Dexing wrote:Some people debate the Yogācāra position of consciousness-only, saying it is either inferior or just plain wrong
It is neither, but it is inconsistent and it is speculation and speculation is not conducive.
There is nothing inconsistent or speculative about it. From either a phenomenological or epistemological perspective, the contents of cognition are merely cognitive representations (vijñaptimātra), mere mind (cittamātra).
Because of delusion, sentient beings split their experience into apprehended objects and an apprehender. But the suchness (tathatā) of reality (tattva) isn't bifurcated into the segments of that which is experienced and that which is the experiencer. This mistaken division is is nothing but unreal imagination (abhūtaparikalpa). Objects apprehended (grāhya) and the apprehender (grāhaka) have no self-nature (niḥsvabhāvatā).
In order to recognize that all phenomena which we experience are simply aspects of mere mind, firstly, we can acknowledge cause and effect. Everyone agrees that causes occur prior to their result, which occurs after the causes. A cause and a result can't occur simultaneously. Also, causes must necessarily cease before the occurrence of the result. Now if we entertain for the time being the notion that there is an independent, external physical world of visibles, sounds, tactual objects, etc., then we could say that these forms are the cause for the arising of a corresponding sensory consciousness.
But if the external form – a visible form for example – is a cause for the arising of a visual consciousness, which is the result, then the visible form (as cause) occurs prior to the cognition, which (as result) occurs after. Thus the very object apprehended as the content of that visual consciousness cannot be the external form, which, being a cause, has ceased before the result can arise. And because the contents of consciousness (visible form for example) are simultaneous with the occurrence of consciousness, the object apprehended is in no way different or external to that consciousness – that is – it is an aspect of consciousness. In short, we cannot directly cognize external material objects, and what we mistake as an ultimately established external form is merely unreal imagination (abhūtaparikalpa).
Secondly, we can come to understand that objects must necessarily be of the same nature as consciousness because of the very fact that they are cognized. This is because immaterial consciousness, which isn't made of matter or particles, and has no spacial dimensions, can't be the same as matter and particles, which would have an altogether different 'material' nature. Thus, we experience no material objects outside of our cognitions, and the 'objective' contents of our cognitions – which occur simultaneously with the cognitions themselves – are merely immaterial cognitive representations (vijñaptimātra). Again, we cannot directly cognize external material objects, and what we mistake as an ultimately established external form is merely unreal imagination (abhūtaparikalpa).
All the best,