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 » Sat Feb 08, 2014 11:23 pm

rob h wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
I think he means in a nondual sense though, not as in individuality or anything conventional.


If exists nondually, it exists, which is why the Madhyamakas claim that Yogacarins are nondual realists.


In a nondual sense though no polarity can be attributed, can it? I still think the problem comes down to taking what he's saying too literally. I can see how some Madhyamikas look at it in that way though. Also how maybe Asanga himself could've worded things better? Or maybe he was simply referring to what's left ultimately when everything false is discarded, and it actually does exist in some way, but with an equal nature of emptiness, so it had a balance. Would like to think that's the case anyway.


No, in this case what Asanga is saying is emptiness means empty of the imagined, and that is about it. The dependent is not empty of the perfected, since it is the perfected when the imagined is recognized to be non-existent.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Sat Feb 08, 2014 11:51 pm

Malcolm wrote:No, in this case what Asanga is saying is emptiness means empty of the imagined, and that is about it. The dependent is not empty of the perfected, since it is the perfected when the imagined is recognized to be non-existent.


Yeah I think I remember quoting him saying something similar in another thread further down in this forum. Will carry on reading some of his works though and see if he states otherwise elsewhere.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Malcolm » Sat Feb 08, 2014 11:53 pm

rob h wrote:
Malcolm wrote:No, in this case what Asanga is saying is emptiness means empty of the imagined, and that is about it. The dependent is not empty of the perfected, since it is the perfected when the imagined is recognized to be non-existent.


Yeah I think I remember quoting him saying something similar in another thread further down in this forum. Will carry on reading some of his works though and see if he states otherwise elsewhere.



Yes, one must read these things for oneself. Only then can one truly decide.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Sun Feb 09, 2014 12:10 am

Have found this from the Madhyantavibhanga, I know he says elsewhere in the text that something exists, but would guess that this is more of his actual view :

Once they are understood,
The exaggerated and depreciative views
Regarding phenomena and persons,
Apprehended and apprehender,
And existence and non-existence do not occur -
This is what characterizes reality.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Malcolm » Sun Feb 09, 2014 12:17 am

rob h wrote:Have found this from the Madhyantavibhanga, I know he says elsewhere in the text that something exists, but would guess that this is more of his actual view :

Once they are understood,
The exaggerated and depreciative views
Regarding phenomena and persons,
Apprehended and apprehender,
And existence and non-existence do not occur -
This is what characterizes reality.


All of this refers to the imagined nature. The imagined neither exists nor does not exist in truth since it never existed, being the projection of traces from the ālayavijñāna.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Sun Feb 09, 2014 3:20 am

Just going back to this from earlier as I missed it :

Malcolm wrote:Something cannot exist as both conditioned and unconditioned, it must be one or the other. Moreover, the former can never become the latter, nor can the latter become the former.


I think it can be, in the way that it's the basis for both. So while many people go through this world in delusion, others can use this exact same world to realize awakening. Or in the way that one side of the world can be in darkness, but the other side has sunlight. The world (and in turn the dependent.) can be both things at the same time, according to what situation it's looked at from.

Malcolm wrote:All of this refers to the imagined nature. The imagined neither exists nor does not exist in truth since it never existed, being the projection of traces from the ālayavijñāna.


The version by Khenpo Shenga and Ju Mipham says that it's all three (bold is to point out the verse, just like the book does.) :

What is the reality of the characteristics? Once they are understood, the exaggerated and depreciative views regarding phenomena and persons do not occur. This is what characterizes the reality of the imaginary nature. Nor do the exaggerated and depreciative views of apprehended and apprehender occur, which is what characterizes the reality of the dependent nature. And in the same way, once it is understood, the exaggerated and depreciative views related to existence and non-existence do not occur. This is what characterizes the reality of the thoroughly established nature. Being unmistaken about this fundamental reality is referred to as the “reality of the characteristics.”
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Malcolm » Sun Feb 09, 2014 12:38 pm

rob h wrote:Just going back to this from earlier as I missed it :

Malcolm wrote:Something cannot exist as both conditioned and unconditioned, it must be one or the other. Moreover, the former can never become the latter, nor can the latter become the former.


I think it can be, in the way that it's the basis for both. So while many people go through this world in delusion, others can use this exact same world to realize awakening. Or in the way that one side of the world can be in darkness, but the other side has sunlight. The world (and in turn the dependent.) can be both things at the same time, according to what situation it's looked at from.

Malcolm wrote:All of this refers to the imagined nature. The imagined neither exists nor does not exist in truth since it never existed, being the projection of traces from the ālayavijñāna.


The version by Khenpo Shenga and Ju Mipham says that it's all three (bold is to point out the verse, just like the book does.) :

What is the reality of the characteristics? Once they are understood, the exaggerated and depreciative views regarding phenomena and persons do not occur. This is what characterizes the reality of the imaginary nature. Nor do the exaggerated and depreciative views of apprehended and apprehender occur, which is what characterizes the reality of the dependent nature. And in the same way, once it is understood, the exaggerated and depreciative views related to existence and non-existence do not occur. This is what characterizes the reality of the thoroughly established nature. Being unmistaken about this fundamental reality is referred to as the “reality of the characteristics.”


This still refers to the imagined nature viz: reification persons and things is the imagined nature, the absence of subject and object which produces the imagined is the dependent nature, the absence of existence and non-existence of the imagined nature in the dependent nature is the perfected nature. All of these three terms hinge on the imagined nature.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Sun Feb 09, 2014 7:33 pm

Malcolm wrote:This still refers to the imagined nature viz: reification persons and things is the imagined nature, the absence of subject and object which produces the imagined is the dependent nature, the absence of existence and non-existence of the imagined nature in the dependent nature is the perfected nature. All of these three terms hinge on the imagined nature.


Can see what you mean, but still think it highlights the fact that Asanga tried to take the middle path. Will carry on researching/meditating anyway, and hopefully understand better as time passes.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Malcolm » Sun Feb 09, 2014 7:42 pm

rob h wrote:
Malcolm wrote:This still refers to the imagined nature viz: reification persons and things is the imagined nature, the absence of subject and object which produces the imagined is the dependent nature, the absence of existence and non-existence of the imagined nature in the dependent nature is the perfected nature. All of these three terms hinge on the imagined nature.


Can see what you mean, but still think it highlights the fact that Asanga tried to take the middle path. Will carry on researching/meditating anyway, and hopefully understand better as time passes.



Yes, the Yogacarins think they are the real Mādhyamikas.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:50 pm

Malcolm wrote:
rob h wrote:
Malcolm wrote:This still refers to the imagined nature viz: reification persons and things is the imagined nature, the absence of subject and object which produces the imagined is the dependent nature, the absence of existence and non-existence of the imagined nature in the dependent nature is the perfected nature. All of these three terms hinge on the imagined nature.


Can see what you mean, but still think it highlights the fact that Asanga tried to take the middle path. Will carry on researching/meditating anyway, and hopefully understand better as time passes.



Yes, the Yogacarins think they are the real Mādhyamikas.


Hahah! It's been good looking at the way both schools have a kind of rivalry actually, have definitely started paying more attention to Madhyamaka views and it's been a great help. Will make sure to carry on trying not to side with one or the other too, it's probably just a little difficult seeing as I'm so into researching Yogacara at the moment. Will hopefully do some proper research into Madhyamaka as well in the near future.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Feb 13, 2014 12:19 pm

Have a look at The Continuity of Madhyamaka and Yogācāra in Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism Ian Charles Harris. Generous preview on Google books.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Sun Feb 16, 2014 1:16 am

jeeprs wrote:Have a look at The Continuity of Madhyamaka and Yogācāra in Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism Ian Charles Harris. Generous preview on Google books.


Cheers! Have had a look already and it seems good, will hopefully have more of a read later. Pretty expensive to buy as well, will probably have to stick to the preview. :mrgreen:
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby gad rgyangs » Sun Feb 16, 2014 1:23 am

rob h wrote:
jeeprs wrote:Have a look at The Continuity of Madhyamaka and Yogācāra in Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism Ian Charles Harris. Generous preview on Google books.


Cheers! Have had a look already and it seems good, will hopefully have more of a read later. Pretty expensive to buy as well, will probably have to stick to the preview. :mrgreen:


http://en.bookfi.org/book/1178690
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby cdpatton » Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:47 am

Sherab wrote:Alternatively, they could be equally wrong.


We have a winner!
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:59 am

gad rgyangs wrote:
rob h wrote:
jeeprs wrote:Have a look at The Continuity of Madhyamaka and Yogācāra in Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism Ian Charles Harris. Generous preview on Google books.


Cheers! Have had a look already and it seems good, will hopefully have more of a read later. Pretty expensive to buy as well, will probably have to stick to the preview. :mrgreen:


http://en.bookfi.org/book/1178690


Thanks, am not going to pretend I like doing it, but when a book is inflated to the price of almost 200 dollars/120 pounds, it's kind of helpful. I always tell myself I'll buy it eventually to make up, (and am near-regularly buying more books.) but I think the price will have to go down for that one first.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Wayfarer » Sun Feb 16, 2014 6:46 am

It seems ridiculously over-priced, although a pretty good piece of work - actually started out as a PhD thesis, like many of this genre - fortunately it was in my University library where I'm an alumni so I was able to borrow it. 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:
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Sun Feb 16, 2014 11:20 pm

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
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby Atanavat » Sat Feb 22, 2014 3:29 am

Just wanted to say to rob h - your posts are very illuminating, and I agree with most if not all your propositions. Especially: "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."

That is my main conceptual problem with the interpretation of Madhyamaka. Circular emptiness biting its own rhetorical tail.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Sat Feb 22, 2014 10:54 am

Atanavat wrote:That is my main conceptual problem with the interpretation of Madhyamaka. Circular emptiness biting its own rhetorical tail.


Hi there, and glad if my posts have helped. As for emptiness being circular, I've actually warmed to Madhyamaka a lot now and am genuinely starting to see them as both equal. I don't think in essence (so to speak.) it is actually circular. The problem is maybe one I mentioned earlier : that it's easy to paint either Yogacara or Madhyamaka in a negative light. (even if it's not done with ill will.) It seems like Yogacara can be said to be positing something that it actually doesn't if seen in a balanced way, and Madhyamaka can also be seen as denying something that it doesn't on the same token. The way I see it now is that Yogacara consciousness-only is pointing to the idea that all we perceive is manifestations of the deluded manas, with the alayavijnana feeding karmic seeds at the same time which makes things worse, and that both of them are to be transcended. As for Madhyamaka, it simply points to the absolute emptiness (of self or inherent nature.) of the dependent, just like the Buddha said with the idea of not-self. But it doesn't posit anything about the ultimate so it isn't actually nihilistic.

Was just posting back as well to say that I've finally found something that works for me personally. It would probably have many Yogacarins and Madhyamikas shaking their heads, but the important thing as far as I can see is that it refuses to side with either school and it seems to work. I don't think I've come up with anything special by the way either, it's simply showing that if I can do it this easily, the two schools can be harmonized in many ways. It's basically eight forms of emptiness, and strangely enough jeeprs helped me find one of them with prapanca, so thanks loads. :namaste:

1. Emptiness of mind. (manas.)
2. Emptiness of imprints. (vasanas.)
3. Emptiness of concepts. (prapanca.)
4. Emptiness of duality. (vikalpa.)
5. Emptiness of karma. (seeds.)
6. Emptiness of the six senses & their dependents. (dhatus = eye, forms, eye-consciousness being one, same repeated for the other 5 senses.)
7. Emptiness of delusion. (parikalpita.)
8. Emptiness of the dependent. (paratantra.)

Then this is finished with one more thing : Non-applicability (of any concept, description, etc.) of the ultimate (paramartha-satya.)

To quickly sum up : The manas is subject to four influences + vasanas, prapanca, vikalpa, and the karmic seeds. The alayavijnana in this interpretation has been dumped, and the karmic seeds simply take its place. This is because I think the alaya is beyond range and I don't like to posit anything about it. So there's 7 consciousnesses here, the usual six and the manas. Then you simply have karma as seeds being the karmic influence, but seeds is simply a way of pointing towards it, it could be renamed in a myriad of ways. Then you have 2 of the 3 natures/svabhavas of the Yogacara, but in a Madhyamaka sense, nothing at all is posited about the ultimate. There's simply nothing to be described about it, not even emptiness. So it's placed outside of the eight as paramartha-satya instead.

To add a quick thing about one way I think that prapanca and vasanas work together and/or collude (if the person isn't conscious if it.) : there's the habit of conceptualizing, and this can either be done in a limited way, or it can proliferate badly and become a habit/attachment. If it's attached to, it can be turned into a type of perception, or a perceptual set, where you have groups of different proliferations arranged together, or that are related, and recalled in a type of partly subconscious and partly conscious group when any of the group arises (due to karmic seeds ripening.) At this stage it's then a type of imprint, a vasana. The negative karmic seeds also clearly play a part in keeping these vasanas in place, but if skillful means, or upaya are used, these vasanas can then be worked through, weakened, dropped, etc, and good mental qualities, or habits, can replace them.

So for instance, if a vasana arises, whether it's a perceptual set (group of previous prapanca proliferating habits.) or one type of problem that's a lot simpler in nature (a single proliferating habit for instance), equanimity can be used so that's it's not attached to. It can be seen as completely empty (of self or inherent existence.) and then over time, as it tries to repeatedly re-assert itself, if equanimity is used enough (or whatever other upaya that also works.) the vasana is then gradually replaced, or weakened in a big way to the point that it no longer holds the influence it used to.

That might seem overly complicated, but it's not really. I just see the manas and its issues as the main problem, so think about it more than most other aspects. It could simply be pointed out as either :

prapanca > negative chains/proliferations > attention turned elsewhere/upaya used to drop it.

or :

prapanca > negative chains/proliferations > new negative perceptual set (vasana) created, or current proliferation added to an already existing set > upaya > perceptual set/vasana weakened, dropped, or replaced by upaya.

This was only arrived at recently anyway, and many would probably think it's simply pointless as current teachings are more than adequate at doing the same thing and much more. At the same time though, I have a habit (vasana!) of trying to structure things in my own way, and because I want to blend Yogacara and Madhyamaka so much, am going to try and stick with this if it works. I like both schools and have a lot of respect for them, and now more than ever, think they can be blended fairly easily.
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Re: The Idea of Madhyamaka and Yogacara as Equally Correct

Postby rob h » Sat Feb 22, 2014 3:21 pm

Sorry, a couple of mistakes in that post that I can now see : first I meant to say (if the person isn't conscious of it.) Secondly, I shouldn't have used the word "dumped" in reference to the alayavijnana, apologies to any Yogacarins who work with/have respect for it. The idea of it fascinates me and has done for years, but I can't work with something that's at least currently, beyond range. So it's probably better to say "The alayavijnana in this interpretation/concept has been left undefined."
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