eternally existing essence or being, whether conceived as a Self or an atom or a God; something which stays the same when all else changes. You will no doubt know that in one of the other diaologues with Vachagotta, that the Buddha refuses to either assent to or deny the idea that 'the self exists' on the grounds that to assert 'it exists' is to fall into the trap of eternalism, whilst to deny it is to fall into the trap of 'nihilism' (as many do in my opinion).

So, I think the appropriate attitude is one of 'suspension of judgement'. And that is why there have been interesting comparisons made between the ancient Greek Pyrrho's skepticism, and Buddhism. I think 'skepticism' in this sense, is not at all as how we understanding the meaning of the world in contemporary discourse. It is not a judgement about the nature of things, but the suspension of judgement. It is very much like the 'technique' of 'don't-know-mind' which is employed by some Zen teachings. it is very much a matter of the cessation (nirodha) of judgements (vikalpa) about the nature of reality.

The point about Buddhism is always to get insight into 'the way things truly are' - which is that they are interdependent and mutually defining. It is an outlook that resists formularization and ideas of ultimates which easily tend towards absolutism. It is pointing towards insight into the dynamic nature and relatedness of all things. It is not nihilism for the reason that it culminates into the insight into 'tathata' or 'such-ness' or 'just-so-ness' which is at once both ephemeral but beyond time - that sense of the timeless in the midst of transience.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Mon Mar 03, 2014 5:49 am

That's a great post and thanks. Have probably been taking the whole thing with both of these schools too literally, or going over the top criticizing, or even holding Asanga, Vasubandhu and Nagarjuna on too much of a pedestal. I'm sure all three of them would be shaking their heads if they could read my posts, and at the same time there's probably various translation issues involved at the same time. Am just trying to find my way around many of these texts too, am still fairly new to them, so I'll probably be shaking my head too at some of what I've been saying in the near future.

At the same time though it is great to be able to learn from both, and will probably have a lot more positive and/or constructive things to say if I can get a better understanding as time passes, by reading, researching, and more importantly, meditating on what's being taught by both schools.

Thanks again. :D

By the way, after reading some of the Mulamadhyakakarika the other day, I did have a type of opening of awareness I think, as I was walking down the street. I often get flashes of insight and say nothing, (I mean we read about these things all the time on the net, etc, and many of us just have this naturally happen every now and then as part of what we're doing.) but this was really strong. I'd try to describe it, but firstly it's impossible, and secondly even trying to would make me form a concept of it which could take away from the experience, so will just leave it. Actually, I can say it was kind of like starting to wake up inside a dream for a short moment, and will have to leave it at that, because that's about all that can be said that would make any sense.

But yeah, after that happened, I get how well these texts can work to some extent, because I'm fairly sure it was the Mulamadhyakakarika that paved the way for that to happen. Looking forward to getting the rest of the Asanga-Maitreya texts in the near future and also studying them alongside the karika, because maybe that type of experience, if not grasped after, will start naturally happening more often, and it'll make a lot more sense.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Wayfarer » Mon Mar 03, 2014 7:25 am

Rob H wrote:I'd try to describe it, but firstly it's impossible, and secondly even trying to would make me form a concept of it which could take away from the experience, so will just leave it.


I know just what you mean! One of the ideas I often used to reflect on is the idea of 'the bliss you cannot have'. It really means about the same as what you said - you will be going about your day and then some sudden realisation will occur, which is quite amazing....and then it goes again. And then you start to say 'what was that, how can I get that again'. But you realize 'I' can never 'get' whatever that was. You have to just leave it. And that is OK! But I think sticking with formal meditation practice also helps, although, of course, having said that, you don't want to pursue it for that reason. :smile:

I have just today received my web-ordered copy of Red Pine's translation of the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra so will be concentrating intently on that for the near future.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Mon Mar 03, 2014 9:12 am

Ah, yeah meditation is usually my main thing. One of the worries has been overly reading/researching these areas and neglecting meditation, but things are getting better again after slacking for a short while I think. (I try to do around 1 hour a day for the time being, but it's often averaging at lower lately, needs improving.) Hope the Lanka book is good too, should probably get it as well in the near future. Have had D.T. Suzuki's translation as well as his Studies in the Lankavatara which work well together, but will probably get that as well once I've got some other books out of the way first. Uttaratantra is next though.
"A 'position', Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with." - MN 72
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Wed May 07, 2014 1:05 am

JamyangTashi wrote:There's a free book entirely about prapañca available online at Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought which discusses the Madhupindika Sutta and many other sources.


Just wanted to say thanks loads for linking this. I don't really like reading on a laptop/pc, so found the book version on Oxfam's website (it can be hard to find this as a book.) and bought it, and it's been a huge help. The book is fairly short, but it goes into a lot of detail on papanca/prapanca, the sutras it's mentioned in, and how it's been debated by several scholars and other Buddhists in commentaries and so on over the years. Am going to start going back through and taking notes, then recheck the sutras and meditate on it as much as I can. Thanks again, and I'd definitely recommend the book to anyone else interested in how the mind can get caught up with concepts, ideas, language, philosophising, views, craving, conceit, and so on. It might be that this aspect has been overlooked quite a lot in some cases, and learning more about it should also be a big help to anyone studying the relations between meditation and psychology.

Didn't want to bump this thread really because I'm not researching Madhyamaka or Yogacara for the time being and didn't want to get into a debate about either, but had to say thanks to JamyangTashi, as I might not have found this book otherwise.
"A 'position', Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with." - MN 72
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Astus » Thu May 08, 2014 11:21 am

It seems to me that the confusion regarding Yogacara originates from the unchecked presumption that Madhyamaka is some sort of pure communication of the ultimate truth in the form of total negation. That is a failure of taking account of common reality and the so called everyday truth. If we look at Nagarjuna's Middle Discourse, he uses classical abhidharma terms in chapter 17 to explain karma. As I see it, what Yogacara does is that it organises and explains in a detailed fashion how karma, mind and the whole path of liberation works, unlike Madhyamaka that leaves it to abhidharma. So, Yogacara was/is necessary to establish a more complete and complex view of Mahayana than what early Madhyamaka presents.

Later fusions and debates between Indian and especially Tibetan thinkers can easily distort the perception of the various ways Yogacara was interpreted by its followers. As far as I can tell, the argument that Yogacara posits an ultimate existence contrary to the understanding of emptiness is an (intentional/unintentional) mistake. That there is a really existing mind, or that dependent nature is an absolute reality are equally faulty concepts, as either it is a claim that the dreamer (grasper, self) is real or that the dream (grasped, dharmas) is real.

Regarding the meaning of the three natures, see Vasubandhu's Trisvabhava-nirdesa 11-13 (tr. Kochumuttom, p 249; also: tr. Garfield), and also look at Trimsika-vijnaptimatrata 20-25, and chapter 10 of Chengweishilun (BDK edition: pp 281-296) for commentary.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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