"All cognitions broght about by words are ultimately false"

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"All cognitions broght about by words are ultimately false"

Postby Bhadantacariya » Sat Dec 14, 2013 5:59 pm

The title of this thread is the final point made by Santaraksita in Chapter 16 of the Compendium on Reality. I have a hard time buying this since it seems to imply that the cognitions that his words are bringing about in me are ultimately false, including the cognition formed by the words in the title of this thread. It appears to mean something rather self-defeating for someone who wrote a chapter on the subject. I am baffled, and wonder if anybody is familiar with this subject. Hopefully I can contextualize the point by quoting some of his text along with its commentary by Kamalasila:

TEXT

Just as a man who has been attacked by a disorder says to another like himself, "there are two moons," so also is all verbal usage... The concomitance of the convention has been accepted only on the basis of the notions of men; in fact, all cognitions brought about by words are ultimately false.

COMMENTARY

The idea that the convention is concomitant with the two points of time--that of its making and the consequent usage--is admitted only on the basis of the apprehension of Reflection of the thing apprehended by the speaker and the listener; it is not really true; the idea, in fact, is based upon the fact that at the time of usage both the speaker and the listener have the (false) notion that the thing seen now and that seen at the time of the making of the convention are one and the same.
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Re: "All cognitions broght about by words are ultimately fal

Postby Simon E. » Sat Dec 14, 2013 7:35 pm

A quick summation is as follows;
'All cognitions brought about about words are ultimately false '.


Hope that helps.
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Re: "All cognitions broght about by words are ultimately fal

Postby Lindama » Sat Dec 14, 2013 7:54 pm

right on, thanks for the clarification Simon :smile:
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Re: "All cognitions broght about by words are ultimately fal

Postby Bhadantacariya » Mon Dec 16, 2013 3:29 am

Simon E. wrote:A quick summation is as follows;
'All cognitions brought about about words are ultimately false '.


Hope that helps.


I'm not sure what the difference is between cognitions that are brought about by words and cognitions that are brought about about words. Could you please explain a little more?

Doesn't Santaraksita imply that the cognitions your words brought about in me are false? Should I not then assume that "It is not the case that cognitions brought about about words are false?" Wouldn't that mean it is the case that cognitions brought about about words are true? If so, wouldn't that meant what Santaraksita wrote is what is false? I simply have no idea in what way this claim can be true, but there may yet be a way.
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Re: "All cognitions broght about by words are ultimately fal

Postby Sherab » Mon Dec 16, 2013 3:38 am

My take:
Cognitions brought about by words are merely intellectual models of what is to be directly realized, just like a map that is only a representation of the actual terrain.
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Re: "All cognitions broght about by words are ultimately fal

Postby sukhamanveti » Mon Dec 16, 2013 4:25 am

Bhadantacariya wrote:
Simon E. wrote:A quick summation is as follows;
'All cognitions brought about about words are ultimately false '.


Hope that helps.


I'm not sure what the difference is between cognitions that are brought about by words and cognitions that are brought about about words. Could you please explain a little more?

Doesn't Santaraksita imply that the cognitions your words brought about in me are false? Should I not then assume that "It is not the case that cognitions brought about about words are false?" Wouldn't that mean it is the case that cognitions brought about about words are true? If so, wouldn't that meant what Santaraksita wrote is what is false? I simply have no idea in what way this claim can be true, but there may yet be a way.



No. Śāntarakṣita's fusion of Yogācāra and Madhyamaka is about conventional truths and ultimate truths. He is saying that "cognitions brought about by words" are not ultimate truths. They do not endure an analysis searching for an inherent existence/intrinsic nature (svabhāva). The argument in the commentary uses impermanence to make the point. Verbally derived truths are conventional truths, he says. They are impermanent and causally related. And these he equates with mere consciousness. The only truths he sees as ultimate truths are the absences of inherent existence/intrinsic nature of phenomena and even consciousness itself. Selflessness is ultimate for Śāntarakṣita.
namo bhagavate śākyamunaye tathāgatāyārhate samyaksaṁbuddhāya | namaḥ sarvabuddhabodhisattvebhyaḥ ||

"Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas love all beings in the world equally, as if each were their only child..." Buddhāvataṃsakamahāvaipulya Sūtra
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Re: "All cognitions broght about by words are ultimately fal

Postby Lindama » Mon Dec 16, 2013 8:18 am

:rolling:

about over about = about
as
one over one = one

back to the beginning: all cognitions brough about by words are ultimately false
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Re: "All cognitions broght about by words are ultimately fal

Postby LastLegend » Mon Dec 16, 2013 9:17 am

Bhadantacariya wrote:The title of this thread is the final point made by Santaraksita in Chapter 16 of the Compendium on Reality. I have a hard time buying this since it seems to imply that the cognitions that his words are bringing about in me are ultimately false, including the cognition formed by the words in the title of this thread. It appears to mean something rather self-defeating for someone who wrote a chapter on the subject. I am baffled, and wonder if anybody is familiar with this subject. Hopefully I can contextualize the point by quoting some of his text along with its commentary by Kamalasila:

TEXT

Just as a man who has been attacked by a disorder says to another like himself, "there are two moons," so also is all verbal usage... The concomitance of the convention has been accepted only on the basis of the notions of men; in fact, all cognitions brought about by words are ultimately false.

COMMENTARY

The idea that the convention is concomitant with the two points of time--that of its making and the consequent usage--is admitted only on the basis of the apprehension of Reflection of the thing apprehended by the speaker and the listener; it is not really true; the idea, in fact, is based upon the fact that at the time of usage both the speaker and the listener have the (false) notion that the thing seen now and that seen at the time of the making of the convention are one and the same.



Maybe words are neither true or false, just finger pointing at the moon (mind).
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Re: "All cognitions broght about by words are ultimately fal

Postby oushi » Mon Dec 16, 2013 10:28 am

LastLegend wrote:Maybe words are neither true or false, just finger pointing at the moon (mind).

I think we can say that words are true (always), but phenomena they are pointing at, not necessarily. For example, "moon is a big cheese". We know this pointing to be false, quite easily. Now, if we say "moon is a big piece of rock", we move closer to truth, but we ain't quite there.
The big question is, can we ever get there, that is, to the point where we are sure that meaning expressed in words is correct. Since the object itself changes, we are unable to grasp the ultimate meaning, because it will become false with the next change.

This leads us to a situation where we have two worlds available. One immediate, free from concepts, and the other created from concepts only.
To clarify, "words" existing in reality, point to meaning which builds the illusory world.
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Re: "All cognitions broght about by words are ultimately fal

Postby Astus » Mon Dec 16, 2013 12:17 pm

Bhadantacariya wrote: I have a hard time buying this since it seems to imply that the cognitions that his words are bringing about in me are ultimately false, including the cognition formed by the words in the title of this thread.


The problem is raised in Nagarjuna's Vigrahavyavartani.

The question:

If no phenomena anywhere possess inherent existence,
your statement, without inherent existence, cannot discard inherent existence.
But if your statement possesses inherent existence,
you refute your initial position. Explain your lapse in logic.


His answer:

No thesis can address all causes and conditions, separately or apart.
This proves the lack of inherent existence in phenomena and, consequently, emptiness.
Emptiness occurs through the dependent nature of phenomena.
Dependent-natured phenomena lack inherent existence.
Similarly, a conjured phantom can deny a phantom its own magic conjures.
I make no claims of inherent existence, so you have not refuted an assertion.
No inconsistency occurs, so I need explain no grounds.
"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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Re: "All cognitions broght about by words are ultimately fal

Postby LastLegend » Mon Dec 16, 2013 1:29 pm

oushi wrote:
LastLegend wrote:Maybe words are neither true or false, just finger pointing at the moon (mind).

I think we can say that words are true (always), but phenomena they are pointing at, not necessarily. For example, "moon is a big cheese". We know this pointing to be false, quite easily. Now, if we say "moon is a big piece of rock", we move closer to truth, but we ain't quite there.
The big question is, can we ever get there, that is, to the point where we are sure that meaning expressed in words is correct. Since the object itself changes, we are unable to grasp the ultimate meaning, because it will become false with the next change.

This leads us to a situation where we have two worlds available. One immediate, free from concepts, and the other created from concepts only.
To clarify, "words" existing in reality, point to meaning which builds the illusory world.


Interesting. :smile:
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Re: "All cognitions broght about by words are ultimately fal

Postby oushi » Mon Dec 16, 2013 1:41 pm

LastLegend wrote:Interesting. :smile:

Yes, and curiosity is another subject, one level deeper. :smile:
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Re: "All cognitions broght about by words are ultimately fal

Postby sukhamanveti » Mon Dec 16, 2013 10:46 pm

Sherab wrote:My take:
Cognitions brought about by words are merely intellectual models of what is to be directly realized, just like a map that is only a representation of the actual terrain.


This is very similar to Śāntarakṣita's perspective on ultimate truth. He follows Bhāvaviveka in distinguishing between the conceptual ultimate (paryāyaparamārtha), which is established through logical arguments and is thus conventionally true, and the nonconceptual ultimate (aparyāyaparamārtha) which is to be realized. It is the latter that is ultimately true.
namo bhagavate śākyamunaye tathāgatāyārhate samyaksaṁbuddhāya | namaḥ sarvabuddhabodhisattvebhyaḥ ||

"Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas love all beings in the world equally, as if each were their only child..." Buddhāvataṃsakamahāvaipulya Sūtra
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Re: "All cognitions broght about by words are ultimately fal

Postby The Way » Wed Dec 18, 2013 9:55 pm

oushi wrote:I think we can say that words are true (always), but phenomena they are pointing at, not necessarily. For example, "moon is a big cheese". We know this pointing to be false, quite easily. Now, if we say "moon is a big piece of rock", we move closer to truth, but we ain't quite there.
The big question is, can we ever get there, that is, to the point where we are sure that meaning expressed in words is correct
. Since the object itself changes, we are unable to grasp the ultimate meaning, because it will become false with the next change.

This leads us to a situation where we have two worlds available. One immediate, free from concepts, and the other created from concepts only.
To clarify, "words" existing in reality, point to meaning which builds the illusory world.


Regarding the bolded section, this reminds me of a hypothetical that was mentioned in a math class of mine.

If you are standing some distance from a wall (lets say 10 meters), and move halfway towards the wall (5 meters in this case), you are closer than you were before. You can move halfway towards the wall as many times as you like, to the point where you are only moving millimeters at a time, but you will never actually get to the wall.

It makes me realize that however useful language proves to be (for purposes of science, for example), it can't act as an ultimate authority on reality. Why? Because words and language are part of that reality. We can't step out of experience and view it from an objective standpoint. Nevertheless, words are useful tools and pointers, as plenty of people have already said.
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Re: "All cognitions broght about by words are ultimately fal

Postby muni » Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:07 am

The Way wrote:
oushi wrote:I think we can say that words are true (always), but phenomena they are pointing at, not necessarily. For example, "moon is a big cheese". We know this pointing to be false, quite easily. Now, if we say "moon is a big piece of rock", we move closer to truth, but we ain't quite there.
The big question is, can we ever get there, that is, to the point where we are sure that meaning expressed in words is correct
. Since the object itself changes, we are unable to grasp the ultimate meaning, because it will become false with the next change.

This leads us to a situation where we have two worlds available. One immediate, free from concepts, and the other created from concepts only.
To clarify, "words" existing in reality, point to meaning which builds the illusory world.


Regarding the bolded section, this reminds me of a hypothetical that was mentioned in a math class of mine.

If you are standing some distance from a wall (lets say 10 meters), and move halfway towards the wall (5 meters in this case), you are closer than you were before. You can move halfway towards the wall as many times as you like, to the point where you are only moving millimeters at a time, but you will never actually get to the wall.

It makes me realize that however useful language proves to be (for purposes of science, for example), it can't act as an ultimate authority on reality. Why? Because words and language are part of that reality. We can't step out of experience and view it from an objective standpoint. Nevertheless, words are useful tools and pointers, as plenty of people have already said.


:namaste: Great. This is like it is said; that what we are trying to find, or what we are looking for is that from where is the looking.
As even the elephant is Home, we go out in the woods to find the elephant by its footprints.

Ah well then! Language as useful tools to point to what is already for awaken, but not get lost in its fabricated woods.
Last edited by muni on Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "All cognitions broght about by words are ultimately fal

Postby oushi » Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:13 am

The Way wrote:It makes me realize that however useful language proves to be (for purposes of science, for example), it can't act as an ultimate authority on reality.

No part of reality can become authority on it.
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Re: "All cognitions broght about by words are ultimately fal

Postby The Way » Thu Dec 19, 2013 2:54 pm

oushi wrote:
The Way wrote:It makes me realize that however useful language proves to be (for purposes of science, for example), it can't act as an ultimate authority on reality.

No part of reality can become authority on it.


exactly.
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Re: "All cognitions broght about by words are ultimately fal

Postby tobes » Mon Dec 23, 2013 7:00 am

Bhadantacariya wrote:The title of this thread is the final point made by Santaraksita in Chapter 16 of the Compendium on Reality. I have a hard time buying this since it seems to imply that the cognitions that his words are bringing about in me are ultimately false, including the cognition formed by the words in the title of this thread. It appears to mean something rather self-defeating for someone who wrote a chapter on the subject. I am baffled, and wonder if anybody is familiar with this subject. Hopefully I can contextualize the point by quoting some of his text along with its commentary by Kamalasila:

TEXT

Just as a man who has been attacked by a disorder says to another like himself, "there are two moons," so also is all verbal usage... The concomitance of the convention has been accepted only on the basis of the notions of men; in fact, all cognitions brought about by words are ultimately false.

COMMENTARY

The idea that the convention is concomitant with the two points of time--that of its making and the consequent usage--is admitted only on the basis of the apprehension of Reflection of the thing apprehended by the speaker and the listener; it is not really true; the idea, in fact, is based upon the fact that at the time of usage both the speaker and the listener have the (false) notion that the thing seen now and that seen at the time of the making of the convention are one and the same.


I think you're right that there is at least a paradox to be found there, or more likely a logical inconsistency, or possibly even a contradiction.

It is the problem of asserting an ineffable truth to be true - a logical problem that most of the great Mahayana thinkers are aware of, but not all necessarily succeed in escaping.

One of the complications is that satya can mean both 'truth' and 'reality' - so it has both an epistemic sense and a metaphysical (or phenomenological) sense. These are clearly intertwined in various ways, but are also clearly distinct.

The statement makes more sense if you treat it as a shifting between those two senses. i.e. all verbal designations are false (epistemic sense of satya) because they do not express or represent the nature of reality (metaphysical and phenomenological sense of satya).

If you remain purely on the epistemic level, there is indeed a logical fallacy. But the point seems to gain its traction (and coherence) through the play between the epistemological and the experiential. That is, it is not just about "truth"; it is about the dynamic relationship between cognition, truth/falsity and experiences of reality.

:anjali:
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Re: "All cognitions broght about by words are ultimately fal

Postby Simon E. » Mon Dec 23, 2013 10:29 am

ALL cognitions. Including metacognitions about cognitions.
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Re: "All cognitions broght about by words are ultimately fal

Postby seeker242 » Mon Dec 23, 2013 12:30 pm

Reminds me of the Lankavatara Sutra:

    "But neither words nor sentences can exactly express meanings, for words are only sweet sounds that are arbitrarily chosen to represent things, they are not the things themselves, which in turn are only manifestations of mind. Discrimination of meaning is based upon the false-imagination that these sweet sounds which we call words and which are dependent upon whatever subjects they are supposed to stand for, and which subjects are supposed to be self-existent, all of which is based on error. Disciples should be on their guard against the seductions of words and sentences and their illusive meanings, for by them the ignorant and the dull-witted become entangled and helpless as an elephant floundering about in the deep mud.

    Words and sentences are produced by the law of causation and are mutually conditioning,--they cannot express highest Reality. Moreover, in highest Reality there are no differentiations to be discriminated and there is nothing to be predicated in regard to it. Highest Reality is an exalted state of bliss, it is not a state of word-discrimination and it cannot be entered into by mere statements concerning it. The Tathagatas have a better way of teaching, namely, through self-realisation of Noble Wisdom."
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