Misunderstanding emptiness

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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat Jan 28, 2012 7:25 pm

"Forget the wherefore of things,
And we attain to a state beyond analogy;
Movement stopped and there is no movement,
Rest set in motion and there is no rest;
When dualism does no more obtain,
Oneness itself abides not."

-- Seng-ts'an , ON BELIEVING IN MIND
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Sat Jan 28, 2012 8:39 pm

Hey Padma,

That sounds excellent. One more thought on motion before I return to tax tables.

In a normal frame of reference, where the clock is ticking, "motion" refers to a change in position of A relative to B.

In an artificial frame of reference, where time is frozen, "motion" has no meaning. Short of equivocation, we cannot say "there is motion" or "there is no motion" in this framework.

Meanings are numberless,
I vow to spot equivocation. ;)

Regards,
Dave.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat Jan 28, 2012 9:34 pm

yadave wrote:Hey Padma,

That sounds excellent. One more thought on motion before I return to tax tables.

In a normal frame of reference, where the clock is ticking, "motion" refers to a change in position of A relative to B.

In an artificial frame of reference, where time is frozen, "motion" has no meaning. Short of equivocation, we cannot say "there is motion" or "there is no motion" in this framework.

Meanings are numberless,
I vow to spot equivocation. ;)

Regards,
Dave.


You know what is interesting? If you put two points (dots) on the hand of a clock, one at the outer tip of the clock hand, and one near the center of the clock, the point nearer to the outer tip of a hand moves much, much faster than a point near the center, even though they are both moving at the same rate.
.
.
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-PVS
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby Tom » Sat Jan 28, 2012 10:02 pm

yadave wrote:Still, this "emptiness of motion" feels more like a neat trick than something profound. I cannot remember ever thinking of "motion" as an eternal thing, or something that "movers" possessed. Perhaps these concepts were prevalent in Indian philosophy and Nagarjuna is deconstructing these on his way to emptiness of impermanence in general.

Regards,
Dave.


I was hinting at this earlier - to understand Nagarjuna, it helps to understand a little bit about the various concepts of substance and properties that were prevalent during his time.

Actually, I am looking forward to reading Siderit's article when I get a chance. If it is a critique, I am assuming it is to do with an assumption around space or time being infinitely divisible. In any case this is only one of the arguments in Nagarjuna's arsenal.

yadave wrote:
In a normal frame of reference, where the clock is ticking, "motion" refers to a change in position of A relative to B.

In an artificial frame of reference, where time is frozen, "motion" has no meaning. Short of equivocation, we cannot say "there is motion" or "there is no motion" in this framework.



Movement is change and so cannot be found in one instant. The clock ticking or not, Nagarjuna asserts movement is just a construct of the mind, based upon two different position in two different times. He asserts that it is problematic to think of motion, or anything else for that matter, as existing in some essential way.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sun Jan 29, 2012 1:42 am

Tom wrote:Movement is change and so cannot be found in one instant. The clock ticking or not, Nagarjuna asserts movement is just a construct of the mind, based upon two different position in two different times. He asserts that it is problematic to think of motion, or anything else for that matter, as existing in some essential way.


I think that Nagarjuna might argue that as soon as a thing moves, it is not what it was before, because what it was before was a summation of its characteristics and that includes all conditions of its arising. Further, it wasn't a "thing" to begin with, so "it" does not contain movement.

The earth is in constant motion. Thus, motion is one of the characteristics, or qualities which define the term "Earth". If the Earth were to cease movement, would it still be the Earth? The earth contains minerals and water. Likewise, If you remove any component of the definition, the object ceases to be what it was previously, and only the label ("Earth") remains, used to refer to a different set of circumstances altogether.

The same problem arises when we think of a 'self' person as existing.

Actually, If the person 'self' is empty of any finite reality ("true existence") then external phenomena is also empty of any finite reality ("true existence") because the two are not separate things to begin with. Emptiness of self and emptiness of external phenomena have to exist in relation to each other.
If you suggest that there is no individual self, but that some kind of 'external reality' is truly existent, this is like creating a door with only one side. A sort of mobius strip door. It's saying that one thing does not exist in relation to something else that does exist.

This reminds me of being able to put one's nose on the top of one's head.
This is easily done with a little practice, but most people cannot imagine how it can be done until they see it done.
Then, anybody can do it.
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby Malcolm » Sun Jan 29, 2012 2:21 am

yadave wrote:You caught my sense Tom, it was about the ball, MMK CH2:1 is about the rolling.



MMK refutes moving movers, such as rolling balls. The minute you suggest that balls roll, then automatically the subroutine that refutes rolling rollers kicks in.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby Fruitzilla » Sun Jan 29, 2012 6:00 am

Namdrol wrote:
yadave wrote:You caught my sense Tom, it was about the ball, MMK CH2:1 is about the rolling.



MMK refutes moving movers, such as rolling balls. The minute you suggest that balls roll, then automatically the subroutine that refutes rolling rollers kicks in.


If a ball cannot roll, how does it get from one place to another?

I'm always puzzled by Madhyamakan logic.. At first look it seems really profound, at second look I go hmmmm, at a third look it seems like a misuse of language.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby yadave » Sun Jan 29, 2012 7:13 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:You know what is interesting? If you put two points (dots) on the hand of a clock, one at the outer tip of the clock hand, and one near the center of the clock, the point nearer to the outer tip of a hand moves much, much faster than a point near the center, even though they are both moving at the same rate.

Equivocation alert (sorry, it's my job). In a polar coordinate system concentric with the clock, the dot radii remain constant as does their angular velocity (motion), only their angle coordinate changes. In a Cartesian coordinate system, their velocities (motion) are different and both coordinates are changing. All of which proves that "motion" is empty. Let's just say concepts are empty and watch TV. ;)

Tom wrote:Movement is change and so cannot be found in one instant.

Neither change nor no-change can be found in one instant, so his argument, Zeno's Arrow Paradox, is busted by his own four-point negation. So there. ;)

Tom wrote:Nagarjuna asserts movement is just a construct of the mind, based upon two different position in two different times.

Of course, Tom, I think neither you nor I suffer from the unconditioned-motion klesha, we would just say motion is a relationship, not a "thing". Nagarjuna asserts "motion cannot be conceived" after he conceives it. This creates a metaphysical zinger that is insubstantial on closer investigation.

Namdrol wrote:MMK refutes moving movers, such as rolling balls. The minute you suggest that balls roll, then automatically the subroutine that refutes rolling rollers kicks in.

My smart phone knows my name. ;)

Fruitzilla wrote:If a ball cannot roll, how does it get from one place to another?

Very carefully?

Fruitzilla wrote:I'm always puzzled by Madhyamakan logic.. At first look it seems really profound, at second look I go hmmmm, at a third look it seems like a misuse of language.

It is pretty tricky, Fruitzilla. As cloud mentions elsewhere, folks don't always just admit this so it can seem even trickier. Namdrol explained earlier that Nagarjuna was addressing essentialism in Abhidharma, perhaps these guys wanted to reify everything they got their hands on -- properties, relationships -- things that may seem odd to us today, and Nagarjuna put a big wrench in that project. So it may not be a misuse of language so much as admitting there are two language frameworks going on here, Nagarjuna's and ours, so it can be tricky.

Enjoy your days.

Regards,
Dave.
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby Malcolm » Sun Jan 29, 2012 8:29 pm

yadave wrote:
My smart phone knows my name. ;)


So it is a "knowing knower?"

Related to your other comment, there are instances where Nagarjuna's refutations are completley irrelevant in the modern context, and instances where they are relevant and very much so.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
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-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby Fruitzilla » Sun Jan 29, 2012 8:57 pm

yadave wrote:
Fruitzilla wrote:I'm always puzzled by Madhyamakan logic.. At first look it seems really profound, at second look I go hmmmm, at a third look it seems like a misuse of language.

It is pretty tricky, Fruitzilla. As cloud mentions elsewhere, folks don't always just admit this so it can seem even trickier. Namdrol explained earlier that Nagarjuna was addressing essentialism in Abhidharma, perhaps these guys wanted to reify everything they got their hands on -- properties, relationships -- things that may seem odd to us today, and Nagarjuna put a big wrench in that project. So it may not be a misuse of language so much as admitting there are two language frameworks going on here, Nagarjuna's and ours, so it can be tricky.

Enjoy your days.

Regards,
Dave.


Ah, I get it. Kind of.
Call me Fruity if you like, but I then start wondering why Nagarjuna is so highly valued in Mahayana circles, and his work explained on such a broad basis, instead of the narrow one for which it seems it was initially meant.

It does make good sense to me in the narrow way, and it explains why in the broad way it often feels like missing the mark.

Thanks!
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Re: Misunderstanding emptiness

Postby Malcolm » Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:45 pm

Fruitzilla wrote:Call me Fruity if you like, but I then start wondering why Nagarjuna is so highly valued in Mahayana circles, and his work explained on such a broad basis, instead of the narrow one for which it seems it was initially meant.

It does make good sense to me in the narrow way, and it explains why in the broad way it often feels like missing the mark.

Thanks!


Most of Nagarjuna's works are critical, but they are based in Mahāyāna sūtra perspectives, specifically, the prajñāpāramitā sūtras.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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