Early Buddhism and Mahayana

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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby dude » Wed Sep 18, 2013 6:42 pm

How can something that doesn't exist function?
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Wed Sep 18, 2013 6:46 pm

cloudburst wrote:
Actually, this is an Indian Madhaymaka "game," intially. See my quote above where Chandrakirti explicitly disagrees with you.


One citation does not prove that Candrakirti disagrees with me.

Basically, if you assert there is an ultimate unborn entity [the subject of my negation] beyond existence and non-existence [the premise of Vidyārāja's assertion], since such an entity does not arise it does not exist.

Vidyāraja's nirvana is something beyond what he considered the conditioned. Its classic Buddhist eternalism.


What is it that you are saying is a waste of time? Refuting incorrect views?


Yeah, pretty much. They are not really refuted through reasoning but are dispelled only through realization.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Wed Sep 18, 2013 6:47 pm

dude wrote:How can something that doesn't exist function?



Well, now you are screwed. If you cannot accept that functionality of the habit of imputing a non-existence self, which in turn functions as an agent, you need to propose an existing agent to explain rebirth which is not a mere habit of grasping a self, and if you do that, you will end up with a mass of contradictions. For example, you might try and propose consciousness as an agent of rebirth (ala Bhavaviveka), but that presents a lot of problems.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby cloudburst » Wed Sep 18, 2013 7:22 pm

Malcolm wrote:Basically, if you assert there is an ultimate unborn entity [the subject of my negation] beyond existence and non-existence [the premise of Vidyārāja's assertion], since such an entity does not arise it does not exist.


Fully agree. Im glad you clarified this, becasue your statement

Malcolm wrote:Something that has not arisen [unborn] does not exist. If you accept that nirvana is unborn, you also accept that is does not exist.


is incorrect if referring to empty phenomena whci do exist conventionally, or the unborn. If you add " ultimate" to "unborn entity, then you have a non-existent.
In clarifying it in this way, you agree with Chandrakirti that the ultimate does exist, albeit dependently. I applaud this.

Malcolm wrote:Vidyāraja's nirvana is something beyond what he considered the conditioned. Its classic Buddhist eternalism.


agree, actually.

What is it that you are saying is a waste of time? Refuting incorrect views?


Yeah, pretty much. They are not really refuted through reasoning but are dispelled only through realization.[/quote]

noooo, can't be. You are here opposing what you consider to be incorrect veiws, so your own claim is not credible. Nagarjuna did it, Buddha did it, Shantideva, Chandrkiriti, Longchenpa, Rongdzon, Mipham, Mikkyo Dorje, Sapan...

What are we to accept, what you say, or what you (and all great Buddhist masters) do?
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby dude » Wed Sep 18, 2013 7:38 pm

Malcolm wrote:
dude wrote:How can something that doesn't exist function?



Well, now you are screwed. If you cannot accept that functionality of the habit of imputing a non-existence self, which in turn functions as an agent, you need to propose an existing agent to explain rebirth which is not a mere habit of grasping a self, and if you do that, you will end up with a mass of contradictions. For example, you might try and propose consciousness as an agent of rebirth (ala Bhavaviveka), but that presents a lot of problems.


Did not the Buddha propose consciousness as an agent of rebirth, one of the twelve links in the chain of causation?
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Tongnyid Dorje » Wed Sep 18, 2013 9:08 pm

:popcorn:
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby cloudburst » Wed Sep 18, 2013 9:22 pm

dude wrote:How can something that doesn't exist function?



the self does of course exist conventionally, allowing it to function. That's what Malcolm actually means when he says "the habit of grasping a non-existent self" in his post. He refuses to admit that explicitly, however if you press the point it will become clear.

something that does not exist cannot funtion obviously.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Wed Sep 18, 2013 10:26 pm

cloudburst wrote:
noooo, can't be. You are here opposing what you consider to be incorrect veiws, so your own claim is not credible. Nagarjuna did it, Buddha did it, Shantideva, Chandrkiriti, Longchenpa, Rongdzon, Mipham, Mikkyo Dorje, Sapan...


I am not opposing incorrect views in the manner in which you imagine, the tiered structure of tenets where the ultimate of the lower is the conventional of the higher.

I am here merely pointing out that it is foolish to deny Batchelor status as a Buddhist because we don't like his views about rebirth.

Secondly, many scholars in the past have written many refutations in the past; but in general the only people who have accepted these refutations have been the students of these polemicists, who merely repeat blindly what their masters have told them is "correct view".

One must discover for oneself what a "correct view" might be. One may arrive at some conviction about what correct view is; one might even willing to argue about it a little bit; but in reality, one cannot impose upon others a correct view, even with recourse to citation and reasoning.

In other words, one can only establish correct view for oneself; one cannot establish for others, for example, via a reasoning such as a syllogism (an inference for another).
Last edited by Malcolm on Wed Sep 18, 2013 10:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Wed Sep 18, 2013 10:37 pm

cloudburst wrote:
dude wrote:How can something that doesn't exist function?



the self does of course exist conventionally, allowing it to function. That's what Malcolm actually means when he says "the habit of grasping a non-existent self" in his post. He refuses to admit that explicitly, however if you press the point it will become clear.


What exists is an imputation of a self. We have to discover if this conventional self is one of the aggregates, all of them, or merely imputed upon them? And if it is merely imputed upon the aggregates, is this imputation veridical or merely functional? If this imputation is not veridical, then this means that the imputation is false and the self being imputed does not exist except as an imputation.

What does not exist is a self which function as a basis for that imputation. The basis for the imputation of a self is the appearance of a person constituted to our senses primarily as a rūpa skandha. We can infer the existence of the other four skandhas if that rūpa skandha gives evidence of being able to think and act. At first, we imagine that person has an identity, such as cloudburst or malcolm; but there is nothing within the five aggregates that will correspond in any way to the designations "cloudburst" and "malcolm".

The term "the habit of grasping a non-existent self" is a very precise way of describing how an imputed self (which does not exist in the aggregates, separate from them, or as one of them) may be an agent while also being a nonexistent. This is precisely the Prasangika method of describing how rebirth functions.
Last edited by Malcolm on Wed Sep 18, 2013 11:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby dzogchungpa » Wed Sep 18, 2013 10:59 pm

It seems like the word 'habit' is doing all the heavy lifting here.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Wed Sep 18, 2013 11:02 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:It seems like the word 'habit' is doing all the heavy lifting here.



Yes, indeed it is.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Wayfarer » Wed Sep 18, 2013 11:06 pm

I agree with Vidyaraja's analysis.

dude wrote:How can something that doesn't exist function?


There is reality beyond existence and non-existence. It can't be spoken of directly because it is not amongst phenomena and so does not exist in the same way phenomena do. In the early forms of Buddhist literature it was only ever referred to obliquely or elliptically, for the very simple reason that if the naming, grasping mind thinks about it or names it, it makes it something that it is not, and tries to bring it down to its level of understanding.

However in later forms of Buddhist literature it is spoken of in such terms as 'Buddha-nature' 'true nature' 'original mind' and other such terms.

Here are some excerpts from the Aspiration Prayer of Mahamudra:

It is not existent--even the Victorious Ones do not see it.
It is not non-existent--it is the basis of all samsara and nirvana.
This is not a contradiction, but the middle path of unity.
May the ultimate nature of phenomena, limitless mind beyond extremes, he realised.


If one says, "This is it," there is nothing to show.
If one says, "This is not it," there is nothing to deny.
The true nature of phenomena,
which transcends conceptual understanding, is unconditioned.
May conviction he gained in the ultimate, perfect truth.


'Not existent' - the source of existence is not among the things that exist. But it is not non-existent - it is not mere absence, mere nothingness, but the 'basis of all samsara and nirvana'. It is not simply nothing, mere cessation, absence, even though it is very easy to interpret that way.

I think the Buddha's original insight represents a radical re-ordering of consciousness, a revolutionary change in the way the mind functions (for which, see Consciousness Mysticism in the Discourses of the Buddha, Peter Harvey.)

Consequently this teaching is comparable to the teachings of other mystical traditions. This doesn't mean they are the same or that 'they all say the same thing'. At this level of understanding, qualifications such as 'the same' or 'different' are inapplicable and misleading as they are all unique in some ways. But I think this state of being is something much greater than 'personal tranquility' or 'the absence of stress' in the psycho-therapeutic sense that is depicted by Bachelor.

I also agree with Vidyaraja's description of 'eternalism'. 'Eternalism' is expressed in the Brahmajāla Sutta as the belief that 'the self and the world are eternal, fixed like a post or a barren mountain peak'. The problem with the idea of 'eternalism' is that it posits a separate self which continues to exist, being continually re-born in perpetuity. But the idea of the 'the Unborn, Unconditioned, Uncreated' is something completely different to that. That is not 'eternalism' but a re-statement of the perennial idea of 'the eternal' within the human being.

Malcolm wrote: avidyā is not held to be the cause of existence in dependent origination, because that would make ignorance/avidyā unconditioned itself.


In nearly all the translations I am familiar with, avidyā is given as the first of the twelve nidanas, i.e. 'with Avidyā as condition, Saṅkhāra (Saṃskāra) arises'. I don't think there is any English equivalent for avidyā. It is not 'ignorance' of the civil law or of general knowledge, but the absence of the transfiguration of consciousness that the teaching presents. It refers to a way of being in the world, which has causes and consequences that cannot be fully described in purely scientific or secular terms. In other words, it is a metaphysical concept.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Wed Sep 18, 2013 11:32 pm

jeeprs wrote:There is reality beyond existence and non-existence. It can't be spoken of directly because it is not amongst phenomena and so does not exist in the same way phenomena do.


Nonsense. All phenomenon [dharmas], both conditioned and unconditioned are included in one skandha, one āyatana, and one dhātu. The skandha is the material aggregate because it includes all material sense objects and sense organs; the āyatana is the mano-ayatana, which includes all minds; and the dharmadhātu which includes all mental factors, as well as the unconditioned dharmas, including nirvana. Nirvana is a dharma. It is not beyond phenomena, it is a phenomena albeit, an unconditioned phenomena.

'Not existent' - the source of existence is not among the things that exist. But it is not non-existent - it is not mere absence, mere nothingness, but the 'basis of all samsara and nirvana'. It is not simply nothing, mere cessation, absence, even though it is very easy to interpret that way.


This, my friend, is very far away from the meaning intended by Rangjung Dorje.

That is not 'eternalism' but a re-statement of the perennial idea of 'the eternal' within the human being.


There is nothing eternal within a human being. A human beings consists of five aggregates and nothing more. if there something eternal within a human, that would be a self.

Malcolm wrote: avidyā is not held to be the cause of existence in dependent origination, because that would make ignorance/avidyā unconditioned itself.


In other words, it is a metaphysical concept.


You need to examine a clear explanation of the twelve nidanas. Of course, you like everyone, are free to invent whatever Buddhism you want out of whole cloth.

Just don't be so convinced that your pet theories are really the truth (tm).
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Wayfarer » Wed Sep 18, 2013 11:45 pm

Malcolm wrote:Nirvana is a dharma. It is not beyond phenomena, it is a phenomena albeit, an unconditioned phenomena.


Where is an 'unconditioned phenomena'? Show me one 'unconditioned phenomena'. This is something I say you cannot do - there is no such thing anywhere.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Wed Sep 18, 2013 11:49 pm

jeeprs wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Nirvana is a dharma. It is not beyond phenomena, it is a phenomena albeit, an unconditioned phenomena.


Where is an 'unconditioned phenomena'? Show me one 'unconditioned phenomena'. This is something I say you cannot do - there is no such thing anywhere.



There are three kinds of unconditioned phenomena (asamskritadharma) we find in Buddhist texts: space and the two kinds of cessation. Of these two last, one is mere absence of a cause for arising, and the second is nirvana i.e. a cessation which is due to analysis.

In Mahāyāna a fourth is added i.e. śūnyatā, emptiness.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby smcj » Thu Sep 19, 2013 12:10 am

Where is an 'unconditioned phenomena'? Show me one 'unconditioned phenomena'. This is something I say you cannot do - there is no such thing anywhere.

If you believe Asanga, you own Buddha Nature is unconditioned phenomena. It is your own nature, yet cannot be taken as an object of consciousness, yours or anybody else's for that matter. It is an example of something unborn having functionality--the functionality being you!
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Sep 19, 2013 12:20 am

Malcolm wrote:There are three kinds of unconditioned phenomena (asamskritadharma) we find in Buddhist texts: space and the two kinds of cessation. Of these two last, one is mere absence of a cause for arising, and the second is nirvana i.e. a cessation which is due to analysis.


Right. But outside the texts, and these words on the screen, there is no way to point to those. All around me are conditioned phenomena, including this computer that I'm writing this on, the chair I'm sitting on, my fingers typing. All of these are phenomena that can be studied by science. Neither 'Cessation' nor 'nirvana' are amongst these and cannot be demonstrated empirically at all. If you don't accept any reality beyond the five aggregates, then they can't be anything other than subjective.

There is nothing eternal within a human being. A human beings consists of five aggregates and nothing more. if there something eternal within a human, that would be a self.


Only when conceived as an object or a 'substance', something that exists independently and not in relationship with other things.

In Mahayana Buddhism there are many ways of stating eternal principles, such as the Adi-Buddha, the Tri-Kaya, and the very fact that there is an endless succession of Buddhas who manifest.

I suppose to put it in plain English, I believe in the reality of 'spirit'. 'Spirit' is a most unfortunate word, mostly misunderstood and usually maligned, but there is nothing else in English, unfortunately. Tibetans tend to use 'Mind' to denote that reality, the fundamental ground of existence, that which gives rise to everything. There seem to be many here who deny it. It's a shame, but I will put forward the opposing view from time to time, so that those reading will know that there are some don't acquiesce to this notion that the tathagatha is 'only the five aggregates'.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Thu Sep 19, 2013 12:33 am

jeeprs wrote:I suppose to put it in plain English, I believe in the reality of 'spirit'. 'Spirit' is a most unfortunate word, mostly misunderstood and usually maligned, but there is nothing else in English, unfortunately. Tibetans tend to use 'Mind' to denote that reality, the fundamental ground of existence, that which gives rise to everything. There seem to be many here who deny it. It's a shame, but I will put forward the opposing view from time to time, so that those reading will know that there are some don't acquiesce to this notion that the tathagatha is 'only the five aggregates'.


There is no fundamental ground of existence which gives rise to everything. This idea is a modern import into Buddhism. I mean, it is fine if you subscribe to it, but you won't find it in a Buddhist sutra or tantra.

As Ārya Nāgārjuna put it succinctly;

Whatever is the nature of the Tathāgata, that is the nature of the world;
since the Tathāgata has no nature, the world has no nature.


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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Thu Sep 19, 2013 12:36 am

jeeprs wrote:Only when conceived as an object or a 'substance', something that exists independently and not in relationship with other things.

In Mahayana Buddhism there are many ways of stating eternal principles, such as the Adi-Buddha, the Tri-Kaya, and the very fact that there is an endless succession of Buddhas who manifest.


Isn't this precisely what you are doing by affirmation of a transcendent idea of "spirit" etc. though? I.e. positing something with inherent existence that is fundamentally "outside" of the aggregates?
Last edited by Johnny Dangerous on Thu Sep 19, 2013 12:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Early Buddhism and Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Thu Sep 19, 2013 12:36 am

smcj wrote:
Where is an 'unconditioned phenomena'? Show me one 'unconditioned phenomena'. This is something I say you cannot do - there is no such thing anywhere.

If you believe Asanga, you own Buddha Nature is unconditioned phenomena. It is your own nature, yet cannot be taken as an object of consciousness, yours or anybody else's for that matter. It is an example of something unborn having functionality--the functionality being you!


If you believe the Buddha as he is presented in the Lankāvatara sutra, tathāgatagarbha is merely an intermediate doctrine for those who are frightened of emptiness.
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