The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jan 30, 2014 1:25 pm

rob h wrote: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.


Well, in fact the Yogacara Madhyamaka that Tsongkhapa is referring to is Śantarakṣita's. Śantarakȋta's sole concession to Yogacara was that it was allowable to say that all phenomena are established as mind as a conventional truth. But he never goes into some lengthy analysis via the three natures, which he must therefore regards as being rather clumsy and leading one astray from Madhyamaka. Indeed the three natures theory is the main thing that comes under attack from Madhyamakas.

When it comes to the three natures theory in Tibet, this is the main thing about the Jonang presentation that Tsongkhapa attacks in his Legs bshad. He asserts their presentation deviates from how it is presented by Asanga and Vasubandhu and that they misuse it.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Thu Jan 30, 2014 1:43 pm

Malcolm wrote:
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."


That seems to merge both schools really well, thanks, and thanks again Tsongkhapafan.

Malcolm wrote:
rob h wrote: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.


Well, in fact the Yogacara Madhyamaka that Tsongkhapa is referring to is Śantarakṣita's. Śantarakȋta's sole concession to Yogacara was that it was allowable to say that all phenomena are established as mind as a conventional truth. But he never goes into some lengthy analysis via the three natures, which he must therefore regards as being rather clumsy and leading one astray from Madhyamaka. Indeed the three natures theory is the main thing that comes under attack from Madhyamakas.

When it comes to the three natures theory in Tibet, this is the main thing about the Jonang presentation that Tsongkhapa attacks in his Legs bshad. He asserts their presentation deviates from how it is presented by Asanga and Vasubandhu and that they misuse it.


Thanks for this too, that's a great help. I didn't realize it was the three natures that was so much of an issue, and will remember to keep that in mind when researching. To be honest I don't really think about those that much either, but I do think the eight consciousness model works well, even if it isn't perfect and is just a concept that eventually has to be dropped with the others eventually. Will try to remember to read up on Santaraksita and the Madhyamakalamkara as well, it'll probably help clear a lot of things up.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby smcj » Thu Jan 30, 2014 2:36 pm

I didn't realize it was the three natures that was so much of an issue, and will remember to keep that in mind when researching.

It's an issue for Malcolm personally. It's his bugaboo.

I believe that Malcolm has the kind of expertise that could argue either side of the issue effectively if he wanted to. For personal reasons he chooses to subscribe to non-Gelug Madhyamaka. That's perfectly ok, but just know that he has a strong bias and doesn't always identify it as such.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jan 30, 2014 2:41 pm

rob h wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
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."


That seems to merge both schools really well, thanks, and thanks again Tsongkhapafan.

Malcolm wrote:
rob h wrote: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.


Well, in fact the Yogacara Madhyamaka that Tsongkhapa is referring to is Śantarakṣita's. Śantarakȋta's sole concession to Yogacara was that it was allowable to say that all phenomena are established as mind as a conventional truth. But he never goes into some lengthy analysis via the three natures, which he must therefore regards as being rather clumsy and leading one astray from Madhyamaka. Indeed the three natures theory is the main thing that comes under attack from Madhyamakas.

When it comes to the three natures theory in Tibet, this is the main thing about the Jonang presentation that Tsongkhapa attacks in his Legs bshad. He asserts their presentation deviates from how it is presented by Asanga and Vasubandhu and that they misuse it.


Thanks for this too, that's a great help. I didn't realize it was the three natures that was so much of an issue, and will remember to keep that in mind when researching. To be honest I don't really think about those that much either, but I do think the eight consciousness model works well, even if it isn't perfect and is just a concept that eventually has to be dropped with the others eventually. Will try to remember to read up on Santaraksita and the Madhyamakalamkara as well, it'll probably help clear a lot of things up.


Well, the eight consciousness model is also critiqued by Madhyamakas, and indeed Śantarakṣita does not address it much, as far as I recall.

There are basically three trends in scholastic thinking about the five treatises in Tibet: one, that they are all definitive [gzhans stong]; two, that of the five, only the Abhisamyālaṃkara can be considered definitive dge lugs]; three, that Abhisamyālaṃkara is definitive, and that properly understood, the Uttaratantra is definitive; the rest are not.

Then there is my unique point of view, which I have often stated. Asanga's teacher, Ācarya Maitreyanath's own point of view is Yogacara (cittamatra) and his identity as Bodhisattva Maitreya is a Tibetan misattribution that has gained such wide currency as to have become a "fact". He wrote five texts in order to clarify the three mains streams of Mahāyāna sutras. For Prajñānpāramitā he composed the Abhisamyālaṃkara in order to detail its path structure. For the Tathāgatagarbha sūtras he composed the Uttaratantra. And for Yogacara he composed Madhyantavibhanga, being an attempt to correct a perceived Madhyamaka extremism, and the Dharmadharmatāvibhanga, being a detailed treatment of the topic found in the Samdhinirmocana. He composed a treatise synthesizing these three sūtra streams from a Yogacara prespective, the Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkara.
Last edited by Malcolm on Thu Jan 30, 2014 2:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jan 30, 2014 2:44 pm

smcj wrote:
I didn't realize it was the three natures that was so much of an issue, and will remember to keep that in mind when researching.

It's an issue for Malcolm personally. It's his bugaboo.

I believe that Malcolm has the kind of expertise that could argue either side of the issue effectively if he wanted to. For personal reasons he chooses to subscribe to non-Gelug Madhyamaka. That's perfectly ok, but just know that he has a strong bias and doesn't always identify it as such.



No, you are wrong, the three natures is a major polemical issue between the Madhyamakas and Yogacaras in India, one upon which there are hundreds of pages written. Because of this, it has become a major polemical issue in Tibet too.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby smcj » Thu Jan 30, 2014 5:02 pm

Malcolm wrote:No, you are wrong, the three natures is a major polemical issue between the Madhyamakas and Yogacaras in India, one upon which there are hundreds of pages written. Because of this, it has become a major polemical issue in Tibet too.

I didn't say that you were alone in your objections, or that you had created the issue/debate. My point being that you have taken a position in the debate and that you lend your expertise to your position. With your expertise I'm sure that you are fully capable of not only presenting the other side of the story but effectively arguing it as well--if you were so inclined.

So instead of handling this specific discussion (of the 3 natures) in a way an educator or journalist would by presenting both arguments equally, you've got a position staked out and you lobby for it. That's perfectly fine. Many of us here have some sort of axe to grind and are known for it. I do the same thing with my Shentong posts. But in my case the only differences are that 1) I don't have your expertise and that 2) I try to highlight the fact that I'm expressing an opinion or position. Given your level of expertise it can come across as if your position/opinion is the accepted way "The Dharma" is seen. It isn't. There is no consensus on many many of the things we talk about here.

I for one am satisfied with referencing some bona-fide authority to give the ideas I embrace some credibility without trying to win an argument. Especially if he/she is within my school, that's good enough for me to express my opinion and feel that I am not misrepresenting Dharma. I am not either capable of, or inclined to, argue the point. For me it is good enough if somebody else who is credible says the same thing I think, and they have have the expertise and credibility I lack. With your expertise you, however, will articulate the arguments in some abbreviated way, and then there is no counter argument to balance the thread.

You are perfectly welcome to do so. I just think the caveat "…but there is another side to the story" needs to be added occasionally, even if I personally am not able to offer it. That's all I was trying to say.

I think that I must also commend you on your restraint in many cases. I know that there are many things you find offensive or objectionable that you just let slide rather than take exception to. Being one of the people that post those type of offenses, I'd like to thank you allowing much of my Shentong postings to go unopposed.
:thumbsup:
Last edited by smcj on Thu Jan 30, 2014 5:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Thu Jan 30, 2014 5:28 pm

Haha, thanks smcj, but I think I remember Malcolm from back when E-Sangha was going, and many of us would be arguing in topics like Dzogchen vs Zen, etc. (Have seen the name Namdrol in some older posts, so am guessing it's the same one?) So yep, I know he's well versed in most of these subjects if it's the same person.

Malcolm wrote:Then there is my unique point of view, which I have often stated. Asanga's teacher, Ācarya Maitreyanath's own point of view is Yogacara (cittamatra) and his identity as Bodhisattva Maitreya is a Tibetan misattribution that has gained such wide currency as to have become a "fact". He wrote five texts in order to clarify the three mains streams of Mahāyāna sutras. For Prajñānpāramitā he composed the Abhisamyālaṃkara in order to detail its path structure. For the Tathāgatagarbha sūtras he composed the Uttaratantra. And for Yogacara he composed Madhyantavibhanga, being an attempt to correct a perceived Madhyamaka extremism, and the Dharmadharmatāvibhanga, being a detailed treatment of the topic found in the Samdhinirmocana. He composed a treatise synthesizing these three sūtra streams from a Yogacara prespective, the Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkara.


Interesting again, and thanks. Will surely see bits of this mentioned here and there as I carry on researching. Have got a copy of the final treatise you mentioned there too, so will probably start having a read of that and see how those three seem to work together. The Samdhinirmocana seems to be the main influence of the Lankavatara as well, (Lankavatara is the Mahayana sutra I'm most familiar with.) so will go back through the Dharmadharmatavibhanga with that in mind. Thanks again.

smcj wrote:non-Gelug Madhyamaka.


Thanks for this too. Didn't know what it meant but have ended up here and it seems like there's plenty of useful info on the page (and yeah I know there's probably tons more on this site, have been there a few times but was never sure where to start.) : http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... ition.html
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jan 30, 2014 5:54 pm

smcj wrote:Being one of the people that post those type of offenses, I'd like to thank you allowing much of my Shentong postings to go unopposed.
:thumbsup:


If someone is a Vajrayāna practitioner, I don't really think it matters much which post-equipoise view of emptiness they hold all that much, whether it is the "Prasanga" of the Gelugs, the view of freedom from extremes, or "gzhan stong". The view meditated in Vajrayāna depends on the experience of the third and fourth empowerments and not intellectual analysis.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby smcj » Thu Jan 30, 2014 5:57 pm

smcj wrote:non-Gelug Madhyamaka.

Thanks for this too. Didn't know what it meant but have ended up here and it seems like there's plenty of useful info on the page (and yeah I know there's probably tons more on this site, have been there a few times but was never sure where to start.) :

In short, Tsongkhapa says that apparent reality does have a provisional existence through interdependence. Chandrakirti evidently does not make that concession about apparent reality. Otherwise I think both forms of Prasangika Madhyamaka are the same.

If somebody actually knows what they are talking about and sees the need to correct that, please feel free.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Matt J » Thu Jan 30, 2014 6:05 pm

From a practical, non-expert point of view, Yogacara strikes me as a basic critique of the various "realist views." It starts off my stating that everything we experience is dependent on consciousness, and are the transformations of consciousness. However, from there, it goes on to build a positivistic view of how consciousness is, not unlike the (in my opinion) mind numbing analysis of Abidhamma.

Madhyamaka also strikes me as a form of critique, however, a much broader one that calls into question the whole concept/view making process.

In other words, it strikes me that Yogacara tears down one view in order to present a second, improved view, whereas Madhyamaka is critical of view-making. So to some extent, they strike me as going in different directions.

However, that is just my view. :tongue:
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby smcj » Thu Jan 30, 2014 6:10 pm

In other words, it strikes me that Yogacara tears down one view in order to present a second, improved view, whereas Madhyamaka is critical of view-making. So to some extent, they strike me as going in different directions.

Funny, I see Madhyamaka as deconstructing apparent reality into absurdity, and Yogacara as affirming something that can't be found and thus deconstructed. Just different ways of looking at it I guess.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby conebeckham » Thu Jan 30, 2014 6:14 pm

For this Kagyupa, Milarepa's songs express the salient points of Madhyamika and Yogacara, and their relation to Mahamudra (and Dzogchen, at times) --in an experiental way. Conceptually, Madhyamika is the apex of philospohical systems, as it does not posit any "final reality" conceptually, as even emptiness is nonexistent. A conceptual system that points to the exhaustion of conceptual systems is a fine thing, indeed. Psychologically, Yogacara provides insights into the primacy of mind and consciousness, as well as our mistaken notions of how things exist. But the path of practice is ultimately the only method to reach the other shore, and at some point all conceptual views must be transcended. I give you Milarepa's song:

An Authentic Portrait of the Middle Way

From the standpoint of the truth that’s ultimate
Besides no blocks, there are not even buddhas
No meditator and no meditated
No paths and levels travelled and no signs
And no fruition bodies and no wisdom
And, therefore, there is no nirvana there
Just designations using names and statements
All animate, inanimate—the three realms
Unborn and nonexistent from the outset
No base to rest on, do not coexist2
There is no karmic act, no maturation
So, even the name,”samsara,” does not exist


That’s the way these are in the final picture
But, oh, if sentient beings did not exist
What would the buddhas of three times all come from
Since fruition with no cause—impossible!


So, the standpoint of the truth that’s relative
Is samsara’s wheel, nirvana past all grief
It all exists, that is the Sage’s teaching
Then, what exists appearing to be things
And their non-existence, pure being, emptiness
Are essentially inseparable, one taste
And, therefore, there is neither self-awareness
Nor awareness of what’s other anywhere
All of this, a union vast and spacious
And all those skilled in realizing this
Do not see consciousness, they see the wisdom
Do not see sentient beings, they see buddhas
Don’t see phenomena, they see pure being
And out of this compassion just emerges
Retention, powers, fearlessness and all
The qualities embodied by a buddha
Just come as if you had a wishing jewel
This is what I, the yogi, have realized


Under the guidance of Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, translated and arranged by Jim Scott, Binowo, Poland, October 4, 1997, Tibetan page 482. Translation copyright 2012, Jim Scott

Lifted from http://www.ktgrinpoche.org/songs/authen ... middle-way
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby smcj » Thu Jan 30, 2014 7:22 pm

Nice. Mila's songs are some of the very few texts that actually give the perspective "from the other shore". Everything else are guidebooks on how to get there.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Adamantine » Thu Jan 30, 2014 8:21 pm

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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Thu Jan 30, 2014 8:44 pm

smcj, thanks for the non-Gelug Madhyamaka explanation, (was getting a bit lost at the Berzin site, and that was before I saw further links on that page to more detailed explanations...) and that song seems to work well too conebeckham, cheers!

Adamantine : sorry about that. If the thread needs to be moved, no probs. This shouldn't really have been made so early anyway, should've researched more, and hopefully it's a lesson for if I post in here again.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Sherab » Fri Jan 31, 2014 12:49 am

Malcolm wrote:
smcj wrote:Being one of the people that post those type of offenses, I'd like to thank you allowing much of my Shentong postings to go unopposed.
:thumbsup:


If someone is a Vajrayāna practitioner, I don't really think it matters much which post-equipoise view of emptiness they hold all that much, whether it is the "Prasanga" of the Gelugs, the view of freedom from extremes, or "gzhan stong". The view meditated in Vajrayāna depends on the experience of the third and fourth empowerments and not intellectual analysis.

High lamas like Sakya Pandita, Tsongkhapa, Dolpopa and others, surely would have experiences of the third and fourth empowerments. Yet their intellectual outputs don't quite tally with each other. Is this an indication that experiences of the third and fourth empowerments vary considerably with each individual? If yes, why? If experiences of the third and fourth empowerments are fundamentally the same, then why the variation in intellectual output? This has been nagging at the back of my mind for some time.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby smcj » Fri Jan 31, 2014 1:23 am

If experiences of the third and fourth empowerments are fundamentally the same, then why the variation in intellectual output? This has been nagging at the back of my mind for some time.

It should be noted that all forms of Mahayana claim the ability to sit in uncontrived emptiness.

Anyway, I think it's because:

1) They are all attempts to articulate the ineffable.

and

2) They are used for the purposes of teaching, therefore suitable for different scenarios.

The reason I like Kongtrul's "No Shentong without Madhyamaka first" is because it makes sense as a progression. You have to deconstruct apparent reality first, so you know you have nothing to hold on to that you can see, touch or taste. Even Shentongpas admit that if you can take something as the object of consciousness it is self-empty. That makes the foray into the invisible possible without any conflict or reservation. But that's just my take on it.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:10 am

Sherab wrote: why the variation in intellectual output?


It is very simple really: people, when in post-equipoise, resume intellectual analysis of emptiness. One could say that the only persons in whom the equipoise view and the post-equipoise view are "identical" are fully awakened buddhas since in fact they are never not in a state of equipoise.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Sherab » Fri Jan 31, 2014 7:36 am

Malcolm wrote:
Sherab wrote: why the variation in intellectual output?


It is very simple really: people, when in post-equipoise, resume intellectual analysis of emptiness. One could say that the only persons in whom the equipoise view and the post-equipoise view are "identical" are fully awakened buddhas since in fact they are never not in a state of equipoise.

Post-equipoise, there is a resumption of intellectual analysis of emptiness. However, wouldn't post-equipoise intellectual analysis of emptiness be informed by the experience of equipoise? If yes, then variation in intellectual output would imply variation in the equipoise experienced. That would mean differences in the experiences of the third and fourth empowerment.

If not, is there then no memory of the experience of equipoise?
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby smcj » Fri Jan 31, 2014 9:26 am

Sherab wrote:Post-equipoise, there is a resumption of intellectual analysis of emptiness. However, wouldn't post-equipoise intellectual analysis of emptiness be informed by the experience of equipoise? If yes, then variation in intellectual output would imply variation in the equipoise experienced. That would mean differences in the experiences of the third and fourth empowerment.

If not, is there then no memory of the experience of equipoise?

Post-equipoise you revert to your own karmic perspective, whatever that may be. There is no linguistic formulation for the experience--or so I've been told. My lama said, "At first there are no words for it. Then when words come, there are lots of words."
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