Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby conebeckham » Thu May 01, 2014 4:14 am

Ironically, by inserting the qualifier "inherent" critics say he leaves a subtle sort of "existence" as regards conventional truth. His supporters say those who completely negate existence stray into nihilism.
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby smcj » Thu May 01, 2014 4:17 am

Could we have something like that for Gorampa, Tsongkhapa and others so if we hear a Gelugpa lama teaching about emptiness and a Sakyapa lama teaching about emptiness we don't get confused if they are talking about different things but with the same words. For example, what would they both mean by emptiness, conventional truth, ultimate truth, etc. the same thing or something different?

The difference is in how apparent phenomena is handled. Tsongkhapa gives it the following:

Appearances are infallible dependent arisings;
Emptiness is free of assertions.
As long as these two understandings are seen as separate,
One has not yet realized the intent of the Buddha.


The first line is the difference. The non-Gelug position does not give any explanation for how appearances abide. See Malcolm's last line in the quote below.
Malcolm wrote:Emptiness, in Mahāyāna, specifically refers to the absence of the four extremes in phenomena. This is the profound emptiness taught in Mahāyāna according to Gorampa and many other critics of Tsongkhapa, not the mere emptiness of inherent existence which is common which the śravaka systems.

Since phenomena cannot be found by any of the four extremes, they are illusory, and ultimately nonarisen.


Personally I like the Gelug perspective. It seems very psychedelic to me, but I don't think most people are going get that. But then again I see it as provisional anyway, with Kagyu Shentong being definitive.

Besides the fact that Malcolm knows 1,000 times more than I do, and that he reads Tibetan and has done retreat, the big difference between us seems to be that he is Sakya/Nyingma and I am Gelug/Kagyu. Not much overlap there!
Last edited by smcj on Thu May 01, 2014 5:03 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby ConradTree » Thu May 01, 2014 4:26 am

Here

Malcolm wrote:Tsongkhapa only rejects inherent existence, the subtle object of negation -- he never advocates rejecting existence, the coarse object of negation.
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby michaelb » Thu May 01, 2014 8:07 am

smcj wrote:Besides the fact that Malcolm knows 1,000 times more than I do, and that he reads Tibetan and has done retreat, the big difference between us seems to be that he is Sakya/Nyingma and I am Gelug/Kagyu. Not much overlap there!
I'm not sure about no overlap. Gendun Choepal and Mikyo Dorje don't seem a million miles from Gorampa and Mipham. I'm sure there are some, but I've no idea what the differences are. Maybe we could make an easy read chart mapping the different positions, in a nonsectarian way, of course, so it isn't like anyone's on top.
Thanks for the suggestions at simple definitions of the different positions. It would be great to get a Gelugpa perspective too. What was the difference between inherent existence and true existence for Je Rinpoche and did he see these as extrinsic?
Thanks.
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu May 01, 2014 8:19 am

So...

My question is: what does all this mean at the level of practice? Does it have some profound effect? Or is it all just an Indo-Tibetan pissing contest (to put it crudely)?
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One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby michaelb » Thu May 01, 2014 8:24 am

conebeckham wrote:Ironically, by inserting the qualifier "inherent" critics say he leaves a subtle sort of "existence" as regards conventional truth. His supporters say those who completely negate existence stray into nihilism.

Are the 'freedom from extremes' types negating existence, though? Not existent, not nonexistent, etc. But are they just really saying not existent and the other three are added just to copy a traditional Indian pattern?

I'm still a little stuck on the inherent existence thing. Translations I've read from Nagarjuna to Mipham also talk about the absence of this being what emptiness means.
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby michaelb » Thu May 01, 2014 8:33 am

Sherab Dorje wrote:So...

My question is: what does all this mean at the level of practice? Does it have some profound effect? Or is it all just an Indo-Tibetan pissing contest (to put it crudely)?
How unusual for you to put things crudely, greg. Yes, you are right. What does discussion of the Dharma mean at the level of practice? Maybe, as this is a Dharma discussion forum, you are asking either a very pertinent question or a very stupid one.
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu May 01, 2014 8:35 am

michaelb wrote:
Sherab Dorje wrote:So...

My question is: what does all this mean at the level of practice? Does it have some profound effect? Or is it all just an Indo-Tibetan pissing contest (to put it crudely)?
How unusual for you to put things crudely, greg. Yes, you are right. What does discussion of the Dharma mean at the level of practice? Maybe, as this is a Dharma discussion forum, you are asking either a very pertinent question or a very stupid one.
Pertinently stupid? Stupidly pertinent?
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby Tom » Thu May 01, 2014 11:09 am

michaelb wrote: It would be great to get a Gelugpa perspective too. What was the difference between inherent existence and true existence for Je Rinpoche and did he see these as extrinsic?
Thanks.


I have not read much of this thread but can add that Inherent existence and true existence are synonyms for Gelugpa. According, to Gelug tenets to make a distinction between these two terms is to fall into a svatantrika view.
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby Alfredo » Thu May 01, 2014 11:24 am

I envy all those who are capable of following these philosophical disagreements. Without really being able to grasp the positions of Tsongkhapa vs. Gorampa, or Tsongkhapa vs. Mipham, I wonder if the important thing isn't the debate itself, rather than any particular conclusions. For the sake of comparison, we don't have to be Platonists or Aristotelians in order to salute these rival traditions as the foundations of Western philosophy.
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby Malcolm » Thu May 01, 2014 1:03 pm

michaelb wrote:
conebeckham wrote:Ironically, by inserting the qualifier "inherent" critics say he leaves a subtle sort of "existence" as regards conventional truth. His supporters say those who completely negate existence stray into nihilism.

Are the 'freedom from extremes' types negating existence, though? Not existent, not nonexistent, etc. But are they just really saying not existent and the other three are added just to copy a traditional Indian pattern?

I'm still a little stuck on the inherent existence thing. Translations I've read from Nagarjuna to Mipham also talk about the absence of this being what emptiness means.


All four extremes represent positions found in Indian philosophy; for example, the Jain position of indeterminacy is really just the position that something can exist and not exist at the same time.

So yes, all four extremes must be negated, both relatively and ultimately, and that, and that alone is the middle way.

Tsongkhapa is faulted for a lot of things in his Madhyamaka writings which really have very little to do with Madhyamaka per se. Of course, what many people do not understand is that often Gorampa;s polemics are not so much aimed at Tsongkhapa as they are Khedrupje.
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby michaelb » Thu May 01, 2014 4:04 pm

Tom wrote:I have not read much of this thread but can add that Inherent existence and true existence are synonyms for Gelugpa. According, to Gelug tenets to make a distinction between these two terms is to fall into a svatantrika view.
Thanks. Do Gelugpas take this true existence as something separate from an object? I know they say it doesn't exist, but is it something separate from the object that they are negating, so "pot is not empty of pot but empty of inherent existence? " would they take a statement that the pot is empty of pot to be nihilism?
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby michaelb » Thu May 01, 2014 4:27 pm

Malcolm wrote:All four extremes represent positions found in Indian philosophy; for example, the Jain position of indeterminacy is really just the position that something can exist and not exist at the same time.

So yes, all four extremes must be negated, both relatively and ultimately, and that, and that alone is the middle way.

Tsongkhapa is faulted for a lot of things in his Madhyamaka writings which really have very little to do with Madhyamaka per se. Of course, what many people do not understand is that often Gorampa;s polemics are not so much aimed at Tsongkhapa as they are Khedrupje.
Thanks. I imagine the tetralemma might have been an aspect of Indian logic before some of the schools that typify one extreme or another actually existed, though?
How are the four extremes negated? I recall Tsongkhapa said people should refute the tetralemma adding a qualifier such as "essentially". Not to do so makes no logical sense.
Would Gorampa be happy making no logical sense and being obstinate, as Tsongkhapa put it? Is that the point, that 'things' are beyond conceptual understanding and logical expression, or something else?
Thanks.
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby conebeckham » Thu May 01, 2014 4:50 pm

The Geluk position is that things are empty of true or inherent existence of themselves, but they exist conventionally. I've heard it said that the concern Tsong Khapa had was with a sort of laxity of discipline that followed from denying the existence of the conventional level of truth, which follows in a strict interpretation of Nagarjuna and Madhyamika (if you leave out "inherent" and "true;" also, be aware that the transalations of Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti, at least up until the last couple decades, were very much filtered through the Geluk lens). In other words, lack of existence of conventional truths--including Law of Karma, etc.--led to all sorts of bad behavior.

This is also why Geluk epistomology is concerned with "correct" and "mistaken" relative appearances, as well.

It could be said that the Geluk view leads to some sort of assertion of "existence" of the external world, even in a qualified way. As I read Madhyamika, the concern is not with "external" existence, or the material world, but with our mistaken mental conceptions of the world, both internally and externally. When one uses the tetralemma to logically defeat the four extremes, one is left with, ideally, a lack of solid conceptuality about "existence." This is, as I understand it, "Freedom from Extremes." Noted that this includes a denial of "nonexistence."

In my Kagyu tradition, as I've understood it, it's sometimes said that there's really only one level of "Truth," which is absolute--lack of existence of conditioned phenomena, and that there is truly no such thing as "conventional "truth," or that it is a mere reference to "Appearances." Conventional Truth is no existence whatsoever. The criticism with "denying existence" as, for example, the mainstream Kagyu view understands Mahdyamika, is that this position falls into nihilism; in the mainstream Kagyu presentation, we do not deny Appearances of phenomena, including such things as dependent origination, the Law of Karma, etc. One cannot deny appearances and the seeming, but asserting any conceptual idea of existence, etc., is mistaken. In truth, the Saha World is like a dream.
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby michaelb » Thu May 01, 2014 5:40 pm

Thanks Cone. I undestand that some translations are heavily influenced by the Gelugpa position. Jay Garfield's translation of Nagarjuna springs to mind. But when I was reading Padmakara's translation of Mipham's commentary to Chandrakirti the translator's introduction includes passages like,

"The true status of the phenomena that we experience is not, therefore, to be found in their supposed real entity, but in their relatedness, their interdependence with all other phenomena. This is Nagarjuna’s interpretation of the doctrine of dependent arising, understood not in the sense of a temporal sequence (as in the Hinayana interpretation of the doctrine of the twelvefold chain of dependent production), but in the essential dependence of phenomena. This interdependence undermines the notion of individual, intrinsic reality in things; it is the very antithesis of “thingness.” Phenomena, being the interplay of interdependent factors, are unreal. Their interdependence (pratityasamutpada) is their emptiness (shunyata) of inherent existence."

This sounds a bit Gelugpa to me. Does it reflect Mipham's view or Tsongkhapa's? Later the introduction changes its emphasis, so much so it seems as if it was written by two people, maybe a Gelugpa and a Nyingmapa. But, then, I'm not sure.

Thanks for pointing to Tsongkhapa's possible motives for giving so much emphasis to conventional appearances.
BTW, does Tsongkhapa's negating inherent existence rather than existence, nonexistence, both and neither, make his position more conceptual?
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu May 01, 2014 6:03 pm

So, basically, Gorampa was a supporter of the cittamatrin position? It that what this whole deal is about?
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby Jikan » Thu May 01, 2014 6:10 pm

It seems to me that many of these conceptual elaborations are a lot more elaborated than they need to be.

further, what does it mean to commit oneself to one or another of the positions that have been staked out and labeled so far? where is the point of contact between polemic and practice in this context.

^^^well-meaning question from an ignorant person^^^
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby conebeckham » Thu May 01, 2014 6:12 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:So, basically, Gorampa was a supporter of the cittamatrin position? It that what this whole deal is about?


I don't think so, and I'm not sure where you're getting that? Not, I hope, from me...I didn't mention Gorampa. Let's see what Malcolm says....but I think Gorampa is very much of the "Freedom from Extremes" position.....which is not to say he asserts Mind Only Existence at all.
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu May 01, 2014 6:13 pm

Jikan wrote:further, what does it mean to commit oneself to one or another of the positions that have been staked out and labeled so far? where is the point of contact between polemic and practice in this context.

^^^well-meaning question from an ignorant person^^^
Hey you cheater, I already asked that, twelve posts ago!!!
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu May 01, 2014 6:15 pm

Well, isn't the cittamatrin position that there is no conventionally existing reality outside of mind, that everything is a product of the mind?
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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