Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby ngodrup » Thu May 01, 2014 6:24 pm

michaelb wrote: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?


Lama Mipham is presenting the original Nyingma perspective while taking into consideration Lama Tsongkhapa.
His intent is to show that the two-- although quite different-- are not contradictory.
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby michaelb » Thu May 01, 2014 6:32 pm

Jikan wrote:where is the point of contact between polemic and practice in this context.

Why does it have to be polemical? I personally find it strange that Buddhists would question why other Buddhists want to understand Buddhism a bit better. Madhyamaka philosophy seems to me to be quite a big part of Mahayana. I would like a clearer understanding of it because having just a vague or incorrect idea of what Nagarjuna and others were talking about could lead to confusion, which isn't ideal when talking and thinking about one's chosen religion, is it? Would muslims question why other muslims bother to study the qur'an?

Of course, I'm not saying everyone needs to be a khenpo or geshe to attain realisation, but I bet even the great yogis who rejected the path of scholars had some idea what Nagarjuna was going on about.
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby michaelb » Thu May 01, 2014 6:34 pm

ngodrup wrote:Lama Mipham is presenting the original Nyingma perspective while taking into consideration Lama Tsongkhapa.
His intent is to show that the two-- although quite different-- are not contradictory.
Thanks. Even though my quotation was just from the translator's introduction and Lama Mipham is quite critical of Tsongkhapa's position in the text, that makes sense.
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby michaelb » Thu May 01, 2014 6:35 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:there is no conventionally existing reality outside of mind, that everything is a product of the mind?
Where does Gorampa say that?
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby conebeckham » Thu May 01, 2014 6:38 pm

michaelb wrote:
Sherab Dorje wrote:there is no conventionally existing reality outside of mind, that everything is a product of the mind?
Where does Gorampa say that?


I don't think he does.

Making no assertions about reality is not the same as assserting that it is mind-made, or all in mind.
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu May 01, 2014 6:41 pm

If he refutes conventional existence, then, what is left except for "mind only"? If he refutes this too, then he falls into nihilism.
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby conebeckham » Thu May 01, 2014 6:51 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:If he refutes conventional existence, then, what is left except for "mind only"? If he refutes this too, then he falls into nihilism.


Refuting conventional existence merely means that positing existence of any sort onto phenomena is mistaken; however, it does not follow that one posits "nonexistence" apart from the (true existence in and of) mind. Freedom from concepts is not the same as saying that Appearances are the "stuff" of mind...as I understand it, saying that "Appearances are Mind" is subtly different than saying that those appearances are "made of mind"--in other words, that Mind itself, and it's contents, are substantially or truly existent.

Great Kagyu Masters say:
"Appearances are Mind.
Mind is no Mind."

Etc.
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby Malcolm » Thu May 01, 2014 7:21 pm

michaelb wrote: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?
Thanks.


Yes, they regard statements like "The pot is empty of the pot" to be an over-negation. They only accept "the pot is emptiness of potness".
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby Tom » Thu May 01, 2014 10:19 pm

michaelb wrote:
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?
Thanks.


Yes, the object of negation and the conventional object are separate for Gelug and only the former and not the latter is harmed by the wisdom that realizes emptiness. In the above, the object of negation is the inherently existent pot, rather than the conventionally existent pot. Actually, for Gelgugpas, establishing that something is a pot, or not a pot, or instead a bowl, falls outside the domain of the type of ultimate analysis which brings about the wisdom that realizes emptiness.
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby michaelb » Fri May 02, 2014 12:07 am

Malcolm wrote:Yes, they regard statements like "The pot is empty of the pot" to be an over-negation. They only accept "the pot is emptiness of potness".

Tom wrote:Yes, the object of negation and the conventional object are separate for Gelug and only the former and not the latter is harmed by the wisdom that realizes emptiness. In the above, the object of negation is the inherently existent pot, rather than the conventionally existent pot. Actually, for Gelgugpas, establishing that something is a pot, or not a pot, or instead a bowl, falls outside the domain of the type of ultimate analysis which brings about the wisdom that realizes emptiness.

Thanks both. Would Gelugpas see their negation of inherent existence as an act of the conceptual mind? Is it correct that Tsongkhapa rejected the refutation of the four extremes because this is not conceptual and therefore open to error or no better than Ha-Shang? Going 'non-conceptual' also implied, for Tsongkhapa, the danger of ignoring karma and the importance of ethical behaviour?
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby Lotus_Bitch » Fri May 02, 2014 12:38 am

Can those knowledgeable individuals, present your theories on the motivations for Tsongkhapa's peculiarities, in formulating the two truths? Was it simply as a means to engender a unique lineage for propagation to future generations? Circumstantial probability arisen from environmental elements during this period of Tibet's history?

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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby michaelb » Fri May 02, 2014 12:58 am

Even though I'm not knowledgeable some motivation has been suggested already. Conventional truth is emphasised so people don't fall into nihilism and reject ethical behaviour. Conceptual meditation is emphasised so people don't just think not thinking is the way to get realisation. I think Tsongkhapa had a reputation for addressing what he saw as the lack of monastic discipline and study, so maybe his novel approach, including emphasising sutra practice and study, curbed a growth in antinomian tantric hedonism, real or imagined?
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby Tom » Fri May 02, 2014 3:19 am

michaelb wrote:Would Gelugpas see their negation of inherent existence as an act of the conceptual mind?


Initially it is a conceptual mind but through familiarization a non-conceptual realization is achieved.

michaelb wrote: Is it correct that Tsongkhapa rejected the refutation of the four extremes because this is not conceptual and therefore open to error or no better than Ha-Shang? Going 'non-conceptual' also implied, for Tsongkhapa, the danger of ignoring karma and the importance of ethical behaviour?


Tsongkhapa simply thought the refutation of the four extremes without qualification to be illogical.The non-conceptual mind is not the issue for Tsongkhapa here. The position Tsongkhapa is forwarding is that the conceptual mind using logical reasoning can conceptually realize emptiness and that this then acts as a bridge to non-conceptual wisdom.
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby jiashengrox » Fri May 02, 2014 5:42 am

I would alao believe that circumstances had attributed to the qualification of conventional existence. It was written in Je Rinpoche's Lam Rim Chen Mo:

One indication of a failure to recognise these critical points in not distinguishing in the beginning between those who are well-trained in the sutras or tantras and those who have no training at all, and then not assigning the appropriate amount of practice. Another such indication is that meditators are criticised if they study or do research. These mistaken customs persist in tibet.

We note that in the later parts of the same section, Je Rinpoche continues on to elaborate on how analytic meditation is required in order to achieve a fundamental understanding of the correct view. In the last paragraph of the section, he made the following statement:

Moreover, to claim that all conceptual thought involves apprehension of signs of true existence, and thus prevents enlightenment, is the worst possible misconception insofar as it disregards all discerning meditation. This is the system of the Chinese abbot Ha-shang.

With regards to this statement, i would probably infer that je rinpoche wanted to clarify and refute people who ardently believe that by practising non-conceptual mediation only, this would lead to enlightenment, which, i would put it in his terms, a form of nihilism. And perhaps because of so, he has started a tradition which does not negates conventional existence, but to attribute them to dependent arising, which in that sense (from my pov, don't quote me!) wouldn't be exactly wrong.

On the other hand, from what I gather, Mipham also criticises Je Rinpoche being an Autonomist, and it could be possible that Mipham attributes this to the acceptance of conventional existence as a characteristic of an autonomist. However, i wouldn't think that Gorampa's issue with Je Rinpoche primarily lies upon the characteristics of the autonomy and consequentialism, so that'd be another issue.

Tom wrote:
Tsongkhapa simply thought the refutation of the four extremes without qualification to be illogical.The non-conceptual mind is not the issue for Tsongkhapa here. The position Tsongkhapa is forwarding is that the conceptual mind using logical reasoning can conceptually realize emptiness and that this then acts as a bridge to non-conceptual wisdom.


I would think this is the case. Allow me to quote from (although controversial) Pabongkha's works that one has to train in analytic meditation, and through calm-abiding, unite analysis and calm abiding to achieve superior insight. I think the final point of uniting analysis with calm abiding is pretty much the same across all traditions, but something unique about this tradition would be the training of analytic mediation, right from the start. Again i quote from Pabongkha's Liberation:

Your meditations are analytic until you achieve mental quiescence.

Furthermore, in the way Je rinpoche refutes inherent existence via a consequentialist position (reducto ad absurdum), it would be noted that the object of refutation need to be precise, as we might fall into a trap of negating something that is not equivalent to the object of refutation, i.e. A class of objects more than or less than the object of refutation. I think it is with this in mind that Je Rinpoche gives a specific qualification of the refutation. (My opinion only though, it might not be right!)

Hope this helps! :namaste:
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby michaelb » Fri May 02, 2014 12:44 pm

Tom wrote:Tsongkhapa simply thought the refutation of the four extremes without qualification to be illogical.The non-conceptual mind is not the issue for Tsongkhapa here. The position Tsongkhapa is forwarding is that the conceptual mind using logical reasoning can conceptually realize emptiness and that this then acts as a bridge to non-conceptual wisdom.
Thanks. But, for Tsongkhapa, did the illogicality of an unqualified refutation of the tetralemma mean that those that took it as ultimate truth had to meditate on something non-conceptual? I understand that for others, refuting the tetralemma was a way, by using concepts refuting each extreme one by one, of showing the limits of the conceptual and maybe resting in that at the end (?). Tsongkhapa criticised them for being like HvaShang and rejecting all concepts as binding us to samsara. So, he thought concept based meditation was a totally necessary bridge, but how did the conceptual meditation become non-conceptual?
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby michaelb » Fri May 02, 2014 12:49 pm

jiashengrox wrote:II would think this is the case. Allow me to quote from (although controversial) Pabongkha's works that one has to train in analytic meditation, and through calm-abiding, unite analysis and calm abiding to achieve superior insight. I think the final point of uniting analysis with calm abiding is pretty much the same across all traditions, but something unique about this tradition would be the training of analytic mediation, right from the start. Again i quote from Pabongkha's Liberation:
Your meditations are analytic until you achieve mental quiescence.
Thanks. So once one develops shamata, one's meditation becomes non-conceptual, even if one is meditating on a conceptual object or is mental quiescence seen as being beyond subject and object in some way?
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby Jikan » Fri May 02, 2014 1:14 pm

michaelb wrote:
Jikan wrote:where is the point of contact between polemic and practice in this context.

Why does it have to be polemical? I personally find it strange that Buddhists would question why other Buddhists want to understand Buddhism a bit better. Madhyamaka philosophy seems to me to be quite a big part of Mahayana. I would like a clearer understanding of it because having just a vague or incorrect idea of what Nagarjuna and others were talking about could lead to confusion, which isn't ideal when talking and thinking about one's chosen religion, is it? Would muslims question why other muslims bother to study the qur'an?

Of course, I'm not saying everyone needs to be a khenpo or geshe to attain realisation, but I bet even the great yogis who rejected the path of scholars had some idea what Nagarjuna was going on about.


That's not what I'm doing (bolded bit). I'm asking why this or that articulation of Madhyamika has more value than more straightforward presentations of Madhyamika.

Why does it have to be polemical? I'm asking the same question, but I'm not an author of any of the polemics under discussion.

I'm increasingly convinced that Tibetan Madhyamika has a tendency to specify and spin out many more concepts than one might see in Indian or Chinese Madhyamika. If you read the post I wrote in full, the one quoted partially above, you will see that I'm asking how this marks an improvement over Indian Madhyamika, particularly in the light of practice.
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby jiashengrox » Fri May 02, 2014 2:09 pm

Jikan wrote:
I'm increasingly convinced that Tibetan Madhyamika has a tendency to specify and spin out many more concepts than one might see in Indian or Chinese Madhyamika.


Hmmm, i probably wont be so quick to jump into that conclusion, because I think Chinese Madhyamika is also quite developed in that sense. The commentary on MMK by Reverend Ji Tsang, the founder of the Three Treatises school (can be loosely termed as the Chinese Madhyamaka school), is encyclopaedic, and i would dare say, it is even more comprehensive than Je Rinpoche's works. Specific refutations were many within the treatise, and this amounts to more than 900+ pages in chinese. I wont say it is too heavy, but as compared to Mabja or even Je Rinpoche's commentary, the elaborations are really a lot. Even Reverend Yin Shun's commentary, though more summarised, but is still a very long work, with extra supplements (due to his affiliation with humanistic buddhism)

I think probably it is due to the fact that the works of Nagarjuna has not been mainly studied in Chinese major traditions such as tientai or pureland, but they are used as a supplement to further establish the teachings of the tradition. It wont be common, fir instance, for a tientai master to teach MMK, but it would be more common for him to teach The Six Gates Treatise (六妙门), which he will supplement the explanations of the treatise with necessary quotes and commentary from Nagarjuna and his works. (This is what i have experienced, might go different for different people)

michaelb wrote:Thanks. So once one develops shamata, one's meditation becomes non-conceptual, even if one is meditating on a conceptual object or is mental quiescence seen as being beyond subject and object in some way?


I would think that that (non-conceptual) will only be the case only after one has produced discerning awareness, i.e. After the analysis and to a decisive conclusion of the voidness of phenomena, with shamatha being the basis of that development.

Hope it helps! :namaste:
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which through knowledge of all leads Hearers seeking pacification to thorough peace
And which through knowledge of paths causes those helping transmigrators to achieve the welfare of the world,
And through possession of which the Subduers set forth these varieties endowed with all aspects.

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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby Tom » Fri May 02, 2014 2:17 pm

michaelb wrote:Thanks. But, for Tsongkhapa, did the illogicality of an unqualified refutation of the tetralemma mean that those that took it as ultimate truth had to meditate on something non-conceptual? I understand that for others, refuting the tetralemma was a way, by using concepts refuting each extreme one by one, of showing the limits of the conceptual and maybe resting in that at the end (?). Tsongkhapa criticised them for being like HvaShang and rejecting all concepts as binding us to samsara. So, he thought concept based meditation was a totally necessary bridge, but how did the conceptual meditation become non-conceptual?


It is true Tsongkhapa considers the method in which the practitioner simply aims to stop all mental activity and simply hold the mind internally to equate to the view of Hashang. Tsongkhapa rejects this idea of the non-observations is a realization of emptiness. The real point here for Tsongkhapa is that there is a difference between not thinking of true existence and the knowledge that negates true existence. His reason for pointing out the distinction is not because of some conflict between conceptual and non-conceptual mental states, but because he thinks that merely not thinking of true existence does not directly antidote ignorance in the way that the correct reasoning does. Tsonkghapa is concerned with first developing through logic the understanding that ignorance is actually a wrong consciousness. For Tsongkhapa the point of reasoning is not to demonstrate the limits of the conceptual mind and be thrust into a non conceptual state apprehension but to understand the way the object of ignorance is misleading.

For this reason Tsongkhapa thinks other Tibetan masters who merely criticize the conceptual mind are missing the point. He argues emptiness since it is a hidden phenomena must first be established by way of logic rather than merely holding the mind in a state of non-conceptuality. Rather than rejecting conceptual consciousness because of equating it with ignorance here Tsongkahapa says we have no choice but to use conceptual consciousness. It has to be a specific type of conceptual consciousness that directly opposes the ignorance and understands it as a wrong consciousness. So there is a big difference between not engaging with any object and realizing the absence of inherent existence - for Tsongkhapa anyways.

The response back to Tsongkhapa is how can conceptuality get us to non conceptuality. The cause must resemble the result and so we should not rely on conceptual states to get us to non-conceptual wisdom. Tsongkhapa responds by arguing that the cause does not have to resemble the result in every aspect and he is forwarding cause and result that has the similarity that both minds realize emptiness.

Sorry, for all the edits. I accidentally submitted this before I had finished...
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Re: Gorampa & Tsongkhapa

Postby Tom » Fri May 02, 2014 3:24 pm

michaelb wrote:
jiashengrox wrote:II would think this is the case. Allow me to quote from (although controversial) Pabongkha's works that one has to train in analytic meditation, and through calm-abiding, unite analysis and calm abiding to achieve superior insight. I think the final point of uniting analysis with calm abiding is pretty much the same across all traditions, but something unique about this tradition would be the training of analytic mediation, right from the start. Again i quote from Pabongkha's Liberation:
Your meditations are analytic until you achieve mental quiescence.
Thanks. So once one develops shamata, one's meditation becomes non-conceptual, even if one is meditating on a conceptual object or is mental quiescence seen as being beyond subject and object in some way?


This is not true. For example, on the path of preparation there is a union of shamata and special insight, however the realization of emptiness is conceptual until you reach the path of seeing. It is then that there is no appearance of a distinction between subject and object within the meditation.
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