Chittamatra and Svatantrika, which is more subtle?

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Chittamatra and Svatantrika, which is more subtle?

Postby goodie » Tue Oct 19, 2010 11:28 pm

Hi :namaste:

Chittamatra asserts that phenomena do not posses individual defining characteristic marks (rang-mtshan), except for the mark of being a validly knowable phenomena.

Svatantrika asserts that phenomena have individual defining characteristic marks, although existence of phenomena is established by their being imputable.

According to these descriptions, it could seem that Chittamatra is more subtle because almost nothing comes from the side of the object whereas for Svatantrika phenomena do possess various characteristic marks. But this would contradict the traditional Buddhist scheme of Indian Buddhist schools of thought that Svatantrika is higher than Chittamatra. Could someone explain? Thank you :)
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Re: Chittamatra and Svatantrika, which is more subtle?

Postby 5heaps » Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:04 am

that reminds me of one of Berzin's articles. is it from him?

mindonly and svatantrika imputation work a little differently. so although the language might suggest that mindonly is subtler, what we mean by svatantrika having characteristic marks is in truth heavily qualified such that it is subtler than mindonly.

svatantrika in general doesnt assert true characteristic marks (ie. ones utterly independent of mental labeling), whereas mindonly asserts such a characteristic mark (namely the one you mentioned, the mark of simply existing). therefore mindonly is counted among the "functionalists" along with sautrantika and vaibhashika
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Re: Chittamatra and Svatantrika, which is more subtle?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:11 am

goodie wrote:Hi :namaste:

Chittamatra asserts that phenomena do not posses individual defining characteristic marks (rang-mtshan), except for the mark of being a validly knowable phenomena.

Svatantrika asserts that phenomena have individual defining characteristic marks, although existence of phenomena is established by their being imputable.

According to these descriptions, it could seem that Chittamatra is more subtle because almost nothing comes from the side of the object whereas for Svatantrika phenomena do possess various characteristic marks. But this would contradict the traditional Buddhist scheme of Indian Buddhist schools of thought that Svatantrika is higher than Chittamatra. Could someone explain? Thank you :)


Generically speaking, Chittamatra says that self and other phenomena are but the display of Mind, and thus empty, but that Mind itself truly exists. Svatantrika Madhyamaka, on the other hand, is more subtle because in its analysis aimed at the ultimate, neither phenomena nor any sort of mind (big M or little m) are said to be truly existing. Maybe instead of Svatanrika, you were thinking of Sautrantika, a lower tenet system which does assert that phenomena are somehow truly existent yet still impermanent.
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Re: Chittamatra and Svatantrika, which is more subtle?

Postby Mariusz » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:12 am

goodie wrote:Hi :namaste:

Chittamatra asserts that phenomena do not posses individual defining characteristic marks (rang-mtshan), except for the mark of being a validly knowable phenomena.


Hi :smile: . It reffers to the imaginary nature. There are those who talk in a one-sided way in terms of Mere Mentalism (Cittamatra)
and say that the other-dependent nature empty of the imaginary nature is the
perfect nature, without an understanding of the true intention of the lineage of vast activity (Yogacara of asanga/Vasubandhu).

The Sutra That Unravels the Intention: the lineage of vast activity (Yogacara) explains
that the imaginary nature is like being affected by the disease of blurred vision;
the other-dependent nature is like the manifestations that appear due to blurred
vision; and the perfect nature is like the natural object of clear vision upon being
cured.

goodie wrote:Svatantrika asserts that phenomena have individual defining characteristic marks, although existence of phenomena is established by their being imputable.


The intention behind this presentation is to eliminate the poison of clinging
to inner and outer entities by accepting dependent origination and valid cognition
that operate through the power of the seeming, illusion-like entities. Because of
such descriptions, in India Autonomists (Svatantrika) were called “the Centrists who establish
illusion through reasoning.”

goodie wrote:According to these descriptions, it could seem that Chittamatra is more subtle because almost nothing comes from the side of the object whereas for Svatantrika phenomena do possess various characteristic marks. But this would contradict the traditional Buddhist scheme of Indian Buddhist schools of thought that Svatantrika is higher than Chittamatra. Could someone explain? Thank you :)


Yogacara and Svatantrika are both soteriologically efficient. Svatantrika leads to the same result as Prasangika: the freedom from all reference points. Cittamatra also is useful for gradual meditations on emptiness (sunyata) as a step to Madhyamaka where the "Mind Only" is taken as one more reference point to be "pass beyond". Yogacara is useful as an "elaboration" to Madhyamaka "what is beyond". They all are useful as preparation to HYT/Dzogchen. The best is the practice according to "pointing out instructions" of one's own HYT/Dzogchen "spiritual friend" to be directly cured.
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Re: Chittamatra and Svatantrika, which is more subtle?

Postby goodie » Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:50 pm

5heaps wrote:that reminds me of one of Berzin's articles. is it from him?
It is, paraphrased from The Two Truths in Vaibhashika and Sautrantika

5heaps wrote:svatantrika in general doesnt assert true characteristic marks (ie. ones utterly independent of mental labeling)
Geshe Jampa Tegchok says that svatantrikas assert that there has to be something from the side of the object since if it all came from the side of the mind then we could call a cat a dog and that would all be ok. However they also say that the object doesn't exist just from its own side, but also in dependence on the mind.

My question here is: would it be correct to say that when an object is not cognized it does have these marks utterly independent of mental labeling (since it is not cognized); and when it is cognized then it can not be cognized without mind adding something?
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Re: Chittamatra and Svatantrika, which is more subtle?

Postby goodie » Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:57 pm

Pema Rigdzin wrote:Generically speaking, Chittamatra says that self and other phenomena are but the display of Mind, and thus empty, but that Mind itself truly exists..
I thought that according to Chittamatra the mind, just as any other dependent phenomena (gzhan-dbang), possess only the characteristic mark of being a validly knowable phenomena. Isn't it so?
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Re: Chittamatra and Svatantrika, which is more subtle?

Postby 5heaps » Wed Oct 20, 2010 6:33 pm

goodie wrote:paraphrased from The Two Truths in Vaibhashika and Sautrantika
such a good article :crying:

My question here is: would it be correct to say that when an object is not cognized it does have these marks utterly independent of mental labeling (since it is not cognized); and when it is cognized then it can not be cognized without mind adding something?
i would suggest that the point of imputation is not just that imputation is adding/using meanings to know its object, but that in the higher schools it is also vital to the object itself.
(object itself = that physical matter which is external, whereas meanings/images are internal mental objects).

after all, sautrantika already explains how we add (superimpose/project/impute) internal objects such as generalities (meanings) onto objects and mistake them as being external, inherent in the objects.


try Jeffrey Hopkins as well:
JeffreyHopkins20070622.mp3
JeffreyHopkins20070623am.mp3
JeffreyHopkins20070623pm.mp3
JeffreyHopkins20070624pm.mp3

JeffreyHopkins20070624am.mp3 in particular is teaching dependent origination, empty space, subtle impermanence. but all the classes are very very good.
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Re: Chittamatra and Svatantrika, which is more subtle?

Postby goodie » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:07 pm

5heaps wrote:i would suggest that the point of imputation is not just that imputation is adding/using meanings to know its object, but that in the higher schools it is also vital to the object itself.
Doesn't this sound more like prasangika answer? Because if object has characteristics on its side, then imputation from the mind is not vital to object itself (except when cognizing it of course).

Could the answer perhaps be that svatantrika just extends sautrantika's position - that not only there is imputation of generalities in conceptual cognition, but that there is some sort of imputation even in non-conceptual cognition (a bit like appearance of inherent existence which occures even in non-conceptual cognition)?

Thank you for the links to Jeffrey Hopkins's lectures, I will definitely listen to them. :woohoo:
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Re: Chittamatra and Svatantrika, which is more subtle?

Postby 5heaps » Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:23 pm

goodie wrote:Could the answer perhaps be that svatantrika just extends sautrantika's position - that not only there is imputation of generalities in conceptual cognition, but that there is some sort of imputation even in non-conceptual cognition (a bit like appearance of inherent existence which occures even in non-conceptual cognition)?
thats how i tend to think of it and yet it seems we dont arrive at the same conclusion. when extending sautrantika we're dealing with something other than ones own consciousness, even if the nature of that other is one of dependence on our own labeling. therefore whoever is performing this analysis is still attacking the same mistake that gelug prasangika is, even if they are being less robust about it. thats why theyre still classed as madhyamika whereas mindonly are not

Because if object has characteristics on its side
but it doesnt have those kinds of characteristics on its own side. the kind it has is that of the type which has the power to appear to a mind that is cognizing it. therefore its precisely the case that mind is always vital. does the house disappear when you stop looking at it? they say no, and this doesnt contradict what was said. Hopkins covers this in a very helpful way in one of those mp3s. this is a common hangup which eventually and predictably occurs in peoples analysis
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Re: Chittamatra and Svatantrika, which is more subtle?

Postby Mariusz » Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:20 am

goodie wrote:
5heaps wrote:i would suggest that the point of imputation is not just that imputation is adding/using meanings to know its object, but that in the higher schools it is also vital to the object itself.
Doesn't this sound more like prasangika answer? Because if object has characteristics on its side, then imputation from the mind is not vital to object itself (except when cognizing it of course).

Could the answer perhaps be that svatantrika just extends sautrantika's position - that not only there is imputation of generalities in conceptual cognition, but that there is some sort of imputation even in non-conceptual cognition (a bit like appearance of inherent existence which occures even in non-conceptual cognition)?

Thank you for the links to Jeffrey Hopkins's lectures, I will definitely listen to them. :woohoo:


From "the treasury of knowledge: Frameworks of Buddhist Philosophy" Kongtrul the Great explains:

Given the Sautrāntikas’ position that external referents are hidden [phenomena],
they are similar to Chittamātra Proponents of Real Images in
considering dualistic appearances to be cognition (shes pa). Nevertheless,
these systems differ as to whether “what casts [images]” (gtod byed) is an
external referent or not: [for Sautrāntikas, it is an external referent that
casts the image; for Chittamātra Proponents of Real Images, it is not].

Cittamatra The imagined [characteristic] is twofold:
(1) Imagined [characteristics] devoid of any characteristics (mtshan nyid
chad pa’i kun brtags) are what in fact do not exist, but are conceptually
imputed
, such as the belief in a self (bdag lta) or something being
substantially established.
(2) Nominal imagined [characteristics] (rnam grangs pa’i kun brtags)
are object-universals (artha-sāmānya, don spyi), which appear to
thoughts, and the appearance of the dualism of perceived objects and
perceiving subjects for the nonconceptual sense consciousnesses.

Sautrantika-Svatantrika accepts outer referents simply as
conventions
and discuss them in ways that concur with Sautrāntikas.

Yogacara Svatantrika does not differ from the previous ones [i.e., the Sautrāntika-Svātantrika-
Mādhyamikas] in the way they put forth independently [verifiable] theses.
As a convention, they accept mere consciousness but not, however, outer
referents. In this regard, their presentation is like that of the Chittamātra-
Yogāchāras (Asanga/Vasubandhu)

So let me investigate. Svatantrika's as conventions means it accepts outer referents object or mere consciousness object only from the perspective of others for the analysis of the debate with them to lead them to the freedom from all reference points, including all the seeming. Original Yogacara also leads to this freedom because does not point this freedom as the "Mind Only" and never did although many non-indians did so mistakenly. So according to these quotes I don't agree with regard to your "so called objects" in Svatantrika or Yogacara :smile:
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Re: Chittamatra and Svatantrika, which is more subtle?

Postby goodie » Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:56 pm

5heaps wrote:but it doesnt have those kinds of characteristics on its own side. the kind it has is that of the type which has the power to appear to a mind that is cognizing it.
Aren't all characteristics perceptible by the mind, so all are of of the type which has the power to appear to a mind that is cognizing it? I don't see any difference.

5heaps wrote: does the house disappear when you stop looking at it? they say no
So the house has some characteristics which are on its own side, without depending on the mind at the time of non cognition. But if I understand you correctly, these characteristics are more subtle than those that Chittamatra asserts? It's quite difficult though to imagine characteristics more subtle or general than the characteristic of simply existing.

Maybe this has some correlation with quantum mechanics. In his article What Does a Buddha Know in Knowing the Past, Present, and Future? Berzin says "From the point of view of the photon functioning as a wave, a photon is a “wave-function” and thus a “quantum entity.” This means that before measuring the location of a photon, its present location can only be described as a probability density within a probability function. According to the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, when the photon’s location is measured, however, the photon adopts a specific location. The photon’s wave-function “collapses” – meaning that the photon is no longer functioning as a wave. The photon is now functioning as a particle at a determined location." I'm guessing of course, but maybe characteristics of Svatantrika are something like that - they are a wave function until mind cognizes it, and at that point wave function collapses into a specific set of characteristics.
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Re: Chittamatra and Svatantrika, which is more subtle?

Postby goodie » Thu Oct 21, 2010 10:13 pm

Mariusz wrote:So let me investigate. Svatantrika's as conventions means it accepts outer referents object or mere consciousness object only from the perspective of others for the analysis of the debate with them to lead them to the freedom from all reference points, including all the seeming. Original Yogacara also leads to this freedom because does not point this freedom as the "Mind Only" and never did although many non-indians did so mistakenly. So according to these quotes I don't agree with regard to your "so called objects" in Svatantrika or Yogacara :smile:
Although Svatantrikas say "as conventions" they still hold that objects possess some inherent characteristics, so that means that objects are not established merely from the side of the perceiver. So either "as conventions" is defined like this or the definition of the system is different. If the former is true, then you would agree with me :tongue: and if latter ... hm I don't know :)
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Re: Chittamatra and Svatantrika, which is more subtle?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Fri Oct 22, 2010 2:57 am

goodie wrote:Although Svatantrikas say "as conventions" they still hold that objects possess some inherent characteristics, so that means that objects are not established merely from the side of the perceiver. So either "as conventions" is defined like this or the definition of the system is different. If the former is true, then you would agree with me :tongue: and if latter ... hm I don't know :)


Where are you getting the above from? The ultimate view of Svatantrika-Madhyamikas is identical to the Prasangika-Madhyamikas. The only real difference is that Prasangikas operate entirely according to the via negativa approach, destroying impossible views but making no positive assertions afterwards, whereas Svatantrika-Madhyamikas destroy impossible views the pretty much the same way but then also go the next step of offering a "correct" assertion about conventional truth afterwards. Prasangikas like Chandrakirti felt that it was enough to simply destroy one's opponents untenable views and let the view of emptiness be self-evident to him, and that there was no benefit in making pronouncements about an illusory, deceptive conventional truth. But Svatantrikas like Bhavaviveka disagreed and felt that one must also equip one's defeated opponent with an at least conventionally valid view.
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Re: Chittamatra and Svatantrika, which is more subtle?

Postby Mariusz » Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:21 am

Pema Rigdzin wrote:
goodie wrote:Although Svatantrikas say "as conventions" they still hold that objects possess some inherent characteristics, so that means that objects are not established merely from the side of the perceiver. So either "as conventions" is defined like this or the definition of the system is different. If the former is true, then you would agree with me :tongue: and if latter ... hm I don't know :)


Where are you getting the above from? The ultimate view of Svatantrika-Madhyamikas is identical to the Prasangika-Madhyamikas. The only real difference is that Prasangikas operate entirely according to the via negativa approach, destroying impossible views but making no positive assertions afterwards, whereas Svatantrika-Madhyamikas destroy impossible views the pretty much the same way but then also go the next step of offering a "correct" assertion about conventional truth afterwards. Prasangikas like Chandrakirti felt that it was enough to simply destroy one's opponents untenable views and let the view of emptiness be self-evident to him, and that there was no benefit in making pronouncements about an illusory, deceptive conventional truth. But Svatantrikas like Bhavaviveka disagreed and felt that one must also equip one's defeated opponent with an at least conventionally valid view.


:smile: Moreover, if not so, Svatantrika would be not Madhyamaka. Perhaps here some non-indians want to show their Prasangika as the best and only, but the paradox maintains, why they include Svatantrika in Madhyamaka further. I guess, if Svatantrikas use the assertion "object" it is only a tool and this tool is the best for Sautrantikas here. When Sautrantikas will finally get "basis-less", they should stop this assertion. If not so, we can use Prasangikas' tool of "reductio ad absurdum" for them also. So Svatantrika and Prasangika tools are mutually supportive. But I'm not sure if tibetan idea of Svatantrika includes also the usage of "reductio ad absurdum" by Svatantrikas? For me the tibetan distinction between Svatantrika and Prasangika is just unnecessary. Chandrakirti and Bhavaviveka were only debating each other on Madhyamaka, but not creating the new different systems!

To return to the first question of the discussion:
But this would contradict the traditional Buddhist scheme of Indian Buddhist schools of thought that Svatantrika is higher than Chittamatra.

- they are not solid and only, but just for gradual pedagogical refine our personal insights, step by steps. Only according to this perspective distinction between "the new" cittamatra, svatantrika, prasangika is correct. If one are using other order of steps than usual, it is only as a tool but not as the annihilation of the the traditional Buddhist scheme. Everybody can do it, not only the well respected masters, and one should it of course, if is useful. The best is pointing out to Rigpa without even using a single word.

There is a funny story I read somewhere:

a japan "believer" in Svatantrika wanted to perfect his view and make friends with some svatantrikas somewhere, making some photos and so on,
eventually he collected enough money to travel to tibetan monasteries, to meet other svatantrikas,
but when he visited monasteries, every monk was affraid to answer to the question: are you a svatantrika? :smile:
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Re: Chittamatra and Svatantrika, which is more subtle?

Postby goodie » Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:55 pm

Pema Rigdzin wrote:Where are you getting the above from? The ultimate view of Svatantrika-Madhyamikas is identical to the Prasangika-Madhyamikas. The only real difference is that Prasangikas operate entirely according to the via negativa approach, destroying impossible views but making no positive assertions afterwards
From Hopkins and Berzin. Both also say that Prasangika besides consequences uses positive assertions. This is gelug position however, other schools might define this differently.
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Re: Chittamatra and Svatantrika, which is more subtle?

Postby goodie » Fri Oct 22, 2010 9:00 pm

Mariusz wrote:For me the tibetan distinction between Svatantrika and Prasangika is just unnecessary. Chandrakirti and Bhavaviveka were only debating each other on Madhyamaka, but not creating the new different systems!
Can't really comment on this because I haven't studied these text directly that much and for now I mostly rely on commentaries.

Mariusz wrote:There is a funny story I read somewhere:

a japan "believer" in Svatantrika wanted to perfect his view and make friends with some svatantrikas somewhere, making some photos and so on,
eventually he collected enough money to travel to tibetan monasteries, to meet other svatantrikas,
but when he visited monasteries, every monk was affraid to answer to the question: are you a svatantrika? :smile:
hehe :D
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Re: Chittamatra and Svatantrika, which is more subtle?

Postby catmoon » Sat Oct 23, 2010 3:36 am

I'm just trying to get a grip on all this


Which of the above mentioned schools is the mind-only school, if any?

Do any of them allow for real, non inherently existing, impermanent objects as the source of perception?
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Re: Chittamatra and Svatantrika, which is more subtle?

Postby ground » Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:16 am

catmoon wrote:Do any of them allow for real, non inherently existing, impermanent objects as the source of perception?


It depends on what you are referring to with "objects"?
If you are referring to (unmodified) common sense objects then none of them, if not (i.e. if it may be any "object") then both of them.

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Re: Chittamatra and Svatantrika, which is more subtle?

Postby 5heaps » Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:46 am

goodie wrote:
5heaps wrote:but it doesnt have those kinds of characteristics on its own side. the kind it has is that of the type which has the power to appear to a mind that is cognizing it.
Aren't all characteristics perceptible by the mind, so all are of of the type which has the power to appear to a mind that is cognizing it? I don't see any difference.

the difference is
in sautrantika, characteristics are abiding in their nature waiting to come in contact with mind.
in the madhyamika, characteristics are established dependently, there is no such thing as waiting around abiding in their own nature.

then the difference inside madhyamika is, how exactly do things exist dependently. are things established in dependence on their parts, or entirely through the power of thought.

Pema Rigdzin wrote:But Svatantrikas like Bhavaviveka disagreed and felt that one must also equip one's defeated opponent with an at least conventionally valid view.
a somewhat ineffective summary. the actual debate is well documented by Jeffrey Hopkins etcetc over and over again, and it is whether assertions (logic in general) have a power in and of themselves to address the problem and bring the view to the opponent. in other words it is the same old debated issue between the systems: does dependent arising mean things are established in dependence on their parts, or does it mean that things are established through mere imputation.

obviously since Bhavya asserts the former, then of course there is some power in the appearance of a logical syllogism. however in real prasangika, it has no absolutely no power in any slight manner whatsoever, which is why we can say logical syllogisms have power when they work
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Re: Chittamatra and Svatantrika, which is more subtle?

Postby Mariusz » Sun Oct 24, 2010 5:47 pm

5heaps wrote:the same old debated issue between the systems: does dependent arising mean things are established in dependence on their parts, or does it mean that things are established through mere imputation.

obviously since Bhavya asserts the former, then of course there is some power in the appearance of a logical syllogism. however in real prasangika, it has no absolutely no power in any slight manner whatsoever, which is why we can say logical syllogisms have power when they work


Sounds like the return to debated "object" issue: what one should identify, the actual object or lack of inherent existence of this object, to realize Sunyata?
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